What do Points Make? Prizes: How Gamification Can Influence Your Business

“Champions keep playing until they get it right.”

So says Billie Jean King, tennis star of the 1970s. Of course, King is right: if you want to beat the rest, you’ve got to be the best, ooooooh, dedication’s what you need. Roy Castle, record breaker and jazz-trumpet legend agrees.

There are a million and one ‘winning’ quotes out there. Nature rewards a winner, and most people want to win, or at least like winning. That’s why, at Christmas, when you’re forced to play Trivial Pursuit with Aunt Flo, you love it when you answer the final question to win that last cheese.

We play games now more than ever. Whereas before, gaming was typified by images of nerdy teens on their SNES, today, with the advent of the smartphone and tablet, games are readily available and played. Indeed, Candy Crush Saga has been downloaded over 500 million times.

So it’s no surprise that gaming is becoming more pervasive in our everyday lives.

There’s a reason your Twitter profile displays how many followers you have; people obsess about influence. Bieber’s management must be fuming Katy Perry’s overtaken him. The competitiveness could be the death of One Direction (Harry Styles is winning).

Fairly recently, Sainsbury’s was found to be encouraging its staff to get its customers to spend an extra fifty pence in each transaction between then and year-end. The way it was portrayed suggested it was a game-like initiative, but in reality, it’s nothing more than a sales initiative which all commercial organisations have in some guise.

All sales people want (or should want) to smash their target. Who’s at the top of the leaderboard? Well, that’s quite like a game. It encourages people to beat their co-workers, driving yet more sales as a consequence.

Can this concept really apply to other areas of business, in particular, technology?

The simple answer is, yes.

Do you have a company suggestion scheme? What if you allowed staff to vote up or down the suggestions, implementing the suggestion with the most votes? Like a popularity contest, there is a definite winner to be applauded.

What if you wanted to encourage certain types of behaviour? Perhaps for every successful support ticket resolved you awarded a number of points; the support agent of the month is he or she with the most points.

Perhaps you could use gamification to assist with cleaning your data. Say you have gaps in your data that you need filling, why not award points for completeness? The result? Data you can actually use for accurate marketing.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But what about the administration of it? How do you decide on a scheme, and who keeps tabs on it? Yet another task for your sales administrator or marketing team?

Well, not necessarily. Enter a raft of products and services that deal with gamification.

Whether it’s CRMGamified, a tool specifically designed for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, helping those scenarios I mentioned, or Badgeville, helping your customers join in a conversation with you (aka ‘community engagement’) or others, the systems do require you to have an idea of what your initiative objectives are, but arguably that’s the most challenging bit.

Once you have that, you’re simply using the technology to monitor the metrics you set and produce the analytics and present them to your community.

My 5 top tips for successful adoption of gamification:

  1. Articulate what your chief objective is – is it clean data? Increasing sales?
  2. Set achievable tasks, badges and levels – people will enjoy seeing progression
  3. Integrate the game with a customer benefit – ask yourself how your initiative will benefit your customers, whether that’s resolving issues faster, or increasing customer communication
  4. Make sure everyone knows how to play – set the rules, make them crystal clear
  5. Manage disputes – sadly there’s always someone who takes it a little too seriously. People try to manipulate any system so you’re going to have to ensure you know how to enforce point 4.

Someone said to me that gamification taps into people’s ‘natural psychological motivators’. As someone who is a little bit obsessed by my Klout score, I maintain, people just want to play a game and win – so why not let them and get benefit for your organisation at the same time?