In our ever-evolving digital landscape, businesses are constantly seeking novel ways to connect with their customers, enhance their experience, and foster long-lasting relationships.
One such approach is the implementation of customer programs that encompass various channels, creating a comprehensive ecosystem to cater to different customer needs. These programs bring together learning management systems (LMS), communities, help desks, and more, all to provide a clear and engaging experience for customers.
I recently chatted with Olga Zavrazhnova, Developer Advocacy Manager at InterSystems, about how businesses can harness gamification techniques to supercharge their customer programs and create thriving ecosystems. Read on to learn how Olga has done this with the company’s Global Masters advocacy program.
Connecting the Dots: Building a Clear Ecosystem for Customers
A successful customer program relies on the ability to connect different channels and create a seamless experience for members. Typically, these programs comprise five to ten different channels, each serving a specific purpose within the ecosystem. The challenge lies in unifying these channels to create a cohesive and engaging environment for members.
Each member within a customer program has unique motivations and expectations. With a tiered approach, participants can progress from learning to teaching, with the ultimate goal of giving feedback and helping to improve the organization. Recognizing the importance of status and influence, gamification techniques such as levels, rewards, badges, and more can drive focus and encourage engagement.
However, a successful gamified customer program extends beyond the confines of one platform. It should incentivize member actions across various channels. Integrations ensure businesses can recognize, rewards, and data tracking permeates throughout the entire customer ecosystem, contributing to member motivation and overall satisfaction.
Harnessing Gamification for Engagement and Results
InterSystems, a leading provider of data management, integration, and analytics solutions, embarked on a journey to enhance its developer ecosystem. To drive engagement and provide rewards to members, InterSystems partnered with Influitive for their advocacy and gamification expertise and launched the Global Masters Advocacy program in 2016. InterSystems, which serves thousands of global customers and partners, recognized the value of engaging technical professionals worldwide and sought to provide them with a platform to contribute, learn, and be rewarded.
A Recipe for Success: Metrics, Content, and Rewards
To measure the effectiveness of the Global Masters program, InterSystems defined key metrics such as active users, engaged members, content produced, content consumed, NPS, social media activity, and new program members. Among these metrics, content contribution stood out as a crucial factor for growing the community.
Content contributions can take various forms, including publishing articles, asking questions, providing answers, leaving comments, and even translating articles. Assigning point values to these contributions incentivizes members to actively participate, while recognition plays a pivotal role in reinforcing their engagement. Creating dedicated pages to celebrate significant contributions, such as the first published article, question, or comment, reinforces the value placed on member participation.
Milestones are another essential component of a successful gamification program. Providing a clear path for participants to progress and continue their journey within the ecosystem ensures sustained engagement and motivation. Careful consideration must be given when setting up milestones, levels, and badges to create a seamless and engaging member experience.
The Power of Integration: Connecting Channels and Driving Engagement
Olga highlighted the importance of integrating the Global Masters program with different platforms to maximize engagement opportunities. InterSystems used API integrations with Influitive’s platform, the Open Exchange Application Gallery and the Ideas Portal to automate awarding points and badges for actions taken outside of the hub. This streamlined approach not only saved time but also provided scalability and ensured a seamless user experience.
To raise awareness of the Global Masters program within the developer community, InterSystems employed various strategies such as:
- Consistent branding across all web properties created a sense of unity and connection between the platforms
- Email invitations to new community members highlighting the gamification opportunities and rewards they could earn
- Promo banners on the developer community site that served as reminders for how they could earn points for posting questions and answers
- Implementing pop-up notifications to help guide users to Global Masters to claim their rewards upon completing specific actions
By making all pages visible on both Global Masters and the developer community, InterSystems increased engagement and awareness of gamification opportunities. Comprehensive documentation and an about page were created to educate users about Global Masters and its connection to the rest of the ecosystem.
Cultivating Engagement and Community Spirit
Building an engaged developer community requires an understanding of their needs and preferences. By tailoring activities and content to their interests, businesses can create a valuable and rewarding experience. Challenges, contests, campaigns, surveys, quizzes, and generating user-generated content ensure ongoing participation and contribute to a thriving community.
Demonstrating a commitment to member growth and learning, InterSystems introduced Tech Quizzes as an engaging channel within the Global Masters program. Bite-sized and quick-to-complete, technical quizzes test members’ knowledge of InterSystems, proving both fun and fulfilling.
Community swag and rewards play a crucial role in motivating and engaging community members. From exclusive access to events and resources to personalized merchandise, rewards create a sense of belonging and value within the community. Understanding the preferences and interests of the target audience is key in choosing the right incentives and rewards, whether it be gadgets, gift cards, or unique experiences.
Celebrating Success and Lessons Learned
The Global Masters program, launched by InterSystems, is a testament to the power of gamification and its ability to ignite engagement within a community. By setting goals, aligning activities, and continuously refining their approach, InterSystems successfully boosted engagement, contribution, and consumption within their ecosystem.
Through open communication and feedback, the program continuously evolves and improves. Olga shared her learnings from the process, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive planning and homework. Thoroughly defining point values, milestones, and other gamification elements in advance ensures a smooth and engaging member journey.
As businesses continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of customer engagement, gamification has emerged as a powerful tool to foster meaningful connections, drive engagement, and create unified customer experiences.
Companies can transform disjointed touchpoints into cohesive ecosystems by taking the time to understand audience motivations, map out the customer journey across platforms, and incentivize high-value actions through creative rewards and recognition. Though developing robust programs takes effort, the dividends of loyalty and advocacy are plentiful and well worth the hard work.
With thoughtful strategy and execution, gamification allows organizations to meet customers where they are and guide them on the path to becoming true brand advocates. Ultimately, these connected and engaged communities serve to strengthen companies by fueling innovation, improving products and services, and spreading authentic word-of-mouth.