Customer-relationship management (CRM) is an approach to manage a company's interaction with current and potential customers. It uses data analysis about customers' history with a company to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth.
The first open-source CRM system was developed by SugarCRM in 2004. During this period, CRM was rapidly migrating to cloud, as a result of which it became accessible to sole entrepreneurs and small teams. This increase in accessibility generated a huge wave of price reduction. Around 2009, developers began considering the options to profit from social media's momentum, and designed tools to help companies become accessible on all users' favourite networks.
One important aspect of the CRM approach is the systems of CRM that compile data from a range of different communication channels, including a company's website, telephone, email, live chat, marketing materials and more recently, social media. Through the CRM approach and the systems used to facilitate it, businesses learn more about their target audiences and how to best cater to their needs.
People crave feedback, and giving it to them has an interesting side effect; They feel more powerful and in control, and that makes whatever they’re doing “sticky,” meaning they want to do it for longer periods, and with greater frequency.
Why is that concept important for CRM? Via gamification, you can design CRM systems that appeal to people’s craving for feedback and rewards, and deliver a powerful sales performance enhancer.
But here’s the challenge; to keep CRM sticky, you’ll have to constantly raise the bar on the accomplishments to be achieved. With all of that in mind, here are 5 tips for using gamification to improve your CRM program:
1. To Hit Targets, weave in Gamification
One of the best uses for gamification is to weave it into your company’s sales methodology, to help set targets and track related achievements. For example: How many calls should salespeople make in a week? How many deals should they be pushing? How fast do deals go through the opportunity stages? What’s your ratio of call activity to close activity? All of these questions can be measured, which allows companies to use their CRM system to not just track the answers, but also how well people are pursuing the actions that lead to optimal results.
2. Encourage Steps To Success
Gamification–or gaming mechanics–involves appealing to people’s innate psychological predispositions, to better influence their behaviour. But the best way to influence behaviour often isn’t via big-picture appeals, but by ensuring people correctly execute all of the intermediate steps required to get there. In other words, use gamification techniques to encourage and reward people for pursuing actions that we know are the right actions.
We know that when salespeople–prior to making a sales call–build a call plan that identifies their objectives, and then perform those activities during the sales call, there’s a high probability that they’ll see deals move more quickly through the sales pipeline. By using gamification, you can reward people for practicing–and continuing to practice–behaviour that demonstrably helps close deals.
3. Reward Desired Behaviour With Points
Applying gamification to improve CRM requires asking what exactly you’d like salespeople to do more of. Then design related incentives.
For example, consider rewarding points for creating new accounts in the CRM system:
- Create a new contact= 1 point
- Create a new contact in an account you’re meant to be targeting= 2 points
- Any new contact with the title “CEO”= +5 points
Or on the service front:
- Successfully resolve call in one minute: 10 points
- Successfully resolve call in two minutes: 5 points
4. Use Leaderboards To Stoke Friendly Competition
When it comes to stoking urgency, competition, and teamwork, the underlying psychology couldn’t be simpler: Salespeople, by and large, are Type A personalities. They want to win. So let them compete, help cultivate the work environment they want by awarding points, and then pitting different sales teams against each other. Also consider awarding badges, and turning points into rewards.
5. Bolster CRM Performance With Levels
Rewards don’t have to be over the top. One of the most well-known examples of gaming mechanic use, derives from airline rewards programs. Airlines don’t just create levels (silver, gold, platinum). They also create unique rewards for each level, as well as email participants about their “status” to let them know exactly where they stand, as well as what they have left to achieve.
Operational and Analytical CRM
Operational CRM is made up of 3 main components: sales force automation, marketing automation, and service automation.
- Sales force automation works with all stages in the sales cycle, from initially entering contact information to converting a prospective client into an actual client. It implements sales promotion analysis, automates the tracking of a client's account history for repeated sales or future sales and coordinates sales, marketing, call centres, and retail outlets. It prevents duplicate efforts between a salesperson and a customer and also automatically tracks all contacts and follow-ups between both parties.
- Marketing automation focuses on easing the overall marketing process to make it more effective and efficient. CRM tools with marketing automation capabilities can automate repeated tasks, for example, sending out automated marketing emails at certain times to customers, or posting marketing information on social media. The goal with marketing automation is to turn a sales lead into a full customer. CRM systems today also work on customer engagement through social media.
- Service automation is the part of the CRM system that focuses on direct customer service technology. Through service automation, customers are supported through multiple channels such as phone, email, knowledge bases, ticketing portals, FAQs, and more.
The role of Analytical CRM systems is to analyse customer data collected through multiple sources and present it so that business managers can make more informed decisions. Analytical CRM systems use techniques such as data mining, correlation, and pattern recognition to analyse the customer data. These analytics help improve customer service by finding small problems which can be solved, perhaps by marketing to different parts of a consumer audience differently. For example, through the analysis of a customer base's buying behaviour, a company might see that this customer base has not been buying a lot of products recently. After scanning through this data, the company might think to market to this subset of consumers differently, in order to best communicate how this company's products might benefit this group specifically.
Many CRM products today offer multi-channel capabilities for exchanging ideas with customers and this bi-directionality is essential in gamified applications. In a sense gamified apps might simply be considered as having better reward systems than typical dialogue systems, which are themselves a leap beyond conventional CRM and ecommerce.
If you can make the interaction fun and rewarding and thus build loyalty there is less need for more draconian customer or account control. Games can get customers to do your bidding — to a degree — without coercion. In this context gamification has at least two big benefits. First, it can drive loyalty and conversely reduces churn. But understand, the loyalty is not driven by some addiction to dopamine. Rather, the customer playing the games sticks around long enough to provide a lot of data that a smart vendor can analyse for patterns.
Second, and closely related to the first point, no company and no product is always going to be a perfect fit for every customer but gamified systems make it a lot easier to find customers on the road to unhappiness and intervene very early. So the gamified application at least has the potential of capturing data to figure out what the customer wants and to capture attitude data as well.
While there is no such thing as 100% within interpersonal interactions, gamification might get a company much closer to a churnless customer base. A customer base without churn could also evolve to have much less friction too. I think it's reasonable to say that loyalty generated would be a by-product of generated trust and in a trusting relationship there is less friction of all kinds.
When I think about reducing friction I also think about reducing the amount of face-to-face interaction needed to maintain the relationship. The idea of frictionless relationships is a long way from gamification and possibly just one of many unknown but knowable side effects of this new idea. Gamification is multi-faceted and has a powerful potential relationship to CRM and other front office technologies. It will likely change how we do business and it is certainly an area that deserves more attention and study from the CRM community.