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Unlocking employees’ new skills with competitive training

BY Michael Johnsen

Financial firm Deloitte recently leveraged a gamification platform, called Badgeville, to augment its Deloitte Leadership Academy, a digital executive training program that’s deployed across 50,000 executives at more than 150 companies. The gamification elements included ranks and rewards to be showcased in participant profiles, missions and leaderboards.

The results were tangible. Utilizing the game mechanics associated with Badgeville, the Deloitte Leadership Academy improved user retention by 45% after three months. Specifically 46.6% of users returned daily and 36.3% of users returned weekly. An average of three achievements were unlocked per active user with top users earning as many as 30 achievements all told.

To help spawn interactions between participants, each executive’s home screen featured an updated news feed chronicling engagements of the users they follow. And similar to Facebook, executives could post on another’s site.

As executives completed each online learning program, they received a badge to mark their achievement. There also were "secret" badges that were "unlocked only by achieving certain goals," the Harvard Business Review reported. "For example, if all members of one department watch the same video during the same week."

"Feedback from some clients is that the DLA experience has become ‘addictive,’ and competing with peers is now part of how clients are achieving their learning plans. The leaderboard has been an important element, as it creates a status-oriented competition," said Tom Richardson, Deloitte Leadership Academy partner.

Automotive aftermarket retailer Pep Boys recently employed a gaming platform called Axonify to address safety incidences and inventory shrinkage among its more than 19,000 employees. The use of informational posters and monthly manager-led meetings wasn’t really working.

"Associates answered quick, targeted questions related to risk, loss prevention, safety and operational policies and procedures — standard questions in these areas. If they answered correctly, they played a slot-machine game titled ‘Quiz to Win’ for a chance to win cash prizes. If they answered incorrectly the system immediately presented a short training piece designed to specifically address the topic covered in the initial question," noted Karl Kapp, instructional technology professor at Bloomsburg University and author of "The Gamification of Learning and Instruction," in an article published this summer in Learning Solutions Magazine. The entire process took less than two minutes each day.

Upon completion of the program, Pep Boys realized a reduction in safety incidents and claim counts of more than 45% and shrinkage was down 55%. "In the case of internal loss, each time a burst of content related to employee theft is pushed out, they see at least a 60%. increase in their ‘Integrity Pays’ hotline calls, resulting in a direct reduction in inventory loss," Kapp reported.

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Leveling up customer loyalty with apps

BY Michael Johnsen

In its partnership with Niantic Labs, Duane Reade has gamified the shopping experience through an app called Ingress. No purchase is necessary, but who in New York walks into a Duane Reade and then out again empty-handed? It’s a traffic builder and impulse purchase opportunity. And it’s working.

"All 250-plus of our store locations were activated into the mobile game as portals, and we became real game pieces for Ingress players," Calvin Peters, Duane Reade’s PR and online manager, told DSN. "The key takeaway [is] that customers could interact in a number of ways leading them inside our locations."

An Ingress logo is located on the front window of Duane Reade stores around the city signaling players of the company’s participation and the existence of a value-added game asset located inside the store. Each asset will display its own unique code, which gives players a range of resources for playing the global interative game including energy, offensive and defensive game objects — such as resonators, weapons and shields — and possibly media objects.

"Gaming apps in particular are big business," Peters said. "Studies show in 2012, revenue earned from apps will approach $10 billion, but games will take 80% of that pie. Our expected demographic for Ingress is male and female [trendsetters] between 18 years and 34 years old. This happens to be the most active demographic on Duane Reade’s social platform engagement."

It’s not only about driving traffic into Duane Reade locations, it’s also about driving the right traffic. The higher income subsegment within this group gravitates toward prestige brands, Peters said, many of which are featured within Duane Reade’s Look Boutique, for example. "Our signature Look Boutique beauty department and our UpMarket store concepts will stand to benefit by catering to this customer demographic," he said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota may have found a new way to deliver health insurance information with better retention value. "If people don’t understand the basics [of health insurance], they can’t make informed decisions. So how do we take this set of historically dry and uninteresting information and reimagine it?" asked Doug Ghertner, president and CEO Change Healthcare and a former CVS/Caremark SVP. "That is what [Change Healthcare’s] Healthcare University does. We use videos, quizzes, challenges, game mechanics and actual games to educate people."

