Your business priorities are wrong

Your business priorities are wrong

Your business priorities are wrong

When Zynga tried to maintain their #1 position in the mobile gaming world, they were only trying to improve Daily Active Users and Monetization.  All that mattered was near term results. All day every day. Zynga became very good at creating mechanics to lure and keep a user addicted in the short term. Signing people up fast and making getting them to pay was the name of the game. In Octalysis terms: they added more and more Black Hat techniques to their games every day.
Then Zynga found out that their dark ways came at the expense of a very high churn in the Scaffolding phase and huge player dropout before the Endgame.  Players were burning out and Zynga’s revenue stream dried up with it.
It turned out that Zynga had their priorities wrong and, hence, the design was off…
I’m sure you have heard of prioritizing. And we all have, right? But did you know that almost ALL our clients are finding out what their real priorities while they work with us? Some find that they have way too many priorities, but some find that they simply have the wrong business objectives all together!
What is it that we see and they don’t? Because we don’t just focus on a particular aspect of the user journey (like getting them to sign up). The Octalysis Group focuses on design that gets getting people to use your product for the long term, from the Discovery phase to the End game! If we do not know what key longer term success factors we design for, our end game is null and void.

 

Transactions versus Happy Sellers

When we were called in by eBay, we noticed several things.

eBay could have chosen to emphasize transactions (since they make fees per transaction), but instead–in the early days–they focused on better seller ratings.

If buyers and sellers had strong ratings, they could increase trust on their platform.

Trust led to more transactions.

Without trust, transactions would decrease.

Knowing trust was their key metric, eBay shifted its focus to designing an experience that encouraged buyers to leave seller reviews. Additionally, they encouraged sellers to provide amazing experiences for buyers, from appealingly designed product detail pages to shipping and delivery experiences.

Near-term and long-term health (and growth)

Are you venture-backed and seeking fast growth? Are you an incumbent business trying to hold on to marketshare against small competitors?

There are many places in between these two extremes, but identifying the most important metric for the near- and long-term health of your company or product line should be derived from your vision in the context of the marketplace and industry dynamic where you do business. A company looking for an exit will plan business activities differently from a company engineering themselves for longevity.

Once you identify your North Star, you will have the freedom to pursue varying strategies to achieve it.

Examples of Business Metrics

Here are several examples of business metrics:

Daily active users: If you are a growth startup featuring a mobile app, this metric tracks engagement on a daily basis. You will have to define what active means to you. Is 5 seconds active? 5 minutes? It turns out that defining this at a very granular level will force you to make important tradeoffs that will influence design decisions.

Recurring revenue: Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is a standard way to measure subscription model businesses. If you are a high-investment driven business, then consistent cash coming into the bank account might be your highest priority metric. This metric also helps you to understand your business’s retention, and, when combined with churn rate as a secondary tier metric, helps you understand the ratio of customers acquired to customers retained.

Lifetime Value: The liftetime value of a customer, or LTV, is also a useful business metric. If you spend on advertising and understand your cost of acquiring a customer and also have a solid understanding of how long you can retain him, then the LTV becomes a great first priority metric.

The key thing to remember is that these business metrics will be achieve if your users perform the desired actions leading to the user win-states. These win-states correspond to your underlying business metrics.

What’s more, you will, through the exercise of properly reassessing or defining your business metrics, be forced to establish a priority of metrics, including those that on the surface seem contradictory. This is where the magic and creativity of design begins.

Which Core Drive is Driving Your Business Metrics?

Many companies (even ones that are in good financial positions) choose business metrics that can be forms of vanity metrics or the Points, Badges, and Leaderboards Fallacy.

Don’t fall into this trap.

Defining your business metrics and their priority is only the beginning. What comes next–the Strategy Dashboard–is critical to implementing behavioral design into your product or service or overall experience.

We have helped hundreds of companies improve their design process and paved a road to design implementations that grew their business.

Let us start helping you today.

Contact Joris Beerda:  joris@OctalysisGroup.com

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The Real Reason Pokemon Go is Failing

The Real Reason Pokemon Go is Failing

It was fun, but…

We previously wrote about what Pokemon Go did well, but why did the Pokemon Go hype not last? How did the game lose millions of players, seemingly overnight?

Only a few months ago Pokemon Go looked like a huge success: 750 million downloads; 1 billion dollar in revenues in 2016; 28 million daily active users in 2016 in the US alone. Nothing seemed to be able to bring the mighty Pokemon down.

Yet only a few months later, its grandeur has faded. Seemingly forever. Its active player base has evaporated. Globally, only 5 million people now play the game on a daily basis. And the number seems to be falling continuously.

What went wrong in a game that seemed to be such a huge success? Find out below how basic design flaws brought the Pokemon Go down.

404 error: no endgame

Pokemon Go was very successful in engaging a huge number of people through a mix of extrinsic design (XP, Collection Sets, Scarcity design and some unpredictability in finding new Pokemons). This help to get many people to jump on board.

 

However, for a successful end game to exist, the design needs to switch to intrinsic motivational design to create the needed unpredictable fun (Core Drive: 7 Curiosity and Unpredictability), autonomy (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity  and Feedback) and meaningful social interaction (Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness). Unfortunately Pokemon Go failed in this aspect almost completely.

Many players began scratching their heads after realizing they were constantly picking up similar pokemon time and again in their area (it is only so exciting to find the same Ratata or Pidgey or even, though I love them, the Magikarp). This predictability led to a decrease in Core Drive 7 Curiosity and Unpredictability. There was just less and less to wonder about and explore in Pokemon Go.

The Pokemon Gyms would have been a great place to create exciting social interaction between players through combat and collaboration. However, new players find the top 1% of players have already created “monopolies” in gyms. Essentially, these hard core monopolist gamers spent more time and effort, significantly so, to level their Pokemon, essentially preventing interaction from other players in this game element. This has created a scarcity overkill: it was just to hard for most players to do any meaning social game interactions. No Core Drive 5 either then…

Finally, the way combat is designed is pretty lame and lacks the ability to strategize (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback). Most players are disappointed that combat doesn’t feel like the Pokemon games of their youths.

So what we are left with is mainly extrinsic design:

  • You keep adding Pokemons to your collection of Pokemons
  • You gather XP and level up
  • And high scarcity of available Pokemons cause you to grind (walk, travel) a lot to get more Pokemons.

The above is a fully extrinsic experience design: you mainly play the game because you expect a reward for your activities. Great for short term motivation, but…

 

Extrinsic ruins intrinsic motivation (in long-term)

Walking in nature is intrinsically interesting, but Pokemon Go is making players feel like this: “now I have to go for a walk just to collect Pokemon.” The extrinsic design bias in the game motivated us to start walking in our surroundings to add to our collection set. But after a while the extrinsic motivation has completely taken over our intrinsic desire to explore our surroundings. Now going out to hunt for Pokemon feels like a chore rather than a fun game. Motivation wanes.

Black Hat

Core Drives, 6, 7, and 8 represent the Black Hat parts of the Octalysis Octagon, and Pokemon Go veers too much toward these drives, and in particularCore Drive 6: Impatience & Scarcity. Here’s a few examples:

  • It is overly difficult to obtain certain Pokemons. The scarcity is just too high and when it is, your initial motivation turns to Core drive 8: Loss and Avoidance. You just give up.
  • Gyms are zones of high competition, the Black Hat expression of Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness. It is great for highly capable, competitive Alpha players, but for the majority of players it is not motivational. So a potential intrinsic design feature turned into a fully black hat experience (Core Drive 6: Impatience & Scarcity as well as Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance)

What does the CEO believe?

When asked, the CEO mentions the collaborative gym raids as the most important recent update.

If I had to single out one, I think it’s the [gyms and raids update] that we just put out. It really is the first new mechanic that gives people motivation to keep playing, to keep leveling up pokémon, to continue to get out and be active. The collection mechanic was something that was really the heart of the game, and it still is the heart of the game for new users, but this [improves] the game for players who have reached a certain level. I think that’s the single biggest change because of that challenge and opportunity of fun that it presents to more experienced players. And also, it’s designed to encourage cooperative play, which is core to our mission.

 

I understand the emphasis on cooperative play, which invokes social influence, but the change doesn’t address the lack of creativity in the game and tries to smuggle in some achievement and epic meaning (health), which are secondary motivators. It seems Niantic would do well to consider their flaws and omissions instead.

Okay, let’s fix this with common sense and Octalysis

If you’ve gone through the trouble of enabling a vast global location-based tech infrastructure, adding just a little game design on top is totally worth it and will improve your ROI. Here are some recommendations to improve the Endgame.

  • enable trading between players
  • varying types of pokemon found even if searching in same area
  • improving the collaborative raids
  • center on gyms for player interactions, and make the gyms customizable via location-type tags
  • create group or friend quests
  • provide a more items that influence collaboration between high and low level players (option, give lures additional strength when players of varying levels are present)
  • trading or crafting items from home
  • add load out slots for additional combat strategy (CD3)
  • add distance-based quests: a sequential quest starts after a given length of walking, but can then be played while stationary later

These are just to get you started thinking about simple design updates to improve Niantic’s business metric of more daily active users. This video from Extra Credits has even more.

Making a stronger endgame

You’ve got people using your app or website, but you can’t keep them engaged? We’ve helped hundreds of companies think through these Endgame scenarios.

Get in touch right now.

joris@octalysisgroup.com

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Broken Product? Still successful! The power of Octalysis Epic design

Broken Product? Still successful! The power of Octalysis Epic design

Why Epic Meaning and Calling Matters

Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling can be the Core Drive that keeps your users with you for the long term regardless of flaws in your product.

In Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards, Yu-kai explained how Waze (which you might think is “just” a GPS tool), used Epic Meaning and Calling to inspire users to outsmart traffic every day and know what’s ahead: accidents, police, hazards, jams.

The idea of collaborating to slay the evil Traffic monster was so powerful, that instead of uninstalling the app when encountering a broken map, users clamored to fix the errors in the app and help others avoid that same problem. Now THAT is user engagement!

Faith in the vision

Yu-kai Chou was actually one of these early evangelists, forgiving the app for bringing him to the wrong locations on several occasions:

How powerful is that? When you fail in your core competency, instead of deleting the app in anger, users actually rush to solve the problem for you. Again, when it comes to Epic Meaning & Calling, what makes you happy is irrelevant. It’s about the bigger meaning and higher vision. And when you see a crack in that higher vision you believe in, you become fearful that others will see that crack and lose faith in the vision. As a result, you take it upon yourself to fix it.

Now Waze has 85 million users

In a few short years, Waze was acquired by Google for USD $1 billion. Not bad for selling a vision.

The Onboarding for Waze doesn’t shout epic meaning and calling (beyond the cute little Waze bubbles backdropped by hearts), but instead calls the user’s attention to Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment and Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession through the following:

  • Know what’s happening on the roads in real-time (CD4)
  • Avoid traffic with route updates as conditions change (CD2)
  • Get alerts about accidents, hazards, and police ahead (CD2/4)

Interestingly, Waze’s next screen–the Waze(TM) End User License Agreement–begins with a Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling message:

You’re about to join the first network of drivers working together to build and share real-time road intelligence (the “Service”). Since Waze(TM) is 100% user generated, we need your collaboration and patience!

The policy goes on to read that usage of the app is your sole risk and that Waze (Google) will be collecting your data, including “a detailed history of all of the journeys you have made while using the Waze application”.

The Core Drive 1 message can help to get users to enter into this bargain (especially if the user is particularly concerned with privacy).

Keeping 85 million users satisfied

An 85-million strong user base can’t only be held together with Core Drive 1, so Waze has also grown their feature list:

  • Automatically reroute around traffic as conditions change on the road (CD2)
  • Get police and speedcam alerts while you drive (CD2/7/8)
  • Hear road directions by celebrity voices or the average Joe (CD4/7)
  • Record your own custom voice directions to guide you on the road (CD4)
  • Know how long your drive will take before you start driving (CD2/4)
  • Find gas stations and the cheapest gas prices on your drive (CD2/8)
  • Earn points and gain status as you contribute with road info (CD2/5)
  • Low data usage from your phone (CD2)
  • Waze works anywhere in the world (CD4)

For drivers who really don’t like to waste time or money:

  • Get notified when it’s time to leave for your destination by setting your drive in advance (CD2/4)
  • Let Waze tell you when it’s time to leave for your events by syncing your calendar with Waze (CD4)
  • Save time looking for parking with Waze parking suggestions by your destination
  • Choose to be routed on toll roads or to avoid them (CD2/3)
  • Get a sound alert if you exceed the speed limit with the speedometer (CD8)

Could Waze Lose its Way?

Epic Meaning and Calling brought and kept many Waze users, and Waze still feels different to many other equally capable GPS apps on the market.

As Yu-kai describes,

This ties back to the core of Human-Focused Design. You play a game not because you have to, but because you enjoy doing so. You use Waze not because there aren’t any other good GPS apps out there that can report to you traffic conditions, hazards, and watchful policemen; you use it because it’s fun and you enjoy the experience the most. And just like Mjolnir, Thor’s mighty hammer known for leveling mountains, this is no ordinary tool- it evens slays traffic!

 

But even Apple could lose its way if it doesn’t stay true to its ‘Think Different’ mantra, Waze could lose users if it doesn’t maintain the Epic Meaning and Calling it instilled from the beginning.

