30 May 2012

The possibilities of ‘gamification’

Do you use gaming techniques in your business? Are you planning to? Tell us below. Incentive can be everything when it comes to motivation. When longitude at sea was difficult to calculate in 1714, the British government offered 20,000 pounds for a solution – sparking a frenzy of work into the problem. Similarly, in 1810 the French offered 12,000 francs to anyone who could devise a cheap way to preserve food for their army – won by confectioner Nicolas Appert who cooked food inside jars. In the commercial world, incentive and loyalty schemes such as Flybuys are commonplace. Until recently, they’ve generally been the preserve of big business. But that’s changing with the rise in what’s being termed ‘gamification’ – the use of game mechanics in applications outside games. Reward platforms like Foursquare are one example, but it seems that businesses are finding an increasing number of uses for gaming mechanics, from customer loyalty schemes to staff performance rewards. Why gamification works Proponents argue that by ‘gamifying’ loyalty schemes, customers can be more easily motivated to stick by a business. Status levels, badges, leaderboards and – most importantly – rewards, each work to create a fun and hopefully social environment in which customers engage with your business (and often share the fact that they’re doing so). What gamification can achieve When it’s successful, gamification promises a variety of benefits:
  • Repeat custom
  • Brand loyalty
  • Data and improved metrics for assessing customer behaviour
  • Word of mouth, often through social networks
At Brennan IT, we think there’s great potential in gaming techniques – and not just because many of us are gaming fans. This includes staff motivation as well as customer engagement, with game mechanics now popping up in business applications and tools. But take care We think that it’s important to use gamification carefully, however. Gaming can be compelling, if not addictive. Transforming KPIs into gaming achievements for your customer service reps, for example, is likely to produce higher levels of motivation – but they’ll be directed very specifically at those achievements, so there’s a danger that staff will fail to see the forest for the trees. What do you think? Where have you seen game mechanics used? What impact do you think they can have?