By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
I was quite skeptical when I first heard about “gamification,” the use of gaming concepts to motivate desirable behavior among customers (or employees).
I reasoned that while expecting customers to “play games” might result in a short-term increase in brand involvement or purchases, I doubted if it was sustainable. However, I am rethinking my initial assessment.
As a Netflix customer, I was likely involved in a basic gamification effort. As I posted movie reviews on their site, I was given a “reviewer rank.” As I posted more reviews, my rank would improve. At one point I had worked my way to the neighborhood of 5,000 out of several million reviewers. Bettering my reviewer rank became a game for me. Yes, I enjoyed watching the movies and yes, I found it rewarding to share my input with other Netflix customers, but the validation of my efforts came through watching my reviewer rank improve.
However, if it was a “game,” the problem was I didn’t know the rules. I assumed that more reviews were good, more readers of my reviews were beneficial, and more people flagging my reviews as “helpful” in comparison to “not helpful” were a factor. But this could not be verified, as everything I did was in competition with what others did. I could do something to improve my reviewer rank, but if others did even more to improve theirs, my rank would actually decrease.
I reviewed 71 movies and then abruptly stopped when I realized I no longer enjoyed doing so. It seems gamification may work after all — at least for a while.
While I’m yet to envision a viable gamification application for call center callers, I do see it as having value for call center agents: to improve their metrics, learn new skills, increase first call resolution, and enhance caller satisfaction. Plus, as covered later in this issue, gamification is also being used to improve employee health and reduce costs. Game on!