The Gamification Trend: How Play Can Help Your Business Thrive


Whether the goal involves brand awareness, customer satisfaction or employee engagement, the concept of gamification has captivated enterprises of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy. Gamification refers to the use of game elements and game thinking (psychology), a non-game context, to get people engaged and energized about services and products. Deloitte forecasts that in 2015, 25 percent of all re-engineered business processes will incorporate gamification mechanics. The Deloitte’s Leadership Academy relies on embedded missions, leadership and badges to promote the skills deemed most important for achieving the company’s business objectives. The skills include negotiation, communication, time management, change management and problem solving. The gaming platform also identifies potential leaders based on their scores.

Dr. Stuart Brown, a pioneer in the research on play, says that “play is not the opposite of work.” He not only encourage C-Suite executives and business owners to think of play as the root of gamification, but to understand that well designed gamification programs enable people to engage in “playful activities” and simultaneously accomplish business goals.

Improve Performance and Job Satisfaction

Getting employees more engaged in business activities, such as learning processes, sales and customer satisfaction, has become a key goal of companies across nearly every sector of the economy. Research has shown that work training games and simulations are much more effective than conventional training methodologies when it comes to employees learning new skills and information. The assimilation of game elements into existing tasks and learning management systems (LMSs) increases user engagement in the process.

Gamification of the work process provides valuable data, including the following information:

  • Evaluate overall knowledge gap in process, polices services and products.
  • Implement training measures and track and reward an individual’ progress toward overcoming challenges and meeting objectives.
  • Measure the pace that the employee gains – new skills, key experiences and their readiness for taking on fresh challenges and new responsibilities.
  • Assess team leaders and managers’ ability to development productivity teams.
  • Determine which motivators help achieve the desired result for reinforcing behavior and those that fail.

The RMH Franchise Corporation operates more than 130 Applebee’s restaurants across the United States. Desirous of turning around an employee turnover rate that exceeds 30 percent, in December 2013, RMH introduced the Bee Block gamified website. The site, which the company updates in real-time, can customize employee profile for promotions and teaches employees how to “sell” more.

Employees can log in to manage their profiles, review-individualized data and participate in contests. The pilot results revealed an astounding 20 percent reduction in employee turnover. RMH implemented the program in all of its restaurants, and extended the program to increase the average check per customer and help employees’ become sellers.

Image via Shutterstock

To help improve employees’ financial literacy and their participation in its savings and retirement plans at work, Sun Life Financial gamified the initiative with the creation of “money UP.” To enhance its call centers, Allied Global uses gamification to increase employee retention levels, create a more optimal workflow and improve customer satisfaction.

The overall concept entails the conversion of the game participant’s metrics into a visible ranking system or scoreboard with the purpose of motivating the person to achieve better results – the equivalent of either attaining status or avoiding public shame.

“Gamify” Big Data

Nearly every aspect of a business interaction produces valuable information that companies can use to create satisfying experiences, drive performance and affect business outcomes. When done right, gamification can record, store and analyze a substantial amount of data related to the participant’s actions and behaviors.

Companies implement content marketing strategies, such as blog posts, e-books, whitepapers and webinars to attract leads. Many companies use a “drip” marketing approach that collects information bit-by-bit as the participant engages with the platform. LinkedIn and other companies employ this method to gather information about users. When the person logs into the account, a progress bar reminds them that their profile is 50 percent or 75 percent complete.

Typically, businesses avoid asking potential customers for the sale during the early stages of interaction. Instead, the strategy focuses on the delivery of voluble content and data collection while gently moving prospects through the various phases of the sales funnel – to become paying customers. Armed with this data and a 360-degree view of the targeted group, decision-makers can apply data analytics to game performance (data) and initiatives designed to:

  • Encourage persons to change behaviors
  • Make better choices about hiring, training and retaining employee
  • Motivate channel partners
  • Align inventory with customers’ needs and desires
  • Close sale transactions

Enterprises that effectively use big data can differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Gamification Program and Strategies

Gamification provides businesses a powerful approach to effect behavioral changes in employees, customers and partners. Research shows that successful training and change management strategies must go beyond simply capitalizing on the enthusiasm that people have for games. Any plan should also concentrate the efforts on the development of a comprehensive program versus a single game.

LevelsPro recommends the following best practices for companies developing an effective gamification plan:

  1. Identify your business objectives- Typically, the goals of a gamification program focus on the advancement of business knowledge and skills. Think about what you expect to gain from the program.
  2. Select the behaviors that affect business goals- Identify your key business processes, employee behaviors and gaming mechanics that align with company goals.
  3. Behavior modification desired- Identify the exact behaviors that you want to change.
  4. Determine how to measure player’s performance- Help participants and users see where they are and how their actions and behavior affects the organization.
  5. Clarify the purpose of the game- Help participants understand the game, company objectives and the game performance metrics and how to achieve them.

The reward strategy needs to motivate the targeted group. Prizes/rewards should increase in value as participants learn new skills and improve their performance.

About the Author: Sean Gordon is the CEO of Intelliverse, a global leader in enterprise cloud software and managed services.  His past experience as Director of Sales at AT&T and Vice President of InterCall have led to his success in servicing over 2,000 customers from Fortune 500 companies.  A proud graduate of the University of Connecticut and die-hard lover of the Patriots, Sean has been delivering reliable, scalable and flexible services and continues to stay relevant and focused on its customers. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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