Gamification: Let the car sales commence

11 November 2013

Children learn best through play. It seems that play also works rather well for engaging the attention of grown-ups, as many organisations are finding. Gamification - using game thinking and mechanics and applying them to business - is becoming an immensely popular business tool in the car industry and beyond.

In 2011, for example, Volkswagen Group invited Chinese consumers to help them develop new versions of the “people’s car”. They were given a tool to help them design a new vehicle and then could show their designs to other consumers. The best designs were tracked on leader boards. Within 10 weeks, the company had gathered more than 50,000 ideas and by the end of the first year, 33 million people had visited the site.

Nissan, meanwhile, encourages eco-driving using gamification. Drivers are able to monitor their energy consumption and then compare their use with other people’s as an incentive for them to cut their own usage.

Mighty consumer brand Nike uses gamification to build customer loyalty. It built the Nike+ Facebook and mobile app, which lets people enter their running goals and rewards them when they reach it.

The appeal of gamification is universal: it taps into people’s innate desire to compete, to learn, to solve problems, to be recognised for achievements and, ultimately, to win. Gartner predicts that by 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organisations will use gamification as the primary mechanism for transforming their business operations. 

The beauty of gamification is can be applied across the board: internally for onboarding new hires at a dealership or manufacturer, engaging and retaining employees, and also externally for incentivising customers.  In fact, Gartner claims it can be applied to virtually all business areas that require three broad objectives: to change behaviour, develop skills or enable innovation.

As the examples above illustrate, customer brand loyalty is a key area for gamification, but it can also be applied to another point in the customer experience: the contact centre.  According to the Gallup Employee Engagement Index, service workers are the only employees whose engagement levels have actually dropped since 2009. Using gamification techniques - incentivising through awarding people badges for achieving high earning customer satisfaction scores, for example – can greatly encourage service workers at a manufacturer’s call centre to go that extra mile with customers. There can be many contests and challenges and employees can track their rank on a leader board.

But beware.

Gamification is at the peak of Gartner’s hype cycle, so its next move will be to plunge into the trough of disillusionment. That means that by 2014, 80% of the current gamification applications will fail to meet business objectives, victims of poor design, believes Gartner. 

It needs to be more than just badges and leader board position. There needs to be a balance between competition and collaboration.  “In many cases, organisations are simply counting points, slapping meaningless badges on activities and creating gamified applications that are simply not engaging for the target audience,” noted Brian Burke, Gartner industry analyst and gamification watcher in a statement last year.

An easy mistake to make is designing with business objectives rather than player objectives in mind - it must be able to achieve both objectives equally. Gamification is an easy game to pick up, but it takes trial and error and continued effort to become a grand master. So it’s up to manufacturers and dealerships to start p

About the author

Tom Cregg has been in the automotive industry since 1983, having started with Mercedes-Benz at its UK headquarters.  Since then, Tom has occupied a number of senior regional operational and management roles including with Daimler-Chrysler and SAGE Auto Group in the United States. 

Passionate about connecting automotive manufactures with their customers, Tom has been involved in developing some of the industry’s most intelligent business tools and e-commence systems designed to provide sales, marketing and services teams with a single view of customers.

Tom is a sought after industry expert, helping clients develop business strategies and technological capabilities to better identify and convert new prospects into loyal customers.   He believes the industry has much to learn from retailers including how to engage consumers across multiple touch points and channels including the internet, showroom and service centres. 

Tom is currently spearheading the development of an industry-wide business intelligence tool to connect multiple systems including customer relationship management (CRM) to change the way dealers create and manage sales and service customer experiences so brand loyalty drives sales.  

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