Unordinary Thinking No. 37: Finding fun in failure (aka The Customer Games)

With the anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics upon us, I thought I’d look to see if there is any chance of replicating that sense of euphoria which engulfed us last year. ‘I decided to take on the role of the sporting gladiator and find some games out there that I can compete in’.

First I tried the ‘stop the pump on zero’ game where you attempt to stop filling up your car with petrol on exactly zero-zero on the pence indicator. But since the price of fuel has rocketed up so much, the dials move too quickly to get the petrol to stop at the right point any more. So I started looking further afield. I realised quite quickly I didn’t need to invent anything. There are already a host of consumer games underway which I can take part in. Here are three of my favourites.

The Which? games

Championed by Which? the latest craze in customer experience is ‘beat the call centre’. Customers are encouraged to try various tactics to get past the dreaded IVR and talk to a person. A host of tips to ‘break the system’ have been submitted. They include:

–          ‘call the sales number’ – no-one gets turned away when they are a prospect it seems

–          stay silent and you get rerouted to an operator

–          calling from abroad so the international code overrides the IVR coding

It’s interesting how a poor customer experience can lead to such customer engagement to combat it.

And we can look to pure fun for the inspiration behind weq4umy favourite consumer solution in this space. Whenever I’ve been to a theme park with my family we’ve valued the time we have there so have opted to use the virtual queuing system. We are not taking anyone’s place in the queue because an electronic tag is queuing for us and telling us when it’s our turn to go on the ride. This means we can maximise our time elsewhere getting more out of the day – perfect.

WeQ4U has taken that example into the world of call centre waiting to find a way of minimising a less enjoyable experience. WeQ4U is an app that will step in for you and queue so you don’t have to. Taking the painful part of the interaction with your telco or utility provider away from you, but like the theme park queue-bots, it informs you when you need to step back in line. I wonder what the difference in Customer Satisfaction scores is between those who actually queue and those who virtual queue?

Instabug games

instabugConsumers like ‘smart’ solutions which help them have their say, get their way but don’t reshape their day. Another great example of this is a new ‘de-bugging’ app from Instabug which activates when you to shake your phone in frustration when an app doesn’t work and informing the makers.

A pair of 22-year-old Cairo University graduates behind Instabug designed the app to create a bug notification system for the app developers which is triggered when the device is physically shaken. “It really enables greater collaboration between developers and users. Now it’s fun to report bugs.”

A very low level co-creation experience but again it highlights consumers openness to ‘play the game’ under the right circumstances.

E.ON games

A much grander example is the E.ON initiative from last year. If you want to really see how much of a sport you can make your business E.ON prove you can go some way. It’s no secret that getting consumers engaged with ‘The Green Deal’ is a tough ask. So E.ON created a Channel 4 series ‘Home of the Future’ and invited a customer family to equip their house with all the latest energy saving devices to highlight how the savings outweighed the cost and make their lives better.

eonThis idea led to the E.ON innovations hub where customers were invited to get inventing new energy efficiency solutions. The competition ran last year and resulted in this gem of a grand final winner.

Steve McNair “Eon Care Sense – Technology Helps the aged and vulnerable” 

Steve McNair saw a role for E.ON in helping us all care for ageing or vulnerable people in their own homes. Smart sensors could detect unusual patterns of energy use (only usually thought about as a way to save money or energy) that might suggest a problem for that vulnerable person in the home, and alert family members or care workers. Simple but a stunning piece of customer gaming using a benefit of the technology it wasn’t intended for.

Whilst most look studiously at fixing customer experience, it’s worth remembering that the most effective relationships are those where the customer experience can be described as enjoyable. A failure or broken experience could lead to something amazingly good. It might seem like a tall ask for some sectors but E.ON prove you can get customers to engage. Let the customer games begin.

Posted by Christopher Brooks.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business strategy.

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers. We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

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