At least they got the ‘hot dog’ part right.
In our previous post, my colleague Tom and I recapped Seth Priebatsch’s SXSWi keynote address and introduced the concept of enterprise gamification.
Taking tacit game mechanics already at play and providing deliberate structure and reward schedules gives companies a potentially powerful social business design tool. Enterprise gamification’s power lies in its ability to influence individual behavior and create hivemind, an often elusive enterprise dynamic. While the right game makes this dynamic more achievable, the complexity of influencing human behavior necessitates planning and design. Taking time to understand game mechanics and the psychology of rewards will lead to more effective games, engaged employees and better business results.
The Email Game
To explore these concepts let’s outline a simple game that helps Company X promote its low cost provider strategy. The goal of the game is to lower network storage costs by reducing the amount of email employees store in their inbox. Company X decides to reward employees with one point whenever they delete an email.
A well designed game aligns individual rewards with the strategic objectives of the business. Properly incentivized employees will then repeat behavior beneficial to company goals. Two types of rewards exist:
Intrinsic rewards come from the enjoyment of the activity itself, reducing email storage in Company X’s case. The best games, often the most addicting, create enjoyment by fulfilling basic human needs:
Autonomy is the feeling that your activities are self-chosen. Company X can incorporate this feeling into their game by giving employees additional ways to earn points. Besides deleting emails, archiving emails locally can also result in a point. Now employees have choice.
Competence is the feeling of confidence and effectiveness in one’s activities. The accumulation of points gives employees direct and frequent feedback. The Email Game can provide additional feedback by creating dashboards that track saved space and individual contribution to company cost savings.
Connectedness comes from a sense of closeness to others. The Email Game can create connectedness by allowing org-chart based groups to compete. Individuals will be rewarded for working together to reduce their organization’s email footprint.
These rewards come from outside the individual: the Email Game’s points. While not as personally meaningful as intrinsic rewards, extrinsic rewards set the basis for competition, standard measures by which players compare performance. To increase their value Company X can tie their extrinsic rewards (points) achievement to real world benefits, e.g. paid-time-off, gift certificates to the company store, a meeting with the CIO.
Rewards explain why people participate, Game Mechanics dictate the who, what, when and where. A well designed game’s incentives harmonize with its mechanics. SCVNGR, Priebatsch’s company, defines 47 game mechanics. Let’s review four in the context of the Email Game:
Appointment is a mechanic that involves returning at a predefined time to perform a predetermined action. Company X might make the lunch hour more productive by offering a double-point bonus.
Influence & Status uses social pressure to modify behavior. By implementing leader-boards across geographical, organizational and individual levels Company X can create a sense of status and competition. This mechanic also feeds an employee’s sense of Competence.
Progression is a mechanic by which progress is displayed and measured through the process of completing itemized tasks. A simple daily progression in the Email Game could include two steps: clicking through all mailbox folders to check for deletion candidates and archiving your entire inbox to a local directory. Successful completion of these activities results in a point.
Communal Discovery is when a community must come together to complete a challenge. The previously suggested idea of group based incentives is an example of Communal Discovery. This mechanic also directly ties in to an individual sense of Connectedness.
By no means an exhaustive guide, this post introduces fundamental concepts to Game Layer creation. Turning work into a game involves more than bribing employees with points. Developing effective games for your company will be an evolutionary process. Even the simplest games engage complex behavioral dynamics. Be sure to plan, measure your progress and iterate as new behaviors emerge.
Game on. (Game on)
Over the next ten years, we’ll see (and help build) an interactive layer built on an amalgam of our personal motives.Continue Reading...
For social media savvy customers looking to engage companies directly, Facebook and Twitter serve alternate customer support channels. Instead of waiting on the phone for an agent, customers jump to the front of the queue by going online. But when companies fail to design for integration of social media channels into established customer support processes they introduce inefficiencies and increased costs. Enter the Shadow Customer Support organization.
Over 9,000 flights were cancelled two weeks ago, my 2/1 1:45pm to New York was one of them. Here’s the communication timeline with my airline to get rescheduled on a new flight:
- 10:23 am: I receive flight cancellation email.
- 10:26 am: I call Frequent Flyer customer support desk. I’m not allowed to speak with an agent. In fact, the automated system notifies me that heavy call volume dictates they have to hang up, which they promptly do.
- 10:31 am: I tweet my airline letting them know I have a problem.
- 10:36 am: Airline replies, requests I direct message (DM) my flight info.
- 10:42 am: I DM the airline my flight info.
- 10:45 am: Airline replies, confirming receipt of my tweet and flight info.
- 10:50 am: I receive email confirmation of a re-booked flight.
- 12:46 pm: I call Frequent Flyer customer support desk (just to see if they’re still congested). Still the same heavy traffic message and hang-up.
The consumer in me was thrilled with this unexpected expediency, but the Social Business Designer was concerned. I had a hunch that:
- the person on the other end of this company’s Twitter account works in a communications department, not customer support
- as such, the person on the other end of this company’s Twitter account has no formal training in customer support nor the company’s reservation system
- as such, to help me reschedule my flight, this untrained person had to reach across organizational lines and tie up multiple resources which increased costs
- no metrics were captured on my experience
Curious, I DM’d the folks at the company’s Twitter account to request an interview. They kindly accepted and took twenty minutes from their busy day to address and confirm my suspicions. The Communications department, in conjunction with their ad agency, runs their Twitter account. Staffed by one employee on a normal day, with ad hoc ramp-up to as many as six when circumstances (such as heavy cancellations) require, the company’s Twitter account exists to listen, engage and help customers when they can.
How is this going to scale?
This company has proudly converted customers into brand advocates that race to the company’s defense when curmudgeons hijack the company’s Facebook page. Their approach to social media is unbelievably progressive compared to companies even 24 months ago and they should be lauded for it. But as Social Business matures to business as usual, social media strategies and tactics must move beyond listening and unstructured engagement.
Pew Research reports that only eight percent of online Americans use Twitter, and yet this company increased (read: repurposed) staff six-fold to handle last week’s rush. If Twitter’s impressive 2010 growth continues and more people realize the customer support arbitrage opportunities that exist in social channels, something has to give. Ad hoc staffing and engagement models, like the one this company successfully employed to develop brand advocates, will break and the advocates will undoubtedly turn.
What Can Companies Do?
Becoming a Social Business requires (re)design. Companies wishing to use Twitter and Facebook for social servicing need to integrate new channels into their already existing customer support structure; examination through a people, process & technology framework should highlight focus areas.
While many social business initiatives, like social media monitoring of Twitter and Facebook channels, live in the Communications department, social servicing isn’t a good fit. Communication department employees need to be trained in a company’s customer support process as well as the tools used to support that process. Conversely, customer support employees need to be brought up to speed on the new ways their company engages customers.
Fortune 500 Companies spend large amounts of time and money optimizing customer support workflows. Any type of customer support that happens outside these workflows is inefficient and costly. Reduction of these costs requires a reworking of current processes to include new customer support channels, the workflows and decision rights they entail.
To enable customer support people and process, companies also invest heavily in technology. Technology helps with customer support triage, scalability and reporting. Issues originating from social channels need to flow through the same systems all others do. Good-bye social servicing arbitrage.
More people use social media everyday and the number of customer support issues originating through those channels will only increase. Unprepared organizations risk creating shadow customer support, increased costs and brand advocates turned brand detractors. If your company’s Communications and Operations departments don’t already talk, now would be a good time to pick up the phone.