Gaining and maintaining your position

Many of the 85 million users are now in the Scaffolding or Endgame phase of their player journey. So long as they believe in Waze’s Epic mission and as long as they have build up enough Core Drive: Ownership and Possession, they will probably stay with Waze. It could be possible for other GPS apps to provide more Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback and provide a better GPS choice, but because of Status Quo Bias (Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance) most Waze users may not switch.

 

Contact us today to hear how we can help you maintain your position with additional Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning and Calling.

At The Octalysis Group, we know that no product, service, or app is safe from competitors, and we’ve helped hundreds of companies break into and remain leaders in their competitive marketplaces.

 

joris@octalysisgroup.com

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Will AR/VR change your Motivational Design Strategy? Not yet.

Will AR/VR change your Motivational Design Strategy? Not yet.

Get inside Jeff Bezos’s Head

Imagine you are inside an Amazon strategy meeting. You listen to everything Jeff Bezos says, you hear everything he hears, and see everything he sees. You are sitting on the lap of the CEO of one of the fastest growing companies in the world. And you are there when they decide their next move! This would be a virtual reality experience potentially more valuable than a semester-long course on entrepreneurship at your local MBA program.

So far, this isn’t the kind of experience that augmented reality or virtual reality has given us.

Augmented reality and virtual reality have been pitched as the solution to many human problems. Pokemon Go got millions of unhealthy teenagers outside and exercising! Technology futurists consistently describe the utopias AR and VR might bring to humanity.

But until humans no longer think like humans do today, we still need to design for humans. Here’s why VR and AR won’t consume the world right away, and also why you can’t forget human-focused design if you are designing within AR and VR experiences. Even if the platforms we use change, if the experience is not designed with Octalysis it may still not be engaging.

Learning from a history of game design

In one important way, VR is suffering from the common pitfall many evolutions of gaming consoles suffered from: graphics before gameplay.

When developers and designers spent too much of their time maxing out the aesthetic capabilities of a new medium, they often forgot to make the games fun to play. Everyone can think of a list of their favorite games and notice that some of their favorite memories of gameplay had little to do with the quality of graphics. Tetris’s graphics aren’t great, but it is still a great puzzle game.

Understanding the basics of VR, AR, and MR

Virtual reality (VR), which can be referred to as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality, replicates an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world or an imagined world, allowing the user to interact in that world. The keywords with VR are presence and immersion. And it is here where all those funny-looking glasses are relevant. They are called Head-Mounted Displays (HMD) and we have big players producing them.

360º videos are recordings of a real-world scene, where the view in every direction is recorded at the same time. During playback, the viewer has control of the viewing direction.

360° video is a version of VR created with only real-world content. There is a whole YouTube section dedicated to these kinds of videos. Keep in mind you should watch these videos with some device like Google Cardboard on (they can be considered a cheaper, and more limited, version of the more expensive HMDs). Most 360° videos currently play on Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity.

Augmented reality (AR) is an overlay of content on the real world, but that content is not anchored to or part of it. The real-world content and the computer generated content are not able to respond to each other. The keyword with AR is utility. The perfect example here is the Google Glass, since it was created to enhance our real world experience (unfortunately, it was not a huge success).

Finally, we have Mixed Reality (MR) – sometimes referred as Hybrid Reality – as an overlay of synthetic content on the real world that is anchored to and interacts with the real world. The key characteristic of MR is that the synthetic content and the real-world content are able to react to each other in real time.

This is where the secretive startup Magic Leap enters. If you have never heard of them, maybe it is enough to say they are promising the greatest MR experience EVER or that they had a Series C round of investment of almost $800 million lead by Alibaba – without a single product in the market! But we are not here to talk about them. If you are interested in knowing more about them, we recommend this positive and this negative review about them to get started. If you are not that interested, just check out this cool whale they created:

We are still designing for humans

Pokemon Go had many game elements that were carefully designed but lacked an endgame that captured mass appeal (not enough Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback).

Experiences like Pokemon Go, which balance careful behavioral design with the state of the art aesthetic experience have better chances of adding value.

Daily, new media reports build hype around potential gamechangers, like VR games influencing medicine, Disney’s use of mixed reality for shared experiences, or Stanford’s fencing marketing campaign.

Notice how in each of these examples, the VR experience is being designed with the human in mind, from Epic Meaning & Calling in medicine, to Social Influence & Relatedness in the shared experience, to Unpredictability & Curiosity in the fencing example.

These examples are using motivational design within the context of the new medium. The experience itself is frame around a core activity loop that keeps the user in the experience through investment and reward cycles.

How will VR/AR impact motivational design?

As VR/AR progress along the Hype Cycle through technology trigger, peak of inflated expectations, through the trough of disillusionment, and into the slope of enlightenment and the plateau of productivity, you might ask the question: how will VR/AR impact motivational design?

On one hand, the answer is simple. Until humans no longer think like humans, these mediums won’t change the core behavior and motivations inherent in human brains. So, it will instead be a question of how motivational designers apply frameworks like Octalysis to these new mediums.

From this point of view, AR and VR will only become widespread if expert motivational designers are included in the teams working on these technologies.

Applying Octalysis to Your AR/VR Design

Motivational design cannot be integrated into your design after the fact. Motivational design needs to be at the core of your design process.

At The Octalysis Group, we take this element of design very seriously.

Are you creating an AR/VR project?

Need help with deciding on how to do this? Talk to us today, we are here to help you out.

Contact Joris Beerda.

joris@octalysisgroup.com

 

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How Snapchat Employed Follower Scarcity to Make Users Feel Smart

How Snapchat Employed Follower Scarcity to Make Users Feel Smart

Plenty of Users, but None of them are Following Me

This was a common thought among early Snapchat users.

As a result, during Snapchat’s Scaffolding phase, users are made to work quite hard to gain followers. There is no search to add users. Early on, the only way to get more followers was through a username or phone number or Snapchat code. This is cunning Octalysis Core Drive 6: Scarcity and Impatience design

In Oren Klaff’s book Pitch Anything, Prizing is introduced and compared with three fundamental behaviors arising from our croc brains:

  1.      We chase that which moves away from us
  2.      We want what we cannot have
  3.      We only place value on things that are difficult to obtain

Snapchat’s decision to make users work hard for followers plays on the scarcity and impatience elements #2 and #3. What’s more, after they got those followers, those users experience Recruiter Burden (Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness) and feel the need to care please these followers.

Here is of course where unpredictability and curiosity come in, the bread and butter and X-factor of any successful content creator. But Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity is not the focus of this article.

Before diving deeper into Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience in the context of Snapchat, let’s examine Snapchat from a broader Octalysis lens.

Snapchat’s Octalysis Graph

As a whole, Snapchat benefits from a balance of both intrinsic and extrinsic as well as right brain and left brain Core Drives.

Although I created a complete Octalysis Graph (build your own at yukaichou.com/octalysis-tool/), let’s return to Scarcity.

Scarcity of followers

We’ve already discussed how hard it is to get followers on Snapchat. In the early days, people had to build followings through word of mouth. Users commonly shared their username on other platforms, and even used their Snapcode as their Facebook or YouTube profile picture.

The result? Snapchat gets more marketing and press and social proof. (Side note: Snapchat’s decision to make it hard to get followers was a BRILLIANT motivational design decision.)

Not only did they avoid having to build a functional search algorithm inside the app, they also kicked off the following Core Activity Loop:

  • User gets Snapchat and has none or very few followers, but wants more
  • They ask a few friends by sharing their username or cell phone number in a text message or word of mouth
  • If a content creator user 1) writes a blog post, 2) shares with their YouTube following, or 3) tweets about their new account
  • User gains a few new followers, feels smart (Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment), and repeats the Core Activity!

The genuine creativity and effort required to get followers means that users care about the users they bring to the platform and engage more heavily with them. (Compare this to your average Twitter followers, who you probably rarely interact with.)

The reward of genuine interaction and connection (especially considering the ephemeral image- and video-based medium) drove engagement between creators and fans. This Booster of Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness also contributed to additional Core Activity Loops for creators. People continued looking for ways to Hitchhike Snapchat exchanges or stories into their daily routines.

Building Scarcity into Your Product

Like Snapchat, your product may already have some Scarcity built in, but if it doesn’t, you are probably missing an opportunity.

But rather than testing your hypotheses without a properly defined strategy, you should base your design decisions on firm motivational design foundations. Use the power of a framework that works, on the human mind: Octalysis.

Need help with deciding on how to do this? Talk to us today, we are here to help you out.

Contact Joris Beerda.

joris@octalysisgroup.com

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How to Create and Strengthen Brand Loyalty through Octalysis

How to Create and Strengthen Brand Loyalty through Octalysis

Creating loyalty through marketing and customer relationships

Just like someone can’t have more than about five really close friendships, it is hard to have extreme loyalty toward more than a few brands. But if your brand is one of those to a customer, the lifetime value of that customer is extraordinary.

But designing for loyalty is very difficult. How do you know where to start?

Loyalty combines many of the 8 Core Drives, but probably starts with Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling.

Yu-kai shared with me that

The best brand loyalty comes from good CD1 design. People believe in its mission, purpose, or narrative.

 

In this article, we’ll explore how to create and maintain loyalty using Octalysis gamification. First, let’s look at this from an Octalysis perspective.

The Core Drive Analysis

 

Creating loyalty

For potential customers and new customers, the best way to design for loyalty is through a strong Core Drive 1 message. Note: this message could be non-Core-Drive-1. For example, Nike’s slogan is “just do it”, which is a Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment style of message. But someone who believes in springing to action will identify with this message from a Core Drive 1 motivation.

When entering a marketplace where there are strong incumbents, a powerful message can pull loyal fans from other brands. Consider Under Armour (https://www.underarmour.com). It entered the sports realm with an underdog message pulling athletes to its brand who blossomed into big names (think Steph Curry, who just landed the biggest contract in NBA history). Social identity theory and shared values have a part to play here. Some consumers want to have shared values with the brand, while others will be loyal regardless of values. Segmenting your customer base allows you to tailor messages to each group. Shared values can be understood from Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling (a higher value) in combination with Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness (connection to the brand itself) and Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession (feeling strongly about a value to the extent that it matters above other buying behaviors in a decision tree).

Maintaining loyalty (not losing loyalty)

Communication is crucial to maintaining loyalty once established. Unless someone is loyal for life, loyalty can wane, diminish, and disappear. Designing the 4 phases of an experience is really important to build the correct habits into your core experience. How you create loyalty during Discovery and Onboarding transitions to maintenance during Scaffolding and the Endgame.

Tactics to maintain loyalty:

This is where email outreach, product quality, customer support, and personalization enter the loyalty equation. Balancing rewards and ensuring customers are treated fairly (by using customer tiers based on engagement) are important. If you have a Standard, Premium, and Pro customer base, the perception of those must match the experience (and the price).

Email outreach

Interactions build and strengthen relationships. How often and with what offering or value are you doing so? Frequency matters, but only to a degree. What matters is the quality and emotional takeaway for the recipient. Relationships involve many of the Core Drives, but revolve around Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness.

Product quality

Does your product actually solve a problem and stand out? Most people will probably discover your product (Discovery Phase of the 4 Phases) through Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity.

Customer support

Do customers leave support calls/chats with a smile on their face? Train your support staff to provide the ultimate in Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness and creative problem solving, Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback.

Personalization

How are you going above and beyond to understand your user wants and needs? Whether you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool or a well-versed and caring support staff or a dedicated marketing team, giving users the personalization of Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession will make them understand you get them and you have their needs foremost in mind.

Balancing rewards

In experiences where rewards are offered (or triggered) through an investment of time or effort by a user, ensuring that the reward feels right will create trust in the brand’s ability to deliver on the next user investment. Variable rewards can be useful here. A detailed look at your Strategy Dashboard is one place to start.

Customer Tiers

These are especially useful in subscription-based business models. These tiers not only inspire user action through Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment, but also serve as a light Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience play as well.

Building better loyalty

At The Octalysis Group, we are regularly asked to built strong loyalty programs and we love the challenge of designing loyalty improvements into existing experiences.

Curious to know how we can help your organization create such long lasting engagement?

Contact Joris Beerda to get started:

joris@octalysisgroup.com

 

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Making Facebook Better with Octalysis Gamification

Making Facebook Better with Octalysis Gamification

Facebook versus Snapchat…Fight!

Back in March, millennials were checking Snapchat before Facebook. From a product standpoint, Facebook had two primary options. Build features that were better than Snapchat’s, or clone their effective features. Which did they do?

Only a few short months later Facebook launched Stories in Instagram and reversed their negative trend versus their fierce competitor.

Facebook is actively innovating (and even copying other products), but they aren’t throwing features at customers without thought. Instead, they are using their data and analytics and observing the behavior of their customers on mobile, where the consumption of the internet is going.

But Facebook, as a marketplace for attention between consumers and businesses, also needs to innovate in its business products. To keep businesses’ attention on the Facebook Business platform (Facebook Workplace and Advertising) for the short- and long-term, Facebook is using the 8 Core Drives and a deep understanding of gamification and human-focused design to make decisions.

Facebook Workplace and Facebook video advertising are two areas Facebook seems likely to innovate continuously.

Facebook for Everything

Facebook Workplace and Facebook video advertising are two areas Facebook seems likely to innovate continuously.

