The Client Relationship Management (CRM) industry has been one of the first to embrace Gamification and one of the first to become somewhat disillusioned by it. While many Gamification cases delivered great short term results (high initial user interest, sign-up and participation rates), they still failed to achieve the long term user engagement desired. Why did this happen and how do we keep CRM Gamification on the right track? Let’s explore the pitfalls and how to avoid them.
One size does not fit all
Early adopters of CRM Gamification products opted for systems that were heavily based on motivation through letting users gain experience points, badges and leaderboards. Often these systems were one-size-fits-all off-the-shelf products that can be slapped on to your existing CRM product.
However, such a buckshot approach crucially forgets to acknowledge that different users have different preferences and motivational drives that trigger them into action. The majority of people won’t crave collecting badges and points forever just for the sake of it. We need to focus also on giving users autonomous choices and showing them how their choices worked out. Or making them feel that they are part of something bigger, more meaningful, a sense of purpose. Create some suspense, design for curiosity.
This is difficult to design for, and you cannot apply a one-size-fits-all approach here, but is necessary for long term user engagement (what we call the end-game, which caters for longer term users). For more on this check out the leading Gamification Framework Octalysis and how The Octalysis Group designs for long term engagement with the 8 Core drives of Motivation.
Take your user on a journey
Many Gamified CRM systems fail to recognize that we need to slowly build up the experience for the user. The first time someone uses the system is very different from the 100th time they interact with it. Look for example at how you have changed using Facebook since you started using it. Over time, user knowledge has increased and expectations are different. We say: using a product is not static, it’s an evolving journey!
In Octalysis, we recognize 4 Experiences Phases of a User’s Journey: Discovery, Onboarding, Scaffolding, and Endgame. Different phases should focus on different sets of Gamification features and appeal to different Core Drives. Just as it is not ideal to put a five-year-old on a streamlined superbike over using a small bike with training wheels, CRM systems also shouldn’t open up all 50+ features to a beginning user.
Our brains hate it when we don’t have any options, but we also hate it when we have too many options. It confuses us, paralyzes us, and ultimately makes us feel stupid and overwhelmed. It is better to first discover and understand what features are the most valuable to the beginning user and just offer those. After that, allow users to slowly unlock new ones as they become familiar with the early features. Each new feature will then become a delight that users will appreciate and learn to use.
Collaboration wins the race, not Competition
In CRM systems there is often an emphasis on creating competition in order to get people to interact and make them productive. However, when it comes to long-term engagement metrics, collaboration is much preferable over competition. Both competition and collaboration draw their motivational pull from people feeling a sense of Social Influence & Relatedness (Octalysis Core Drive 5). But there is a fundamental difference: competition creates urgency, stress, and short bursts of activities, but often leads to user burnout. In addition: competitions may create short term spikes to engagement but may in time stifle cooperation and decrease the quality of the work floor culture.
Collaboration, on the other hand, doesn’t push users as much, but users feel more empowered and will sustainably continue to commit to the Desired Actions within the CRM System, leading to more productivity in the long run. When we design for collaboration we design for users helping co-workers, group quests, mentoring, group recognition and enabling knowledge sharing.
Often we use a mix of competition and tangible rewards at the beginning of a CRM user experience (Discovery and Onboarding), and design more towards collaboration and creating autonomous choices in later phases of the experience (Scaffolding and End Game). If Gamified CRM products would take these lessons onboard, we are pretty sure the enthusiasm for Gamification will continue to grow as it does in other business areas.
To learn more about the 8 Core Drives and how to balance short and long term motivation in Gamification, read Yu-kai Chou’s book: Actionable Gamification – Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards