How to Innovate through Gamification

Posted by jartese on Mar 18, 2014 1:38:39 PM

Authored by JT Upton

Gamification is something that can benefit businesses tremendously. You can use it to reward employees, as well as engage customers in a fresh and unique way. Let's take a look at what gamification is, how you can implement it, and how it breeds innovation.

What is Gamification?

If you haven't heard of the term, you're not alone, but I can guarantee that you know what it is. Gamification is when you turn any series of tasks into some sort of competition, with some sort of payoff for the individual. It's been a method of motivation for companies for a while, but only recently has it been a center of focus for businesses. It not only provides friendly competition for the employees, but it also allows you to interact with an audience that you couldn't previously reach.

Many companies today use gamification to help employees stay on task. The idea behind this is that work can be a fun job, not the dull and dreary place that some people view it as. For the most part, it's worked. Companies have reported varying levels of success when implementing gamification, which has resulted in increased productivity. Companies are also turning to gamification to engage more with customers. This challenges their advertising team to come up with innovative ways to reach an audience that they couldn't previously reach.

How it Should be Implemented

There are many ways you could implement gamification techniques, and it's different for every company. To measure progress, badges, achievement levels, progress bars, or virtual currency are typically used. You could also use points, which could then be traded for rewards. The reward that you offer is completely up to you. It's important to display a leaderboard somewhere in the office. The leaderboard, ideally, will motivate other employees to improve their efforts at work so they can be displayed on the leaderboard.

The idea behind gamification is to reward players for completing a challenge, so make sure your tasks are challenging. Ideally, you should do group challenges, and people from different departments should be paired up. This allows people to share their knowledge to overcome the challenge. Once a week, publicly recognize the leaderboard. Employees constantly struggle for recognition, and simply recognizing an employee can boost their productivity so they could get recognized once again.

For customers, it's the same idea, but on a different scale. For instance, a television show could publicly acknowledge messages sent in from viewers. They could also differentiate the product based on what people have voted to see. By doing this, viewers truly believe that they have at least a little power over the way things play out.

How it Breeds Innovation

Gamification removes a lot of what holds people back in an office. It removes any statuses around the office that could potentially skew the outcome of a project. For example, in a discussion about future content, due to workers' statuses, they may hold back from saying how they truly feel. With gamification, they may not only speak their mind, but they may share what eventually becomes the company's next successful idea.

As mentioned earlier, gamification should include group challenges. This won't only help employees become more familiar with each other, but it'll promote collaborative efforts for both the set of challenges and in their daily work routine. You can offer group points or bonus points to the winning team.

For a business trying to draw more customers, it challenges them to come up with ways that can get customers talking about their business. For some companies, they go the traditional route with a question and answer session on social media. But for others, they think outside of the box and challenge their marketing team with coming up with a brand new concept.

Examples of Implementation

There are a ton of ways that companies are using gamification, particularly for marketing purposes. Take Verizon, for example. It decided to take to social media to predict the winner of Super Bowl XLVIII. Through the use of the hashtag “#WhosGonnaWin” on Twitter, it counted the number of tweets and lit two sides of the Empire State Building based on who was winning the poll. Twitter users correctly predicted that the Seattle Seahawks would win the Super Bowl. While fans saw this as a fun social experiment, Verizon saw it as a fun and unique way to advertise its brand.

Pepsi used gamification to increase customer interaction as well. Pepsi Sound Off, a website created specifically for users to voice their opinions, was created. This site allowed users to talk about shows that were sponsored by Pepsi, such as The X Factor and The Grammys. Pepsi rewarded fans that had comments with a high number of positive votes by airing their comments live on TV or in a Pepsi advertisement. This provided Pepsi the opportunity to build its brand and engage consumers in exchange for offering inexpensive micro-fame.

Cisco decided to implement gaming strategies to motivate its employees and enhance its sales meetings. It was able to reduce call time by 15 percent and its sales improved by about 10 percent. Marriott turned to gamification for newly hired employees. Rather than send them through tiring training programs, it created a game called "My Marriott Hotel". It tasked them with various roles in the hotel, which allowed them to get a basic understanding of the job.

Gamification, if used correctly, can be a great motivator. By offering a little incentive, you can push employees to be more productive, and you can engage your customers in a truly fun way that will exponentially increase your brand's exposure. Can you think of any other examples of companies engaging customers with gamification methods? Has your company used gamification methods to push employees further? Leave a comment below and let us know how things turned out.

Topics: Innovation Insights

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