Before analyzing the business side of Facebook, let’s look at the consumer side from an Octalysis Gamification Lens.

Facebook relies heavily on intrinsic motivational design, which is crucial for long-term engagement. If Facebook was a game, it would be considered a game with tremendous replay value.

People (consumers) go to Facebook when they are bored, excited to share something, or want to know the news. Increasingly, people spend time in interest-related groups or watch live stream video or interact with team members.

Basically, people are going to Facebook for a lot of motivational reasons. However, it still stands strongest in Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness and Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity. We can post whatever we want, in the way we see fit (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback); for others to see and admire (CD5); and we are always wondering what is next on our home feed (CD7).

Facebook could use the following to resonate with consumers even more:

  • CD1: building in causes which I can contribute to (at the level of Wikipedia’s knowledge sharing…Facebook wants a more connected world, but that isn’t why most people use Facebook)
  • CD2: making me feel smart for engaging with my friends’ posts
  • CD6: limiting my engagement to a few likes or comments per day (and building a habit in the process)

But consumers are only one part of the Facebook’s marketplace for attention.

The business side is where Facebook gets really interesting.

So, what about Facebook for Business?

Facebook recently added Facebook Workplace, bringing its businesses a collaboration and productivity suite.

At a glance, features which improve collaboration between companies (Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness) are a really smart play:

Enabling communication like this will facilitate cross-promotion, collaboration, sponsorship, and other branding opportunities.

Imagine being able to search a library of businesses to find just the right business (with the appropriate audience) to co-advertise or cross-promote (Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness) and open creative discussions about how to best execute the vision (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback).

Facebook Video Advertising

Facebook understands that attention is on the mobile phone and that short-form video is in direct competition with television advertising, but also its own medium in itself.

They are helping businesses understand that native mobile video is its own medium and creating an infrastructure to distribute this form of advertisement on their platform.

Can Facebook Advertising be improved?

I did some research to see if I could improve it. Of course, I’m doing this blind (without analytics), which the hundreds of engineers and analytics people at Facebook would have access to. I started by looking at comments from businesses on Facebook.

Transparency

Expressing lack of transparency in ad products could be a problem, but as long as Facebook’s ROI for advertising is strong, advertisers probably won’t leave the platform in droves.

Facebook could probably provide additional FAQ-esque copy in their Facebook Advertising Onboarding (for new businesses trying Facebook Ads for the first time) to clear up any confusion and prevent businesses from “bouncing” to other ad platforms with their advertising budgets.

To Skip or Not to Skip?

This is a tradeoff between business and consumer experience. No Skip button means you must watch, a negative for the user.

Including a Skip button empowers user but decreases run-time and effectiveness of a Facebook ad, and in the end, diminishes the conversions for the business and the profit for Facebook.

Since consumers are on Facebook anyway and aren’t leaving, Facebook will probably cater toward the business side of its marketplace on the skip video debate. They already have an overload of consumer-only users in their marketplace.

What about Instagram?

Instagram is a huge piece of Facebook’s for-business play. Its visual and scrolling format is a remarkably powerful Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity driver. Maybe we will cover this in a future post.

Improving Products that Already Seem Great

Like Facebook, your product may already be Great.

But staying relevant in a fast-changing consumer and B2B environment means experiments and new features are required. But rather than experimenting blindly, your experiments need to be based on solid scientific foundations. Use the power of a framework that works, on the human mind: Octalysis.

Need help with deciding on how to do this? Talk to us today, we are here to help you out.

Contact Joris Beerda.

joris@octalysisgroup.com

 

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Using Octalysis to Get Amazing Results from Distributed or Remote Teams

Using Octalysis to Get Amazing Results from Distributed or Remote Teams

“The key management skill for the 21st century.” – Stephan Kasriel

Motivating Distributed and Remote Teams

Stephane Kasriel of Upwork believes that leading remote teams is the “key management skill for the 21st century.” Upwork’s Future Workforce study found that over 60% of U.S. companies have at least one team member working remotely at the department level.

Distributed or remote teams, like any teams, work best when a strong leader is at the helm, someone with vision, empathy, and execution.

But distributed or remote teams have the challenge of less face-to-face time and in-person interactions. Products like Slack’s #random channel try to mimic the watercooler effect (Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness), but they rarely can reproduce a powerful in-person brainstorm or problem-solving meeting.

This post describes a starting point for getting the most out of distributed teams with a gamification and human-focused design perspective on your design.

Doubling meetings to double productivity

Meetings are anathema to modern workplaces, but distributed teams need to meet to have face time, build rapport, and maintain relationships. Ultimately, a focus on results (Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment) will keep workers collectively progressing.

A weekly standup to kickoff the week combined with a weekly retrospective meeting to wrap up the week might be all you need. Here’s a detailed example of this process using Trello, which may also work for your team. Remember, the methodology itself is less important than the trust and accountability and productivity you are engendering in the team. Depending on the complexity of your dev or design projects, you might need something even more sophisticated. Here’s Postmark’s take on defining the regularity and type of meetings.

In the case of the Monday standup meeting, the session helps generate ideas (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback) and solidifies targets for the week (Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment) and ensures alignment on responsibility (Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession). These meetings work best when collaboration is emphasized (Core Drive 5: Socia Influence & Relatedness).

The retrospective meeting layers a touch of black hat design to ensure goals are met weekly, while also giving leaders a chance to recognize wins on a regular basis.

If you’re an agile software development team, you might already have scrum kickoffs and weekly sprints, but be sure to add a touch of empathy into these meetings as well, giving the team a chance to share its human side. As a leader, these meetings are a place to live your team or company’s culture.

Communication in between meetings: interactions via apps

Problems and roadblocks arise in business. Ensuring smooth and effective communication in the inter-meeting intervals is crucial. In the presented model, the standup meeting creates the weekly vision (Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling) and execution goals should be established (Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment).

How much should you expect team members to be available online? With the culture you establish, it might be reasonable to ask certain team members to always be on, but you may decide this isn’t best for you, too. Some work requires sustained periods of deep work.

As the team leader, only you can establish expectations and overall culture for the team. How quickly should emails and Slack messages be responded to? What defines what problems are urgent or not? What autonomy does your team have to solve problems on their own? (This estimation requires self-awareness and empathy with the Player Types on your team. Knowing who are the Stars and who are the Black Holes is crucial.)

If your team already uses a platform like Basecamp or Trello for communication, all that need be adapted for is the style of communication that is lost when the team transitions from headquartered to distributed.

As the leader

You probably will want to ensure you are there for your team (you “work for them”) or create a culture where autonomy and independence is what drives creativity and productivity (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback).

You need to communicate effectively and give constructive feedback. Here is a detailed example of how remote leaders can give feedback effectively so as to inspire their team members and actually improve the skill sets and collaboration of the team.

Pay attention to the phases of your journey

Discovery

You don’t need to dictate a shift to a distributed model. Instead, incorporate your team so as to make the jump to hyperspace together. What concerns does your team have in moving to this model? If you are hiring a distributed team as a satellite outpost, what concerns do they have?

Be sure to hire the right people for distributed teams. People who are self-motivated, excellent communicators, and accountable doers work best. You want people on the team who are willing to speak up, solve problems quickly, and ask questions when something needs clarification.

Key questions:

What questions are you asking new hires? Do those questions help you find someone with traits applicable to distributed/remote work?

Onboarding

As the leader, set expectations for a transition to a remote operating model or build a smooth step-by-step so new employees feel smart (Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment) as they get started on the team.

Notice how your team is reacting to the new system. If other projects are in flight, monitor them closely.

Key questions:

Is the team communicating effectively? 

As the leader, am I responding to feedback about the system? 

Scaffolding

By now you’ve gone through several core activity loops in your model, whether that be a few weeks of sprints or a complete phase of your project. This is the time to take feedback to better design your system, from process changes through to communication alignment.

Key questions:

Are we reaching our product milestones?

What financial results are we achieving? (Acquisition, Churn, Revenue)

Endgame

The hope is to create a working environment where your distributed employees and team would not go back to an undistributed model if given the choice. You’ll know you’ve reached this stage through constant communication and feedback and by asking what could be made better.

Key questions:

What is the vision for my distributed team? How do I design for this outcome from the start?

Designing distributed or remote teams with Octalysis

The success of your team will stem from your vision, execution, and empathy as a leader, but the 21st century will also be a world of teams connected by the internet. How you design your workflows and culture for this reality could be your competitive advantage (or disadvantage). You could even approach this from a Strategy Dashboard perspective.

At the Octalysis Group, we’ve helped 100s of companies use gamification and human-focused design to improve customer and employee engagement.

Contact Joris Beerda to get started:

joris@octalysisgroup.com

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How eBay Changed Marketplaces with a DNA of Gamification

How eBay Changed Marketplaces with a DNA of Gamification

The Age of Motivation Marketplaces

Marketplaces have existed since people began exchanging food and tools at the dawn of the agricultural revolution. Since then, physical and financial and digital marketplaces have become so commonplace as to be taken entirely for granted.

Microeconomics (the study of individual actors within these marketplaces) evolved as an area of study centered around scarcity. You don’t need to understand everything about microeconomics to understand the relevant dynamics.

Rather, a baseline in Octalysis will provide you with a sound framework for understanding the pushes and pulls of motivation and entering the hearts and minds of buyers and sellers. But you have to explicitly design for that motivation to happen. As we know from Octalysis, if no 8 Core Drives design is present, no behavior happens.

What is actually happening when a buyer wants to buy? And how do sellers provide that? And why do people act in seemingly irrational or hypocritical ways? In this post we’ll first examine what is happening for buyers, then sellers, and then examine a few examples of digital marketplaces.

Demand

When a consumer demands something, her desired action is to seek to resolve that demand. Sometimes these pulls are extrinsic. She wants a new pair of shoes to better enjoy her walks in the park (Core Drive 2: Development and Accomplishment). Some are intrinsic. Her mother wants a top end caterer for her upcoming wedding, and she is trying to find the right match (Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness).

What’s changed in the age of motivational marketplaces

Because most products and services and experiences are packaged and served online, any company participating in an online marketplace must account for the suite of motivations affecting how people experience demand and their expectations about fulfillment. Millennials (and let’s face it, most people) expect instant gratification in achieving desired actions when in an online setting.

Supply

As a seller, knowing these differences–between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation–matter greatly. If someone wants a quick win (Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment), forcing them to wait to purchase could be a mistake.

On the other hand, if a buyer is long-term intrinsically motivated, a seller could draw out the buying cycle and create a loyal long-term customer. This requires knowing what user types you are dealing with and a careful balanced design of Black Hat and White Hat triggers and rewards aligned with those behaviors.

Attracting Buyers in the age of motivational marketplaces

Attracting buyers who are already in the marketplace is important for a seller’s long-term success. From eBay to Amazon’s marketplace, a seller doesn’t survive unless it attracts buyers.

Attracting buyers in competitive marketplaces requires a competition on price or an other kind of differentiation.

In a marketplace that is supply-heavy, winning on price is tricky, so many companies and brands have involved some level of brand differentiation and attention to detail in one other key area: customer service. If the experience of buying the product or service is enjoyable, the product need not be all that different from a competitor’s. If we make buyers feel accomplished and smart for making a difficult meaningful choice among thousands of products, we have already begun to create an activity loop that will return that customer again and again for those same rewards.

eBay’s DNA of gamification changed how we buy and sell

In Yu-kai’s book, Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards, Yu-kai hints at why even the marketplace itself must differentiate from other marketplaces:

I did some research on eBay, and shortly after sold my two tickets through the platform (I hope the event organizer does not read my book).

That one transaction was surprisingly thrilling and fun for me. When I received my first bid from an anonymous stranger on the Internet, I almost jumped for joy (cultural joke: but I did not get stuck), and I became obsessively glued to the screen when another bidder joined in on the war.

 

Yu-kai’s very first experience of selling tickets on the platform gave him the following motivational pulls:

That’s very impressive for Yu-kai’s first experience as a seller, and was instrumental in Yu-kai spending hundreds of hours on eBay building up to be a power seller on the platform. There were other online marketplaces where Yu-kai could have bought and sold goods, but he chose eBay because eBay built gamification and human-focused design into its core DNA from the word Go.

Amazon enters the scene

Like Facebook’s slow erosion into MySpace’s social monopoly, Amazon entered via books and became the powerhouse in online marketplaces in the west, with Alibaba and Flipkart dominating the east.

Amazon created a marketplace that motivated both buyers and sellers.

Because Amazon wasn’t concerned with profits early on, features like Free Shipping were huge attention getters and attracted legions of customers. Amazon could then attract sellers by showcasing its impressive customer metrics. They quickly expanded into verticals beyond books and shoes.

Isn’t it just about incentives?

It may seem on the surface that all that is needed are the right incentives. eBay created an infrastructure which easily allowed buyers and sellers to transact and left great sellers to the top of the pile with an internal rating system. Amazon’s infrastructure was so good and so convenient that it saved people both time and money, and therefore was a no-brainer for both sides of the marketplace.

But creating a marketplace is not just about creating the right incentives. It is about honing in on the desired actions of every actor in the marketplace and ensuring the appropriate meaningful choices are triggered at the right moments to inspire action from those actors. The design of these motivational marketplaces, if done really well, will even account for our hypocrite brain.

