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Using game mechanics to drive CRM adoption

16th Jul 2013
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The challenging economic climate and resulting shrinking markets have created an environment of greatly increased competition, making it more critical than ever for organisations to find new approaches to improving business performance. The focus on CRM has intensified as businesses strive to maximise the value of every individual customer and game mechanics has emerged as a valuable tool in achieving this goal.

The introduction of game mechanics is about more than just having a bit of fun at work. By tapping into the fundamental human dynamics that motivate us both in the games we play and our wider lives, this technique can maximise the potential of individual employees and bring sustainable productivity gains and results to businesses. Research from the Aberdeen Group has shown that companies employing game mechanics saw an average net gain of 4.1% in annual revenue and saw deal sizes increase by 5.6%.

The human element here is critical; game mechanics must not be deployed purely as a piece of software but integrated into the organisation through being delivered as a managed service to enable, enhance and measure the impact of employee behavioural change that will bring sustainable improvements to performance.

Game mechanics – driving CRM adoption to addiction

Using game mechanics in the workplace encourages employees to innovate and excel in their daily tasks through recognising and rewarding positive behaviour. Taking a sales department as an example, an employee will be rewarded incrementally for good work throughout a sales process. Entering basic contact details of a lead will register initial rewards and the more detailed the information that is added - such as the lead’s position within the company, to whom he/she reports - the greater the reward. This incremental model ensures that businesses can collect significantly more reliable data on current and prospective customers, allowing for a higher level of customer service and the optimisation of the sales process. 

The next layer that should be added to the reward and recognition is the coaching element which is crucial to the success of game mechanics. By providing hints and tips the service provider can ensure individuals are pushed to improve their performance and target the areas in which they are not dedicating enough time. Through this model reporting can help employees push performance to the next level rather than just recording the work that they have done. 

Game mechanics enhance the adoption of CRM tools, driving employees from adoption to addiction and in the process creating a transparent environment in which every member of staff becomes accountable for their individual performance. Each individual will have a stake in the business and be encouraged to take ownership over corporate goals.

This approach signals a departure from the siloed management structures of the past and the arrival of new socially connected, bottom-up organisations where employees are not held back by rigid management structures. This fluid environment is more conducive to a strong level of customer service; if individuals are encouraged to progress within a company, they are far more likely to commit to the work that they are doing and deliver strong results.

Transparency and synchronisation

Introducing game mechanics to CRM systems brings a transparency around the progress that individuals or departments are making with certain tasks. As a consequence, each individual has a clearer view of individual customer relationships and can pinpoint where they can add value to the process. Accounts can be managed seamlessly between different individuals within a department and sales process can be optimised to ensure that the customer gets the best possible service.

The holistic view that such reporting systems provide allow businesses to synchronise sales, marketing and customer service departments to deliver a more comprehensive service to customers.

Game mechanics – it’s all in the delivery

For innovation to be embedded within an organisation and sustainable improvements to business performance ensured, game mechanics must be delivered as a managed service. Passive CRM implementation will not work. Organisations must identify the KPIs that they want to measure and the behaviours that they want to encourage. What is more, the specifications of the tool must be regularly refreshed in order to maintain both levels and quality of engagement.

We all have different motivations, which is why any CRM system employing game mechanics must be specially tailored and regularly refreshed to maintain interest.  The reasons we play games mirror the things that drive us in our day-to-day lives and our motivations in the workplace. For instance, 80 per cent of us play games for the social element. These people are inspired by working in a fun environment and by being part of a successful team. 40 per cent consider themselves to be ‘achievers’ and crave being top of leaderboards and, above all, status.

By monitoring CRM performance, organisations can ensure that the rewards system remains balanced and that individuals do not race ahead and risk de-motivating the rest of the team. For example, how will you balance the content by job function to make sure your Inside Sales and Business Development Team can compete on the leader board against your Field Sales Reps?

By taking the time to think of your employees, your employees will take the time to think of their customers.

The importance of the social layer

Traditionally, discussions on the merits of social media in CRM have centred around its external use as a tool to engage with customers directly and assure them a personal service of the highest level. However, social media can also be used to equal effect internally to bring an indirect benefit to the customer.

Gartner has stated that 80 per cent of gamification deployments will ultimately fail, so what is the differentiator that separates the 20 per cent that are successful? Purely focusing on the competitive element of game mechanics will not be enough to embed improvements in business performance and employee behaviour, so the integration of social platforms can make the difference.

By modeling CRM tools on social media sites that employees socialise through during their free time, workers will feel less like they are obliged to complete reports and view it more as a natural activity that seamlessly merges into the working day. For a CRM system to be effective, businesses must look to convert staff from mere adoption to addiction. This cross-over between social behaviour and the working environment will ensure that employees are willing to use the tool and keep reports up to date. We all know that someone who is willing to engage in an activity is more likely to go the extra mile in the workplace, in this scenario, providing a higher level of customer service.

Make sure game mechanics do not become a roll of the dice

To avoid it becoming just another theory that fails under practical implementation, businesses have to take responsibility to run their CRM systems properly and fully commit to integrating game mechanics within them. There is so much emphasis on nurturing customer relationships, but without nurturing your workforce first, the customer will never feel the benefit. Game mechanics can have a positive effect on CRM, but they have to be cultivated within the right environment.  

Peter Grant is CEO of CloudApps.


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