Rewarding and Encouraging Customer-to-Customer Support…With Games? (part 2)
by CallidusCloud CX Guest Blogger, Jeannie Walters
I discussed why using gaming ideas and peer encouragement and competition could support your overall goals around customer experience in part 1. In part 2, we cover some of the best ways to achieve this.
Gamification is really about motivation, rewards and trust!
I’m more likely to believe in working towards a reward if I trust it’s going to happen, and I trust the brands offering those experiences to me. When it comes to customer support, the rewards others have earned show me to trust their expertise in solving my problems.
How can your organization build the best ecosystem for this type of peer support and recognition to build loyalty? Here are a few ideas.
Know your different customer archetypes.
When designing online communities or improving those you have, consider which types of customers would visit online forums to both share advice or seek it. What steps have they taken first? How much investment of time are you asking for from those who are there to help?
For example, in IT forums, you might require customers who have used your product for several years and understand the roles your customers play. At the same time, the customer seeking help possibly sees himself as a leader in his organization. So he needs a way to get help quickly, in a way he can understand, and then turn around and articulate to his team.
These can be built on your existing customer personas if available. But they might be motivated differently in this service situation than they are in a sales situation, so be cautious about assuming your persona works across the board. By defining who your customers are in this context, you can provide better experiences for them.
Consider gamification methods according to what makes your customers tick!
Most online forums and self-service communities require some sort of customer profile. These often include basic information to participate, like a user name for identification and an avatar. As a reward for more information on the profile, like a photo, connection to a social profile like LinkedIn or Facebook, or even an “About Me” paragraph, “rewards” can help.
Some of your customers are very motivated by titles, so moving from “novice” to “expert” might be a goal worth seeking. (A popular app that uses this gaming technique is Waze, the mobile navigational and traffic tool for drivers. Everyone starts out as a “Baby Wazer,” complete with a pacifier-sucking baby avatar. More time on the app means losing the baby status.)
Other customers might be motivated to see their advice is helpful. Providing “likes” and “followers” to answers or forum updates might trigger that common need we have as humans to check for that quick ego boost a few times, and while we’re there…we might as well answer another question!
Those customers who are seeking advice first might see recognition in a different way. It is not always easy to admit we need help in front of our peers, so rewarding the askers is also important. This is often left out of current gamification on service sites, but I think it’s a great way to engage new users. What about elevating certain questions to a “we’ve all been there” or “question of the week” section? Help your questioners feel less alone by connecting questions with others.
There is not a one-size fits all gaming methodology. Your methods should be based on many factors, including who your customers are, what they are trying to achieve in your forum, and more.
Reward your online customer service heroes with recognition, responses and real value!
Finally, once your forum is operating well, don’t forget about it! It is not a “set it and forget it” tool. The best online communities have ongoing dialogue with the organizational team members. As long as the brand representatives are clearly identified, it’s great to hop in and let customers know you are hearing them. “We are definitely working on this part of the product, and are looking for your feedback in the next few months. In the meantime, Great Advice Giver customer offers a great workaround here!”
Customers want to feel heard, and if they are only talking to each other, they might assume those in the company don’t want or need to listen. That can be a reward on to itself.
Your best customers, those who make online forums and communities work by providing insights and real help to those customers who need it, would often love to be invited into your world even more than they are.
Invite those stand-out customers to customer advisory boards, or invite them to your headquarters for a day. Provide special recognition to them within the forums, or take that one step further and ask them to sign up for “office hours” online – via chat or a forum – and pay them for their time. Or reward those who are invested in your customers’ success with real value. Gift cards or even free products or swag can go a long way to build even more loyalty, but only if you know what these customers get excited about in the first place.
After providing sage wisdom to other customers for several months or years, your invested customer receives a branded mousepad and not so much as a thank you card with it, that could damage the relationship instead of reward it.
Customers want to help others.
They want to feel connected to your brand. Using gaming motivational principles and understanding your customers could make the most of the online self-service you are trying to provide. Now, get your game on!