Dan Ariely’s TED talk is a good one. It’s very straightforward, and gives some good ideas about what motivates people. It can be especially helpful when considering a rewards system within enterprise software. It’s important to think beyond the money that workers (our users) are rewarded with. The challenge is to include things like meaning, creation, challenge, ownership, identity, and pride. That notion — that we need more than just payment as motivation — is at the heart of enterprise playability.
So it seems like a good idea to do something awesome with that information. Why not use that ever-so-simple fact to inspire better enterprise software? Seems like a natural enough progression. If we really want to engage users, we should learn lessons from cocaine dealers. We should treat our users like cocaine users (in a good way, of course).
Full disclosure: I’ve never sold cocaine. Turns out I’ve never even used it (I only recently moved to LA). So the following ideas are pretty much sourced from movies, not real life. But how different can they be?
Here are eight lessons we can learn from cocaine dealers:
- The first one’s always free
Give users their first reward for doing little or nothing at all. The first reward should be just for showing up. Even if users haven’t signed in yet, they should feel like you already appreciate them, and have lots of rewards to give them.
- The next score should always be within reach
It should always be clear to users how they will get their next reward, and the tasks needed to get that reward should never feel like too much work.
- It will take more and more to satisfy the jones over time
Bigger and bigger achievements should always be just down the road. The same bonus for showing up won’t satisfy users every time. They need to feel like they’ve done more, and are being rewarded for more, each time. Balance this with number two, above.
- If we do not satisfy the jones, our users will crash out
If a user can’t score, that user won’t come back. That user will disengage and wander off, and re-engaging that user will be exceedingly difficult.
- Users in a crisis will not be loyal to your brand
Again, if a user can’t score, that user won’t come back. That user will go to someone else, someone who provides the rewards they are looking for. If you are not helping your users get what they need, they will find someone who does.
- Users need you, and will come to you
You help users get what they want. You make their misery tolerable. You are what they think about when you are not around. If those things are not true, you are not selling cocaine (or anything like it). If they are true, users will keep on coming back to you.
- Users won’t always keep reasonable hours
Availability, reliability, and ubiquity are must-haves in your industry. Your users will be thinking about you at all hours, and will seek rewards whenever the thought crosses their minds. You must be there for them at all times.
- Users party in all kinds of places
Wherever your users go, you need to be ready to support them. Be there for them at work, at home, and everywhere. Let them get their fix anywhere they go. Always be there for them, and always be ready to party.
Too much of a stretch? Maybe. Maybe not. But engaging users, and designing a user experience that keeps users coming back, is not easy. This is probably just what you need.
The key components of Enterprise Playability are gamification and video-game-like usability. When designing an app with EP, a couple of important questions must be addressed early on: What should users be rewarded for? And which functionality should be playable? Two of the fundamentals of EP are:
- Make it easy for users to meet their own goals
- Reward users for meeting business goals
Understanding user goals is just as important as understanding business goals. In user-centered design, designers must capture and design for both.
Great video games are easy to play because they make it easy for users to understand what to do and how to do it. They keep users engaged by rewarding for meeting specific goals. Think of an arcade shooter: You pick up a gun and shoot at stuff. Fun! Easy to get! Your simple user goals (“shoot stuff,” “blow stuff up”) are easy to achieve. Your score, however, is tied to shooting the right stuff, and also not shooting the old lady holding a bag of groceries. Those are the business goals, and you get points when you get them right.
In an enterprise app, core functionality should support the primary goals of the users, and make them easy to achieve . Rewards should motivate users to meet business goals. Think of a point of sale app. The user wants to inform customers, make sales, and get a big fat commission check. Management wants to sell more of the high-margin items, capture customer phone numbers for follow-up contact, and keep customers coming back.
So the easiest activities in the app should be:
- Sell stuff
- Get information about stuff
- Sell more stuff
Rewards should be for:
- Selling the right stuff
- Capturing customer contact info
- Repeat visits from happy customers
The end result is happy users who are excited about doing their best to meet business goals.