Business Gamification For Dummies
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Simply put, business gamification refers to the use of game mechanics and rewards in a business setting to increase user engagement and drive desired user behaviors. Businesses can use gamification to increase such things as stickiness, sharing, content creation, and purchases.

What gamification is

In part, the idea behind gamification is to influence how people (in this case, customers and fans) behave and what they do by tapping into their innate desire to play games. It's about making things fun — something that game makers have known for decades but that the rest of us are just figuring out.

More than that, though, gamification is about tapping into what really motivates people and then using a variety of techniques to inspire them to perform desired behaviors. As a bonus, with gamification, the desired behaviors that users perform are recordable — and when you have data, you have an opportunity to act on it.

Yes, gamification can certainly be used to promote behaviors in which people might not otherwise engage, but the best gamification programs operate by rewarding people for behaviors they are already inclined to perform or are required to perform, increasing their engagement and enjoyment.

In other words, gamification makes things more fun.

To be clear, gamification isn't about creating a game. Games are great, sure, but slapping a game on your website probably won't help you attract more users. Rather, you use game mechanics to enliven an existing experience.

What gamification does

Does your website have low retention or dismal conversion rates? Are your customer communities ghost towns? Is your loyalty program stagnant? Have customers forgotten your brand altogether?

Or maybe your problems are on the employee side. It could be that your onboarding process for setting up new employees is slow. Or maybe your people just don't collaborate, share knowledge, or keep records the way they should. Maybe you have a high employee churn rate.

All these problems stem from a single cause: lack of engagement. Here are two ways lack of engagement can hurt:

  • Customers aren't loyal. The Internet has leveled the playing field, inundating customers with choices. Thanks to this ample choice, they often flee to competitors.

  • Employees underperform. By underusing the technology you provide, employees fail to optimize business processes.

In response, most organizations have simply invested in more technology — lots of it. Like, $1 trillion between 2007 and 2012 alone. Even so, here's the stubborn reality:

  • 54% of customers are inactive in loyalty programs.

  • 69% of customers don't use online communities.

  • 50% of employees don't adopt enterprise software.

  • 88% of employees don't use social software.

What's missing? Your ability to measure and influence behaviors that matter to you. Enter gamification.

Your customers and employees crave attention, recognition, approval, and rewards. With gamification, you feed this craving, and in the process convert customers into loyal fans and employees into highly effective collaborators and advocates.

Gamification enables you to drive, measure, and reward high-value behaviors by customers or employees. Game mechanics use design and behavioral psychology principles inherent in today's social games to drive and reward specific user behaviors in business environments. Smart gamification elements — such as points, achievements, levels, leaderboards, missions, and contests — can drive desired behaviors on virtually any website or enterprise application.

One way to think of gamification is as the intersection of psychology and technology. Most successful gamification programs rely to some degree on behavioral psychology — understanding what motivates someone to engage with certain elements on a website, app, or what have you.

In the past, the people who designed websites and software applications were concerned with simply developing technology — say, to automate or streamline a business process. They weren't so worried about making sure people would actually use it. Nowadays, it's about humanizing the technology and applying psychological and behavioral concepts to increase the likelihood that the technology will be used and used properly.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Kris Duggan is a thought leader of innovative ways to incorporate game mechanics and real-time loyalty programs into web and mobile experiences. Kate Shoup has written more than 25 books, has co-written a feature-length screenplay, and worked as the sports editor for NUVO newsweekly.

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