Shopping Spree is a Flash-based one-player video game where players assume the role of a customer to help them appreciate customers’ wants and needs. Before I get into the mechanics and the goal of the game, I want to discuss why I’ve chosen to place participants in the customer’s shoes. Throughout my experience in corporate training departments, one of the largest struggles my audience has is with providing quality customer service. We can teach them the ins and outs of any product, but if we don’t teach them what to do with that information, it really doesn’t do them – or us – any good. We have to teach them what to DO with that information. And as with any adult learners, they want to know WHY they’re doing what they’re doing. I believe this “why” is the most important aspect of the formula and should be the foundation of the entire experience of a new hires experience with a company.
To further explain the reasoning for my stance, I’d like to discuss my audience. Their demographics, experience, and culture are a large motivator for many of my decisions. Because your employees are in both call center and retail locations, the average demographic for this work force is 8-28 years old. Employees who start in these positions are typically new to the workforce and haven’t spent time observing and evaluating the service they receive or the service they are capable of delivering. Familiar themes in corporate training all come down to the customer experience: How do we measure customer satisfaction? How do we enhance the customer experience? How do we manage customer loyalty? How do we acquire customers? How do we increase customer retention? So…if customer focus is what you want for your company, then employees really need to see what it’s like to be a customer. We’ve all had good and bad customer service experiences, but until we join the workforce and analyze why these experiences were good or bad, we just brag or vent about what happened. We don’t internalize the experience.
The main goal of Shopping Spree is to simply get players thinking about customer experience. This game will open avenues to help explain and define quality customer service. It will not address all items a newly hired employee needs to learn. Rather, it will explore basic concepts, values, and ideals of employee behaviors. It won’t teach participants to anticipate customers’ needs and offer the product the right way. Those are skills that take weeks to learn, months to employ, and years to master. Instead, this game will get players thinking about what matters to them as a CUSTOMER. Once they care about the customer’s point of view, you’ll have buy in. Throughout the rest of the New Hire course, your participants will have a reason to listen to their trainer – they’ll really comprehend why your lessons matter.
And what's more is that your employee demographic is in an age group that plays video games daily, knows all the latest viral videos, uploads and downloads music and software all the time. They are computer savvy, and are constantly stimulated by TV, Internet, movies, video games, music, mash-ups, and more. Then you bring them into a classroom and ask them to listen to 40 hours of lecture in one week. To give your participants more of what they are familiar with and comfortable using, Shopping spree is a Flash-based computer game. This interactive technology will keep their interest and make the game fun!
Regarding pre-existing skills, knowledge, or abilities, players will need basic computer knowledge. All members of the audience will have these skills because they are a requirement of the job. Trainers will not need any skills beyond that of the players. If there is a technical problem, our IT department will work with your IT department for resolution.
The game will be distributed on the first day of employment/training through their professional organization.The educational success of this game lies largely with the trainer – THEY can relate the broader narrative and guide participants to the point of the experience. The trainer must be proficient in introducing the game with the learning objectives in mind. They must also perform a clear and detailed debrief of the activity to relate each element in the game to a component of the participants’ new job. This information is included in the trainer’s edition prototype. This setup draws a parallel for players and allows trainers to refer back to the game in future conversations.
This is a foundational activity to help establish values in the training environment. Because of the unique and interesting twist in roles, players have the opportunity to truly contemplate what matters to them as a customer. During a debrief of the game, trainers have the opportunity to relate that new comprehension to the participants’ new role. Although the act of role reversal seems simple, it is a very powerful tool that is rarely used, which in turn, makes this game unique and powerful. From a your perspective, employees who know the significance of their performance will perform better, provide higher quality customer service, and stay at their place of employment for longer periods of time.
And now that I’ve explained why this game is of value to you, let’s see what it teaches. Take a moment to read the game’s objectives.
And finally, the game itself! “ You’re searching for the latest and greatest gift set on the market for your BFF. It’s Black Friday, and you have to find the gift set before all the stores sell out. However, you’re a very picky customer. You refuse to purchase from a store that doesn’t meet your needs. You’re looking for accurate information, fast responses, and courtesy. Go to each store in the mall and search for this particular set; do not accept substitutions, variations, or lower quality.”
The game starts in a large city. Each level of the game is a city block of this environment.
On each city block – or level, players have the choice to navigate towards any shop they like. Strategy will be subtly built into the game in the sense that store names and store front appearances will have small hints to tell players that a store is of lower or higher quality. For example, lower quality stores may have litter in front of the entrance.
Players will be timed for each shopping experience. They are challenged to find the correct store and the correct product. Once inside a store, the player will meet a customer service representative whose actions will be favorable or unfavorable in the areas of accuracy, speed, and courtesy. The products will also be favorable or unfavorable in the areas of inventory and quality.
Some sets of inventory will be similar in kind with subtle differences of size or color.
Some will be miscellaneous collections of items. Some stores will have the right item, some won’t.
Each level will increase in difficulty. There will be more store fronts, more CSRs to choose from, more shoppers, and harder-to-find items. Expectations will also be raised. What may have been acceptable customer service in level one will not necessarily be acceptable customer service in level five. This will draw a link to the fact that customers’ expectations are continually raising; therefore the quality of customer service must rise as well.
As a player continues through the game, they will have pop-ups with beneficial and educational questions on them. There will be no right or wrong answers to these questions and players will not have to answer them. However, their purpose is to get the players thinking about what is or is not acceptable in terms of quality customer service.
In each level the product will be more difficult to find, the CSRs will provide lower-quality service making it more difficult to find the best one, and the number of stores available will increase. Just as in call center or retail environments, players can achieve high scores; this relates directly to best call handle time or highest sales. Players will receive points for each success and will receive bonus points for the time remaining on the clock or for hopping sales. However, if they exceed the maximum time allowed for the level, they will see a message that reads, “The mall is closing for the day. Better luck tomorrow!” or “The mall is closing. Wow – service really isn’t what it used to be!”
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of the game, exactly how do players play? Take a moment to read the what is needed to play.
The game will only allow tasks that are necessary to accomplish the goal of the level. (Example: the game will not let a player leave a store without paying.) Players will use the arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate through the interface.
They will click on the door of a store they want to enter. The interface will then change to inside the store.
To select a product, they will click on it.
To speak to the CSR, they will click on him or her.
To purchase the item, they will double-click on the CSR.
Ultimately, the game’s goal is to increase the proficiency of quality customer service by helping players care about why they should provide quality service. This game is a gateway for your employees to internalize the customer experience. It will link all the core values of your entire New Hire training curriculum into a cohesive unit and structure.
Shopping Spree! Can you get the right gift in time?
Objectives <ul><li>Foster excellent customer relations </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the importance of delivering timely and accurate information </li></ul><ul><li>Value courtesy and ethics in all customer interactions </li></ul>
Game Play <ul><li>Computer </li></ul><ul><li>Mouse </li></ul><ul><li>Keyboard </li></ul><ul><li>Speakers or headset (optional) </li></ul><ul><li>Internet access </li></ul><ul><li>The game downloaded to their computer or an unblocked connection to the website </li></ul><ul><li>A trainer to facilitate the set-up and debrief </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Note: The trainer needs to be familiar with the trainer version to help facilitate future class discussions </li></ul></ul>