I was recently asked whether gamification could be of use to a company. My short answer was "yes, if done right".
So why do some say that gamification is heading into the trough of dissolutionment? Why are there not many more case studies of incredible gamification success by major companies?
My thoughts, with reference to the use of gamification by utiities, are below...
Gamification has been driven by novelty and hype
There are multiple potential benefits from gamification that a company may be able to realise when engaging with their customers or improving their workforce.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Improving customer engagement and satisfaction.
- Collecting data from consumers.
- Creating behaviours from customers that increase revenue and margins and decrease costs .
- Customer acquisition through gamified sharing (i.e. providing rewards and incentives to get other customers to sign up).
However, it should not be seen as a panacea. In 2012, research vice president Brian Burke at Gartner said:
Gamification is currently being driven by novelty and hype. Gartner predicts that by 2014, 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily because of poor design.
Some say gamification is currently at a state of inflated expectations. If pursuing gamification solutions, their recommendations are:
- Organizations must understand the potential of gamification to design behaviours, develop skills, enable innovation and begin to deploy low-risk applications.
- Gamification project managers must engage game designers or organizations with experience in gamification in early implementations. (One well-respected UK provider is Matmi.)
- Strategic planners must learn how gamification is being applied in their industries and how their organizations can leverage gamification to engage employees or customers.
- Business managers must assess the impact of the longer-term discontinuities that gamification will cause and begin to position their organizations to capitalize on the trend.
Any design with gamification in mind must have business objectives clearly defined in order to design an experience that does not disappoint.
In addition, the user experience should be thoroughly and iteratively tested during development.
Examples of gamification
One notable example of gamification success is giffgaff, which rewards its community for helping others. Through this the company has achieved an exceptionally high Net Promoter Score.
Members have asked around 130,000 questions in the forums since 2010, which have received more than a million answers.
The gamification part is the way in which users answering questions are awarded 'kudos' and Payment points, which can be taken as a cash reward.
In this way, giffgaff has avoided the need for the kinds of call centre operations which most mobile providers have.
Children’s retailer Step2 uses the same platform as Teleflora, however I think the implementation is more effective.
Instead of a straightforward leader board it has a ‘BuzzBoard’ where members are rewarded for the amount of buzz they create.
Points are allocated for uploading photos and videos, sharing to Facebook or writing a review. However Step2 awards 15 points for a Facebook share, while Teleflora gives you one point for the same action.
One of the key benefits of gamification is getting customers to talk about your brand, so it makes sense to give big rewards for social shares.
As customers clock up points they are rewarded with new badges that start at ‘New-bee’ and go up to ‘Queen bee’.
Step2’s customers also appear to be more engaged with the gaming element of the site and tend to have completed a broader range of tasks. However that could be down to the type of products it sells.
As a result of the program the retailer saw a 135% increase in referral traffic from Facebook and a 600% increase in the number of videos and images uploaded to the site.
How utilities could use gamification
Utilities should look out for opportunities to connect the ‘internet of things’ with their offerings over the coming years, particularly when it comes to connecting smart meters to the internet.
For example, through the service IFTTT, users can set certain triggers to activate lightswitches and power devices (through Belkin’s WeMo technology) in order to regulate energy usage.
This is powered through the use of APIs and other technologies that enable the open transmission of information to third-party applications.