The Octalysis Group has helped 100s of companies think carefully about how to craft their incentives and core activity loops, each of which is participating in the global marketplace in one way or another. Some are startups seeking to attract waves of new customers. Others are established incumbent conglomerates or government actors. We have truly enjoyed helping these entities think about how human-focused design and gamification might influence their approach and help them win in their ecosystem.

Are you ready to level up your marketplace position?

Contact Joris Beerda:

joris@octalysisgroup.com

 

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How to Use Octalysis to Attract your Competitor’s Customers

How to Use Octalysis to Attract your Competitor’s Customers

Customers are willing to switch, but…

That’s okay, I already have an app for that. 

Often, it’s not easy to get someone to use your product even if it offers them considerable advantages over your competitors. Why? Because they are already using your competitor’s product or service.

Understanding of your competitors gives many advantages, but this one is the most important: ensuring you don’t lack the fundamental features expected by your customers.

Of course, your customers care about benefits more than features, but some fundamental features are too ingrained in users’ minds to ignore. An email service without an inbox is possible to build, but it would be a tough sell even if you convinced a user to leave their current provider.

If you don’t understand what’s out there, you could by accident build a clone or launch a product that is behind others in your space. Don’t build with a blindfold.

Why better is not enough

Status quo sloth, triggered by Octalysis’s Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance, prevents us from leaving situations and experiences and products we are comfortable with. If something is already routine for us, it requires considerable mental effort to change.

Knowing your competitors will allow you to align certain features with customer expectations, or at a minimum understand how you will have to navigate these “conversations” in your customers’ minds.

Researching your Competition with Octalysis

When we help companies with our product gamification and design expertise, we often bring with us an understanding of the marketplace standards and an analysis of our new client’s competitors. At The Octalysis Group, we have methods like the Octalysis Strategy Dashboard to assist breaking down an experience or product into its fundamental core activity loops.

If you can use behavioral science and product gamification to do what your competition is doing much better than your competition, you stand a chance to convert customers to your product or service.

Using a Competitor’s Product

Understand what your competition is doing is much different than understanding how they are doing it.

Many hotels now have reward and loyalty apps, but simply adding a rewards app into your service experience won’t pull customers away from other hotels.

Within the rewards experience, we created a carefully-designed rewards app for La Quinta Hotels which gave them a 712% ROI versus the control group.

We did this by carefully analyzing other rewards apps and THEN creating an in-game economy that increased usage and conversion rates through an application of the 8 Core Drives.

Ecosystem influence and convenience

Many are familiar with Amazon’s or Apple’s or Google’s exhaustive ecosystems and their network effects. Amazon’s product offering grows more robust by the day. Using Gmail/Chrome gains you refined experiences. Apple products sync across devices and services like iTunes.

As you research your competition, it is important to understand how your product will fit into their daily routines. Is your product part of an accomplishment routine (Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment), or a creativity routine (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback)?

Non-intuitive brands like Nike play with this too when they introduced their fitness products: loyal Nike brand followers used their products instead of Fitbit’s offerings because Nike’s products worked with their Nike running shoes and gear. Fitbit might have been able to combat this if they’d designed their offering differently, or perhaps even partnering with leading brands in the early days.

Using the ecosystem to gain customers in Workplace Messaging

Consider the competition for the workplace messaging space. Let’s hone in on Slack and its new competitors, Microsoft Teams and Facebook’s Workplace.

Interestingly, Microsoft’s product looks very similar to Slack’s. Why? Fundamentally, it wants to make it easier for people to switch by removing Anti Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance. Not only does it sync with OneDrive and other Microsoft products and services. It looks and feels just like Slack, so you’ll have no worries and a better experience. This is a great example of thinking through their intended player types and building their product to account for those expected player type behaviors.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Workplace will make sense to many businesses who already have a Facebook page and presence. Instead of logging into a new experience on Slack, they can direct their teams and customers to their messaging solutions right there in Facebook.

From Slack’s perspective, they might do well to change the frame. Reacting to the big boys is tough though. If they keep their brand sense and elevate loyal companies and users (elitism) they could retain their footing.

Entering a market

Companies hoping to enter new markets should absolutely account for the context of competitors.

Almost any product by definition enters an existing market (there are very few untapped markets…and there is a good reason to enter existing markets, the primary reason being there are customers there already).

Consider Amazon’s latest market entrance: music. With Amazon Music Unlimited, they offer pretty much the same thing as Apple or Spotify but tout that a customer will save $40 over Apple or Spotify annually. Because the product is the same, they can directly appeal Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession and compete on price. Since most music apps and services all provide a similar experience (it is about the collection of and listening to music), this appeal can work.

Alternatives to network effects: Not everyone is Amazon

Apple spent on Brand to make us “think different”, while UnderArmor showed how a small brand could elevate itself to compete with the big boys like Nike through creative emotional appeals to the underdog mentality. When someone wears Under Armor, they are part of a group (Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness) that represents the Davids in the David and Goliath story. Steph Curry is a perfect fit for their brand, squaring off against the the Goliath of Lebron James.

Carving a place amongst the competition

Between direct and indirect competitors and alternative solutions for a given customer need, it is extremely difficult to create a niche or maintain a power position as an incumbent, but with carefully designed product gamification and design, it is possible and often necessary to borrow and steal customers from your competitors. They are doing it to you, too.

At The Octalysis Group, we have helped hundreds of companies design motivationally charged products and services to continually wow their customers. It requires patience and craftsmanship, but it works. Here are just a few case studies.

If you want us to help you design products and features to out-compete your competition, contact Joris Beerda:

joris@octalysisgroup.com

 

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Attention to Action: Crafting the Best Onboarding Sequence for Your Product

Attention to Action: Crafting the Best Onboarding Sequence for Your Product

Translating attention into action

Once you’ve gotten your customer’s attention (Discovery), you need to wow them with a powerful Onboarding sequence.

At The Octalysis Group, we see two types of companies. In the first category are companies that don’t understand how valuable their Onboarding could be. These companies don’t get the value of engaging user right from the early stages of their experience.

The other group of companies knows they lose users very early in the customer experience lifecycle. They correctly spend a lot of time, attention, and money to build what they believe is a great Onboarding experience. But what they are missing is effectiveness.

In both cases, a design styled to the varying needs and motivations of customers is the only way to carry them into the Scaffolding and Endgame phases of your product experience.

In this article, we’ll examine why different types of products require different styles of Onboarding. Defining and understanding these differences is one thing, and identifying what style you should use and implement another. Gamification and human-focused design will be our guide. Let’s dive in.

The appropriate sequence for your product

An email marketing software solution is different from a social media site is different from a charitable giving community is different from a telecoms provider. Users are simply expecting different things from these experiences. You probably know the foundations of what your users expect for your product. This foundation is important because once you know what the “rules” are, you can break them effectively and in your favor.

Quick wins and head starts in email automation software

When a CEO decides it is time to market a product to the public, email automation usually enters the conversation. While careful thought should be given to this frame of marketing, companies want and need a head start when so many other parts of their business take higher priority.

This is why email automation software like Mailchimp or AWeber provides email templates. Then, the user starts with a beautiful canvas to quickly create marketing content. This makes the user feel smart (Octalysis Core Drive 2: Development and Accomplishment) which is very important in the Onboarding of new users.

Drip and LeadPages do one better, offering ‘concierge’ services (with 24-hour turnarounds) on gorgeous and effective email campaigns.

Newsletter services like Revue or TinyLetter do similar. They also give users the choice to publish to various social media channels with one click.

 

Ownership on social media or mobile-only products

Most social media sites don’t use lengthy signup processes. Often, users are given the option to sign on with Facebook or Google or Twitter (even on competing platforms!). This gives the user speed and convenience. This is especially true if your product is built for mobile first–its painful to input too much text information on a smartphone.

Later, the Onboarding sequence can ask for information to fill out an avatar or profile creatively. LinkedIn does this effectively with its progress meter and comparisons to your colleagues and people ‘similar to you’ in your network.

Engaging with and building up an identity in an experience is an effective way to build feelings of ownership (Octalysis Core Drive 4) of your experience. The more more ownership I feel the harder it is for me to not return to your product.

 

Narrative to set long-term path or vision

In the case of charitable communities, a completely different message should be communicated during Onboarding. For example, the Head Start could appear in the application of a credit or matching bonus for the first donation or contribution. The Onboarding should ideally capitalize on (Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning and Calling) to remind users of the higher purpose that likely brought them to the product to begin with.

Creating long-lasting White Hat motivation upfront is crucial for charitable giving, even if they balance this with Octalysis Black Hat triggers later.

Solving common Onboarding challenges

Regardless of the type of product you have, you probably face one or more of these common problems. Let’s solve them.

Collecting basic user info

Collecting basic info can feel tedious to a user but is often crucial to the value your product will later provide during Scaffolding. How to solve this conundrum?

First, many sites use ‘sign-in with’ APIs for Facebook/Google/Twitter, allowing one-click signup.

If you must use a signup form, try making it more interesting and fun with interactive fill-ins or elements of ownership and creativity. Based on entries, your product could actively stack interactive fill-ins with various game elements:

  • elitism: making a person feel special about being part of a certain group
  • free lunch: reward before doing anything
  • boosters: an item that make something else more powerful or effective

LinkedIn goes a step further using co-creation and third person empathy: they activate your peers to get ‘recommendations’ and ‘featured skills and endorsements’.

Interaction with other users

For products where interaction is key to the experience, consider designing for watercoolers, conformity anchors, or evanescent opportunities (contact Joris Beerda if you would like to find out what these features are).

Slack’s #random channel defaults for all new users, immediately making new users to a team feel at home in a ‘watercooler’ and casual setting.

Conformity anchors (‘most people do this’) give users direction in the context of meaningful choices.

Evanescent opportunities (‘you can only attend this live webinar event during onboarding’) can help to increase activity during the crucial early sessions. Ditto on discounts in the first few days of a product enticing users to make a commitment to stick around long term (careful, this is Black Hat). But since you have your customers’ attention and have just given them value, it can work!

Tying a bow around Onboarding

Creating Onboarding experiences is necessary and tough.

Once you’ve built and tested your Onboarding, you can use Octalysis to brainstorm new game techniques for your specific problem areas. Adjusting designs based on user behavior is the next step. We have helped hundreds of companies with this.

If you want us to help you design better Onboarding, contact Joris Beerda:

joris@octalysisgroup.com

 

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What if your Startup Fails to Get and Keep Customers?

What if your Startup Fails to Get and Keep Customers?
 

The pain of failing to get and keep customers

Can you stomach the failure of your startup failing to get customers?

Without happy early customers, you can’t possibly dream of achieving the growth metrics needed to attract investors.

That’s why customer onboarding is crucial to a startup’s success. And creating an awesome onboarding experience isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult things to do.

With Octalysis Gamification, you can bring laser focus to your user Onboarding and decrease your chance of falling flat on your face.

Unless you keep customers…

It doesn’t matter how great your product is if you can’t successfully get people using it consistently.

Everything is against you. You’re facing large incumbents and cutthroat competitors.

Not only that, you’re facing inaction and a reluctance to change their ways in customers who you have to convince to switch from the incumbents or the competition. You’re facing status quo sloth. From the word Go, your product needs to seem significantly better than competitors to convince people to go through the friction and unfamiliarity of switching products and routines.

Ultimately, you’re battling for attention.

Building customer routines

Once you’ve captivated someone’s attention (through a promising and captivating Discovery process), you can start to plant a seed that will evolve your user experience into a user’s mental routines. People need to start imagining how your startup’s product or service will change their life in the future. Paint customers a pleasant picture of their future selves interacting and benefitting from your product, complete with a feeling of success or happiness and lots of social proof.

The nuts and bolts:

There is a lot to consider in your Onboarding.

Onboarding is in between your Discovery and Scaffolding phases (see the 4 phases of a user journey). Various player types will arrive to interact with your product and you should account for the major ones. The CEO visitor is different from the Innovation Intrapraneur, who is again different from the Operations Executive.

One overriding thing to consider for all your users in this initial phase of their journey with you:  make them feel really smart and accomplished (Core Drive 2: Development and Accomplishment). Overload them with confirmation design that they have made the right choice and give them plenty of win states.

A taste of development and accomplishment for a quick and easy action gives a motivational boost into the next Desired Action. As Onboarding continues, you can ratchet up the difficulty as your users become familiar, allowing them to “unlock” normal functionality that you saved in the earliest moments of Onboarding. If you keep users in Czickszentmihalyi’s flow state, with just enough difficulty to avoid boredom and just enough forward progress to provide a sense of accomplishment, you’re on the right track.

As you consider how to do this, there are many tools and game techniques at your disposal:

During onboarding,  highlight existing customers testimonials (“social proof“) or “pro tips” from happy veteran customers. Think of providing links to your community pages where users are showing off how they use your product (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback). All of these will confirm to the user that they have made the right choice to visit your product. Many other people have done this too, so it must be good right?

 

Intentional Design

Once you have your Onboarding design done, you are ready to introduce users to their  Core Activity. This is where they come back again and again to interact with your product and do Desired Actions: liking, commenting, sharing, buying, commenting. Give them something to do on your pages, something they want to return to again and again. Careful use of motivational triggers, mechanics, or incentives/rewards will help you do this.

Then, you can use Octalysis to brainstorm new game techniques for your specific problem. Adjusting designs based on user behavior is the next step. We have helped hundreds of companies with this.

