The word ‘gamification’ has recently become a buzzword over the past five years with the advent of the social media platforms and easy-to-obtain data. In fact, our Innovation Lab team wrote about the very subject before, touting the benefits and values gamification can bring in the warehouse environment.
As its name implies, you can make a ‘game’ of certain tasks, display the results, and thus give employees feedback on where they rank in comparison to one another. It’s the same effect that triggered exponential growth on Facebook with the “like button” and keeps us hooked on our favorite social media platforms.
Putting Gamification to The Test
Seeking to drive growth in transportation brokerage department we decided to put gamification to the test. With the dual goals of driving bottom line margins and increasing engagement via gamification, we identified a fast-growing company in Chattanooga that had a strong track-record of producing just what we were looking for: ambition.com
Partnering with their team, we determined what key metrics we wanted to display and a plan for how to extract them from our TMS and send them to Ambition. We then launched a web portal in less than a month that showed a leaderboard, various goals or competitions that we could set up on the fly, and individual broker profiles.
As data flowed into Ambition, brokers could select their favorite “Anthem,” a.GIF, or YouTube clip to automatically play on the big screen televisions located throughout the office when their goal was achieved.
One of our brokers chose the infamous Rocky II training montage. If you are a baseball fan, a baseball walk-up song of sorts that provided additional positive feedback for hitting a goal.
In hindsight, the setup of the tool was the easy part.
For example, here's a look at an individual broker profile in Ambition.
The hard part of the process was determining what the goals should be now that we could measure anything and everything.
How to Implement and Measure Results
With both veteran and rookie transportation brokers alike, we needed to create an even playing field for competitions within the system – otherwise, the veterans would always seemingly be at the top of the leaderboards, putting the carrot out of reach for the newbies. Using the ‘Activity Score’ within Ambition’s system, we were able to assign weights to the five key metrics we were tracking:
- Sales Margin
- Sales Margin (%)
- Customer Charge
- Talk Time
- Outbound Calls
After obtaining and analyzing brokerage data from our TMS, we settled on setting goals based on the 75th percentile of historical performance — something achievable, yet a stretch at the same time. For our veteran brokers, they should hit their respective goals on average once out of every four days. For the newer brokers, we would set the goal to be realistic and then move it to their track record.
Gamification Use Study Results
Putting it to the test, we launched our first competition in early December 2016. Broker teams (or “pods”) would compete for Patagonia Jackets based on the highest activity score at the end of the month. From the start, we had a captive audience watching the leaderboards each day and providing plenty of commentary about the competition unfolding.
From a game/website administration standpoint, we learned valuable lessons that led us to tweak the metric weighting (all metrics are not created equal!) and goal setting processes. In one extreme example, a newer broker in the organization more than tripled his sales margin output that month, forcing us to update his goals on a weekly instead of a monthly basis for fairness sake.
Just look at this extreme growth from a new broker in December 2016!
Considering the lessons from our first competition, we launched another pod-based competition in January based on the ‘Objective Score’ or comparison of Sales Margin performance about the goal. Incredibly, we saw a 45% increase in bottom line margin with the same group of brokers from the month prior — all in what is traditionally a slower month in transportation following the end of year holidays sales bump.
Here is a great example of how to drill down into your metrics:
Or the total brokerage performance in November, December, and January:
Where Does Gamification Leave Us?
As we continue to mature in our administration and usage of the tool, the value it can provide is clear. ROI for the tool was achieved in less than two months! We have a much more engaged brokerage office with conversations that are much more data-based and goal-oriented, based on historical data of where we have been and charting a path in the future of where we want to be.
In short, gamification is definitely the disruptor we had initially hoped it would be five months after implementation.
It’s not a perfect tool or silver bullet, but if carefully thought out and executed, gamification can be a conduit for organization growth and employee engagement.
To learn more about how the value of metrics like the ones in this use study, download our eBook below. It dives into how to choose the right KPIs for your supply chain to ensure you can track and measure success with every new tool and method you test: