Originally published on CUInsight.com

“Savings aren’t a game!” In many ways, you’re right. Given the abysmal level of deposits for most Americans, comparing it to Mario Cart (N64 version, obviously the best) doesn’t seem proper. But what if you did treat it like a game?

It’s not a new concept. Known as “gamification”, the idea is that by making it more akin to a game rather than a chore, users are more likely to participate. Think of going for a run. Many people don’t enjoy putting feet to pavement and will make any excuse to avoid it. But what if you were part of an adventure and needed to outrun a hoard of zombies? Their rotted fingers are nearly scraping your back…pick up the pace!

Come to think of it, I’ve written about this before. Here. And here. That app, by the way, exists. It’s called Running with Zombies. I don’t use it, because everyone knows the best way to deal with them is a shotgun, shovel, and old records. Bonus points if you got that reference (no, I’m not a Walking Dead fan).

So instead, as the previous post discussed, of puzzling your members through a convoluted rewards program or other service, get them in the game! Just by reframing their credit union relationship as levels in a game, you’ve upped the excitement and understanding levels. They’re no longer a Double Platinum Diamond Preferred member, they’re a Castle Defender! Defenders serve the crown, so they pay no ATM fees and reap the highest interest rates available. Of course, the proces of getting there has to be evolved as well.

For this, I’d suggest a brain storm session with your team. And a copy of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Why this game? Because it’s the best puzzle adventure/level growth game ever made. Also, your staff will have fun. And the N64 will probably remain in your branch. Tell me that won’t encourage people to stick around.

How do you create a gamified credit union without it being tacky or feeling like an afterthought? That brings us to (cue deep announcer voice): Big Data! Yep, that essential concept emerges again. This time, it’s going to help empower your members with useful analysis of their own data. Combine the appeal of sports stats (as in, their own financial relationship’s metrics) with playing a video game (as in, progressing through towards goals). Interestingly, it has to be their own data, and not estimated metrics. A recent study found that some Fitbit users actually gained weight while using the activity trackers. It is believed that participants believed the averaged metrics so strongly that they didn’t just listen to their bodies. If you provide useful data, useful suggestions can follow, ending with beneficial results.

Look at that. Once again, we come around to the inescapable conclusion: When you frame your services around the specific needs of your members, engagement, excitement, and loyalty will increase.

Image credit: http://www.digitallydownloaded.net/2012/05/review-mario-kart-64-wii-virtual.html