If you want us to help you design better Onboarding, contact Joris Beerda:

joris@octalysisgroup.com

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Super Charge Your Product Offering with Behavioral Science

Super Charge Your Product Offering with Behavioral Science

How behavioral science can hone your offer

Whether you run an e-commerce business or a multi-million dollar software-as-a-service company, the way people are buying your products is constantly changing.

As people interact differently with technology and distribution fluctuates, you need to understand human behavior in the context of technology. With a working knowledge of your customers’ habits, you can design your offers accordingly.

While the buying action -a single click- seems quicker than ever, the buying decision is often drawn out in terms of interaction points and relationship building.

If you’re not fine tune your offer you are missing out on business and leads. Let’s see how behavioral science and Octalysis give us a mindset and tools to approach this problem.

Common problems with the offer

From the moment a potential customer reads your first blog post, to the moment they click ‘buy’ should be a carefully thought out sequence of interactions taking into account the buyer’s motivations.

First, let’s look at some mistakes to avoid.

Fake Scarcity

In a world of more and more abundance, scarcity still matters. In the Octalysis framework, scarcity is extrinsic and Black Hat, which means it can drive short-term behavior.

But scarcity shouldn’t be faked. People are smart and can be offended by shows of scarcity when this scarcity is merely manufactured.

Consider using Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience sparingly, especially in lengthy buying process where a relationship must be fostered first prior to making a sales pitch.

Sales funnels to match lead times

If you are selling a $2,000 or even a $10,000 product, you might not be able to sell it with one pitch.

Getting a decision maker’s attention is difficult, but once you’ve done that, you can proceed to develop a sequence of interactions that captures your intended buyer’s motivations. You can use a variety of external and internal motivators, triggers, and rewards, for example by making your target feel smart (Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment) or by helping them see how their competitors are already using it (Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness).

Conversion optimization is just a tool

Conversion optimization is much more than an A/B test. If applied rigorously only get you to local maximums if you started with the wrong premises.

People remember how you make them feel.

The same goes for product offers. How someone feels in the moments leading to a buying decision stem from reactions and emotions related to your selling funnel.

If you make your customers feel great, you have the opportunity to bring them to a customer Endgame where they will buy from you for years to come.

What we’ve learned applying Octalysis

Ultimately, these visceral reactions and emotions arise from motivations and interactions with your company and /or product, whether through a sales page, sales person, or chatbot. You have the power to influence these motivations appropriately.

You must start with asking the question, what is it we are actually offering? Often, what are you offering goes well beyond a simple product or service to an experience.

The next question is who are you offering this product to? The operations executive and the innovation entrepreneur and the CEO probably will all react differently to the content and style of your interactions.There are different Player Types on the other end of a purchasing decision. Build a plan to address each.

You should use a different mix of Core Drive design to reach each of them.

 

The buying action is just one part of the overall core activity loop of an experience a customer has with your company.

Masters of the shopping cart

Amazon is a master of getting items into a shopper’s cart and through the entire checkout process while also developing customers in Endgame consumers.

Boosters like the Wishlist or Recommended Items inch a buyer closer to the buying decision without burdening them with big decisions. The shopper can say “Yes” a few times before they say Yes to the final purchasing decision. “It’s on my wishlist, so it must be good.”

We know from Octalysis that this behavior is described by Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession. Even though a virtual wishlist verges on the edge of imaginary (it is simply data on a server), people’s brains begin to associate ownership with the wishlist. Interestingly, there can grow a cognitive dissonance between the ownership on a wishlist and the lack of physical ownership, leading to a purchase decision.

This same connection is in part why brands are valuable. Understanding and being comfortable with a brand (a sense of ownership or allegiance to) allows the alignment later needed for purchase decisions. If I am aligned and in a relationship with a brand, I’m more likely to support it or buy from it, even if another brand (of which I’m not aware) offers a better product or service in the same industry or need).

Reducing friction and cart abandonment in the buying decision

At The Octalysis Group, our content marketing strategy is intended to assist the pre-sellers in gamification implementations to make the pitch internally to directors or presidents. That is why this article is being written.

In response to a request to implement or “look into” gamification, this article can be printed out and handed to a director or forwarded as is to a president.

How will you use behavior science to make changes to your offers?

Design better offer sequences

If you want us to help you design better offer sequences in your company as well, contact Joris Beerda:

joris@octalysisgroup.com

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Using Gamification to Build a Recurring Revenue Business

Using Gamification to Build a Recurring Revenue Business

 

Designing an Experience around the Decision to Buy

You have an amazing product. Congratulations. Now it’s time to sell it.

Since you know what you’re doing, you’ve managed to get people onto your site through SEO and other channels. These people are ready to buy.

But then…they don’t.

It’s the experience surrounding your product that counts, not just your product. One cannot go without the other. Sometimes the experience itself is even your product!
Octalysis designs user experiences that engage your potential buyers and makes the process of purchasing feel great and gets people coming back again for more. Because you have a good product, but more importantly because it ‘feels good’ to come back.

The core mechanic of your customer activity

You have a business, but you have a problem. Customers aren’t buying at the velocity or volume you hoped for. You haven’t engaged them in the buying process. You haven’t made it a no-brainer to click buy, to complete the cart and checkout.

Game designers consider and test the engagement question repetitively in the design process (even before a product or service goes to market).

Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman describe the Core Mechanics of a game as

the essential moment-to-moment activity of players.

Consider the players in your game. The players are your customers. Do you know what their moment-to-moment activity looks and feels like in the nano-seconds before buying (or leaving your site)?

If you don’t, why don’t you start with what you concretely have? Use your data.

Finding the leaky pipe

Once you’ve identified the leak in your design, you can take the steps to pinpointing what the problem is from a motivational standpoint.

Maybe customers are on your site, but bounce after two seconds because they were promised something that isn’t apparent on your actual site.

Maybe customers are on your site, but not clicking buy.

Maybe customers are clicking buy, but leaving their carts unfinished.

Usually, the customer is dropping because something about the experience is missing or not resonating. Usually, the experience design is either too extrinsic, black hat or too intrinsic, white hat.

 

Is your experience too intrinsic or too extrinsic?

If it is too extrinsic, black hat (e.g. focused on rewards and creating urgency) you may have create a lot of push for people to want to get that discount you offer, but then buyer remorse can set in and they back off. They do not feel in control and when users do not feel in control they will find a way to exit the experience.

If your design, however, is too white hat, intrinsic (e.g. focused on making people feel special and in control) they may not feel any urgency to buy whilst they are on your site. So they feel good about your product, but after a short while they will start to think about things they really should be doing rather than spending time on your site (like doing  their taxes).

The moment-to-moment experience

Dissecting the minutiae of moment-to-moment experience is absolutely critical. When you press ‘Buy now’ on Amazon, you can bet there are 1,000 engineers on the other side of that click.

Why wouldn’t you spend as much effort and attention to ensure each decision your customers’ make is equally persuaded?

Choosing not to go to this level of detail is a losing proposition in a world which is increasingly pushing and pulling on nuances of human motivations is a decision to lose versus that competition.

The Octalysis Group often uses its Strategy Dashboard to investigate the Core Activity Loop. This usually illuminates the problem quite quickly. Identifying solutions is the next step.

There may be four or five steps you want to carry your potential customer through. Each of these decision points may involve multiple actions or reactions in the customer’s mind. Each of these actions or reactions can be tailored motivationally through Octalysis, and it is a mistake to brush these details aside.

Remember, most experiences that perform well seek a balance or harmony between the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis, between extrinsic and intrinsic and Black Hat and White Hat.

Doing the hard work, the risky work

While you make these observations about your customers’ behavior, your business will continue to struggle or flatline. You probably want to implement changes, but you might be fearful of making the problem worse. This is a risk.

At The Octalysis Group, we have experience in delicately diagnosing and recommending design changes to businesses that wish to maintain their business and look for ways to improve revenues.

To learn how we can assist your firm in creating long-term customer engagement and gain a stronger market position, get in touch with Joris Beerda right now.

Joris Beerda, Managing Director The Octalysis Group

Leading Octalysis Expert, International Keynote Speaker, Behavioral Scientist and Managing Director of The Octalysis Group.

 

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The Octalysis Approach to Better Training with Gamification

The Octalysis Approach to Better Training with Gamification

Applying gamification to training

As a human resources executive, you know your workforce’s competitive advantage must be maintained regularly through training. The problem? Training often isn’t as effective as you’d like. You hear feedback from employees that it is a waste of time or you don’t see improved results or ROI from the investment in training.

Now, imagine a workplace where your employees love to take training. A reality where staff do not just take training because they think their boss will want them to. Imagine training that people actually use in their day-to-day activities. Unrealistic? Not really. If you design while keeping the employees inner motivations in mind, you can create and maintain short and long engagement with your programs.

Designing for these motivations isn’t easy, but it the Octalysis Framework offers us exactly the right tools to do exactly that. In the end it is all about the correct balance for between short and long term motivational design and how to make the experience fun and rewarding. Gamification and game techniques will equip us with additional tactical tools.

Let’s consider two strategies to first encourage active participation in corporate training, and second to make corporate training ROI positive for your company by employee application to daily work activiites.

Give people meaningful choices

People like the feeling of making a meaningful choice. People like the feeling of agency. When encouraging training, don’t compel your employees. Instead, make them feel impelled to get the most out of training.

As game designer Jesse Schell reminds us, even the illusion of choice is often enough.

During Onboarding-level training, imagine there are two training sessions to attend. Instead of informing employees they will be doing both, allow them to choose which of the two they will intend first. Then offer the second or third training sessions as bonuses. (This also serves to get more data on whether you have made the correct hires.)

During Scaffolding (3-6 months on the job), present opportunities for training, explaining to employees that your team (or the company at large) is facing a certain problem, and there is knowledge within this training which could help resolve the epic challenge. Again, we are giving a meaningful choice and a narrative as gamification techniques to intrinsically pull employees into the training.

Post-training, we can offer varying projects to allow the employee to demonstrate their new understanding and give further development opportunity. Here, we are introducing an extrinsic motivator into our training activity loop.

Gamification enables learning at your own pace

By removing the competitive aspect from training, employees will feel good about what they’ve learned instead of concerned that they aren’t learning at the same pace as their teammates. Instead of feeling judged, employees will take chances and get out of their comfort zones. New skills will be learned faster. Fresh ideas will blossom.

If you’re using a Learning Management System (LMS), managers or trainers can still monitor progress and give encouraging feedback or assistance as a mentor figure.

This style of a system allows top performers to do more work in the same way that as a child I earned the right to do more homework by progressing more quickly through the math textbook and tests.

Think: how can we reduce competition in learning settings while inspiring collaboration? In the Octalysis framework, competition is Black Hat, while collaboration is White Hat. Over time, people will feel much better about collaboration–this is especially true for training and learning environments too.

Emphasizing growth over stagnancy

We’ve covered a short-term approach to getting employees to attend, participate in, enjoy, and benefit from training.

But now let’s cover a long-term motivation, growth.

Growth is an easy story to tell. The current globalized story is all about growth. By asking an employee how or she intends to grow, most employees–even if they are satisfied with their current role–will likely reply that they’d like to be better at one thing or another.

Especially when compared with stagnancy, growth feels like an intrinsically good thing.

Now that your employee as made the meaningful choice about growth, it is only left to guide your employees toward training, skill acquisition, skill development, and other pursuits which will help them as an employee and will also help your team or company.

You do not necessarily need a robust gamified system to achieve the above outcome. If your management team is equipped with the persuasive tools and conversational abilities, half the battle is already won.

Further, by giving your employees ownership over their learning (Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession) or designing a leveling system (dynamic, but mainly Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment and Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback) are two ways to emphasize growth.

If you’re looking to create a tangible system of training and development, appointment dynamics and leveling systems can be useful. These are advanced considerations.

Appointment dynamics and skill trees

When people see the path they are on, it becomes easier to walk it. Additionally, by showing people what other employees like them have achieved, you provide social proof toward a development and accomplishment aim.

Khan Academy shows learners the possibility space of a learning journey. Degreed Pathways and Team Treehouse curriculums are more clear-cut learning routes to walk. Duolingo, meanwhile, uses Protector Quests (Game Technique #30) to strengthen skills that need revisiting. This particular technique motivates players through Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession and Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance, and pedagogically aligns with the latest behavior and learning theory.

Levelling up

In the Octalysis framework designed by Yu-kai Chou, a Level System (Game Technique #85) is a Tier 3 system which dynamically motivates players through accomplishment and creativity. Why creativity? If given an advancement schedule, players will try to figure out creative ways to move ahead through the system. If properly designed, the learning will come in direct correlation with advancement.

Start at the beginning, defining training

Often, training is done to please the boss or manager, driven by avoidance behavior.

Further, classroom training often does not transfer into daily activities. This is to say the knowledge expected to be acquired by the employee isn’t grasped at the level with which the employee understands and desires to use that new knowledge in their daily activities. Gamification and human-focused design aren’t being applied correctly.

If the employee doesn’t apply learning day-to-day, training ROI is negative.

Let’s turn that around.

In the variety of companies with which The Octalysis Group has consulted on employee engagement to behavior science to training design, it is clear that a close eye on the desired actions and win-states of employees (from the employee perspective) is required before the company thinks about how it will serve its own business metrics.

