Boston Retail Partners’ 2015 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey released earlier this month shows that gamification is a target methodology for retailers, who are focused on winning business by offering a stellar experience to customers.
74% of retailers surveyed indicate that customer experience is one of their top three CRM priorities and 87% will have implemented gamification within the next five years.
BRP’s definition of gamification seems to be narrowly focused on PBLs for customer retention but the report refers to many other CRM goals that are all addressed by a quality gamification design:
The report also talks about the importance of social media as a CRM tool – and addressing social motivations is an important consideration in good gamification design.
Even more encouraging than all this enthusiasm for gamification is that businesses are allocating budget to marketing technology – up 9.42% over the previous year, at the expense of print media spend.
We see gamification as being an obvious methodology for retail. The balance of power has shifted in favour of customers, who are better informed and more able to access alternative suppliers than ever before. Retailers now have to work as hard as game developers to get and hold people’s attention.
First things first, right?
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So, you have a great idea for a new service/app/whatever – let’s call it a ‘product’. What is the most important element to begin development with?
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What is the most important element to begin development with?
Why do I think that is the correct answer? Because that is where your idea connects with the actual customer, on the customer’s terms. It requires you to think about how and when the customer would use your product – and working through this is likely to get you thinking about why they would use it as well.
The most important thing in the world is people. This is obvious but often seems to be forgotten in a focus on material wealth. But without people, there would be no wealth; without customers, you do not have a business. If an app is listed on the app store and no-one downloads it, is it still an app?
Understanding (or at least having a theory about) how your product will fit into your customers’ lives will make a big difference to the sustained use of your product. Branding, marketing and distribution will all affect the rate of initial uptake but if the product does not fit the customers’s lives, meet their needs and expectations, they will not continue to use it unless they have no real choice (in which case, they are prisoners and will have a very dysfunctional relationship with you/your product).
I think the key concept here is empathy – understanding what it is like to be in the customer’s shoes when they are using your product. Research has found that both satisfaction and loyalty increase when you build empathic relationships with customers. The experience of being treated without empathy, being objectified, varies from mildly unpleasant to traumatic, depending on the nature of the relationship. But it is never a compelling experience.
Think about customers as people, make a serious effort understand their perspective and needs, and you will be well on the way to the sustained success of your product. Treating customers as people is good for business.
Unfairness has been described as “relationship poison” in a study of customer relationships, aggravating conflict, opportunism and undermining the relationship management benefits of contracts.
People’s sense of fairness is innate and has been demonstrated in a wide range of sciences from genetics to primate behaviour. The feeling of being treated unfairly is instinctive and powerful and can lead to extreme results  (although different people react differently to unfairness).
So, do you treat your end-users fairly?
More importantly, do your end-users perceive that you treat them fairly?
Here are ten reasons why you should and how you can show respect for your users that will pay off in the long run.
 ^ Tripp, T.M. & Bies, R.J. (in press). “Doing justice”: The role of motives for revenge in the workplace. In M. Ambrose & R. Cropanzano (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Justice in Work Organizations. Oxford University Press.
 ^ Using the OECD scale of 5 proficiency levels; http://www.oecd.org/site/piaac/Skills%20volume%201%20(eng)–full%20v12–eBook%20(04%2011%202013).pdf
Three common consumer responses when offered a choice, three different responses to the burden of choice.
Yes, choice imposes a burden. Sometimes this burden is a pleasurable effort, sometimes it is challenging. Sometimes, it is just too hard, causing irritation and provoking disengagement.
More than 40 years ago, Alvin Toffler wrote in his book Future Shock:
“Ironically, the people of the future may suffer not from an absence of choice, but from a paralyzing surfeit of it. They may turn out to be the victims of that peculiar super-industrial dilemma: ‘Overchoice.'” – Future Shock, p.264.
Psychologist Barry Schwartz explored this idea further in his book The Paradox of Choice (watch his TED Talk here), where he highlights the fallacy that more choice means more freedom. Choice enables us to exercise our free will, affirming our existence as autonomous individuals rather than slaves to a predetermined destiny. But too much choice can be paralysing and reduce satisfaction, even with optimal choices.
Some choice is good, too much choice is bad. Referring to this cartoon by Peter Steiner, Schwartz says that “everybody needs a fishbowl” to limit their choices to a manageable quantity.
Although information technology has in many ways made the avalanche of overwhelming choice possible, used smartly, technology also has the potential to relieve people from the burden of too much choice.
A key gamification design principle is that of ‘meaningful choice’. Meaningful choice involves presenting the consumer with a limited set of options, each one of which represents the expression of some value and each of which leads to distinctly different consequences. Meaningful choice presents the consumer with a decision that is anchored in their self-concept. The choice made is a form of self-expression – and people are generally motivated to express themselves through their actions. Game developers have found that providing meaningful choice is an important part of building and maintaining engagement.
This is why at +play, we make empathy with consumers a key design parameter. Empathy for the burden that choice can impose and a related effort to understand exactly which choices this consumer would welcome at this time so that they can say, “I’ll have that one, please. Where do I pay?” Commercially, true engagement is measurable at the cash register – so having empathy for the consumer is a good way of showing empathy for the client!