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Gamification is key for CIOs transforming the automotive sector

When successfully deployed, gamification can enhance user engagement and drive customer acquisition and retention, writes Pedro Pacheco

The idea of a subscription car service is not a new one, but a subscription service that rewards drivers for better driving is different.

Organisations often use gamification to encourage participation in apps, work out programmes and even to reward employees, but it’s now unexpectedly taking centre stage in the automotive industry. While the automotive sector has been among the verticals most disrupted by digital business, it is a driving force behind gamification’s revival.

To encourage safer driving for its Kinto car subscription, Toyota rewards “better” drivers with points that lower monthly payments.

FleetCarma uses gamification in its SmartCharge programme to influence when drivers charge their electric vehicles (EVs). As a reward, EV drivers win points and a recognition status within the user community with utilities obtaining usage data from the programme.

Toyota Kinto
Toyota launched its Kinto car subscription in January 2020. Toyota rewards “better” drivers with points that lower monthly payments

BitCab, a ride-sharing app that uses blockchain, employs a scoring and badge system to boost driver loyalty and grow a user base. Each driver recruits new customers and receives recognition for doing so.

Gamification uses game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. When successfully designed, gamification apps enhance user engagement and drive customer acquisition and retention.

Successful companies establish an effective gamification business model which can be segmented into four pillars—challenge, obstacles, rewards and game rules, as outlined below.

Challenge: Gamification only succeeds through sustained user engagement. We need to define the business goals of keeping users engaged and make sure they are aligned with users’ goals. One example of this is an automotive brand rewarding customers who take their vehicles to be serviced at their dealership rather than elsewhere.

Obstacles: Adversity makes the game interesting. However, the level of difficulty must be finely calibrated. Too easy means the user will soon overcome all the challenges and become bored; too hard and the user will be demotivated and no longer engage.

Rewards: Consider a reward scheme that goes above extrinsic rewards (such as discounts). Diving deep into what matters for your users will inform you in choosing what to give them and how much of it. To continue the dealership servicing example—one would reward users a free interim service after servicing their vehicles with them twice consecutively.

Game rules: Rules must be very simple and should not distract from the game. Participants should not have to think about the do’s and don’ts—they can simply focus on racking up the points.

The idea of a subscription car service is not a new one, but a subscription service that rewards drivers for better driving is different

Being flexible and listening to customer feedback will go a long way to ensure longevity in your gamification efforts. Having customers feel as though they are part of the process and have a say in how the game is run will not only mean they will be more engaged but will also assure you that any new features you roll out will be welcomed by the community.

Finally, by looking at how other industries have embraced (and failed at) gamification, we see that to make it profitable, companies need to do three things, namely determine, apply and grow.

Firstly, companies should determine the most effective way to achieve success using gamification in your automotive business by focusing on user motivation, applying best practices from other sectors, and avoiding previous application pitfalls.

Secondly, apply gamification to boost data collection through user engagement. This can be achieved by raising the number of adopters or, when this option is too complex or expensive, it can be an alternative to fully automated data collection.

And finally, grow customer adoption and retention by using gamification to boost user engagement and advocacy for mobility solutions.

About the author: Pedro Pacheco is a Senior Research Director at Gartner

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