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Create small wins, big gains, and loyal customers

Gamification: Level One

It’s no secret that many industries are scrambling to fight for customer attention and engagement. User experience in any function of a business is the difference between a one-time sale and a loyal customer. You want to build an experience from the start and get the most out of your loyal customers, while making it worthwhile for them. Here’s the way to do it.

Collect stars, get rewarded

starbucks-starsWho doesn’t love their shiny gold card from Starbucks? Everything from collecting stars, having your card personalized, and getting random discounts on your favorite espresso seems to fit. The entire experience flows together, giving you that little extra something and leaving you yearning for more. These game elements of using points (i.e. stars) and rewards (i.e. free drinks) create an incredible return on investment not only for customers, but companies as well. Using these game elements, among others, is collectively called gamification.

It is important to remember to focus on your business objectives. Are you looking to inform your customers of a new product? Are checkout rates low because customers leave items in the online cart? By understanding your objective, you can focus on motivating your clients to interact with your business in the way you want.

Welcome to Gold status

Tap inner human emotions.

We love sharing our accomplishments to our friends, and the best way to exert dominance at a subject is to have something to show for it. Show your customers how much they mean to you by entitling them to unique discounts that they will absolutely love you for.

Remember we are talking strictly business here. High levels of engagement lead to loyal customers. It is generally accepted that many companies follow the 80-20 rule; 80% of the sales come from 20% of clients. You need to form and build an experience for the 20%, otherwise they will leave for a company that will. The strategic questions companies ask today relate to customer experience. It doesn’t hurt that the product itself works, but to outperform you competition, guide your customers through a story that helps them through the unavoidable cracks. They’ll love you for making it incredibly rewarding and engaging. They’ll also come back for more.

You found a gold nugget!  … read on for more.

Take time to design the story. Your clients are humans who love being treated as humans. They are intelligent and like to be surprised. By integrating strategically placed moments of joy, clients instantly get a shot of dopamine which prompts action. Let’s look at an example: 40% of your customers are leaving items in their online carts without checking out. A way to significantly reduce this number might be a fuzzy panda who offers fast shipping when customers idle on the checkout page for more than 5 minutes. Cute, random, and oddly entertaining; this is gamification.


Surprises are great, but meaningful milestones are equally important. Our instincts tell us to seek stability. Encourage repeat visits and purchases on your site, then offer special promotions to clients who do. All the while, make it fun!

These elements are called activity loops. Conquer them and reap the loot.

Observe closely and you’ll find hints of gamification throughout successful companies. I believe the younger generations no longer tolerate the lazy and ill-designed business functions today. For that reason, you’ll find me working with ProdigyGame to get kids excited to practice and learn math every single day.  It’s all about engagement and retention.

Congratulations on leveling up! You’re almost finished…

I challenge you to design your gamified experience with your customers. They’ll love you for it and so will your business. Never forget the fun, it’s what makes gamification work. Regardless of the monetary value you are offering to your clients, it is the small ‘wins’ that get people through the day. This is the crux of gamification.

Thanks to Shuo Z., Suhail R. and Marco N. for reading the early drafts of this post.


chadwick-photoChadwick Poon

Business Development, ProdigyGame