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Two Joy Sticks. One For Work, One For Play?

Gamification is the latest way of engaging a customer audience. Some see it as extreme CXM (Customer Experience Management) and a  modern expansion of company loyalty schemes. We think there’s more at play and there’s definitely scope for having more fun when interacting with your ‘life’ suppliers.

But first, to quote Jimmy Castor‘s well known dance floor wrecker – TrogolodyteWhat We Gonna Do Here Is Go Back.’

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Now, these are the 1980s the elders at Silvertoad Ltd remember. We recall The Lenny Henry show, Keith Chegwin, the miners strikes, Maggie Thatcher, fluorescent socks, breakdancing, Tony Hart and cartoon Weetabix.  For those of you who have fond memories of rocking their cassette walkman whilst earning money from the local paper round on a BMX, try to remember the day when you turned up at a friends to go out on your bikes or play football and this happened. They answered the door and said, ‘I’m staying in, but come and check this out.’  Well, in most cases it was because one of two things were inside; either it was it a video copy of Rambo II with Arabic subtitles or (gasp) the arrival of affordable home computer games that you could play on the TV, ones that you would have to load via cassette tape. Techno-fear or what?

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Click! You’re now back in the present. Now, think of the technological advances that have occurred since 1983.

The modern company at large now thinks they have found the perfect vehicle (for now) to get the right consumer and keep them hooked. If you’re a gamer, we’ll gloss over this part, you’ll be aware that there’s an innovative cuckoo in the nest. It’s called Gamification and some clever clogs have tapped into the intrinsic need or instinct for consumers (also read, humans) to compete. There’s also an increasing awareness by marketing teams across the globe to develop relations further than the simple parameters of the ‘then’ groundbreaking CRM (Customer Relationship Management) charter. The question that shouts louder than anything else from the ‘man creature on the street’ is “what’s in it for me?”  

By combining competitive desires and a need to give a little back, companies are beginning to embrace Gamification, by aping techniques and the methodolgy of computer games therefore enabling them to answer said eternal question.  For instance, at Nike, customers can upload their fitness stats to receive points towards their next purchase (see the Nike Fuel device).  Naysayers who claim that Gamification is just another loyalty scheme with techno-flourishes are missing a fundamental point. For instance, you are saving points in a loyalty scheme at a coffee shop, who cares if you have earn’t enough to buy a double mocha after five visits? No one but you, but with Gamification, its offers a more personalised and triumphalist’s approach, to elaborate, you get to upload your stats and compete against other consumers / gamers. You could get to be the world’s best and achieve a form of fame, even.

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Industry pundits and cyber-cynics, claim it’s exploitation-ware but this is the direction we are all heading, like it or not. We’ve always been heading this way towards having better relationships with the companies we use in our day to day lives whether it’s through work, leisure or necessity.  It’s all an obvious progression, for example; we’re too young to remember the time when the common-or-garden supermarket was a new phenomenon. Customers were too afraid to take their own purchases off the shelf because they were used to the old ‘shop counter’ method, in the last five years or so we’ve even moved on to operating the tills ourselves and this is just the start.

The episode with the Rambo II video and a Spectrum ZX, Commodore 64 was 25 years ago. With this and other company led advances, how much longer will it be before we have no shops at all? (That’s another story though).

By the way, do you know where we can buy some fluorescent socks?