Guest Column | August 11, 2016

What Your Kid's Video Game Can Teach You About Your Business

By Linda Gimmeson, contributing writer

Seeing people on smartphones is nothing new, but by you’ve likely seen lots of folks — most of them pretty young — wandering around parks, shopping centers, libraries, and campuses staring intently at their screens. It’s all thanks to Pokemon GO, the augmented reality game that burst onto the scene in a way we haven’t seen in a long time.

Millions of people have joined in the fun, some to relive the childhood thrill they had when catching Pokemon on the Game Boy, others to feel what it’s like to be a Pokemon trainer for real. While much has been written about Pokemon GO, one thing not be ignored is how the game exemplifies an excellent customer experience. Perhaps you feel a mobile game in which you catch cartoon monsters doesn’t really apply to your business, but there are some ideas you can learn and apply.

Part of the appeal of Pokemon GO is its use of augmented reality — essentially making it feel like what is happening in the game is actually happening in real life. Nailing that experience is the key to the game’s success, but it’s not always easy to capture. The trick is to fully encompass the user in the world the creator designs. Everything they do has to play into the overall go.

In Pokemon GO’s case, it’s finding and catching Pokemon. In your brick and mortar business’s case, it’s getting customers to buy a product or service. From the moment they step into the store, they should be made to feel like the most important part of that world. That experience will stay with the customer long after they have left, encouraging them to come back. As we’ve seen, Pokemon GO has no trouble getting players to return.

Perhaps one of the most important lessons Pokemon Go can teach about customer experience is to go straight to where the customers are. For many years, Nintendo was strangely reluctant to develop mobile games even as the rest of the world quickly embraced the idea resulting in Nintendo ignoring a large group of consumers. For that, the company struggled and some wondered what the future held for the video game giant. Nintendo quickly recalibrated and formed a new mobile strategy, and to say they’ve been successful with it would be an understatement.

Your brick and mortar will often encounter changes in trends and technologies. Paying close attention to those trends will help you triangulate where the customers are going to be. In Nintendo’s case, they went mobile. The same can be said for your store. The mobile market is only growing, and finding ways to enter that environment will keep your company agile and ready for success.

You should always be open to adjusting and adapting your strategies because, if you’re not, you risk bing left behind. But the use of technology goes beyond simply developing a mobile app. You need to find other ways to utilize new technological solutions, whether it be a new cloud service or installing a pro surveillance system for the store. The options are many, and they can transform your business for the better.

So how does Pokemon GO keep players coming back time and time again? The answer lies in gamification — rewarding people for completing tasks. The more they do, the greater the rewards get. Gamification is no stranger to the business world. Many companies have used the concept to instill greater loyalty and encourage more frequent use of their services. Beyond the rewards, gamification, as the name implies, can simply be fun. Think about what kind of rewards and bonuses you could give your customers. How would a ranking system work in your store? There’s nothing wrong with a little competition to propel customers to do more.

While Pokemon GO may seem to have little to do with your brick and mortar operation, don’t be so quick to overlook the game as a passing fad. In truth, Pokemon GO has created an unparalleled customer experience, one you can learn a lot from. By taking these lessons and applying them where appropriate, you’ll be able to create an experience every customer will enjoy and share.