What data do we need for gamification design?

It is very rare that we receive this question, we usually have to inform the client we want certain data, but this week the question was raised. To me, that is a sign that the buyers of gamification design services are becoming savvier about what is needed to make the design work.

What we always need for every project is the reason why, the purpose and the intended target audience. Then depending on the type of project different data inputs can become invaluable. Data always tells a story. What you measure get’s focus, what you don’t measure is deemed of lesser importance rightly or wrongly doesn’t matter at this point.

If you want to start changing behaviour, it would be strange not to look at the data too. This is something I learned very early in my consulting career when I was working on a cultural change project for a big retail chain. We wanted staff to be more customer focused instead of product focused, even though that was first and foremost what they were hired for. For years managers had been trained to reinforce putting clothes out in a neat way and keeping the store tidy with quick service at the tills. Now, this still mattered, but the key was to offer customers sales advice and look for opportunities to upsell or cross-sell or just basically sell. Initially, the store performance metrics were not changed. So guess what? Managers and staff stuck to their old ways of working. Then we added customer service rating, multi-product sales and gave staff clear expectations of what a good day of selling looked like for their team, behaviour began to shift. Managers were the hardest ones to change until we pointed out that their measures again should also change accordingly. I had managers on quests to spot their people selling well and give them positive feedback when they were impressed.

With those early insights in the back of my mind, I always start a project from a perspective of understanding the data will give me more than an intuitive insight into what is alive in a business. So here are some lists of data I would look for depending on the type of project we are working on. Depending on the reason for the project, there may be more or less, so these are non-exhaustive and also non-prescriptive lists.

If we are working on learner engagement projects:

  • learning-related data on what courses are working well,
  • where do people drop out,
  • what are the satisfaction ratings like,
  • how is proof of learning measured and
  • the relevant key performance indicators for employees including the learning and development team
  • surveys relating to learning and performance

If we are working on employee engagement projects:

  • employee engagement surveys
  • competency frameworks
  • performance structures and key performance indicators
  • exit interview data
  • attrition rates
  • clock out times
  • absences and their reasons

If we are working on customer engagement projects:

  • purchases
  • repeat customers and number of times they return
  • store traffic in a physical store, google analytics and heatmaps for online traffic
  • lines that sell most
  • communication
  • engagement and interactions
  • staff performance indicators
  • incentives both for staff and clients

The lists can be longer or shorter depending on the purpose of the project. The thing we learn from these items is that certain behaviours happen no matter what. It gives us a good grounding picture of the current story. We then back this up with our own surveys and interviews to validate some of the things we have been told and to form a picture of the people we are designing for. I think it is my original marketing degree with a heavy focus on market research and understanding the strategy of an organisation that has stayed with me. I also know that in order to drive change, we need to address some of the numbers as well.

I would be interested to hear what data you look for when you are working on changing behaviours?

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