Dave Kerpen | 7 Ways to Gamify to Increase Loyalty – and Sales
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7 Ways to Gamify to Increase Loyalty – and Sales

7 Ways to Gamify to Increase Loyalty – and Sales

Designers of video games, from Super Mario Brothersin the 1980’s to Call of Dutyin the 2000’s, were living in a world abundant with data about player activity. Every time you moved, jumped, shot, achieved, explored, created, leveled up, and died, they knew it, immediately. And with this “big data” at their disposal, they became experts at using data to motivate players to perform better.

Fast forward to 2013, when we’re all living more and more of our lives online – community, finances, entertainment, training, collaborating, selling, servicing – you name it, it’s all being done online, and it’s all throwing off new data. Every single one of us has become a walking data generator. And if you’re a business, wanting to use that data to motivate better performance out of your customers, partners, and employees – who are you going to learn from? From the people that have honed and perfected that skill for the last 40 years, video game designers!

This new field of “motivating people through data” has a name, which pays homage to its roots in video games – it’s called gamification. To better understand gamification and its implications in business, I spoke with Rajat Paharia, founder of Bunchball and author of the new book Loyalty 3.0: How to Revolutionize Customer and Employee Engagement with Big Data and Gamification. Here are 7 ways that companies are using gamification to motivate, engage, and create true loyalty among their customers, partners, and employees:

1) Training

Video games don’t make you read a manual or take a training course, they make you learn by doing. Companies like Adobe are utilizing these same techniques in their feature-rich software products, which can often be daunting to learn. By gamifying the “onboarding” process for new users in the 30-day free trial of Photoshop, Adobe is able to guide prospective buyers through a carefully planned skill sequence, expose them to key pieces of functionality (red-eye removal, teeth-whitening), and most important, give them the confidence that they can effectively use the software, so that they’re more likely to buy it.

2) Fan Engagement

Many fans of TV shows are no longer content to just passively receive the broadcast – they want to engage with their favorite shows and characters and be immersed in the show’s world. USA Network, the number one basic cable network, has successfully used gamification for years to create “digital loyalty” programs that reward fans of hit shows like Psych for consuming, creating, and sharing content. Through the use of these programs, USA Network has been able to successfully drive increases in page views, time on site, visits per month, and overall viewership of their TV shows.

3) Loyalty Programs

Forward-thinking companies are realizing that the “Loyalty 1.0” programs of yesteryear, which were based only on purchase data, are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Businesses now have access to an abundance of activity data, and can use that data as the basis next-generation loyalty programs that reward attention (a resource that’s becoming scarcer by the day!) as well as marketing activity and of course purchase activity. This also gives companies a much richer view of each customer. What’s more valuable – knowing that someone bought the Dark Knight DVD, or knowing that they bought the Dark Knight DVD, rated Inception 5 out of 5 stars, shared the Where the Wild Things are trailer to Facebook, and played the Clash of the Titans game?

4) Sales

After financial compensation, studies have shown that the most important motivators for salespeople are recognition and competition with their peers. Today, if recognition and competition are present at all, it’s typically on a whiteboard or in a shared spreadsheet somewhere, and being done in a manual, ad hoc manner and in a place where salespeople rarely see it. Gamification, when integrated into sales force automation systems like Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, and others, makes recognition, competition, and achievement automated, scalable, and repeatable, and puts it directly into the systems that your salespeople already use. Companies that use gamification in their sales teams have been proven to generate better results – in everything from revenue to quota attainment to retention.

5) Service

Imagine that you have 20,000 people working for you, from their homes around the country as independent customer service agents. How do you engage and motivate this highly distributed workforce of independent agents?

LiveOps, a provider of cloud-based contact center technology and talent, faced just this issue, and they knew that they needed to innovate to address it. They integrated gamification into their internal employee community, and in doing so reduced onboarding time from 4 weeks of classroom training to 14 hours, improved service levels by about 10%, decreased average customer handle time by 15%, and improved sales performance 8-12%.

6) Customer Communities

Of the many ways that the internet has revolutionized business, the new channels for business-to-customer interaction have had some of the greatest impact. Before the internet, methods to get customer feedback, identify power users, involve customers in product design, and enable customers to help themselves and each other were primitive and hard to scale. Customer communities are now the rule, rather than the exception – but the challenge still remains – how do you motivate people to contribute, and contribute quality content? Companies such as Eloqua, SAP, Kraft, and SolarWinds have integrated gamification into their customer communities and seen increases in overall activity, questions being answered, new product ideas being generated, customer feedback and insights being provided, and calls being deflected from their service centers.

7) Health & Wellness

Zamzee is a company whose purpose is to get kids to be more active, in order to combat the growing childhood obesity epidemic. Their product consists of two parts – the wearable Zamzee activity meter and a motivational website. Kids run around all day while wearing their Zamzee meter, and then plug it into the USB drive on a computer. All their physical activity is upload to zamzee.com, where kids can track their stats, level up, complete challenges, unlock badges, and earn points that can be redeemed for virtual or physical rewards. By utilizing gamification to motivate kids to get active and stay active, Zamzee has demonstrated that they can drive a sustained 59% increase in activity among kids, along with other health benefits like controlling blood sugar levels and slowing gains in “bad” cholesterol.

Video game designers have been living in the future for the last 40 years, but now the rest of us have caught up. By integrating gamification into your experiences, you too can use their proven techniques to motivate, engage, and generate a true competitive advantage for your business.

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Now it’s your turn. Which of these seven use cases do you think is the most compelling? Does your business have data on user activity that it can use to motivate? Have you ever experienced gamification at work – or in video games? What questions do you have for Rajat Paharia? Let me know your thoughtsin the Comments section below, and please do share this post with your network – I may reward you with some points (and maybe even free books!)

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