Anyone who’s read more than a passing article from me knows that I am a gaming enthusiast. Whether it’s Baseball, computer Solitaire, Dungeons and Dragons, Jeopardy, or Super Mario, give me something with a score, and objective, and a repeatable loop of actions and behaviors, and I’m in the zone. Even if I am terrible at it, I’m having a really nice time.

I know that I am not alone in my pro-games predelictions (partially because they are so vaguely defined in this article), as the concept of games and gaming have seeped heavily into the world of organizational behavior for businesses.

For the uninitiated, let’s ask the obvious question: What is gamification? We’ll define gamification as the act of building a system of scoring, objectives, and rewards (not punishment…games are supposed to be fun) behind performance in some sort of measurable way.

I recall, for instance, working at a big-box retailer, where speed was the #1 priority. Each transaction was ranked, and your cumulative score was presented as one of three colors—Green for excellent, yellow for average, and red for poor. While it was perhaps a bit reductive a benchmark by the standards of a post-Amazon world, it certainly kept lines moving quickly.

This has permeated across businesses of all disciplines and is far from a new concept in service. There have been benchmarks, KPI scoreboards, team goals, and good old-fashioned performance metrics for decades, all of which have been influenced by and benefitted from increasingly complex technology. Digital performance lobbies are industry standard today. Gamification has landed, but the key is figuring out how to take these measurements and benchmarks and coordinating them in a way that’s more valuable than numbers on a screen. While numbers alone might be enough of a motivator for someone like me, who needs to collect all 900 seeds in a Zelda game, it can be useful (and instructive!) to contextualize those numbers as having a specific benefit for your service teams. With that in mind, here’s an example of how to make gamification work for service:

Aligning Objectives with Dealer Networks

As I mentioned last week, manufacturers are moving at an accelerated pace towards a fully circular model of development. While manufacturers are incentivized to do this for their bottom-line, if manufacturers do not manage their own service, their service deliverers—through dealer networks, or perhaps just people certified to repair specific equipment—don’t necessarily care if widget #4 is returned to the supply chain. Gamification could be a way to strengthen relationships with these dealer networks, and by measuring reverse logistics and remittance of parts, and establishing rewards for something like value of parts returned to manufacturer (or something that works better for you—I’m throwing out a completely arbitrary example here) could improve a manufacturer’s bottom-line and keep materials in the circular workflow for remanufacturing.

As always, a certain technology infrastructure needs to be in place for this to work. You’ll need to have a reverse logistics system that extends beyond the borders of your own organization, and you’ll need to have at least superficial data about how your partners perform service. A tall order, for sure, but in the name of a more servitized economy, doing some legwork on the technology side now will help you capitalize on this today and se you up for tomorrow.

This is obviously one somewhat specific example, but there are of course hundreds of different ways to turn the data wells available to you into scoreboards that inspire and motive your service workers.

Have you used gamification in a particularly interesting way for your business? If so, we’d love to hear about it! Drop us a line and let’s talk!

Tom Paquin

Contributor, Future of Field Service