The Octalysis Group runs workshops for companies to walk them through the details of their employee types and the win-states they would like to carry them toward. These workshops can stand alone, but often, companies get so much value they decide to work more with us to see what magic we can create together.

To learn how we can assist your firm in creating better training for your employees, get in touch with Joris Beerda right now.

Joris Beerda, Managing Director The Octalysis Group

Leading Octalysis Expert, International Keynote Speaker, Behavioral Scientist and Managing Director of The Octalysis Group.

Joris‘ career in creating engagement spans almost 20 years, in 4 continents and 17 countries.

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Why Human Resources Gamification Improves Employee Engagement

Why Human Resources Gamification Improves Employee Engagement

Human resources gamification creates engagement

Imagine a workplace where your employees effortlessly know which problems to solve and work together to solve those problems, each and every day.

Gamification and human-focused design are relative newcomers in the space of workplace and employee motivation. Yet they have already shown marked increases in employee output, collaboration, and productivity.

You have the chance to improve employee engagement too with human-focused design, but it isn’t easy.

The most common problems

Through human resources Gamfication with attention to human-focused design instead of function-focused design, your firm can create a culture and foster behavior that self-perpetuates into loyalty, engagement, and ultimately your company’s longevity and prosperity.

But there’s usually a problem: employee motivation.

Most work experience designs are usually either too extrinsic and, less often, too intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation isn’t enough

Work is often too focused on extrinsic motivation. People are primed to be in it for the money. Or they are mainly motivated to work at your company because they are afraid to lose that position. You could say there is too much black hat design in the job (the motivation that engages but doesn’t make you feel in control and therefore makes you feel bad about the activity in the long run).

Let’s consider sales roles, often cited as a low-engagement and high-burnout job.

Some salespeople burn out simply because they just don’t believe in what they are selling. But even they do, sales is often an exhausting activity. For example, I would be happy to tell you about Audible, which I use almost daily, but after a while I predict I would tire of telling other people they should use it, too. Should they? Maybe they  shouldn’t.

In addition, lead gathering or even the high stakes of a nuanced sales conversation grow repetitive. Also, sales people have to do with high amounts of rejection and fear of loss (Octalysis Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance). From a list of 100 prospects, maybe only a hand full may be interested, let alone happy, to receive your sales call.

There are just not enough intrinsically motivating aspects in the sales (and other ) job. The creativity involved in listening and problem-solving and negotiation is limited and often not enough to keep the individual motivated. There simply isn’t enough intrinsic motivation to balance the extrinsic nature of such a sales role.

A greater emphasis on white hat, intrinsic design (the design that makes you feel good and in control) can make a big difference here. Create meaning, make space for creativity, an interactive community, or awaken curiosity with surprise design elements all are able to bring harmony to even a plain cold calling sale role.

But it’s not all about intrinsic motivation either

But designing work to be overly intrinsic arguably isn’t sustainable either.

Consider volunteer work. Most volunteers don’t volunteer for more than 100 hours a year. There isn’t enough extrinsic motivation to make them do it: you earn no money, and there are no consequences if you don’t show up for example.

Or consider charitable donations. We can click a button on our smartphones to save lives, but why don’t we do this more? It is because the intrinsic motivation isn’t enough to make us take the this action. As a result, many people automate donations so as to get past the hurdle of finding the inspiration to do what they know they should do.

Harmony between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation

When you succeed in creating harmony between extrinsic and intrinsic motivational design, your employees will feel this every day. It will feel just right. Not too intrinsic that they do not work hard to achieve your targets. Not too extrinsic that they start hating their targets.

 

The Octalysis Group designs for such balanced experiences for many companies worldwide. We love to see the feedback when we hear that sales people are finally “being heard”. That it is not only about KPIs, that they start to feel that they do meaningful work with other people. That there is more trust. More autonomy.

Activity Loops Building Toward an Endgame of Loyalty

So far, this all may seem tricky and terminology-heavy. Let me put it simply. While the science of the brain hasn’t been unraveled, we at The Octalysis Group understand how motivation works.  And we have spend many years fine tuning our approach so that we have the tools and understanding to create long term employee engagement in corporations, government organizations as well as start up companies.

The target for any company is to create incentive-driven activity loops that motivate people well into the Endgame of an experience. The End Game is when an employee understands what needs to be done well, has leveled up in his journey. This is where the Veterans in your company reside. And many veterans leave because there is nothing more for them to experience. Their job has become too monotonous and uninspiring.

However if you create a balanced design you will notice that people will choose to stay with your company regardless of what another company offers them. Just like I will probably always stick with Apple no matter what Samsung, Huawei or Google does.

In the case of the slowly burning out salesperson, while we may not be able to change the work itself, we can change the environment.

Does this sound overwhelming?

As I mentioned, experiences are usually either too extrinsic or too intrinsic. At the Octalysis Group, we have a lot of hands-on experience both in diagnosing which parts of an experience have gone awry and also enjoy designing improvements to those experiences. If an experience, for example, is too extrinsic, we could introduce intrinsic motivators like narrative, community, and surprise.

These design changes should come with the experience. Just like developing a game, the design for humans must come in the design itself, not as an afterthought. We understand how to embed these motivational triggers into an employee’s workflow instead of making it stick out like an irritating itch.

Understanding the Core Drives of human behavior is a starting point to analyze the nature of an experience and moving toward the design of something new that works.

What we do, and how we do it

Whether you work with us as a client, advisory, or workshop (great for pitching to senior managers in your organization), we will introduce Octalysis and take a deep dive into your company’s employee engagement design.

To learn how we can assist your firm in creating employee engagement, get in touch with Joris Beerda right now.

Leading Octalysis Expert, International Keynote Speaker, Behavioral Scientist and Managing Director of The Octalysis Group.

Joris‘ career in creating engagement spans almost 20 years, in 4 continents and 17 countries.

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Are You Taking Your Role as Chief Learning Officer Seriously?

Are You Taking Your Role as Chief Learning Officer Seriously?

Demand for Great People

You’re probably asking more and more from your employees. After all, people are often your business’s competitive advantage. Are you giving them learning opportunities and training in an accessible and personalized way?

Focusing on development, growth, and learning creates mutually beneficial relationships and culture of success. Designing a training program could be the difference in retaining employees long term. Employees who understand how to learn and seek learning opportunities on offer are employees that will help your business win for the long term

But what people need to know to do their jobs so your company can win changes all the time. How are you are you currently managing this process?

Maybe you’ve already tried hiring training staff or paid for outside consultants to run workshops. But maybe you are wasting money with these bandaids… Often, training is given but never implemented as people get on with their daily routines and only piecemeal wise use the training they have received.

What’s the root of this problem?

Perhaps you’re missing a mix of tools and organizational mindset. Your employees aren’t being encouraged to learn and often do not implement their newly learned skills. Your learning design is faulty. The principles of Gamification, behavior science, and human-focused design can help.

Let’s put on our Chief Learning Officer hat and think about how we can design for the best learning outcomes. .

By reading this, you’ll learn how to inspire your teams to get full value from training you invest in, or even to consider designing a new organizational learning experience for your team from scratch with the Octalysis Strategy Dashboard.

The feedback you’re getting if training isn’t designed well

To begin, let’s touch on improving broken designs, and then move on to improve good ones to make them great.

As you train employees, you should be collecting feedback from your employees about their learning experiences.

You should also see their learning in the work they do on a daily basis, and determine a way to measure this progress that works for both employees and managers.

But you should also listen.

If you’re hearing things like:

Training takes too much time away from work.

 

OR

I don’t get to apply what I learned, so why does it matter?

 

…then you have a big red flag to address. Clearly, this feedback suggests the employees aren’t getting what you would like them to get from training.

The downside of a poor training experience

If a training experience isn’t great, employees could develop a negative attitude about it. You want your teams to be excited about their personal and professional growth, not viewing training as a box to check off.

If you overhear someone say, “I don’t know why they make us waste time on training,” you need to seek feedback from that individual immediately to learn and adapt your design.

You need to understand this statement at its root. For this individual:

  • What exactly made it seem like a waste of time?
  • Is what they are learning relevant?
  • Are they applying what they learned?
  • Is there anything else contextual (about their team, project, or situation at the company) that may have influenced this feedback?

Next, let’s switch our focus to the outcomes you are looking for.

Outcomes you ARE looking for…

Ultimately, you want employees to improve, apply new skills to their work, and feel great about their elevated contributions. This supports a strong work culture and tends to improve employee retention.

The Chief Learning Officer should create an employee learning experience which has these kinds of outcomes:

I look forward to training to improve my skills and ultimately my work.

OR

When I learn something new, I immediately apply it to my work.

 

Great training also carries secondary benefits of:

  • a stronger work culture
  • increased retention
  • improved loyalty
  • better job satisfaction

…because you are investing in your employees, and your investment is actually perceived as such for them.

As Josh Bersin mentioned at Degreed Lens, “opportunity has become directly correlated to employee engagement and tenure within organizations.”

Next, let’s think about your Core Activity Loop.

Designing your core activity loop

Your Core Activity Loop involves Desired Actions, …

The Player commits Desired Actions and tracks Feedback Mechanics. The Desired Actions result in the Win-State (for the Player) and affect Business MetricsIncentives must be embedded in the Win-State.

Your Core Activity Loop focuses on the main segment of your overall experience. (Your experience may have many smaller activity loops as part of a larger experience; at the Octalysis Group we refer to various stages as Discovery, Onboarding, Scaffolding, Endgame. Each stage can have a Core Activity Loop.)

As the Chief Learning Officer, your challenge is to first define your Core Activity Loop.

It might look something like this. Let’s take a basic training sequence for a new employee.

  1. Training
  2. Application
  3. Review or Feedback on Training
  4. Additional Application
  5. Further training at the right time

And here’s another for a long-term employee who is getting additional or advanced training:

  1. Training
  2. Application
  3. Review or Feedback on Training
  4. Additional Application
  5. Further training at the right time

These are both the same…which suggests we could use the same Core Activity Loop framework to design both experiences, with tweaks at the detailed level of feedback mechanics or incentives.

Building for people at different stages

The long-term employee above could know more about when they need more training.

Or not.

Self-awareness and willingness to look for new opportunities for growth are independent of time-at-company. However, we can instill these through hiring and culture, or even through training itself.

But while we’re on the topic of categories of employees, let’s look four major types.

4 Types of Employees

Regardless of time at company or skill set or area of the company, Yu-kai likes to think about employees in four simple categories. Maybe you will think of ways to further this matrix, but it is a helpful starting point if you haven’t already considered how to quickly think and design for employees.

The Players in your organization roughly break down into Politicians, Survivors, Performers, and Stars.

You want to discourage Politicians, motivate Survivors, leadership-train Performers, and reward Stars.

Very quickly, you’ve probably already thought about how your training and learning design could differ for each of these categories. Or, at minimum, how each of these categories of employees could or should be taken into account.

Building your own design (as the Chief Learning Officer)

You’ve got to start with Business Metrics. What impact do you want learning and training to have in your organization? Within this, you can determine more detailed Business Metrics linked to specific training and learning outcomes at the employee or cohort level.

Yes, you have a lot of work to do.

If you’re a Sales organization, you might want:

  • better over-the-phone sales skills
  • savvier writers for outbound email sales
  • keen researchers of social, with the data analyst skillset

You can start to see how granular this can get. If you do the work to list possible Business Metrics, you can then begin to piece together your Players and how to carry them through a Core Activity Loop to reach those Win-States which matter to your business.

A possible Core Activity Loop (revisited)

Earlier, we looked at a possible Core Activity Loop for a basic training sequence for a new employee.

  1. Training
  2. Application
  3. Review or Feedback on Training
  4. Additional Application
  5. Further training at the right time

At each of these stages,

Business leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk does one-on-ones with his employees across 5 offices (and multiple continents) to ensure they are getting what they need as they onboard and learn the skills and gain the relationships on his team. His core Business Metric (from my point of view) is “Are my new employees embedding themselves in the culture?”

Based on a few short questions and employee responses in a one-on-one setting, Gary learns if this is true or not, then helps the employee in the moment or course corrects at the operational or strategic level. Gary moves fast but sticks to his “religion.” His religion is the Business Metric described above: do his employees understand how they can succeed at Vayner Media.

Project-based training

From Google’s 20% time (open projects) to directed projects (necessary for business), project-based training is embedded on an as-needed basis and helps employees understand the need for the training. It generally will improve the relevancy of the training and encourage application.

Mentor Cloud believes that “your most overlooked educational resource is your own top performers and experienced employees”. If you can find a way to involve your experienced employees in the training, you could do all of the following:

  • Make training relevant through project-based training
  • Create mentor-mentee relationships through training
  • Incentivize experienced employees to share their knowledge
  • Show newer employees what they can build toward (growth)
  • Demonstrate that development doesn’t stop at your company–even experienced employees are trusted with important learning experiences and training
  • Training is part of a leadership training program for experienced employees

…and much more.

Allowing for emerging outcomes

Starting with something simple can work wonders. A rigorous but simple design gives:

  • speed, faster to implement
  • iterative feedback (you get feedback from employees and trainers sooner)
  • faster impact to business metrics

Freedom to design one’s own learning

What shouldn’t be overlooked is an organizational learning design that allows for employees to create or supplment their own learning. After all, the invidual knows what she wants best. Sometimes, creating this freedom creates even more long-term trust. Who knows, employees may even have fun designing their learning routines and dreaming up side projects to help the company.

