What is the first thing that comes to your mind when we talk about games? For most of us, it would be Enjoyment! The other factors that can be associated with gaming are competition, engagement, and rewards. Be it the world of online gaming or offline gaming, the basic principles of gaming are always retained.
Can the essentials of gaming be applied to business, especially when the business is not into gaming (or games development)? Yes, it is possible as business also revolves around rewards and incentives, while keeping a close eye on the competition. In this blog, we have a look at how gamification principles can be used by the utility industry for changing consumer behavior, building brand loyalty, and driving engagement across the utility value chain.
What is Gamification?
Gamification is a process through which the elements and principles of gaming are applied to a non-gaming segment like utility, retail, and more. It drives user stickiness, as gamification adds the elements of fun, rewards, and engagement in the process.
Let’s take a simple example of how gamification in the utility industry is possible? Assume that your electricity provider comes up with an ‘energy-saving competition’ where it would reward the commercial customers (e.g. retail outlets) in the region based on the ‘percentage of energy savings’ they achieve in a particular duration. The results of energy savings would be published by the electricity provider on their social media handles on a daily basis.
This would drive online engagement, encourage competition, bring transparency, and encourage others (e.g. commercial and retail customers) to adopt energy-saving practices.
The Reward? The competition winner gets a ‘flat’ discount up to 20 percent on their electricity bills for the next two months. The entire exercise involved engagement, competition, motivation, and building awareness through the medium of ‘gaming’.
Badges, Leader boards, and Points are the widely used gamification elements. As seen above, these elements can be used for gamification in the utility industry.
Gamification in the Utility Sector
Smart Metering Systems are key enablers if the principles of gamification have to be implemented for the utility industry. Unlike traditional Electric Metering Systems (EMS) that require manual intervention for meter reading activity, meter reading and bill collection with smart meters do not require minimal (to no) manual intervention.
At TekGeminus, we have worked with several utility companies in streamlining their processes related to Customer Information Systems (CIS). While designing their customer care and billing systems, our team got an opportunity to understand the psyche of utility companies and customers of their services.
We believe that gamification can be game-changer for utility enterprises, as they have all the relevant data points to gain value from gamification.
Promotion of best practices by helping the environment
Conscious efforts are always made by utility (retail and commercial) customers to conserve energy through reduced consumption of electricity. Energy-saving tasks can become more engaging and exciting if elements of gamification are integrated into the process.
Gamification techniques can be used for incentivizing customers based on the cumulative energy savings achieved by them. Social media can be put to maximum use for showcasing how their customers are taking lead in making the environment better.
Personalization for improved customer experience
Human minds crave for personalized and customized experiences, as it makes them feel special and has a positive influence on their minds. The results achieved by integrating gamification principles in the billing app can be further leveraged for providing customers with personalized offers to drive engagement.
Akin to karma points in the gaming industry, customers can earn karma points based on their efforts to conserve energy. Customers should be able to redeem these karma points across platforms that have tie-ups with the utility provider to further incentivize their efforts.
Balance electricity demand & supply with Critical Peak Pricing
Critical Peak Pricing (CPP) is a method used by utility companies for reducing load by moving the non-critical load to more expensive hours in a dynamic manner.
Electricity is priced based on the ‘Time of Use (TOU) Pricing’ model where critical events during a certain ‘peak’ duration (e.g. 3 p.m.—6 p.m. on a summer weekday) lead to a rise in costs for generating (or purchasing electricity) at a wholesale level. Though analytics in the billing system helps customers gain insights into ways to reduce their electricity usage, gamification can be leveraged for motivating customers to embrace CPP.
Utility companies can use the best of both worlds – analytics and gamification for better management of electricity demands.
These are some of the many ways in which gamification can be used by the utility industry for empowering its customers and encouraging them to contribute for the betterment of the environment.