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What Gaming Can Teach Us About Leveling Up Your Customers

Are you a gamer? Do you fire up the Xbox and destroy things to burn off steam? Do you pull out your mobile and try to beat that puzzle level again when you have a spare moment? Or perhaps you’re a part of the resurgence in playing board games with your friends and family?

Game-playing is rich in psychology. I’ve spoken before at conferences on the psychology of gamification. The game must be challenging enough to interest you at your current skill level, but not so challenging that you get frustrated and throw your controller at the screen. (In the gaming community, we affectionally call this “rage quitting.”)

When the balance is just right and you achieve the goal, the game congratulates you in some way: fireworks, epic music, your character dancing in triumph, etc. You feel a huge sense of satisfaction, as your brain releases some feel-good neurotransmitters. Then it’s on to the next level.

In business, most of us want something from our customers. A purchase, participation, engagement, etc. If this is the goal we want them to achieve, why is achieving it often so boring? The customer has been through a journey, but where is the “big pay-off” message?

We need to create it for them.

Derek Sivers, the creator of CD Baby (an online store selling independent music CDs), is famous for this. When you order a CD from CD Baby, this is your confirmation email:

“Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!”

There are thousands of posts from people online who got this confirmation email, loved it, and blogged about it. Really, you can’t help but smile when you read it.

What do your confirmation emails say about you and your brand? You don’t need to go “full CD Baby,” but do know that something as simple as a confirmation email is a message about your brand. Don’t put this valuable real estate to waste.

This week’s mission:

Gather your team together and explore the automated messages that go out to your customers. Take a hard look at what they say about you, your brand, and your customer. As a team, decide on at least two ways to update it to add more personality that fits your organization’s voice. Once you focus on it, I think you’ll find the process, and the result, a lot of fun and well worth your time.




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I'm Ron Evans. I dramatically improve individual and organizational performance. If you found today's topic intriguing and want to apply it to your situation, I'll brainstorm with you. The few who follow through and take me up on my offer will benefit greatly. Strike while the iron is hot! 


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