Using Gaming for Customer Engagement

Last week it seemed everywhere I turned our clients were talking about one thing, customer engagement in the form of gaming. Some wanted to use it for loyalty and rewards programs, others in social media, others like Redken went so far as to launch their own video game. We think it’s a spot on target and certainly a hot trend to follow.

Let’s consider the signals

  1. 4 generations of target audiences have now been reared on video games
  2. digital games are on every media device available
  3. social media platforms like FourSquare mimic games with their social status and rewards system
  4. the most popular online games recently have people happily doing such mundane tasks as farming, running a restaurant, changing a baby’s diaper, all with great joy and enthusiasm!

So if games make the dull-drums of everyday life fun, why can’t everyday life become a game? The truth is anything can be fun or anything can be work depending on its design.

Years ago MSLK introduced the concept of “edutainment” into our print and web design. Delivering content and messaging to customers in a method that is fun and interesting for them to follow is crucial in today’s market. Nobody reads anymore, but engage them in an experience and you have made a sale.

Today’s gaming seems to have taken edutainment to the next level. If rewarding children for learning via gaming works, what about rewarding customer behavior? This is where we begin to imagine the possibilities platforms like FourSquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places open up for businesses. Coupons are nice, but here even social status is a reward. Rewards include a badge for checking in a certain number of times, or for telling the world you’ve purchased a product. Frequent customers could receive sneak previews of new product samples or information to share with others to make them feel like a truly valued part of the team.

Even better what if that rewards system extended into everything we did? Jesse Schell crystalized it best for me in his 2010 DICE lecture. His example: what if your electric toothbrush issued you points for brushing for 20 seconds, and then more points for sticking with it for that the full recommended 2 minutes? If you brushed every day that week even more points! You’d be seen as someone who must really care about their teeth! Great job! Who might care about that? Well you if it inspired you to lead a more healthy life. However, your toothpaste company would be keen to know this information as well. What a great way to identify people with targeted rewards incentives.

And although the toothbrush that communicates back to the mothership may seem like a concept for the distant future the truth of the matter is the technology we need to make that happen already exists. In fact with social media platforms we can begin the principals of this process right now.

Nike Plus’s App is a great example of this. Part personal trainer, running log and social tool. This handy App, tracks your distance and time with each work0ut, suggesting routes to push you a bit further, as well as meet-ups with other participants in your neighborhood.

Imagine establishing social communities of your fans, motivating each other to use your product more together. If that doesn’t expand your mind on the possibilities out there right now, nothing will.