Use Gamification to Enhance F&I Customer Engagement
If you’ve ever ordered a meal at a kiosk, run a virtual farm on Farmville, or played a first-person shooter game at a recent U.S. Army recruitment website, you’ve experienced gamification.
Gamification means applying gaming or interactive experiences to nongaming contexts. It was more than 30 years ago that one of the first popular examples, the learning game series Carmen Sandiego, helped millions of young fans discover travel and geography. Gamification employs movement, logic, sound, and interface controls that leverage peoples’ competitive instincts, encourage user behavior, and create an enjoyable experience.
Business-process gamification drives consumer decisions and sales, and although gamification won’t turn your showroom into an arcade, it will help you engage with generations of buyers raised on immersion technology. Gamification will revolutionize how you deliver F&I customer “tech-spectations.” Game technology appears in online apps, in-store sales kiosks, and F&I engagement tools.
For example, in the modern F&I experience, self-directed multimedia interaction platforms help assess buyers’ appetite for vehicle protection and personalization products, and guides them toward a purchase decision. Gamification simultaneously provides education and entertainment, and warms up the customer to a better transaction.
The multibillion-dollar game console industry is geared toward the 18–40 age demographic—the same target customer the automotive industry is serving. This group finds this type of engagement natural and comfortable, and will nuzzle up to F&I gamification applications that help them select, buy, and finance vehicles and aftermarket products. Every successive generation of driver walks into your store with similar tech-spectations.
Behind gamification’s engagement benefits are practical ones that remove redundancies and convert manual processes into automated, elegant ones that blend art with function. Old paper processes will give way to completely digitized processes with added functionality.
We see this evolution in the form of F&I platforms that leverage tablets, digital, video, flat-screen visuals, and interactive consumer surveys. This kind of experience engages consumers’ eyes, ears, hands, minds, and emotions in a more holistic, multifaceted shopping, decisioning, and buying environment.
Gamified F&I applications give consumers the control they want, and empowers them to build their own customized profile and menu of products directly aligned with their needs and driving habits. The result is higher per-vehicle retail and product penetration on each vehicle sold.
The advantages of gamification technology are powerful, and increasingly making their way into F&I and other dealership technologies. Others recognize this advantage. “This new field of customer engagement fulfills one of the deepest desires of human beings: desire for recognition and rewards in exchange for their hard work and progressive actions,” a gaming company spokesperson said about business gamification applications.
- Deliver a congruent digital experience, from online to in-store.
- Embrace F&I best practices—adopt e-menu, e-contracting, and e-rating to save everyone time—and use digital tools such as tablets and multimedia presentation technologies to deliver an interactive, self-directed F&I experience.
- Engage consumers online through website finance and aftermarket product calculators, configurators, and other tools.
- Improve workflow and compliance by eliminating paperwork with digital processes.
- Talk to your F&I software and products provider about gamification applications—lean into the future of F&I to meet customer tech-spectations head on.
Jim Maxim, Jr. is president of MaximTrak Technologies, a provider of digital F&I platforms for dealers. He is an Agent Entrepreneur “40 Under 40” leader, an F&I visionary recognized by CIO Review magazine, a frequent panelist and speaker at various F&I conferences and summits, and a regular contributor to automotive retail media about evolving F&I technologies. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.