Gamification, using game techniques to get better results in a working environment, is a hot trend, especially in the world of CRM.
But to be effective, gamification must be done right. This isn’t always obvious, or indeed easy, but it’s necessary to take the time and effort to make gamification work for you.
The main goals of gamification are to improve productivity and increase morale. A secondary goal is to give employees a sense of insight into the business and their place in it to let them understand that what they are doing is making a difference, in other words.
The crucial first step in the process of gamification is to decide what behaviors you want to encourage. At first glance, this seems obvious. You want to increase sales and profits. However, on closer examination, you will see that it is more complicated than that.
What metrics are you going to use to judge your employees? Total sales is one obvious one but it is too crude and granular to be much use. You have to decide which behaviors will lead to increased sales that you want to encourage.
You have a lot of choices here and some of the obvious ones are problematic. Remember that whatever you measure you will get. If you measure cold calls you will get more cold calls, often at the expense of existing customers. You want a metric that furthers your business goals.
The next question is the rewards you will offer. At the high end, this can be something like cash or extra days off. However, gamification works best with a lot of little rewards to provide immediate reinforcement. Unless you’re selling a very high-value product that obviously won’t work.
At the opposite end of the scale are things like badges which are symbolic in nature or low value. One example is handing out dollar coins to salespeople who meet their goals. These can work well if they are offered correctly. However, the presentations must be public.
Recognition is another motivator you can use as a reward. It’s important, however, that people be recognized in a way that doesn’t discourage others. A company with one or two stars that relies on recognition may find that they are discouraging the others who feel they can never catch up.
This is the problem with contests and leaderboards. They show the stars off and can discourage the others from creating winners and losers. A system that hands out rewards to as many people as reach a goal or series of goals is more motivating to most people, not just the stars.
In general, the frequency of rewards is more important than the size of the reward. Our brains are wired to respond to a frequency more than to size.
Clearly, it takes some thought to design a gamification system that will work effectively. The lack of an effective system of rewards is a major reason why gamification efforts fail. Take the time to plan yours out and then tweak it as necessary to get the best results.