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Video games are firmly entrenched in popular culture because they’re ideal for leisure, but their mechanics have broader applications. Here we consider how implementing those mechanics in your business — applying gamification — can help you introduce and clarify your overall business offering.
There are many reasons why people spend so much time playing video games, whether on dedicated consoles, their smartphones, or their computers. They’re generally fun, of course: they liven up dull days when the weather is poor or when circumstances (such as a global pandemic) make it all but impossible to experience the outside world.
Games also provide elements of community: multiplayer games can bring people from opposite ends of the Earth together.
But, there’s a deeper reason that we just can’t put games down, and we’d need to delve into complex psychology if we wanted to unpack it. In short, they get their hooks into us. They take advantage of our fundamental habits to snare us even when we’re tired of them.
Now, while you obviously shouldn’t wilfully abuse elements of game mechanics to manipulate potentially-dissatisfied customers, particularly if you’re building a customer retention strategy, it’s fair to wonder how you can use them in beneficial ways.
We’re asking the question, can you use games to teach customers about the nature of your business offering and help them get more out of whatever you bring to the table?
It’s typical for companies to provide extensive customer support options, but they tend to rely on reactive engagement: whether through email, live chat, or phone call, they ask their customers to reach out to them for assistance whenever they run into problems or require information.
Some companies even commit support resources to be available on a 24/7 basis, drawing upon chatbot automation and/or outsourcing services to cope with the demand.
Reactive support is good overall, of course, as it keeps those customers feeling appreciated — but, there’s a problem with handling service this way. Just as a parent who coddles their child will prevent it from learning as much as it should, a company that concentrates on being there to answer all support questions will lead its customers to rely on that direct engagement.
When you rely on someone else to handle things for you, you won’t bother learning anything more about it yourself.
To address this issue you can work to encourage curiosity in your customers and give them the resources they need to satisfy that curiosity on their own time. This is where knowledge base software becomes so valuable: freely providing a wide range of carefully-tagged guides covering all aspects of your service(s) and/or product(s).
Providing a comprehensive knowledge base for your customers will empower them— yes, even those overseas, if you translate your articles — to find answers to key questions without ever needing to speak to you directly. This way, they’ll learn more about how your product works.
Consider the ultra-familiar shipment process. The practice of ordering things to be delivered is ancient, but the distances involved and associated complexity have ramped up over the years.
Today, businesses aplenty rely on shipments leaving and arriving on schedule. They need to stay updated throughout the process so they can query any delays and take action when necessary.
This is why huge sites like Amazon provide clear outlines of the steps they take. Anyone curious about how things are going can simply check their order progress and find out.
While you may never have thought about it, this ties perfectly into gamification.
Games function through tasks: some are mandatory and some are optional, but they’re assuredly tracked regardless, and the most accessible games are those that make that tracking visible.
The player in a game always needs to know what comes next: if they ever feel unsure, they may opt to quit the game and there’s no guarantee that they’ll come back! Something similar can be said of your customers.
If customers get confused about what’s going on, they may start mentioning cancellations and even refunds. Through ensuring that they can readily confirm where things stand (ideally setting out neat recaps of what’s been done), you can reduce the likelihood of losing them.
Services like Spotify like to send out information about how their users use the platform. Which genres are the most popular? Which artists have had the biggest increases in listeners? This isn’t just to provide entertainment and prompt discussion, though. Someone who hasn’t heard of a band might want to check it out after seeing that so many others have enjoyed it.
This strategy is a reminder to users of what else they could be doing on the platform.
If there are sides to your business offering that you’d like your customers to understand better, releasing such insights can help you to subtly promote these other features. You could even work on case studies, bringing in quotes from satisfied customers to give others some compelling reasons to investigate new possibilities.
How is this gamification? It’s simple. Game worlds are often huge, featuring secrets that go missed by many. The developers clearly want people to see them, but they can’t make everything intensely obvious — so, what can they do? Well, they can share social stories about particular secrets, allow players to leave and rate in-game messages, and even show trails to help players see where their peers have been before. In doing so, they push people towards the things that they want them to see without ‘giving the game away’.
Wrapping up, then, you certainly can use gamification to teach your customers more about your business offering. By giving them resources to answer their own questions, setting out clear progression steps, and keeping them apprised of what their fellow customers have been doing, you can broaden their horizons substantially while teaching them more about your products and services.
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