How gamification can deliver real results in customer feedback

29th Jan 2016

At a time when engaging with customers is becoming more and more difficult, gamification promised major benefits, from a better customer journey to the improved collection of feedback and ideas from consumers. However, often these benefits have been delivered sporadically, if at all, with many gamified Voice of the Customer or feedback programmes simply failing to provide significant results. Much of this is down to a fundamental misunderstanding of what gamification actually is. By focusing on cool video game style graphics or complex journeys that fail to engage, and actually make providing feedback more difficult, many brands have missed the point of gamification. It is therefore time to go back to basics.

The main objective for gamifying customer feedback is to increase engagement levels so more consumers provide better quality feedback, giving a comprehensive picture of what they are thinking about your brand, product and experience. Gamification solicits a more emotional, immediate and therefore accurate response from customers as people respond instinctively, without thinking about their answer. Therefore, at a time when consumers are bombarded with opportunities to give feedback, gamification should help by making the process simple, seamless and fun.

This isn’t always the case though, and often gamification fails to deliver – most often due to confusion surrounding what gamifying elements are truly important when applied to customer feedback.

Going back to basics, marketers should focus on these four areas:

1. Use playfulness to engage
The key to gamification is to build feedback surveys around playfulness, as opposed to advanced graphics. This doesn’t have to be complex – it can be as straightforward as changing the wording of questions to turn them into a game by appealing to people’s competitive instincts or puzzle solving nature.

If you want to find out how your customers feel about your brand, for example, ask them to describe it in a sentence or compare it to a celebrity or model of car. This can be much more engaging than forcing consumers to respond using a scale of 1-5 and can drive qualitative as well as quantitative feedback.

2. Keep it simple
If you want people to engage and give feedback ensure that the design, layout and interactive aspect of your survey focuses on creating an easy user experience first and foremost. Re-use those things that currently help deliver a positive, familiar user experience in people’s everyday online lives. And make sure they are all built around the things your target demographic is already at ease with.

So, you could consider requiring consumers to click on a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down icon to indicate whether they like or dislike something – or borrow the touch and swipe interactivity of smartphone apps or games when you ask people to agree or disagree with a set of options in your survey questions. Given that many consumers will be giving feedback on mobile devices, make sure your feedback surveys are designed around a mobile-first strategy.

3. Give something back
If you want to encourage participation, particularly over the long-term, then enabling participants to earn points and rewards can certainly play a role. For example, retailers could offer customers the opportunity to earn points every time they complete a post-purchase survey, and then turn these points into a discount voucher or free shipping. For those collecting feedback through an online community, those who have participated in a high number of surveys could be given the privilege of having more complete profiles and even enhanced roles. You shouldn’t underestimate the positive effect of social pressure – people want to gain status in communities.

4. Gamification doesn’t mean video game graphics
When people think of gamification it is easy to get caught up on the idea of creating cool online video game style graphics and animations that fill the screen.  While these can look fantastic, often there is a risk that they overcomplicate feedback collection and actually make completion more difficult.

By all means use visual and interactive elements to make surveys more game-like and enjoyable, but remember that the emphasis should be on keeping things simple, familiar and intuitive; because you want to make the task easier, not harder.

For example, you could gamify an agree/disagree question by providing the options on a deck of cards which respondents can pick up and move to their preferred answer. By showing the number of cards respondents can also see how far through the question they are.

When it comes to increasing customer feedback, well-thought out gamification can really help with response rates and engagement. I think that currently we’re part way up a steep learning curve, with marketers refining their understanding of which gamified elements help enhance feedback collection and which ones don’t. Given the importance of engagement and feedback to the customer relationship, I believe gamified feedback collection should be a standard part of every marketer’s toolkit – provided surveys focus on the essential elements of playfulness and engagement, rather than exterior factors such as graphics and badges.

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