News article

Is It All (Becoming) A Game?

26 Jul 2021

Is It All (Becoming) A Game?

Some of us are long in the tooth. I am one of them. This I know because my immediate boss refers to me as “Daniel Day Lewis”, a barbed reference to my being the Last of the Mohicans, at least when it comes to using the latest in communications technology.

The accusation is a bit unfair as, really, I simply operate under the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it rule”. Thus, what I don’t do is adopt the next big (or for that matter small) thing just because it’s there.

However, it turns out that most of the rest of the world does just that. This is I know because I have three teenage sons who, between them, have among other things apparently never met a game they couldn’t or wouldn’t play. Much, I must admit, to my chagrin. Whereas when I was their ages, I used to engage in antique past times like talking to people - now they merely grunt (occasionally) in solitary expressions of pleasure, usually having committed mass murder with a joystick in the latest version of Call of Duty.

You’re right. I don’t get it.

Nevertheless, my own regressive behavior notwithstanding, the gamification of the digital customer experience today represents an important trend across vertical industries because gamification engages virtually all audience segments (obviously except the one I’m in - the dinosaurs!). This is because not only do companies today need to foster and encourage digital adoption but, more broadly, they also need to engage their customers by creating interactive programs that deliver value and increase “stickiness” in order to both gain and retain market share. Games and gamification can play a major role in reaching these goals.

What is gamification?

At its core, gamification is the process of incorporating gameplay elements into non-gaming applications to drive participation, engagement and loyalty. It means you can grab and hold my kids’ attention without actually having to babysit! By ‘gamifying’ an otherwise more sterile or standardized experience, customers can be encouraged to interact with the service provider both more often and in a more rewarding way (for both customer and service provider).

The reality is that in many market segments, particularly the more youthful market (see, there was a point to introducing my kids in this article) with its growing numbers and disposable income, gaming is already well established and the elements within games are both familiar and popular. To cite just one example, in the mobile market in Cambodia 60% of customers are under the age of 30. Here, gaming is hugely popular (MNO Cellcard estimates there are about 2.9 million gamers who spend between one and a half to two hours daily playing games, 99% on mobile devices). It makes sense to bring elements of gameplay into traditional Customer Value and Loyalty programs.

Why does gamifying the customer experience work?

The aspects of gamification that can deployed are numerous. Examples include:

  1. Random engagements - such as “throw the dice” or “spin the wheel” to win a prize
  2. Challenges - where the completion of activities is rewarded
  3. Goals - where progress is made towards an objective
  4. Recurring engagement - reflected in daily bonus games or special offers
  5. Tiers and Levels - upon reaching which the customer’s received benefit encourages a continuation of the journey

By tapping into emotions in the manners described above, gamification enables service providers to leverage universal human needs to reach their digital engagement goals. Both intrinsic motivations (passion, fun, purpose, self-worth, progress) and extrinsic motivations (status, winning, avoiding failure, rewards, surprises) are addressed by this approach.

In this light, the documented effectiveness of gamification is unsurprising. A recent survey of 55,000 consumers demonstrated a broad interest in game mechanics; 81% had already played one game or another. There is a 1.7x increase in enjoyment when game mechanics are used in a customer experience program. As noted earlier, well over 80% of the under-30s market prefers to engage in this way. Indeed, today mobile games account for 33% of all app downloads, 74% of consumer spend and 10% of all time spent in-app. It is also worth noting that in 2020, casual gaming received a boost due to Covid-19.

If you gamify, will they come?

The benefits of gamification are generally felt in four distinct areas, as follows:

Retention, where gamification increases NPS scores, drives greater engagement and satisfaction, and enables different market segments to be addressed distinctly under a single proposition.

Brand Engagement, where gamification allows brands to differentiate themselves from the competition, to build emotional brand affinity beyond the transaction, and to increase the perceived value of the service provider/customer relationship.

Up-sell/cross sell, where gamification can be used to trigger specific behaviors (particularly in the digital arena) and drive revenue towards desirable product-related outcomes.

Supporting the broader digital agenda, where gamification becomes an important input into creating a complete, “360 degree” view of the customer across products, games, and beyond.

Time to act

In light of the present commercial environment, it can be argued that the time to deploy gamified experiences is now. Digital customer engagement is critical, not least because it provides a number of levers to maximize customer value across the lifecycle (acquisition, monetization, retention). Gamification is a powerful mechanic to support this. As customers (participants) discover your service offering, a successful and gamified journey will move them more quickly through a maturity cycle from ‘curious’ to ‘habitual’ to ‘highly engaged’.

It is critical to look at Gamification (in all its flavors) as part of an overall strategy to drive KPIs like repeat engagement, social ‘likes’, member recruitment, NPS, lifetime extension. The digital channel is a perfect fit for gamification mechanics, leveraging access to data, to personalize and deliver a truly ‘rich’ entertainment experience.

So let’s play

Today, digital technology is freeing telecoms customers to engage with their chosen brands on their own terms-researching, discussing, playing, and shopping at all hours via multiple devices and different channels. Yet the consumer wants still more. It’s not just about the product or the service; it’s the entire experience a brand provides. Customers want to be treated as individuals, to be valued, to be entertained and, ultimately, to be delighted.  Gamification is a critical part of this.

To deliver the comprehensive and satisfying digital experience that will drive digital adoption, brands must clearly define what they want to achieve and how they will go about it; a deep customer understanding together with a solid data and technology foundation that supports interactive and personalized experience are now given requirements for commercial success. 

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26 Jul 2021