What is it about video games that provide people an enjoyable and engaging experience, keeping us glued to our seats and always wanting to come back for more; and how can we apply some of these strategies and techniques in our own products and services to take customer experience to the next level?
In a world with an increasing abundance of options and our competitors only a click away, the difference between success and failure for today’s products and services comes down to one factor: customer experience. In recent years more than ever, gamification, or the idea of engaging your users with your product using concepts found in games, has proven to be a powerful technique for business. Let’s dig into the some concepts of gamification and see how they can be used to develop products that are revolutionizing industries and creating customer experiences like no other.
Level 1: Create a Challenge
“Give me a challenge and I’ll show you I can overcome it”. We love taking on challenges and love the tingly sensation we get inside our brains when we overcome and accomplish them. Games tap into this innate desire by creating achievable goals for us to conquer. They assign points to various tasks or actions and reward us for achieving them.
Fitness tracking applications such as Fitbit and Strava have created successful products using the concept of challenges and awards. What otherwise might be a mundane task, exercising now becomes a fun activity as you set fitness challenges for yourself, track progress, and earn points / kudos / or virtual medals upon for reaching your goal. Conquering the challenge makes us feel great, and we attribute our success and associate the great feeling of achievement with the product. This makes us yearn for more, and has us coming back to the products that provided this experience for us.
Level 2: Feedback and acknowledging achievements
We love getting feedback and acknowledgement for our achievements. It motivates us to continue. You might be thinking to yourself, “well obviously this makes sense for fitness products, but it doesn’t apply to my business”. Let’s take a look at an example of how the mobile navigation application Waze utilized the concepts of gamification to build their very product and forever changed the mundane task of getting directions.
As you drive around town with the Waze app on your phone, your earn points for interacting with the map around you. You can report incidents such as hazards you spotted on the road and instantly get points. Just for driving with the map running, you get points for distance traveled and are acknowledged for reaching certain milestones. Points earned help you build credibility within the community.
Tapping into one's desire to be good at something and providing them with feedback of small victories makes an experience like navigation and driving pleasant, engaging, and fun.
Level 3: Level up
Now that you have collected your points you can see the fruits of your labor and feel accomplished by being promoted to the next level. We love seeing progress and the reward that comes with it. Customers invest their time and energy in your product to achieve a specific goal. So, why not make this journey a rewarding experience by acknowledging their success and achievements and letting customers know just how awesome they are.
Airlines, hotels, and rental car companies are masters of utilizing the concepts of levels to motivate users to continue using their services. The more you continue using a service, the more perks you can get. My airline app notifies me of how far I am from reaching my next status level and what I will get when I achieve it. I feel great buying a ticket knowing that it will help me get to the next status level where I get Bonuses and Perks for my loyalty.
Level 4: Bonus & Perks
What better way to show appreciation for customer loyalty than by giving them bonuses & perks. Whenever I try, I get upgraded on my flights thanks to my frequent flyer priority status that I have earned through the loyalty program with my chosen airline. When I stay in hotels, I have a special Platinum member desk I go to where I skip the line. I get upgrades and complimentary welcome gifts because I’m a frequent guest. Weirdly enough, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. It makes me want to keep coming back, because I know the more I continue using the service, the more perks I will get.
Level 5: Option to choose your own adventure
Ultimately games allow you to experience a world where you are the master of your destiny; where you are in control. You are given options, and the choices you make allow you to have different experiences. Enabling your customers to feel that they are in control of their own journey is key to the experience. Users want to feel that they are driving the product and not the other way around. Presenting the customer with a clever set of options to achieve the same task can significantly improve their user experience.
An interesting example of this can be found in the recent Toys' 'R'' Us “Wishing Wand” product developed by Fahrenheit 212, a global innovation strategy and design firm. This device aims to bridge the physical and virtual shopping experience. As shoppers, we have been accustomed to walking into a store and expecting to grab a shopping cart, hand basket, or neither if we only want to browse and maybe buy later. With the Toys’ ‘R” Us’s “Wishing Wand”, parents and kids have the option to freely venture around the store with a device that can be used to add items to a virtual cart that they can visit later. This idea redefines what the store experience could be and truly takes the customer experience to the next level.
Although gamification has proven to be quite a successful technique to improve customer experience, I think we are still in the early stages. I would challenge businesses to continue thinking of ways to incorporate game mechanics and dynamics into their products or services and bring the experience of your customers to the next level.