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Gamification 101: Business Strategy and Software Evolution

Sam Biardo, owner and Danine Pontarelli, Marketing Manager, Technology Advisors Inc
Sam Biardo, owner and Danine Pontarelli, Marketing Manager, Technology Advisors Inc

Sam Biardo, owner and Danine Pontarelli, Marketing Manager, Technology Advisors Inc

The concept of gamification has crept into our everyday lives. If you haven’t heard of it already, gamification is a business strategy which applies gaming techniques to non-game software to drive a specific behavior in a user. Not only are businesses adopting this method to encourage employees, but software and technology companies that cater to these businesses are responding by adapting their products.

“Technology will only continue to evolve to support this technique, and it will be interesting to see where it goes next.” 

How do you start building a gamification strategy for your business? How are software companies helping to foster your gamification? Let’s discuss.

The Basics

Gamification seems like a new concept, but it has actually been around for quite a while. In the non-software world, we know it as loyalty programs — we achieve statuses like Platinum, Ambassador, Premier, Diamond, and so on. We earn rewards which can be public (priority boarding on a plane) or private (receiving a hotel room upgrade). Sometimes our rewards benefit multiple people, like a grocery store that gives back 10 percent of our purchase to a nearby school. This concept of status and reward applies directly to business gamification and the trend its setting for modern technology.

To start playing, you must first recognize the three categories of people your game needs to resonate with: 

  1. Achievers: These are the employees who are motivated when they reach a level or a goal. 
  2. Socializers: These are the employees who are motivated by the public recognition gained from reaching a level or goal. 
  3. Team Goal Setters: These are the employees who are motivated by sharing a common goal with coworkers and working towards it together. 

Let’s look at how gamification can help keep employees motivated based on these three types of players.

Achievers may respond best to an award that validates their level of accomplishment, such as receiving a $100 Amazon gift card for completing a project on time. A Socializer, on the other hand, would much rather see his or her name posted on a public leaderboard as one of the Top 5 Sales People of the Month. The Team Goal Setter would be happiest with a community reward, like everyone receiving a bonus when the company makes 10 percent above forecast.

The key to gamification is to make sure you have a program that motivates each type of player. If your company just posts a leaderboard, you will not motivate Team Goal Setters and may possibly have a harder time motivating Achievers as well. But, if you set a team goal, offer individual rewards, and keep a leaderboard, you’ll create incentives for all.

Tailoring Your Goals

While motivators are extremely important, they only work if they’re paired with careful and realistic planning. It’s crucial to first take an inventory of your goals so you can align them to your players’ skill levels. For example, if one of your goals is to increase sales, you would tailor your game to the sales department as a whole, but the rules may differ from player to player. Why? Sales teams tend to have both eagle and low performers. The expectation for an eagle would differ from a low performer, so the gamification rules should reflect that.

An eagle is already performing to high standards, so asking the eagle to improve at the same capacity as the low performer creates a disparity. To resolve the issue, the eagle’s goal may be to improve by 5 percent while the low performer’s goal may be to improve by 25 percent. An option for bonus points could level the playing field for any party who submits accurate reports or displays team comradery, but the independent goals would still be aligned with realistic expectations for the individual. After all, if a player thinks a game is impossible to win, why would they play?

In the end, setting goals that work for everyone will amplify the success of your program.

Gamification in the CRM World

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) companies (along with many other software solutions) are recognizing the popularity of gamification and evolving their products to incorporate it.

Users may now receive thumbs up when they enter contact information that is complete and accurate to the company’s standards. They may earn points for answering a question for a teammate or helping another employee understand how to work the product. Some companies may even tally these points and allow employees to trade them in for gifts.

Many CRM companies encourage gamification for user adoption of the product. A business that has just acquired a new program may award points to players for providing complete customer information, taking accurate notes, qualifying a lead, or moving an opportunity through the sales process. Companies can even use their CRM systems to display the progress and leaderboard rankings right on the dashboard, creating instant visibility to all users.

No matter what line of business you represent, the proper implementation of a gamification strategy has the potential to change your culture, improve efficiencies, and grow your business. Technology will only continue to evolve to support this technique, and it will be interesting to see where it goes next.

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