Let the Gains Begin

Guest Room

Let the Gains Begin

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor  |  December 10, 2012

 This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

If you are like me and aspire to be a trend-spotter but sometimes are more like a fast follower, you may not be as current about the gamification of business processes as you should be. Good news, I am here so that you and I have something to talk about at the next cocktail party we attend. After all, along with lookin’ good, we should also sound smart.  

For little background on the trend of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications I suggest you check out the cover story of INTERNET TELEPHONY November. You might also want to take a look at www.gamification.org.

 I thought gamification might be just another fad until I read that former Vice President Al Gore believes “Games are the new normal.”  And, if you are still doubters based on how you feel about Mr. Gore’s veracity, the site mentions that Gartner (News - Alert) is estimating that by 2015 more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify them. Who knew?

Will your sales force be happy or grumpy?

What spurred my interest in the subject was an alert from a company called UruIT Dynamix (a spin-off of Uruit with office in the U.S., Chile and Uruguay), which has released a beta version of what it is calling CRM Gamified.  This is being touted as, “A groundbreaking add-on for Microsoft (News - Alert) Dynamics CRM 2011 Online and On-premises that will change the way you do business.”

The promotion of the capability gets better. As the website states:

“Not only you will motivate your sales force like never before by rewarding them for fulfilling your predefined goals, but you are also going to be able to track every single step in real time…. Now, if you've already invested in a Microsoft Dynamics CRM project you do know that adoption is the key challenge you face. You've done everything right but your end users are not motivated and they just don't get involved. Our solution? Let them have fun with it!”

The flash on the site for signing up for a demo says this, “The easiest and funniest way to drive user adoption and get the best return on your Microsoft Dynamics CRM investment.” Of course the users they are referring to are your sales folks and not your company’s actual customers.

I lived through the introduction of Saleforce.com at a large company in a previous life. In fact, I was part of the implementation team for my business unit. Hence, as a voice of experience, I can attest to adoption by the sales people being the biggest challenge we faced. I can also vouch for how excited the C-levels were about getting all the analytics generated, and the additional spring in the steps of sales managers. 

That said, I can also assure you that the reason for the lack of enthusiasm by the sales people was based on the exposure of their sales activities to a wider internal audience. They were particularly perturbed by visibility into their contacts, which they viewed as personal rather than company property. I find it hard to believe that making the process a game would have been a game-changer with the sales team.

Do not get me wrong. I believe gamification can and will be an important tool for business process optimization going forward. I also think it’s possible that the most profound impact in CRM will be from the customer’s perspective and not from the agent vantage point. As customer interactions with contact centers become more multi-channel and more visual,  it should almost go without saying that the more engaging/fun the customer experience, let’s call that the more gamified, the better. 

That would be better as in:

  • Self-service options would be made more efficient and effective, including relieving the strain on live agents to field unnecessary calls.
  • Customers might be friendlier if their waiting times were more compelling.
  • Speed to problem resolution could be increased through the simplification of many if not all aspects of customer interaction sessions.

While there is a certain attraction in making sales activities more fun to drive agents to make full and proper use of such powerful tools as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and UrulIT Dynamix is properly focused on enabling its customers to derive more value from their CRM solutions, it seems to me the big future buzz around gamification in CRM is going to be when the gamification of the mass market customer experience side of the equation is more fully engaged.

That really will be something to talk about. In the meantime, I hope this gives you a leg up with your colleagues and friends. 

Peter Bernstein is senior editor at Technology Marketing Corp. (www.tmcnet.com), the parent company of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine.

Edited by Brooke Neuman