Perhaps my 1st grade teacher or 2nd, can’t recollect who, but the subject is still clear in my mind. She pointed out that my classmate sitting next to me had much better hand-writing than I had! Damn, I thought she is using a better pen than I. Very soon I realized my slack and practiced hard enough to make my hand writing more legible, at least to that teacher! Which later turned into a habit. I’m sure you can think of many such instances where someone engaged you in a competitive environment and got more out of you! To put things into perspective a gaming app recently was in the news for generating the highest revenue by ‘any entertainment product in 24 hours’ and the amount was a whopping $815.7 million. Stands out by itself on the Guinness records. An achievement and feat looking through the lens of successful entrepreneurship, however what led to this was carefully calculated strategy of marketing, customer segmentation, brand positioning, channel adoption, influencing market actions and most importantly, competition! Or shall we just call it ‘gamification’.
Gamification is much more common in other industries and adoption in utilities seems to be rather lagging. Take the example of retail or the travel and tourism industries, retailers such as Victoria’s Secret, offers in-app games such as Pink-O to incentivize customers. Tourism Ireland unveiled its Ireland Town game on Facebook giving it the potential to engage with more than 62 million people. The insinuations of gamification are simply too massive for even utility companies to ignore.
Slowly but steadily utilities have started engaging and encouraging customers, leveraging gamification. With the advent of demand response management, micro grids, energy bridges, peak rebate programs etc…now utilities too have an array of programs to offer to their customers. One of our recent experiences working with a utility company who was unable to achieve a decent level of customer participation on one of their peak time rebate programs found its adoption rate increased to 50%, once they reached out to customers who engaged with them via their gamification app. Utilities can think of some innovative ways to engage customers. This perhaps is also given the research suggestions that gamification increases memory retention by 400%! A mere comparison of how your neighbors are stacking up their utility reward points is sometimes incentive enough to engage.
Customer engagement and interactions now holds the key for the long-term success as utilities are geared to become energy service providers rather than just being the supplier of energy. Gamification helps engage customers with their utility companies. To position evolving programs, such as direct load control through Energy Bridge, dynamic peak control or peak-shaving rate-based programs to the customers, the customers who maintain regular interaction through gamification platforms will always remain more disposed to sign up to such proposals. Integrating that with EV charging stations and micro-grids, the equation become a little more complex and at the same time again underscores the importance of customer engagement.
Gamification helps foster a higher customer engagement and hence better consumer experience and adoption of services that utility companies have to offer. At the same time, utilities also gain perception by the consumers as being innovative, progressive and more reliable. As Gartner points out: gamification will become an important means for organizations to engage audiences at a deeper level.
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