And it worked. Over the course of the first six weeks, almost half of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s employees proactively engaged Healthcare University — watching 9,000 videos, taking 7,500 quizzes and playing 19,000 games. "What it told us was there is absolutely a thirst for this kind of information at the consumer level, but you’ve just got to deliver it in a much more engaging way."

And it’s not just the younger employees who were drinking in the information. "Between the under-30 set and the over-50 set, it was 41% vs. 37% [of employees who interacted with Healthcare University]," Ghertner said. "Females more than males engaged at maybe 500 basis points better, but there wasn’t huge variability in terms of age."

The applications go beyond health insurance information. "You have this massive retailization of health care," Ghertner said. "With that comes this need to have a fundamentally different set of tools."

"What we’re really excited about with Healthcare University is just the multitude of places where we can build content that educates and engages members, but also minimizes disruption associated with many of the different plan design changes that employers and health plans are wanting to make," Ghertner added. "When you put it into the context of pharmacy benefit managers and drug store chains, there is huge opportunity to educate," he said, including education on Medicare programs or preferred pharmacy networks. "This is the type of mechanism in which you can educate people and influence where they fill their prescriptions."

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Game on: Early gamification adopters score big

BY Michael Johnsen

Gamification. What is it? And what does it mean to your business?

It’s a trend that signifies the addition of gaming elements (e.g., leveling up, the awarding of badges) to nongaming situations, such as shopping, health and wellness or training. And although still somewhat in its infancy, early adopters are leveraging game-based technologies to drive trips to retail, grow share, build brands, and recruit and train the next generation of business leaders.

The opportunity for the retailer or CPG company can be significant, whether you’re stimulating more engaged consumers or improving employee performance. Demographically, gaming appears to appeal to younger generations more than older, but not by much. "Millennials do all kinds of stuff that is already gamified," noted Karl Kapp, instructional technology professor at Bloomsburg University and author of "The Gamification of Learning and Instruction." "It doesn’t mean baby boomers don’t like it or won’t engage it, it just means they’re not as familiar with [the concept]."

But the prevalence and utility of gaming programs is expected to expand in the coming years as more millennials and younger generations begin joining the work force. "I see gamification as a great way [for millennials] to develop their personal brand within an organization," said Ryan Jenkins, author of "The GenEdge: Leverage Millennials with a Next Generation Mindset," "If companies start putting in place gamification to where it’s … part of a way to expand on certain skills," that could be really beneficial for young executives, Jenkins suggested. Milllennials will have the opportunity to get really sharp in a certain aspect of their job, and they’d be able to show that as part of a digital resume. "They could say, ‘I have 12 badges, [and] that makes me an expert in contract negotiations,’" he said.

But what is gamification, exactly? It’s more than awarding points, as you find in many linear loyalty programs (i.e., earn points and cash in for rewards). Gamification is more dynamic. It requires a certain amount of commitment from the end user as they achieve greater levels or earn more badges. And there is a social aspect, often in the form of a leader board where "gamers" can check their progress against others.

DSN recently talked to the experts along two tracks of gamification — consumer engagement on one side, employee education and training on the other. Following are some emerging best practices.

10 startling stats:

  1. In the United States alone, there are 183 million active gamers. 
  2. Active computer or video gamers play 13 hours a week on average.
  3. Collectively, the planet is now spending more than 3 billion hours a week gaming. 
  4. 69% of all heads of household play computer and video games.
  5. 97% of youth play computer and video games.
  6. 40% of all gamers are women.
  7. 1-out-of-4 gamers is older than 50 years.
  8. The average game player is 35 years old and has been playing for 12 years.
  9. Most gamers expect to continue playing games for the rest of their lives.
  10. 61% of surveyed CEOs, CFOs and other senior executives say they take daily game breaks at work.

Source: "Reality is Broken" by Jane McGonigal

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