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Gamification: The metrics and measurements that matter

9th Apr 2015
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With research by TechNavio forecasting that the global gamification market is set to grown by 68% over the next four years, it appears that brands are increasingly prepared to bet their bucks on gamification.

However, the business bean counters will of course insist that a return on the investment can be demonstrated if gamification is to have longevity within the organisation.   

And this means that companies must understand how to analyse and quantify the success of their gamification endeavours.

Of course, by keeping a close eye on results, organisations also have the opportunity to fine tune their gamification projects and ensure that they are optimised, therefore giving them the best possible opportunity of success.

But the question remains: what should be measured?

Paige McCaleb, product marketing manager at NICE Systems, recommends three statistics that should be monitored:

1. Adoption

It is critical that your gamification program is widely adopted by the frontline. There are two ways to think about adoption:

  • Users engaged. This is the simplest measure. Divide the total number of employees that have logged into your gamification programme by the total population of employees with access to the programme. Now you’ve got one (albeit relatively static) number to track.
  • Challenges started vs completed. Go to the next level. It’s one thing for an employee to login to your programme, but another altogether when they start tackling multiple challenges. Create a simple histogram covering a one week or one month period, showing the number of gamification challenges started. It will show, for example, that 32% of your employees started just one challenge, 44% started two challenges, and 16% started three or more challenges. If you want to take it up a notch, also add the number of completed challenges, so you can be sure that employees are following through on the challenges they start.

McCaleb recommends: “When you dig into ‘users engaged’, cross-tabulate engagement levels by basic demographics (age, gender, etc.) You may find that your gamification programme needs to be tuned to appeal more to specific groups, or that you need to message gamification differently to reluctant employee types.”

2. Usage

Adoption comes first, but after that the focus shifts to usage. Now that your employees have gotten in to your gamification programme, how do you know whether they continue to stay engaged across time? There are two simple measures:

  • Users engaged in the past week. In the adoption section, a simple, static measure of logins was discussed. The same idea can be adopted here, but apply a time window - how many employees logged into the gamification programme over the past 7 (or 10, or 30, etc.) days, divided by the total number of employees with access to the programme in that time period. Now you have a rolling number that you can monitor from week to week and month to month to feel confident that your gamification efforts are staying relevant.
  • Popular vs unpopular challenges. Measure the gamification challenges that are pursued most often vs least often. Look for commonalities that attract your employees to certain types of challenges so you can replicate when creating new challenges. Also look at which challenges have the highest vs lowest completion rates, so you can see where your employees are getting stuck and abandoning challenges.

McCaleb advises: “When you find a challenge with a low completion rate drill in a level deeper. Look at the component objectives of the challenge. See which objective(s) are the bottlenecks so you can remove or adjust. This can help you avoid creating impossible challenges that frustrate and deter your employees.”

3. Performance

Finally, and most important, is proving that gamification drives performance improvement. Since you ran in silent mode (see previous section) to accumulate baseline performance data, you can simply compare performance on key metrics before vs after gamification.

McCaleb recommends: “Organisations that want to turn gamification into a science look at the correlation between every individual challenge and organisation KPIs. That way they know exactly which types of challenges drive the right results - fodder for creating new, high impact challenges.”

Gal Rimon, ‎CEO & founder at GamEffective, further suggests that the measurement of performance should be divided into two smaller tasks:

  1. Measuring the effect of gamification on target users’ behaviour – remembering that gamification can modify user behaviour both directly (i.e. through goal setting, calls to action and effort increases), and indirectly (i.e. by improving motivation, improving retention and improving team spirit).
  2. Measuring the effect of the modified behaviour on business results – remembering that gamification should be aligned with business goals (i.e. if we reward service agents to shorten service calls and won’t balance this with quality of service, we will promote customer churn).

All of these are valuable metrics to monitor so that organisations are keeping a close eye on the ongoing performance of the gamification project. But companies will also need to demonstrate that the programme is delivering return on investment. So how can ROI be measured?

First of all, define the key performance indicators of success.

“Be sure that you note the key metrics/SLAs you have before you start introducing gamification, so that you can see a clear starting point,” advises Neil Penny, product director at Sunrise Software. “If you don’t know where you were at the beginning then you can’t measure improvement. All the usual metrics can be measured, time waiting for customers, time to close calls, number of first fixes, and number of calls completed within SLA. You can also include a qualitative measure, by running surveys of customers to gain feedback showing improvements to service. Improved service and improved productivity saves time, leaving agents more time to tackle more proactive and preventative issues, creating a virtuous circle.”

KPIs should be identified before the gamification project begins so that the company has a ‘control group’, demonstrating performance before the introduction of gamification.

“It is vital to make sure that you have created a solid baseline from which you can measure your performance gains,” Tim Knight, co-founder of CloudApps. “We work with our customers during the initial phase to run our behavioural motivation platform in the background, invisible to the users.  This provides a complete and detailed picture of what behaviours are the users are currently exhibiting. This is vital for two reasons: the first is that it provides a clear picture of the behaviours your successful sales people exhibit and the second because it provides a solid foundation from which you can establish an ROI.”

Then organisations can compare KPIs before and after gamification implementation. Taking the KPI results from the control group (or the results prior to the implementation of gamification), the results can then be compared, with a monetary value assigned to the improvement. This represents the return, while the investment is of course calculated by totting up the costs to carry out the projects.

Rimon also recommends factoring in non-monetary goals into your equations - for instance, putting a monetary value on an improvement in customer satisfaction. And he also advises that time is taken into consideration – for example, if you expect the return to last 12 months, make sure you reflect the projected 12 month gain and not the gain at the time of measurement. 


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