Loyalty programs worldwide are changing; driven by significant shifts in consumer expectations. It is no longer enough to offer a poor customer experience; hopefully outweighed by some half decent benefits or the chance to earn a few points here and there. The demise of traditional coalitions worldwide is in part due to poor customer experience of and value from such approaches. This is when gamification techniques come into play.
By Charlie Hills
Most platforms aim for a seamless, effort-free experience; platform design is dominated by discussions around how to use data to improve relevance and how to make the user experience easier – reducing the number of clicks, counters to show how many points have been collected so far, pre-loaded credit cards for one tap shopping – all following the Amazon one click approach to success.
But this approaches misses one of the fundamental reasons that consumers want to engage with brands; for a great customer experience. Brands world-wide are focusing on improving and elevating the customer experience they offer – loyalty programs need to adopt the same mentality.
Gamification is a proven technique that programs can use to add pleasure to the customer experience of your programs. It’s been around for a while; everyone talks about it; yet few do it well. Most programs offer the occasional free prize draw and call it gamification; the very worst by-pass the technique completely and offer very traditional points and spend mechanics, with little thought for making the experience fun. Yet the world is changing. Newer entrants to the market have zoned in on the technique for many reasons.
There are 5 key benefits to taking a gamified approach to your loyalty program design:
- Increasing participation - actively keeping members on a platform it creates a great way for them to stay switched on and aware of offers and deals available.
- Driving desired behaviours -Through creating the right environment and relevant games your members can be directed to the right behaviours for your brand.
- Increasing retention rates – members can earn rewards through goal completion which keeps them both satisfied and entertained, whilst providing ways to unlock new rewards.
- Creating a brand experience and a story- consistent interaction with challenges starts to develop emotional connections with members, giving them the jubilation of completing challenges and the emotional highs and lows of game play.
- Gathering intelligence in a GDPR compliant approach – enables your brand to create more personalised experiences and rewards, creating even deeper emotional connections.
There is a gold standard program, operating just in the UK at the moment, that we admire for its smart gamified approach to loyalty: Virgin Red.
Overview: Virgin Red is a highly gamified, new breed of loyalty program, from one of the world’s most loved brands. It is designed to help Virgin customers live a life more Virgin, by offering them a daily hit of new experiences, rewards, glamour and a cheeky bit of fun. The premise is simple, the more you engage with the app and gamified elements the more you are rewarded. Virgin Red rewards interaction, not transaction.
Here’s a quick snapshot of some the advanced gamification techniques employed by the program:
- One technique the program uses is a daily This or That quiz. Members tell Virgin which they prefer of 2 options presented to earn points. A recent “This or That” was “Thirsty Thursday” – do you prefer cocktails or mocktails? Wine or beer? Juice or water? It takes members seconds to complete, provides a fun few minutes out of their daily schedule, earns them 25 points and gives Virgin valuable rewards insight to help personalise the customer experience. And it makes members feel part of the community too, as they can then compare their preferences to those of other members.
- Quizzes are another advanced technique employed – members are sent on virtual treasure hunts to find out more about a topic and can then enter codes or answer questions to unlock more points – building deeper relationships with the brand every time.
- Multiple competition techniques are employed too – from simple free prize draws (e.g. Win Afternoon Tea) right up to the complex reverse auctions. Higher value prizes can only be unlocked from “vaults” once you have earned enough points to enter. It’s all designed to engage members, and reward you the more you engage.
The program's smart use of gamification encourages members to engage more often, for longer and in greater depth than a traditional earn and burn approach linked to spend. The action packed programme is a great example of gamification delivering against member, business and brand objectives. Check out more about it here.
Charlie Hills is MD & Head of Strategy at Mando-Connect.