gamifying aspects of your business can help nudge the behaviour of your customers, staff or other stakeholders.

Gamifying your business: how a challenge can change customer behaviour

Think back to playing in the schoolyard with your friends. Or even how you celebrated being out of lockdown with your adult peeps last summer. Chances are games were involved. They’re a lifelong source of fun and recreation – but “gamifying” aspects of your business can also be an irresistible way to nudge the behaviour of your customers, staff or other stakeholders.

Take a recent experience I had as a customer.

My home electricity provider is AGL. (I know, I know – they’re Australia’s largest greenhouse gas emitter by more than double, and changing providers is on my To Do list. Consider this article an endorsement of one specific marketing tactic, not a suggestion to get your energy from them. Oh, and AGL? When you want to embrace renewables, we’re here to help.)

Saving energy for rewards

Last summer, AGL launched a “Peak Rewards Program”. It was a challenge of sorts. Customers who signed up were notified of “Peak Demand Events” – specific 1-2 hour periods when the network was expected to come under significant demand strain in the summer heat. If participants could reduce their energy consumption to set levels during those periods, they gained various levels of rewards.

The rewards topped out at $10 off your next bill. Hardly life changing. But I got ridiculously motivated to smash each of the summer’s two “Peak Events” and snatch that $10!


Well, the sacrifice asked of me was limited: just one or two hours without aircon. I could prepare for that by keeping the house cool beforehand. And I also understood I was helping achieve good for the community, by preventing blackouts. But mostly? I wanted to see if I could win.

We all love a challenge. It adds novelty and short moments of structure to our lives. And let’s be honest, we get a kick out of competing with others – whether that’s other players or “the game” we’re playing against.

Even the humble coffee loyalty card is a simple challenge that influences our behaviour. Tell me you don’t feel a sense of achievement, a thrill of hitting the jackpot, when you lay that “free coffee” marker down on the counter.

Even the humble coffee loyalty card is a simple challenge that can influence customer behaviour

But turning elements of your daily operations into a challenge can achieve much more than increasing loyalty. It can be used to:

  • encourage customers to try a greater range of your services;
  • raise awareness about a specific issue; or
  • help customers change their behaviour to more sustainable options.

6 keys to an effective challenge

There are a few important things to keep in mind when creating your challenge:

1. What you’re asking the player to do must be achievable, otherwise there’s no reason to try.

2. It must also be in proportion to the reward. If the sacrifice isn’t worth it, there’s less incentive to participate.

3. Scaled prizes add incentive. More chances to win, and any progress is rewarded.

4. Communicate clear, simple instructions of what the player needs to do.

5. Similarly, ensure there’s prompt clear communication after the challenge. Even if the player didn’t win, tell them so. Failure can just encourage a player to try harder next time. But hearing nothing feels like you broke the rules of the game, and destroys incentive to try again.

6. Running the challenge over a short, defined period of time can also be useful. It adds urgency to compete, but also gives a stronger sense of structure to the player – a sense of emotional closure to their experience.

Game on!

So, what element of your organisation could you gamify? Shift your café patrons from dairy to alternative milks? Encourage customer recycling of your technology components? Create the next Ice Bucket Challenge to promote your cause?

The possibilities are endless, the experience is fun, and the prospects of increasing loyalty and engagement are well worth you rolling the dice.

(Oh, and I won the $10 discount in both Peak Energy Events. Take that, suckers!)

– Lucas

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