By Linda Rosencrance

When it comes to user adoption, too many companies discover that, "you can lead a user to Microsoft Dynamics CRM but you can't make him use it."

But what if you made his work seem like fun?

That's the idea behind what's known as the "gamification" of Dynamics CRM.

Last September we told you that Microsoft partner Cole Systems was putting a little "spark" into Dynamics CRM 2011.

At that time, the company launched Spark, an employee incentive solution that changes the way employers distribute internal rewards. Spark is a sales tool add-on that takes the idea of gamification, which adds the game design technique thinking to something that is not a game n this case Dynamics CRM, according to Amanda Raines, Cole's Director of Marketing. 

An add-on to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, Spark lets users earn badges, accumulate points, and be rewarded based on what they've earned. Users in sales, marketing, and customer service can receive badges for positive results.

Earlier that year, Microsoft global partner Avanade began charting a path to gamification for Dynamics CRM in the call center by attempting to keep the best qualities of gamification while maintaining management controls.

Although gamification is still in its infancy in the world of Dynamics CRM, more firms are jumping on the "fun" wagon and rolling out new gamification tools.

WaveAccess recently launched a Microsoft CRM Gamification Tool that aims to help managers increase user adoption and motivate sales teams by adding game elements to everyday routine operations, according to company officials.

To get top performance from your staff, consider turning their work into a game, company officials said. Inserting game elements into traditionally non-game context could help engage CRM users and to achieve better results, officials said.

The company's Gamification Tool makes it easier to update CRM to take advantage of people's psychological predisposition to compete by giving them the ability to participate activities that progress a group's goals or to give the users a path to follow toward mastery of a skill, according to officials.

"No one really seems to enjoy filling in the endless number of CRM fields, even though CRM systems need to be constantly and consistently updated in order to work effectively," said Ilya Feigin, CTO and co-founder of WaveAccess, in a statement. "But if you turn boring routine into a game, with point values for different CRM activities (such as adding a contact, updating telephone numbers and other contact info), you will definitely get better results from your employees."

Another Microsoft partner getting in on the fun is Gap Consulting, which offers a free tool - Gamification for Microsoft Dynamics CRM2011 - a solution for Dynamics CRM2011 that contains a framework that lets the system administrator (or "game administrator") apply gaming principles to their CRM applications, according to officials.

The objective of gamification in the context of Dynamics CRM is to drive user adoption by giving users an incentive to use Dynamics CRM by making it more fun, Gap Consulting officials said.

Dynamics CRM consultant Francis Edwin sees the benefit of gamification of Dynamics CRM.  He writes:

"[As] a CRM consultant, I've always seen the problem of CRM user adoption in most organizations and . . . now I was thinking how beneficial it would be if we incorporate the concept of gamification into Microsoft Dynamics CRM to drive more user adoption," he said.

Edwin said gamification for Dynamics CRM could benefit two groups specifically:

  • Sales users - "If the number of lead conversion success rates or opportunity closures for a CRM sales user is higher, their user profile is updated with a medal or a recognition which is displayed in their profile and notified to the entire Organization about the achievement," he said. "It will be a tag which the user is entitled to have until someone else supersedes him/her. Just imagine how it encourages the sales person to do more by being rewarded and recognized."
  • For customer support users. "The user or a customer service representative who had resolved [the] most number of customer cases and for whom the case's success ratio is high will be rewarded and recognized," Edwin added.

Edwin said if Dynamics CRM users are recognized and rewarded for their efforts, they'll feel valued and that will motivate them to do more.

Dynamics CRM consultant Mani Ramachandran also sees the promise of gamification for Dynamics CRM.

In a blog post, Ramachandran points to Gartner's prediction that in 2014 70% of global 2,000 organizations will have at least one "gamified" application, which can range from mastering a specific skill to improving one's health.

"Reading about these emerging trends, I do wonder how our very own CRM 2011 can be applied to create business solutions that cater to those needs," he said. "The opportunities for businesses are great - from having more engaged customers, to crowdsourcing innovation or improving employee performance."