The game of gamification: how to play it right

Julia Karnaukh's picture
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Understanding the benefits of gamification software

In the pursuit of better customer engagement and employee productivity, companies have adapted many experimental and novel techniques and models, including the play-it approach to non-game contexts.

The concept of “gamification” has been around for a while and continues to gain traction in the business world. Gamification is the simple idea of encouraging participation in certain behaviors by stimulating our innate desire as humans to compete and win. In the realm of business software, applications of gamification include score-based and reward-driven activities, which have been proven to boost employee morale and increase individual performance.

As M2 Research predicts, the technique is becoming so popular that the gamification software market will reach $2.8 billion by 2016. The trend is promising and exciting; however, the concept of gamification does not necessarily work equally well in all aspects of employee-operated business processes. It’s best to fully understand the cons and benefits of gamification software and how it can best be used before trying to implement a gamification-based operational strategy.

How Does Gamification Work?
As previously mentioned, the concept of applying a competitive edge to business processes by utilizing goal-minded incentives has already gained significant momentum in many fields, with sales and customer service being the most noticeable and applicable areas. In these fields, incorporating the gaming element into daily routines proved to be an effective motivational tool that has already helped thousands of sales professionals to reach their goals.

Game-enabled applications provide rewards in the form of badges, scores, rankings and other types of recognition, which set standards for future accomplishments. Gamification applies the systems of either tangible or non-tangible rewards to help employees amp up their performance in a way that benefits both employee and employer.

Built-In Gamification in CRM
Many CRM vendors have successfully adapted the concept of gamification into their systems, promoting increased efficiency and productivity levels within an organization (when the function is used right). Intelligently designed and properly applied, this form of motivation can show remarkable results — though it is worth noting that gamification techniques are better for some scenarios than others, and work well only when implemented correctly.

When applying this approach, it’s important to remember that the ability to spur participation stems mainly from the reward elements of the tactic, rather than through a strong desire to help the business meet certain profit figures. And while the number of sales calls made by a participant does not necessarily affect the performance of the sales pipeline, it can help by increasing the number of qualified prospects — and improving the call agent’s perception of the task.

In order to ensure that a gamified CRM platform maximizes its return, users should be rewarded not only for achieving the best performance levels but also for continuously practicing certain behaviors identified as particularly valuable to the company. For example, a company might establish a point system to reward the quality of sales calls: 1 point for a new contact, 2 points for a contact with an executive title, 5 points for a referred contact and so on. A CRM platform with gamification can also transform specifically defined goals into scores, enabling players to continue moving forward with each achievement.

The Role of Gamification in Social Media
Long before gamification began making an appearance in CRM and sales tools, it had various community-based uses spanning from user forums to social platforms. With the ability to share successes and ask for opinions, these tools proved how important sharing achievements had become to today’s generation. And the latest applications of gamification within software revisit that social and communal aspect, allowing users to share results within the company and, on a larger scale, on their personal social profiles.

The trend of socially driven activities within the gamification element of CRM is expected to continue expanding — and likely to become a part of several other technologies where a gamified component could prove valuable.

The Bigger Picture of Gamification
While searching for information on the subject of gamification, one gets the impression that the tactic must offer sizable benefits to be adopted into so many popular software solutions. Yet at the same time, many critics are beginning to suggest that the value of the gamification method is exaggerated and oversimplifies the more sophisticated philosophies of business productivity.

It’s worth remembering that not so long ago many practices implemented today on a global scale (such as agile marketing) were also highly criticized. As the technology and functionality of gamification move forward, this methodology could eventually have significant effects on standard business processes, upscaling the productivity and performance of the teams. The focus now is all on the vendors working with gamification to come up with even better opportunities aimed at bringing business productivity levels to new heights.