Excellent Gamification Examples: The Fun Theory

By Robert Cowen

If you haven’t visited the Fun Theory website, I recommend doing so. It’s an excellent example of crowdsourcing creative ways to turn tedious and unrewarding tasks into fun experiences that beg to be repeated. You will be fascinated watching the videos that were submitted for the award. This is a lesson for the next time you task others with something that you know they would rather avoid.

Many of the submitted videos base their success on random intermittent reinforcement (it’s a major component of the newly coined term of gamification). This is the same emotion that drives casino players to slot machines, and it’s very powerful. Call centers have used this for years as part of their agent incentive programs – spin the wheel, pull a ticket from a fishbowl, pop a prize-filled balloon, or select a sealed envelope. This kind of reinforcement should be included, in some fashion, with every reward; it keeps previously learned activities exciting. Silicon Valley recently sprouted numerous new vendors who are touting gamification. This is old news to contact centers, but the new component is that it’s now being introduced to the consumer marketplace.

Every time I visit a grocery store, I see shopping carts scattered around the parking lot and hope that my car does not become a victim of a meandering cart. I’m sure stores spend a lot of time and money retrieving them. After viewing some of the videos on The Fun Theory website, I envisioned how grocery stores could use random intermittent reinforcement to encourage shoppers to return carts to the store or a corral, lowering the risk to cars and the labor spent to retrieve them.

Remember Blockbuster stores? They were a victim of RedBox, Netflix, and other streaming Internet sites. Their business model was based upon renting a movie for a week with no incentive to view it immediately and return it early. I’m sure Blockbuster didn’t want to reduce their revenue by offering daily rentals; however, offering some type of “early return” reward would have been preferable to filing for Chapter 11 protection. An early return incentive would have allowed them to re-rent the same movie during the week. Learning from the Fun Theory, consider ways that Blockbuster could have survived longer if they had used random intermittent reinforcement to encourage early returns of their movies.

The question you should ask is this: How can you use the Fun Theory concepts to improve agent KPIs and reduce attrition, especially new-hire attrition?

Snowfly automated gamification and offered it as a cloud service in 1999. Snowfly improves KPIs by at least 20 percent (sales, availability, retention, adherence, attendance, call quality, turnover) and reduces administrative burden and costs. For more information, contact Snowfly president Tyler Mitchell at 307-745-7126 x707 (tmitchell@snowfly.com)  or Robert Cowen at 248-324-1161 (rcowen@snowfly.com).

[From Connection Magazine Mar/Apr 2014]