A GAMER MINDSET IS VITAL TO ENGAGE CUSTOMERS
Customer Experience (CX) is a relatively new competitor in the business arena, but savvy strategists know that this is the most important asset companies will have in the future. Products are relatively similar these days, and any Black Friday can show you that pricing is no longer a big advantage for companies struggling with sales.
Brand differentiation and increased investment in CX have shown since 2009 that a close customer experience management yields higher referral rates and increases customer satisfaction. In today’s market you can even receive earned media for your product online and on TV just for your customer engagement. For example, PlayStation vs Xbox has been a unique rivalry displayed in TV Shows and popular online forums like 9Gag. In a world where insensitivity towards company-generated advertisements is our daily bread, this approach could easily signify the survival of several firms in the marketplace.
What does this have to do with gaming? Gamification is a process that applies the thinking and tools of a game designer, such as mechanics, to an existing real business problem or process (Palmer, Lunceford, Patton, 2012). This means you could easily take the key elements of gaming like challenges, playfulness and interactivity; to pair them with real-life business objectives. In recent years, it has been used to design solutions for things that range from employee training to BTL and ATL marketing (much like Google’s latest Star Wars theme).
The key point to consider for CX is that gamification offers a direct relation of the player with the media. This term has been coined as Immersion (Csikszentmihalyi, M. 1990).
What if we used these tools directly to increase customer satisfaction? Well, for instance using this approach in the interaction with your client could make them feel more involved with your brand. However, that would be just the tip of the iceberg. It could even be used towards designing the exact products your loyal customers crave at a fraction of the cost if you pair the approach with a rewarding gaming experience, big data and social recognition for your customers.
For example, toy maker Step 2 encourages parents to get involved in creating buzz for their brand with a point and badge system. Points are achieved for reviews, sharing product specs and engaging other potential customers. This way, they can rise in category by several levels in order to be recognized as brand influencers. Step 2 also provided a leaderboard to give public recognition to its most participative members. This has in turn increased brand engagement for the company as well as provided useful insights for the marketing and design teams.
Managers with a gamer mindset will be required in the future if corporations really want to engage and maintain customers actively. They need to be able to establish a goal for the company and design a rewarding and fun user interface to achieve it, but also think in all the ways a customer might exploit the system to reap rewards without giving something in exchange. The first trials of this approach in the CX arena have shown significant increases in the level of customer interaction with companies (moving the needle upwards between 20 to 50 percent).
If companies hire such leaders, they might be able to use the findings derived from gamification to implement initiatives in new ventures as well as reinforce the things that are already working in their business model.
In the end, customers have to come first. And gamification is one way to empower them and let them handle their own customer journey.
Juan Maldonado Alcázar