11 January 2024

Game On: Ray Wang of Constellation Research Talks Gamification

By Ronald Smith

Did you know that in 2011, the gaming industry made an incredible $65 billion? And guess what? That number is expected to soar to a whopping $72.1 billion by 2015! It’s safe to say that the gaming industry really knows how to get people hooked. But here’s the thing – small businesses can also jump on this bandwagon and use gamification to their advantage. So, I sat down with Ray Wang to talk all about this exciting concept.

USamerica.US: Before we dive headfirst into gamification, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Ray Wang: I’ve been fortunate to work as an analyst, in project management and marketing, and in building products. I’ve also had the opportunity to lead marketing efforts at various organizations. I believe my interest in technology has always driven me to explore how it can be used to benefit businesses.

USamerica.US: Maybe you can explain what gamification is?

Ray Wang: The best way to understand it is as a collection of principles, processes, and systems that are designed to influence, engage, and motivate people.

Let me tell you about how gamification began in the world of video games, and how it has made its way into our everyday lives. You see, gamification is all about using techniques from games to grab our attention and keep us interested. It’s like a secret recipe that makes things more fun!

So, why is it important to engage people? Well, when we’re engaged, we feel motivated to take action and do things. That’s where gamification comes in handy.

Now, let me give you an example to help you understand how gamification can be used in different areas of our lives. Think about a small business. They could use gamification to make their customers more excited about their products or services. They might create incentives or rewards, just like in a game, to encourage people to get involved and stay engaged. It’s like turning their business into a really cool game that everyone wants to play!

So, you see, gamification is all about making things more interesting, motivating, and engaging. It’s a clever way to encourage people to get involved and have fun while doing it!

I’m Ray Wang: Let me tell you about this company in the UK called Giffgaff. They’re a virtual phone operator, which means they don’t have physical stores. What’s unique about them is that they have a clever way of providing customer service and support. Instead of having their own staff answer customer questions, they rely on their customers to help each other out. Isn’t that fascinating?

So, here’s how it works. Whenever a Giffgaff customer helps another customer by answering a question or providing support, they earn points. These points can then be used as credit for future phone minutes. It’s like a game where you earn points for helping others, and those points can be used for free phone time or even donated to a charity of your choice. You can even get cash back!

Last year, Giffgaff paid out over a million dollars to its customers through this system. And you know what? It’s not just about saving money for the company. By having their customers help each other, they’ve actually reduced their customer service costs by 20% to 30%. Can you believe that?

Now, let me answer your question – Do other businesses do this too, or is it just Giffgaff?

Ray Wang: When it comes to engaging with people outside of a business, there are often communities formed to encourage participation. An interesting example can be seen in the development of products. Many times, contests are organized to invite individuals to contribute their ideas for new features or designs.

The benefits are definitely worth it. The key here is to focus on rewards that go beyond money. These non-monetary rewards actually have a greater impact on motivating people and influencing their behavior.

On the other hand, when it comes to business-to-business interactions, this kind of engagement happens on a daily basis. You may have partners or resellers that you’re working with, and your goal is to guide them in a certain direction. In these situations, non-monetary incentives play a crucial role in driving the desired behavior. This can include recognition, access to resources, and the potential for making a meaningful impact.

USamerica.US: Where are we in implementing this kind of approach?

Ray Wang: We have some companies who have been early to adopt and have been at it for about a year or two. These businesses are inspiring others to get on board and join the movement.

First, we need to reassess what we want to achieve. We need to identify what areas we want to push forward. Is it about working together more effectively? Do we want to increase participation in our online community? Do we aim to generate more revenue from customer interactions? Or is it about enhancing customer loyalty and satisfaction?

Once we have a clear vision, we have to understand the needs and desires of the community. What do people want to do within our community platform?

USamerica.US: How can a company start incorporating gamification into their engagement strategies effectively?

Ray Wang: I have an intriguing story to share about the casinos in Las Vegas. The casino industry is quite unique. The meetings sector alone is worth a whopping $4.4 billion in Las Vegas. Casinos attract high-rollers, also known as whales, who spend a significant amount of money in the casino. In the meetings world, the equivalent to these whales are the meeting planners. They organize large conferences and choose which shows to feature each year. If you manage to win their trust and gain their business, as well as their recommendations, your company will be in a great position.

Okay, let’s talk about wedding planners and conference planners. These two groups are different from each other. But what’s really interesting is how we can encourage them to refer people to us and keep booking with us year after year. And not just any bookings, but bookings that are planned two to three years in advance. This is where things get really good, because it means we can predict how much money we’ll make.

Now, here comes the fun part: gamification. We can motivate the meeting planners to refer other meeting planners by offering them points for doing so. And they can earn points for booking contracts that span multiple years, or for hosting a certain number of meetings per year. So, what do they do with all these points they’re earning?

Imagine this: you walk into a casino and play a few games. Let’s say you accumulate 30 points in the casino’s rewards program. Well, they’ll make sure you feel like a VIP. They’ll offer you all sorts of perks, like better rates, access to a luxurious spa, and maybe even a free trip for another time if you manage to reach 100 points. But here’s where it gets really interesting – if you rack up an impressive 200 points, the casino will go above and beyond. They’ll help you get media coverage for your achievement, so you can be in the spotlight!

Everyone’s experience in a casino is tailored to their desires. The incentives they offer to customers may vary slightly depending on what each person wants.

USamerica.US: Where can people find more information?

Ray Wang: You can visit the Constellation Research website or check out my blog, Software Insider. They’re great resources that can provide you with more insights.

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