During an August trip to Detroit I had the good fortune to meet people from some very well known brands: General Motors, Fiat-Chrysler, Kellogg’s, Domino’s Pizza, Flagstar Bank and Volkswagen. They all had one thing in common: They were interested in gamification.
The event was a kind of round-robin presentation sponsored by SOCAP International, the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals. I was one of five presenters. Each of us covered a different topic and sat at a different table. Groups of attendees would sit down at each table for 45 minutes, then get up and move to the next table. So I got to give my gamification presentation five times in a row to people from a wide range of industries and a wide range of departments, including IT, operations, management, and the production floor.
Even though the groups were diverse, they all had a core set of questions, including what to gamify and how to do it.
Here’s what I told them:
1. Keep it simple.
The less complicated you make the game, especially at the beginning, the better. Inevitably, companies try to game too many things too quickly. Don’t be afraid to pause, step back and reduce.
2. Explain the rules!
For the game to succeed, everybody has to know how it works and why the game is important. As simple as that sounds, it’s an easy step to mess up. If there is one person who doesn’t understand, from reps to trainers to QA staff, the game might fail.
3. Understand the risks
Think through all the things that can happen as a result of the game, good or bad. If you want agents to talk less and reduce average handle time, a game can get them to do that. But the risks might include reps hanging up on customers, or a decline in the quality of the interaction. So be aware that if you push down on one thing, other things could pop up.
4. Know your group
If you want everyone to participate, you have to create a game that will interest a majority of the people involved. Part of that is knowing what to offer as prizes. Don’t assume you know what your players want. Ask them.
5. Be ready to adjust
Gamification means posting information a leader board, either on paper or digitally. Competition should inspire better performance, but there are always going to be people who are last. If people are too far out of first place, they can feel hopeless and then disengage. There is a fine line between competition and humiliation. So you have to tailor the game to your team’s talents. Customization and individualization can be cumbersome and costly, but when human engagement is at risk, you don’t want to shake their confidence in themselves. Be attentive and know when to pull back, push ahead, hit pause, fast-forward, or even change the rules if necessary.
6. Keep games short
You can’t keep a game for more than a month, as a rule of thumb. Nobody wants to play a game forever. It has to be innovative to hold people’s attention.
There’s no recipe for how to cook the perfect game. If anyone tells you he’s an expert on gamification, run away. But thanks to new technology, you have the freedom to try it yourself without making a huge investment. With software as a service and cloud computing, you can dive in without writing software from scratch or buying expensive hardware. For $5 to $15 per person per month, you can launch some effective games and start reaping the rewards.
Oh, and the game can be rewarding: It impacts employee experience and employee satisfaction, which directly impacts the front line’s ability to serve up better, more satisfactory customer experiences. Everyone wins in these games. -Neal
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