Think4Energy | Leveraging on Gamification to improve customers and employees engagement

Anything but a breeze!


Our culture traditionally attributes game to fun matters while work to serious matters: this paradigm is currently evolving, not only in school education contexts, but also in working and in business contexts

Game is an innate aspect in our lives, either for children, teenagers and adults. We do not need to bring social sciences, which have largely dealt with this topic, into the current piece to agree with such statement. Our culture traditionally attributes game to "fun" matters while work to "serious" matters. Well, this paradigm is currently evolving, not only in school education contexts where game is increasingly one of the levers for learning, but also in working and in business contexts.

Between the possible definitions for "Gamification", definitely an overused word, we prefer the following one, which is the most complete and

representative in light of the topics discussed below: “the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals” (Gartner, Brian Burke, 2014). By people, the author means customers and/or employees.

Involving customers or employees in Gamification through an enjoyable and fun gaming experience (i.e. experience design) is not - of course - for purely playful and recreational purposes. Some examples of Gamification in the Energy & Utilities industry may help to understand this emerging phenomenon.

An energy global company operating in Italy, offers cash backs in the electricity bill to customers when they achieve some gaming objectives which depend on the number of steps made in a certain timeframe and/or in a specific contest (the information are captured via a specific smartphone “app”).

The goal of the initiative is creating "engagement" and giving one more reason to customers to choose or remain with this operator. An example regarding employees comes from Thames Water, the water utility of London, which faced the need to quickly map a huge amount of physical assets (i.e. meters), placed in the reference area.

The company incentivized the activity of technical teams, by setting a "treasure hunt". Technical teams were equipped with a mobile "app", where they recorded and geo-referenced the activities they carried out, triggering an individual and team competition aimed at rewarding, for example, the greatest number of assets that were found or other aspects (e.g. completeness of data recorded on the assets which were found). Individuals and/or teams won prizes represented by badges (i.e. virtual medals). Objectives of the initiative included, among others, team productivity and accuracy of data.

Applying game mechanisms to "non-gaming" working contexts implies some benefits, mainly attributable to attraction and engagement, in customers contexts; to motivation, engagement and efficiency in employees contexts.

In fact, the Gamification phenomenon, increasingly visible in Italy in recent times, actually falls into a broader macro trend, identified in the last years, 

that is digitization, and appears as one of the possible levers to trigger or reinforce the level of engagement of customers and employees.

But designing a successful Gamification initiative is a complex activity. It requires in fact an accurate analysis of some critical factors; the following phases/activities may characterize a Gamification project flow.

Developing a Gamification initiative: proposed path

Successful Gamification projects should be preferably set up from the beginning, in order to settle future amendments. Human kinds get bored of playing a game when it is predictable or repetitive. This is also the reason why it is important to have adequate game-enhancer IT tools that should be flexible, scalable and, above all, should make the gaming experience enjoyable. This is another reason why a good design team should have either "game design" and "customer/employee experience" skills.

It is also worth noting that in the game design activity, we should take into account privacy issues related to information on players’ profiles, labor law issues and relationships with the unions as well as tax aspects if - among the various forms of rewards – there are economic and not just nominal rewards. We also need to pay attention to the way we advertise/communicate the gaming experience, the significance of prizes (be nominal or not, prizes should be relevant to the subjects involved in the game), the fairness and transparency of game rules.

In short, introducing Gamification dynamics in which customers or employees are involved is anything but a breeze!

As PwC, we are currently recording a growing interest from Energy & Utilities players concerning the Gamification theme, also because it is likely that, mainly in view of the termination of the safeguarded market in July 2019, those who will be able to make their own innovative and original offers could gain ground. Apart from customers, Gamification can also apply to Maintenance Operations and in Italy we are observing some early pilot projects of "Gamification on site".

There seems to be a potential in this kind of initiatives and it is reasonable to assume that first movers can benefit from it, gaining ground on those who focus on speculating on the pros and cons of it.

There seems to be a potential in this kind of initiatives and it is reasonable to assume that first movers can benefit from it, gaining ground on those who focus on speculating on the pros and cons of it.

Francesco Pimpinelli

Francesco is Associate Partner in PwC. In his twenty years experience in management consulting, he coordinated strategic-organizational projects for Energy & Utilities players (E&U). He is author of several publications on business magazines, member of the scientific committee of "Think 4 Energy" PwC magazine and Relationship Partner for some of the main E&U players (Italian and multinational ones) which have operations in Italy. Associate Partner, Roma, PwC Italy

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