Customers are hungry for meaningful interactions – both with your brand and with other customers – and community managers need to make the experience simple and painless. If a large portion of your customers are sitting on the sidelines, it’s because you don’t yet have the right tools and timing to motivate them on their customer journey. For starters, that means NOT bombarding them with messages, but harnessing what you know about those customers to send relevant content, personalized at the right time, when it makes sense. With a modern customer engagement tool, your business can gain deep insights about customers and add sizzle to their experiences by using a mix of gamification, points, rewards, recognition and exclusive access to people or products.
Unfortunately, most platforms are still working with the belief that a single motivator like gamification can do it all, and many are unclear on the return on investment (ROI). Historically, communities have only had points, levels, badges, and leaderboards, which might have worked for customer support, but the financial benefits were hard to pin down.
CMX’s 2020 Community Industry Trends Report explains. “In 2017, the top objective for communities was customer support, followed by advocacy. As predicted in that report, the objective of the community is likely to shift over time, which it has.” Today, CMX finds that customer retention is the primary goal for most both in-person and online communities. “Perhaps impacted by the growth of Customer Success across tech companies, retention is becoming a growing focus for community teams,” the report reads. This makes sense, as it’s easy to value the lost revenue from a lost customer.
While 65% of respondents told CMX that their company is increasing its community budget over the next 12 months and 88% of respondents identified community as being critical to their company’s mission, many organizations still struggle to measure the quantitative ROI of these programs.
Today, customer data and analytic tools that correlate customer activity to revenue are what enable a performance-driven community. These tools also demonstrate that gamification is no substitute for highly personalized customer engagement that’s embedded throughout the customer journey. Of course, gamification is critical for customer engagement, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.
At Influitive, we’ve learned that best-in-class gamification should be integrated with reward experiences that move customers along their journey from first touch to onboarding, from frequent usage to the adoption of new features, and finally, renewal. That’s where targeted activities with tangible rewards come into play—and where we can help.
Influitive was once again recognized in the G2 grid as a market leader in Online Community Management and Customer Advocacy, and currently leads the Gamification category. This blog article will explore the many ways we deliver beyond the traditional rewards and gamification experience found in other community platforms.
An unparalleled rewards experience
Drawing from the best practices in business-to-consumer (B2C) industries and our own experience, we’ve become experts in designing a reward system that’s appropriate for any customer community. Rewards go far beyond catalogs and swag; they go deep into your brand and what you stand for. We help companies combine their values with their customers’ values and motivators.
This strategy has helped companies like Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE) deliver both tangible and intangible rewards to their customer base. “The fact that HPE Insiders is gamified helps tremendously. HPE SimpliVity advocates earn points for completing challenges such as participating in discussions and answering surveys. They can redeem points for rewards such as gift cards and donating money to charity,” said Jennifer Susinski from HPE SimpliVity. “HPE Insiders also offers perks that will benefit advocates’ careers, such as being profiled in Upshot stories or tickets to HPE’s biannual customer event.”
During Influitive Live 2020, we offered level-based rewards, which strategically unlocked rewards only when event attendees had reached a certain level of participation. This lets you incentivize the precise actions that you desire most from attendees. This strategy can extend into any customer community.
Through targeting, customers can unlock exclusive rewards or experiences that are highly tailored to their needs. This also allows you to deliver surprise and delight moments like Viewpoint does. “Without a program like AdvocateHub, thanking and rewarding is much harder because it’s done manually. We like to surprise our customers, so if they’re not expecting anything, getting that $25 gift card in their inbox is a real delight. It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling they get from this big company,” said Viewpoint’s Kathleen Orazio.
You can also reward customers with increased access and exclusivity within the community itself. With private groups, private spaces, unlocked rewards, and unlocked activities, an Influitive hub puts game mechanics in the customers’ hands as members earn new experiences previously unavailable to them. Not only does it appeal to a member’s desire for exclusivity and access, it conveys a deeper acknowledgment of them as individuals with unique needs and desires. All of this is accomplished through our top-notch gamification capabilities.
Communities powered by meaningful gamification
Gamification has always been at the heart of Influitive’s platform, which uses friendly competition, points, and badges to create authentic and effective customer engagement. Members complete highly targeted activities (data collection, quizzes, product ideas, and feedback to name a few) and can earn points for taking these actions. These points can be tied directly to ROI when assigned a dollar value and be tracked through our ROI tool. Activities can also take place outside the community at events (in-person or virtual), inside your platform, or when booking meetings with your sales or customer success team.
Levels and badges are commonplace in the community space. Displayed on a user’s profile, they define their reputation and relationship to both the community and to your company. Again, these levels and badges can be tied to unlockable discussion spaces, activities, and specific rewards or experiences.
With Influitive, gamification can take many forms. For IT security company Thycotic, this meant delivering an improved customer onboarding experience. “Thycotic customers can log in to the portal and retrieve all the information they need to interact with us,” said Angie Hohensee from Thycotic. “They can download installation guides, discovery tools, and other support documents. Doing so earns them points toward swag. Talk about an incentive to look at paperwork!”
Further, gamification can supercharge your advocate marketing efforts. HR software and services provider Ceridian gamified their mentorship and customer success journey through their XOXO program. “Influitive successfully gamifies the advocate marketing process, and this has allowed us to add a lighthearted touch to the activities we offer to our members,” said Ceridian’s Nick Venturella. Or consider VMware, who streamlined their customer reference process. “Using Influitive has transformed our approach to customer references,” said VMware’s Katie Smeal. “Our previous approach meant it could take up to two months to find a niche reference for our team. But with VMware Champions, we can now fulfill a reference request in 72 hours or less by gamifying the process.”
Delivering rewards and gamification at scale, across the customer journey
Those examples lead us to our key differentiator: effectively weaving rewards and gamification into the overall customer journey. Influitive can help you determine which motivator to use with each customer at each stage of the customer journey, all while doing so at scale.
When asked about creating a rewarding customer journey, Ceridian’s Nick Venturella said, “With the XOXO Customer Success program, Ceridian has created a community space designed to engage with and listen to members throughout the entire customer journey. By connecting with the customer on a human level about their business needs, Ceridian can help elevate and advance its customers’ employees’ careers within their organizations and the HCM industry. By doing this, we help enable the connections that transform customers into advocates.”
Cisco Cert’s Shelby Major recently shared how they’ve built a gamified experience to inspire continuous learning. “Cisco Cert Insiders is a community for network engineers who have recently completed their CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certification. Our goal is to help CCNAs on their post-accreditation path and encourage them to continue their certification journey by pursuing CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) level certifications. We also encourage them to renew their existing credentials by taking a recertification exam every three years.”
It’s time to go beyond the basics and deliver a mutually beneficial customer experience. With modern gamification and rewards strategies at its core, your community can become the revenue driver your business wants while delivering the superior experience your members have come to expect and appreciate.