Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Gamification in Customer Engagement Management

Gamification is the use of game techniques for non gaming purposes. Humans are hard wired to compete and thus gaming has become a hugely popular and profitable industry. Gamification does not mean that systems are becoming full- fledged games but just few game elements are being included in them. The common elements of game mechanics are: points, levels, leaderboards, badges and quests. Gamification is finding many uses like making websites more engaging, driving loyalty for brands and encouraging desired behavior through incentives and real-time feedback.

Often the objective of gamification is to make the system more enjoyable or more efficient and further increase the loyalty, fun, revenue and engagement. The term engagement defines the connection or the bond the customer shares with a product or a service. There are no clear metrics to measure engagement and page views or unique visitors may not tell the true story behind engagement of users with products, services or websites. The benefits of engagement are increased brand loyalty, positive word of mouth and increased sales.
 At the heart of success of the games is a concept called flow. The experience of flow is often defined as a spontaneous joy while performing a task. To create a highly engaging gamified system, we must harness the power of flow. The unique thing about gamification is that most of the times, the rewards have little or no monetary value. According to a Gartner report, 70 % of the top 2000 companies in the world will have at least one gamified application by 2014. But India is far behind with less than 10% of Indian Corporations using gamification.  

Successful applications of gamification: The successful examples of gamification have been Samsung, Nike and Khan Academy.
Samsung created user-generated content by rewarding users to participate in discussion with other users, reviewing products and watching videos. The rewards included unlocking batches, moving up in levels and chance to win Samsung products.
The world’s largest athletic footwear and apparel company Nike created Nike Plus which is a social running app. The Nike app can be downloaded into android phones and iphones and it captures the distance, pace and calories using phone’s inbuilt GPS. The runners can also upload data and connect with other runners. 

Khan Academy also used gamification techniques very effectively. Right answers give an instant happy face as well as movement on multicolored progress bar. Answer the questions quickly and you are awarded with “Picking Up Stream” award worth 100 points which you can share on Facebook or Twitter. Another gamification element is its recommendation system that recommends courses based on the student’s learning characteristics.
Being a buzz word, many companies are trying to implement gamified systems. But implementing it goes beyond badges and points. The organizations must keep the business goals for long term in mind while designing the systems. Further they should add the fun elements to otherwise routine tasks. They should also provide differentiated user experience.    
Gamification is already producing great results wherever it is properly implemented. Well designed game mechanics have already produced significant improvements in brand loyalty & employee motivation levels.  Gamification experts are encouraging people to involve game mechanics wherever possible, even in personal life, to make those mundane daily tasks interesting. There are increasing examples of people becoming fitter, healthier, more skillful, and more knowledgeable with the use of gamification. Customer Engagement Management (CEM) genre is developed with gamification at its backbone. With exponential increase in its adoption, expect gamification to be a major part of our professional & personal lives. So, did you measure how many minutes it took you to read this piece? Can you do better next time?

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