Gamification, Not Just for Employees but Customers Too! 

In Technology by Daniel Newman1 Comment

Gamification, Not Just for Employees but Customers Too! 

Pokémon GO was annoyingly addictive. (I speak from experience.) But even more than that, it was marketing at its best. The game got Pikachu back on the maps of children and adults alike—literally—and is estimated to have earned $500 million in just 60 days. If gamification can do that for a child’s card game, imagine what it could do for your company.

Gamification in the business world is not new. In fact, companies have been using it to engage their employees—especially on the teammate training front—for years now. They’ve learned the oft-forgotten secret that fun and healthy competition will almost always trump boring webinars and stale conference rooms, even in a corporate environment. In fact, research shows that gamification increases morale and engagement, creating a better company culture with employees who know more—and care more—about one’s brand. Delta showed as much when it cut employee training from four years to one using its gamification program “Ready, Set, Jet.” If we look at employees as “guinea pigs” in the gamification industry, it’s clear that there is much un-tapped potential in bringing games into other aspects of the business world.

So what does that mean for our customers? Likely, that many new games are on the horizon. The following are a few reasons why.

It Builds Loyalty

I don’t know about you, but I have about 10 key fobs in my pocket right now representing my “loyalty” to various companies. A few for the grocery stores closest to me, one for the gas station … another for the drug store down the street. Building loyalty has always been a goal for Big Business. But for the first time, gamification will allow companies to build it in ways that are actually fun, engaging, and exciting for their customers. Rather than waving a boring loyalty card to save a few bucks on my grocery order, gamification could allow me to compete to earn discounts while I shop—and watch those savings apply to my cart in real time. That makes the shopping experience fun for me and my kids both.

Some companies are already doing this. The virtual shopping app ShopKick gives shoppers points (i.e. dollars) simply for walking into a store or picking up products it is trying to market. The Starbucks near me gives loyal customers a chance to earn free products every time they stop in for another Venti latte. You can bet people will be visiting Starbucks every 10th morning if they know their coffee will be free.

It Plays to the Human Condition

At the base of it, we’re all human. We love the thrill of the hunt. We love feeding our egos, even if it’s just to be the highest scorer on Fruit Ninja. It stands to reason we would be just as happy playing games for companies that allow us to feel similarly good about ourselves.

Another part of the human condition: What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)? Sure, the grocery store is offering a service by storing food that I can purchase at my convenience. But what else are they doing for me? And what else will they offer me if I keep shopping with them? Gamification allows companies to offer customers something new in exchange for the ultimate goal of brand loyalty. According to one writer, gamification is about “behavioral economics”—the ability to change customer indifference to engagement. WIIFM will undoubtedly be a huge part of that.

It Moves as Fast as Your Customers

It’s believed that by 2020, customer experience will be the key brand differentiator. But the rate technology is moving has meant shorter attention spans for all of us. This is an age where rewards need to be delivered just as quickly as they’re offered, or customers will lose all interest. Nowadays, by the time we receive our coupon in the mail for using our loyalty card to shop at the local convenience store, we’ve already forgotten we shopped there. Gamification allows for that real-time interaction. It empowers to businesses to offer and fulfill savings, freebies, and rewards automatically. No filling out forms. No returning to collect the product. No coupon that you keep forgetting to put in your purse or wallet. Gamification is mobile, fast, and works automatically.

It Creates Buzz

Numerous companies are using gamification to create buzz for themselves while also engaging more deeply with their customers. This could mean offering rewards for social media posts (such as Amex’s “Tweet Your Way to Savings” program) or simply coming up with an addictive and buzz-worthy game idea with a customer-engagement twist. After all, if it drives users to compete with friends—especially via social media—you’re bound to increase organic marketing while also enhancing loyalty to your brand.

It’s Positive

Gamification helps level the playing field between businesses and their customers, trading dings and surcharges for rewards and bonuses. Imagine if you earned bonus points every time you used the chatbot, rather than calling into your health insurance provider. Better yet, imagine if you earned $5 for using your “home bank” ATM, rather than getting charged $3 when you use a competitor’s. Now that’s a bank I’d do business with.

It Creates More Data

After all, data is what it’s all about, right? Gamification helps you learn more about your customers’ shopping habits. It helps you understand what makes them tick, and how much (or how little) you need to provide them to keep that ticking going. That kind of engagement is what companies will be relying on even more heavily moving into the next decade.

It may have taken the corporate world awhile to realize it, but the case for gamification in customer-facing industries is a clear winner. Combined with mobile technology, automation and the Internet of Things (IoT), there is no telling which new game—or company—will be an addiction for me moving forward.

Additional Resources on This Topic:
Workforce Gamification Driving Employee Engagement
Say ‘Yes’ to Gamification
HR: It’s Time to “Level-Up” with Gamification

This post was first published on

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


Leave a Comment