If someone comes up with, say, an idea to go to a conference to learn and create new contacts and a network–but they need budget–how can you encourage that creativity?

I once went to a marketing conference by hustling my way to a free ticket. I discovered people from my company (from a different team) were also there, though the company had paid for them to attend. While it was satisfying to work my way to a free ticket, it would have been even better if I didn’t have to take a vacation day to attend the conference.

Companies like Degreed offer their employees an annual learning stipend of $1,200 to learn however they like. With this, they seek a learning platform which is best for them, but also helps the company:

  • events
  • online courses
  • online learning communities
  • conferences
  • podcast training series
  • email courses

By being OPEN, you empower your employees and build a culture of learning and growth.

The important piece to consider is the Business Metric behind such a creative and open system. You still need to get results. Your Core Activity Loop embedded with the right incentive-driven feedback mechanics will get you there.

Start creating your learning design now

At the Octalysis Group, we’ve helped numerous companies on five continents create powerful Core Activity Loops to better engage their employees during learning and training to ultimately build a virtuous cycle of employee outcomes and long-term retention.

We encourage you to start by bringing in concepts from the Strategy Dashboard explained above. Good luck!

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How Telecoms Can Create Loyalty Through Gamification Design

How Telecoms Can Create Loyalty Through Gamification Design

The Telecoms Margin Mix is Shifting to Lower Margin Data Services

Gone are the days when large telecom companies were masters in their own markets. Gone the days that you would sign up with a provider for life. Easily accessible alternatives like Skype, WeChat, Whatsapp and Facebook have completely changed the market place for telecom services.

As a result these companies are being forced away from high margin earners like SMS and voice, to lower margin data services. Total profit margins at telecom companies are dropping fast.

How should they respond? Telecoms could diversify into more products, but the dangers of decreasing margins will remain in their core data services business.

But there’s another way. By channeling the power of Octalysis to build loyalty into the user experience, Telecoms could maintain customer bases in their larger margin businesses. 

Diversification or Loyalty?

Because there is less and less space to compete on price and user acquisition, maintaining top-line revenues increasingly means enticing customers away from competitors. This road represents a race to the bottom in pricing.

The company could take its slate of mobile phones and plans, tablets and mobile broadband, home broadband, roaming and international calls, and expand into white space or add features to differentiate its offering. But there’s another option.

Improving customer loyalty by improving the full user experience is a path forward to avoiding the competitive pressures of price and user acquisition. If improving loyalty wasn’t considered, a telecom’s main option would be to diversify into more products and services.

Going for Loyalty

Strong customer loyalty solves the problem of entering new space only to be outcompeted or experience margin erosion over time.

Instead, loyal customers love their user experience and tend to stay with you for long periods. If it is well designed that is….and this is where Octalysis Gamification comes in.

Using Octalysis Design, we can craft an experience that will reliably produce increased loyalty through the development of activity loops with embedded incentives and rewards.  Telecoms can gain trust and build loyalty with a large customer base.

Designing for Loyalty through Gamification

Startup founders and their product teams often employ Gamification Designers. It enables them to understand their customers and move quickly to adapt the design of their system to cater to the human behaviors of their users. With the right mechanics, feedback loops, and embedded incentives, players reach continuous win-states, the startup company gains loyalty.

Telecom companies can do the same for their customers. One advantage telecom companies have is an evolved ecosystem of products and services to lean on.

 

Avoiding a Common Pitfall

In The Octalysis Group, we’ve seen three common assumptions to avoid:

  1. Because something happened in the past, it will happen again in the future.
  2. Your customer’s problem is the same as your own problem.
  3. The market will support what you want to build.

Let’s look at #2 for a standard telecom company.

The telecom problem: the margin mix is shifting to lower margin data services.

The customer’s problem: the customer wants convenience at a good price to communicate with friends, family, and coworkers

At the most strategic level, telecoms should be designing for their customers’ problem in the context of their Business Metrics. Business Metrics are simply part of the Octalysis Group’s Strategy Dashboard, which we use with all our clients in defining the problem to solve and how to design effective solutions.

Activity Loops Building Toward an Endgame of Loyalty

So far, this all may seem tricky and terminology-heavy. But, while the why science of the brain hasn’t been completely unraveled, we do understand what works motivationally. The Octalysis Group has spent considerable time understanding behavior science in the context of these “games” of business.

The target for any company is to create incentive-driven activity loops that build loyalty toward an Endgame, a place where consumers stick with your company regardless of what another company offers. Like Apple consumers who stay loyal to Apple no matter what Samsung or Huawei or Google does.

The First Step in Creating a Loyalty Experience

Gamification Designers like The Octalysis Group have taken their cues from successful games and have become masters at creating similar engagement in the real, non-game, world.

You may already have detailed and personalized data from customer behavior. The next step is to put it to use.

The real question is: How can we keep our customers loyal and engaged?

This is the same question the game designers ask about how to keep their players engaged. This question can’t be answered without knowing something about the players and what they want from an experience and what they get out of an experience in terms of extrinsic or intrinsic rewards.

The Octalysis Group has been successful at creating such balanced “Gamification” design for their customers. The key for them is to understand the Octalysis Framework, based on in-depth behavioral science, and implement the Strategy Dashboard approach.

Designing a Loyalty-Improving Experience

The Octalysis Framework lays out the motivational power of the  8 Core Drives for human motivation. The Octalysis Strategy Dashboard is the implementing model to create high ROI design for companies

The Strategy Dashboard contains five critical elements:

  1. Business Metrics, leading to Game Objectives
  2. Users, leading to Players
  3. Desired actions, leading to Win-States
  4. Feedback Mechanics, leading to Triggers
  5. Incentives, leading to Rewards

When designed and implemented correctly, the Strategy Dashboard provides critical information to help clients execute an actionable Gamification campaign to drive their business metric goals.

The Octalysis Group has used the Strategy Dashboard (and the extensive experience and knowledge of behavioral science) to create engaging user experiences for companies in Asia, Europe and the US. These companies are now much better armed to deal with the challenges facing them in today’s marketplace.

You can learn more about the Strategy Dashboard here.

To learn how we can assist your firm in creating user engagement for your products and get a stronger market position, get in touch with Joris Beerda right now.

Leading Octalysis Expert, International Keynote Speaker, Behavioral Scientist and Managing Director of The Octalysis Group.

Joris‘ career in creating engagement spans almost 20 years, in 4 continents and 17 countries.

 

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The 4 Phases of an Employee Journey: How to Ensure Top Talent Stays Engaged into the Endgame

The 4 Phases of an Employee Journey: How to Ensure Top Talent Stays Engaged into the Endgame

 

Employee Engagement Gamification: It’s Still All About People

How will your company be successful in the next 3-5 years? Why do you think your products or services will take the marketplace by storm? Do you think it is the head start on your competition or your company’s deep subject matter expertise? Or perhaps your tradition of excellence?

These traits are important, but there is another important aspect that is easily forgotten but is increasingly becoming essential for your business’ long-term success: long-term employee engagement.

The right mixture of top talent will engender long-term success in your organization. So how do you discover and retain these people when other organizations are offering them better packages?

No matter your industry, you are competing for people. You’re competing against startups and companies to attract the top talent in your industry.The key differentiator for you is engagement.

The good news. With hard work and careful Octalysis design, you can build an employee engagement system that keeps your best employees on your team for the long term.

At the Octalysis Group, we’ve helped companies understand their “hiring package” is about much more than monetary compensation. And it doesn’t end with the package. The employee motivation and engagement design extends far beyond the moment a new employee signs on the dotted line.Using human-focused design and gamification designed for the modern workplace, let’s see how we can bring employees through the 4 phases of the Employee Journey, from Discovery to Onboarding to Scaffolding and finally to the promised land of the Endgame.

We need to design for how they arrive and embed in the company (Employee Onboarding); how you can get them to become senior professionals that add even more value (Employee Scaffolding); and, finally, how can you retain these very seasoned professional also in the long term? (The Endgame is the most difficult to design for, so be sure to check that part of this article.)

The hiring process (Discovery)

Designing a rewarding discovery phase for your (potential) employees is crucial.

Remember, whatever Octalysis Core Drives you present will depend on your target audience (player type).

If they are Millennials, emphasizing epic meaning and calling or making a difference will be very important.

But for other groups it may be more important to emphasize the potential for growth (Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment) or working with others like you (Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness).

 

Why Discovery matters

Here’s what Yu-kai Chou has to say about Discovery, the first phase in any experience:

The [potential employee’s] first experience with an [company] is through Discovery – becoming aware of it and gaining a minimum level of familiarity. Familiarity to the point where they can even decide if it is worth more of their time and attention.

A potential hire can find out about your company in a lot of ways, from hearing from a friend or colleague, to a news item, to actually using your product or service.

But how would you really like people to hear about you?

The market for something to believe in is infinite.

-Seth Godin

 

What does your company believe in?

What does your company believe in that others don’t?

Find a way to present this information to your candidates. Again, especially if they are Millenials. If your company’s beliefs are clear in your marketing (and you feel candidates should know this prior to the interview), be sure to check for understanding and alignment early in the interview process to avoid wasted time.

Starting here also helps you find the people you need to win.

Getting to the heart of epic meaning and calling zeros in on an area of alignment that will bind people to a long-term mission. The individual and the hiring manager must see how this person will be part of the tribe.

What If epic meaning and calling isn’t part of our company?

Most companies have a vision or mission, and a desire to fulfill  a unique role for mankind or be a hero actor for a certain group of customers. A subset of these companies actually live their vision and mission in true epic meaning and calling style.

If epic meaning and calling isn’t part of your vision and mission, however, be honest about this.

If your company is driven more by Development and Accomplishment or by becoming the leader in the marketplace (Core Drive 2) and being the recognized brand leader (Core Drive 4 and 5), then be clear about that. It won’t help to overstate or invent epic meaning and calling when your company doesn’t demonstrate as much in its actions.

Despite this caveat, most companies do at minimum have a Narrative (Game Technique # 10), which is a story that generates context about where your company has been, where it is now, and where the company is moving toward in the future. This helps the prospective employee understand how she will move with you.

Make the hiring process select for aligned people

If your organization is great, you will expect many applications when you advertise openings.

Besides the standard filtering mechanisms, you should build the skills and cultural fit into the hiring process itself.

Does your company give a lot of autonomy and encourage creativity on the job (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback)? Great, then give the applicants a small project to complete which will allow them to demonstrate this skill set and mindset. This immediately narrows the playing field and shows you how much someone is willing to do without a guarantee of reward.

You can save mountains of time by incorporating online forms, one-way video interviews, and scalable mini-projects to share with the applicant pool even before doing live or two-way video interviews.

Incorporating challenge

For our recent hiring at The Octalysis Group, we incorporated a challenge from a lifestyle productivity app in an RPG format, Habitica. We asked “contestants” to use the Octalysis Strategy Dashboard to complete a redesign of the app.

Because we have a strong understanding of Octalysis and the Core Drives that motivate all behavior, we included potential rewards of both part- and full-time trainee for contestant winners.

But!… First, the contestant finalists would have to (and get to) present in front of Yu-kai Chou. The idea is: “You’ve got to impress us in this Boss Fight (Game Technique #14) before we’ll hire you on.”

A quick note. Because many people–even people that would love to work with us–won’t work entirely for free, we offered a Level 1 Octalysis Certificate for completion of the application project. This is a recognized certificate in the gamification community.

We’re confident this design will inspire very strong candidates to consider working with us as we grow The Octalysis Group’s client base in 2017 and beyond.

Let’s move onto Onboarding.

First few months (Onboarding)

Onboarding further sets the tone for several relationships between:

  • the employee and the organization
  • the employee and her peers
  • the employee and her managers or leaders, and
  • the employee and her work itself.

Beyond these relationships, the HR team and managers should try to understand what kind of an employee the person is developing into. That’s where employee types come into play.

Let’s have a look at each of these. But first…

Why Onboarding matters

Onboarding is all about making applicants feel they made the right choice and about making them feel really accomplished.

Since starting a new job can be slightly scary, also think about creating social support via a buddy system or a mentor.

Creating relationships while emphasizing narrative

For years, Nike sent people on a week-long Onboarding trip called Ekin (Nike spelled backward). This mandatory retreat helped employees get to know other new hires but also learn about the company Narrative and Brand.

In this way, they reinforced epic meaning and calling in the context of a social influence and relatedness experience.

For the employee, getting to know managers and leaders is also important. Even though he runs a 700-person company, Gary Vaynerchuk does employee 1-on-1s to learn about the distinct motivations of each of his employees. If someone is motivated by money and vacation, that’s fine and Gary will ensure his larger People Team incorporates that into their motivation for that employee. If an employee wants big responsibility, then they will cater experiences building toward that in performance-reward activity loops. Gary doesn’t call this type of employee engagement ‘gamification,’ but he clearly understands how to motivate his players across all levels as evidenced by the successful scaling of his organization.

Training, ensuring safety and comfort

When I worked at Target, the first 12 weeks were a training period. Our cohort of 50 new hires worked together to get up to speed on skills and knowledge. A team of trainers taught us mornings while our mentor coached us afternoons.

