Gamification in Telecom

Although people have been playing games from the beginning of humanity, gamification has become popular recently when previously unknown companies like Zynga were able to attract millions of people to play games like Farmville. Gamification is about using aspects of a game into something serious.

There are few examples of gamification in the telecom industry that I know of. However telecom operators should really invest in gamification. To a certain extend the groundwork is already available. Customers are classified into segments, although often not public. There are loyalty schemes to get a new mobile device.

What should operators do?

People in games are looking to socialize, win, get fame and recognition. Airline companies already a long time ago understood that status is more important than free flights. Being able to say you are “Platinum” is more important then saying that you spend a lot of time in the VIP lounch all by yourself.

Operators could recognize high spenders with different status levels. Top “platinum” customers would get first on the list when the iPhone 5 is made available. Others would find a message like: you are number 512 in the backorder list, there are 115 platinum and 321 gold members in front of you. You would get pushed back if more platinum or gold members arrive. You would have the gold and platinum support number. Platinum members automatically get a new phone every 6 months.

Additionally operators could stimulate social behaviour. An example would be whereby groups of people could donate loyalty points to a good cause and compete with other groups to contribute more, e.g. competing companies, competing fans of a football club, etc.

In a previous post I reported about GiffGaff. Customers giving support to other customers and getting free minutes and other goodies. Status could be even more powerfull. People that get to the ranks of community leader are able to moderate discussions and support requests. In reality this means less costs for the operator but being recognized as a community leader can go a long way for some people. The community leaders get invited for a personal conversation with marketing or the CEO once a year.

Social pressure among peers is also important. If for every SMS or call among my friends, I get a point. Then if I have the most points I can get recognized for being the group leader, the one that calls everybody into action. The one that does less calls is marked the laggard. For sure candidates for group leader will call more and so will potential laggards.  The group will feel united and will be less likely to change operator.

Update: Vodafone UK is effectively using gamification for prepaid customers. It would be interesting to understand the results they have seen.

For some interesting infographics on gamification, you can take a look at:

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  1. October 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm

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