Jan 29

Gamification: Going for the High Score
By Brian Corcoran

By now it is no secret that companies are recognizing the value of employee expertise as a crucial component in their enterprise planning activities.  Companies that understand the risks in losing human capital have created or implemented knowledge solutions designed to retain expertise.  These solutions require real employees to spend time contributing their expertise for the collective benefit of the enterprise. How do we get people to use these solutions, and more specifically, how can companies create a collaborative culture that includes the capturing and sharing of intellectual capital? The best process to generate these behaviors is through Gamification[1].

Gamification by definition is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving a problem. The playing of video games has long been associated with adolescent boys. However, contrary to popular opinion, gaming isn’t just for kids. In reality, the average gamer is 37 years old, while 25% of all gamers are older than 50. Gaming isn’t a boys club as previously assumed; 42% of all gamers are female. The people who are playing video games are not new to the workforce. They grew up with it.

Today, there’s a good chance that some of these people are the analysts, engineers, agents, and developers within your company. Conversely, there are people in your company that use Yelp, FourSquare, Reddit, and eBay, all of which use gamifying components like rewards, ratings, or badges to entice people to participate on their site or application. Gamification has become such an important trend in business that by the end of the year, 70% of Global 2000 companies will be using at least one gamified application. So if your workers are already using forms of gamification in their lives, how can your company apply game design techniques to get these employees to do what you want?

There are 3 critical steps that must be taken to gamify your knowledge management system.

1. Identify the Behavior Needed to Produce Your Desired Outcome

First, in order to enact change, we need to recognize the behaviors that will help create the changes we want to make. Then, it’s time set our goal. For example, if our goal was to improve first call resolution for support agents, we would want to identify the conditions that are critical to first call resolution, such as organized access to customer information and systems data, and focus on rewarding your employees for creating, editing, and linking relevant articles.

2. Your Gamification Strategy Must Be Easy to Understand and Use
Think about some of the most well-known games from childhood, such as tag, hopscotch, and hide n’ seek. They are popular, timeless, and relevant because they are easy to understand and use: Anyone can play. You may be asking yourself, what are some ways to make my knowledge application gamification easy to understand and use? The answer is to create meaningful feedback in real time. Crafting customized scoring trackers, such as points systems for authoring, editing, and linking articles is a great method that recognizes those who play the game, and entices those who are considering playing. While you are admittedly incentivizing people to do the jobs they are already getting paid for, the way in which you are engaging your workers to play the game is seen as fun and collaborative.

3. Reward and Recognize Your Players

The final step for proper Gamification of your knowledge system is to reward and recognize your contributors who are bringing about positive changes.  Don’t be afraid to call out your best internal and external contributors. Creating badges with unique names such as Top Ninja, Jedi Master, and Content Minotaur generates a lot of recognition within job channels.

For those who believe gamification is hard to implement or learn, the opportunity is laying at your feet.  Gamification can be used to support any business requirement. Just imagine what returns you are seeing today on your knowledge investment. By effectively utilizing gamification, companies can see increased first call resolution, reduced average handle time, accelerated ramp up/training time, increased self-service, and infinite improvements in customer satisfaction, all of which translate to bottom line gains and a much more fun working environment.

As we now know, everyone plays games. If you can apply game mechanics and make it fun for your employees, the payoffs are great. If your company is not part of the 1,400 Global 2,000 businesses that are planning on gamifying at least one business application this year, then what are you waiting for?

[1] Woods, D. (May 14, 2012). Gamification Grows Up to Become a CEO’s Best Friend. Wall Street Journal.  Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/danwoods/2012/05/14/gamification-grows-up-to-become-a-ceos-best-friend