This allowed for relationships to form between peers and between mentor-mentees. It was also a form of evaluation as Target needed to decide where to place these new hires within the organization. Which brings us to…

Identifying employee types

Another crucial task for the HR team or team manager is to understand the people on the team.

Employees will naturally fit into one of four types. Note that these types are separate from other archetypes like Achiever, Explorer, Socializer, and so on.

(Your design will need to help you stay informed as people are able to move between these four types, BUT prematurely labeling someone and not allowing them to change places a dangerous bias on that individual’s capacity to grow.)

The balancing act will be to design a system for employee motivation that takes into account all the Player Types.

Gamified Player Type: Survivors

Yu-kai Chou, in Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards, describes each of the player types.

For the Low Performance and Low Politics quadrant, I call them “Survivors.” Survivors are there simply to collect a paycheck (Core Drive 4) and not get fired (Core Drive 8). As a result, they usually just work hard enough to collect their paychecks and not get fired, and then they stop exerting effort.

Survivors are not necessarily dumber or less efficient at what they do. More often than they are just not motivated or incentivized to do good work. Survivors often like to say things like, “Why should I do this? I won’t get paid more to do it.” or “Last year I did way more work but I didn’t get a bonus. There’s no point.”

Motivational design (gamification) can help Survivors become Performers. As you monitor employees, keep your eye out for Survivors to move into your engagement design.

Gamified Player Type: Performers

Also from Yu-kai:

For the High Performance but Low Politics quadrant, I call them “Performers.” Performers are people who do great work and finish their deliverables in efficient and reliable manners. They are often the people that solve problems that no one else on the team can solve. However, they have a natural dislike (or ignorance) towards corporate politics, and therefore never spend the time to make friends or work on other peoples’ feelings and motivations.

Performers are important players in your company because they do great work. Your employee motivation design should encourage them to remain Performers or even move them into the Star category.

The only bad result is that a Performer drops into the Survivor category. This could happen if they see politics without performance get rewarded.

Gamified Player Type: Politicians

Yu-kai also positions Politicians, but suggests dissuading them:

For the Low Performance but High Politics quadrant, I call them “Politicians.” Politicians are people who don’t necessarily do great work (not terrible enough to get fired though), but they are good at mingling and making everyone like them. They would regularly invite coworkers and VPs to lunch, share secret gossip as if they were everyone’s best friend, and have a knack for claiming credit and recognition.

Politicians love having meetings to show how important they are, and often are very outspoken, especially with higher-level managers in them. When it comes to delivering the agreed work from the meetings, they often defer that to the Performers, and then report all the great things about it in the next week meeting, which makes it seem like they are doing good work again.

Politicians are not necessarily amoral, and organizations need them as people lubricants. They are simply keen on taking the most frictionless path to improving their careers. Politicians often contemplate “I need to invite the VP out for lunch this week and let him know how important of a role I took in the project.”

 

Gamified Player Type: Stars

Through Leadership Training, your organization can develop Stars:

Finally, for the High Performance and High Politics quadrant, I call them “Stars.” Stars are usually the individuals who rise to the top of an organization. They are great at delivering great work, but are also great at factoring in everyone’s feelings to make things happen.

Stars strive not only to perform on an individual level, but they try to get the entire group to perform too. They see work as their game, and they often work night and weekends to achieve the highest score they can possibly get. Stars often think of challenges like, “how do I get all the VP teams to cooperate so we can beat projections this year.”

Understanding each of the player types will help you engage all your employees across each of the stages of their employee journey.

So far we’ve covered Discovery and Onboarding. Let’s move on to Scaffolding.

Year 1-3 (Scaffolding)

From Yu-kai’s Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards, Yu-kai defines Scaffolding in the following way:

Scaffolding starts once a player has learned the basic tools and rules to play the game and has achieved the “First Major Win-State.

And something important to consider as you design engagement loops for this part of the journey:

Regarding the scaffolding phase, one thing to note is that more often than not, it requires the exact same (or very similar) actions on a regular/daily basis, and the Gamification designer must answer the question, “why would my users come back over and over again for the same actions?

Watching how an employee responds to criticism or setbacks and feedback will help you predict what type of an employee they might become from a player type standpoint.

Why Scaffolding is important

Ensuring employees have clear goals and are getting immediate feedback on what they are doing is key during Scaffolding. Always ensure that feedback is never a win-lose proposition: it should always be an encouragement to improve while trying and experimenting even more.
Step away from traditional yearly appraisals, but think about ways to have more frequent but less heavy ‘conversations’ that happen on a weekly or monthly basis.

Finding a place in the culture

People need to feel safe and comfortable expressing their views and doing their best work.

How well does your organization design the workplace environment AND the everyday workflow experience to create safety and comfort?

Mentorship (Game Technique #61), is effective because it builds accountability for growth in a one-to-one relationship.

During the rigorous process of joining a Fraternity in American universities, most fraternities have a Big Bro/Little Bro system where an experienced member in the organization will be matched up with a new potential member going through a semester-long training process known as “pledging.” The Big Bro is there to serve as a mentor that provides not only directional guidance, but also emotional support to make sure the time-consuming process of pledging becomes more bearable. This practice has lasted for over a century and shown to improve the Onboarding experience of members joining the organization.

When things aren’t going well for an employee, they can get support. When they are problem-solving, they can get input. When they are trying to move to the next stage, whether to a new project or to get a promotion, they have help.

Starting a group quest…

The earlier you can get your employees into a Group Quest, the better. Even if you must train them, you should also give insights and daylight to the Group Quest they will soon embark on during Scaffolding. Ideally, this challenge is related directly to your Narrative and the epic meaning and calling you painted in the interview process and Onboarding.

In Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards, Yu-kai discusses the very effective Group Quest (Game Technique #22).

The game technique Group Quest is very effective in collaborative play as well as viral marketing because it requires group participation before any individual can achieve the Win-State.

A successful game that utilizes this is World of Warcraft, another fanatically successful and addictive game made by Blizzard Entertainment.  In WoW, there are many quests that are so challenging that it requires an entire team of 40 max-leveled players to work together, each specialized in their own responsibilities, before they have a chance of beating the quest. In well-designed instances, even though the 40-player requirement is not imposed by the program, the users simply find it difficult to win if they had 39 players.

Let’s move onto Endgame, the most difficult phase of the experience to design for.

Year 3-? (Endgame)

The Endgame is notoriously difficult to design for. What motivates an employee in years 1-3 may change during that time and may change again to keep them motivated in the long term.

From Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards:

The Endgame is the 4th and final experience phase of Octalysis Gamification. The Endgame is all about how you retain your veterans and obtain more longevity in your experience.

This is the phase where users have done everything there is to do at least once (according to their perception), and they are figuring out why should they stick around and continue to play the game (especially when there are newer more exciting alternatives out there).

First of all, it is increasingly rare that people stay with companies for more than a few years. But they definitely won’t stay and do their best work while staying unless you design for it.

Why the Endgame matters

Veterans in your company are your brand ambassadors for new employees. Involve them in the Onboarding of new employees and in the support of people that are in Scaffolding.
How can you use their knowledge and expertise to create new ways of working, new products, new services?
By involving these key long-term players in all the building of company culture and in the drive to the future, you are giving these players more status and creativity to keep them motivated in the years ahead.

What not to do (a bad design)

Don’t lock people into staying based on monetary loss and avoidance.

My friend waived getting his business school paid for because he didn’t like the situation at the company enough (even though they’d agreed to pay him). He forewent the payment and decided to work for a different company. Basically, he passed on over $100k to quit.

I watched people wait and then quit in April from Target after their bonuses came through. Do you think those people were working super hard from December to April?

We often see that Black Hat design like loss and avoidance doesn’t work anyway. I left a job that wasn’t aligned with my long-term goals and gave up over $150k in salary and benefits over two years to pursue my own business.

The right way

Finding a workable Endgame is one of the hardest things to do in today’s employee marketplace. Loyalty isn’t valued in the same way and there is greater freedom of movement with globalization and technology improving remote-work experiences and distributed teams.

We believe long-term employee engagement comes down to several key factors, beginning with day-to-day engagement. If an employee loves the work they are doing, and the HR and managers and leaders continually adapt as the employee grows and matures with the company to give them stimulating work, then they will stay.

Think about status, access, power, and stuff.

Here’s two examples of how status elevates employees in a reward structure:

  • At a standard sales company, the salesperson that is highlighted as the best salesperson with a cooler office space will stay longer even if his salary isn’t increased.
  • A Star player at a design firm will stay on if she is given the highest-prestige design challenges for the company with the most elite brands.

Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback

The Golden Corner of the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis is Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback. Without a doubt, a Star player for the long-term will require this. It’s the drive that arguably requires us to do anything for the long term.

Properly rewarding this drive is delicate, requiring constant communication with your best employees to understand how they view their creativity.

Rewards should align and outpace their expectations and be performance-driven. Ever-increasing status should come with the territory, too.

Has your Star player been asking to do an extra project for some time? Maybe now is the time to give her free reign to run with that project with little oversight.

Conclusion

Helping companies create systems of lasting employee engagement is at the core of The Octalysis Group’s mission. Creating meaningful work for people in the future is a key challenge for even the very best organizations.

 

To learn how we can assist your firm in creating long term employee engagement and get a stronger market position, get in touch with Joris Beerda right now.

Leading Octalysis Expert, International Keynote Speaker, Behavioral Scientist and Managing Director of The Octalysis Group.

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Customer engagement design is the key to traditional bank survival

Customer engagement design is the key to traditional bank survival

Traditional bank-to-customer relationships are slipping away

Historically, big banks held all the cards in the financial services game. But the rise of online competitors has resulted in the oligarchical banks losing their once unassailable positions. Increasingly, customers are taking their business to financial providers that are more flexible and better equipped to handle their growingly diverse needs while providing a great customer experience. Luckily there is something that banks can do to help regain their previously strong foothold. The key is in understanding their customers at a very deep level by applying human-focused design and gamification.

Proving products against fast-moving competitors

In a game, the game designer monitors player data and behavior to see how players are interacting inside their well crafted system. When players are not behaving as they predicted (or wanted), the designers adjust the system to account for the underlying motivations driving players to take actions. The result? More players do what the designers intended and it feels great for the players to take those actions. Gamification Designers like The Octalysis Group have taken their cues from successful games and have become masters at creating similar engagement in the real, non-game, world.

Startup founders and their product teams often employ Gamification Designers. It enables them to understand their customers and move quickly to adapt the design of their system to cater to the human behaviors of their users. With the right mechanics, feedback loops, and embedded incentives, players reach continuous win-states, the startup gains traction.

With the pace of these agile competitors biting at big banks’ heels, even the most entrenched banks must now prove their products are actually worth engaging with and consistently adapt to customers’ changing behavior.

Three areas where big banks are losing

A few key areas stand out as opportunities for large banks to focus their efforts.

With payments as a gateway into any financial relationship, banks are naturally big players in the payments space. However, competition has eroded their strength.

From hardware-software blends in payment terminals like Poynt to small business accounting software-focused leaders like Quickbooks or Xero, the competition to bank services is already stark and deteriorating in these categories:

  • payments-service capabilities (dialing to customers’ most urgent desires as behaviors evolve from e-payments to mobile to AR to smart device payments)
  • operational skills (either in niche or focused segments)
  • client service (smaller outfits tend to obsess over customer engagement to win business and loyalty)

Banks should be able to win in the long-term through the halo effect of customer relationships combined with multichannel services and stability.

The question is…will they?

Helping customers stop slipping and start sticking

The number one variable at stake is customer engagement.

Consumer banks need to make their online sales and cross sales a lot more engaging. This goes well beyond improving a user interface for a web-3.0 world and building native experiences across devices.

Let’s forget about the competition for a moment. What does a big consumer bank need to do to keep more customers?

This is the same question the game designers ask about how to keep their players engaged. This question can’t be answered without knowing something about the players and what they want from an experience and what they get out of an experience in terms of extrinsic or intrinsic rewards.

The Octalysis Group has been successful at creating such balanced “Gamification” design for their customers. The key for them is to understand the Octalysis Framework, based on in-depth behavioral science, and implement the Strategy Dashboard approach.

An approach to understanding customers and designing an experience

The Octalysis Framework lays out the motivational power of the  8 Core Drives for human motivation. The Octalysis Strategy Dashboard is the implementing model to create high ROI design for companies

The Strategy Dashboard contains five critical elements:

  1. Business Metrics, leading to Game Objectives
  2. Users, leading to Players
  3. Desired actions, leading to Win-States
  4. Feedback Mechanics, leading to Triggers
  5. Incentives, leading to Rewards

When set up correctly, the Strategy Dashboard provides critical information to help clients execute an actionable Gamification campaign to drive their business metric goals.

The Octalysis Group has used the Strategy Dashboard (and the extensive experience and knowledge of behavioral science) to create engaging user experiences for financial companies in Asia, Europe and the US. These companies are now much better armed to deal with the challenges that online financial companies pose.

You can learn more about the Strategy Dashboard here.

To learn how we can assist your firm in creating user engagement for your products and get a stronger market position, get in touch with Joris Beerda right now.

Leading Octalysis Expert, International Keynote Speaker, Behavioral Scientist and Managing Director of The Octalysis Group.

Joris‘ career in creating engagement spans almost 20 years, in 4 continents and 17 countries.

Like and follow to keep up to date with Gamification techniques and news