People like to have fun, but they can also be naturally competitive. Even mundane tasks can at times be turned into a game. This idea of competition and gaming has been used by major businesses for years through loyalty and rewards programs, but the expense of such programs often prohibited smaller businesses from taking part. Now that mobile technologies have become commonplace, more and more small businesses are turning to gamification to boost customer loyalty and employee results.
Essentially, gamification uses elements normally found in games to promote certain actions from employees and customers. The impact from these practices can vary, but small businesses have tended to see impressive results when implemented. Some companies have used gamification to encourage employees into working toward a common goal. They’ve set up a “point and badge system” where progress from an employee gets them points. Certain awards are then offered for reaching a certain number of points. The awards, or badges, are then publicly announced to the rest of the company. The points and badges offer extra incentive to employees to work in a certain way, while also introducing some friendly competition. With the rise of bring your own device, businesses may turn to mobile apps to help them with the gamification program.
Gamification can also apply to customers as well. Gone are the days of “Buy 10, Get 1 Free” punch card campaigns that rewarded repeat customers but little else. Now small businesses can utilize mobile apps that can keep track of customers’ scores over time. Some small businesses even add in leaderboards, which makes for some competition among customers as they see who can get to the top. Much like the employee uses of gamification, customers are rewarded based on point accumulation, promoting greater loyalty.
The benefits of gamification can be pretty clear. More loyalty from customers means increased small business revenue. Engagement across mobile apps can also lead to more brand awareness as customers share information and updates over social media; they essentially become brand advocates. Using gamification mobile apps also gives businesses access to valuable data about customer behavior–what they buy, when they make a purchase, their contact information, etc. The information gained from all this incoming data helps small businesses understand customers and can help make them more adept at creating and managing targeted campaigns while offering better products and services more in line with what their customers want. Managing and analyzing all this data requires fast processing speeds and data storage solutions, but with flash storage becoming more readily available and economical, it’s well within reach of most small businesses. By knowing your customers better, you’ll be able to offer better incentives to keep them coming back.
Implementing gamification in a small business may seem difficult, but it has become much easier in recent years. But before you make gamification a part of your small business, it’s important to list and review your business’s main objectives and what the overall end goals are. If gamification doesn’t necessarily fit into those objectives, it will feel tacked on and pointless. In that case, implementing it might not be the best idea.
If you still think gamification is a strategy your business would like to use, there are a number of tools available that work well for small businesses on a tight budget. Tools like MyTown, SCVNGR, Perkville, and Perka offer services that allow small businesses to set up points and rewards systems that customers can use through their mobile devices. These platforms, and others like them, often come at relatively cheap rates and are easy to access, but it’s also important to decide which behaviors lead to which rewards. The design for the points program should be intuitive, clearly connecting the effort to the reward. Gamification should also naturally grow out of behaviors customers are already exhibiting instead of forcing them to do things that may be uncomfortable for them. And lastly, if you’re still unsure about implementing a gamification program, you can always try it on a small scale first and see if it yields results before expanding it.
Gamification is a relatively new field that companies are still experimenting with. With new, more accessible technology, small businesses now have the opportunity to run rewards programs with their customers on a bigger scale. The benefits can be significant, as customers become more loyal and sales get a boost.
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