Playing games to develop your business

Friday, 30 November 2012, 14:02.

For any business, understanding your customer is vital. Some appreciation of the customer can come from analysing data such as sales figures and buying patterns. The challenge is to avoid interpreting this through your own frame of reference, which could be very different to that of your customer. The only way to really begin to understand your customer is to speak to them! It sounds obvious, but is too often ignored.

As official publishing partner for the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), we conduct regular research with our existing and potential customers through surveys, focus groups, social media and our dedicated panel of Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs). We are always looking to evolve our techniques to connect with customers. When we heard about Design GameTM, we had to give it a go.

The rules of the game

Design Game ‘gamifies’ the research process to help generate ideas for new products. Gamification is the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Design Game involves consumers early in the product development process to generate ideas using an interactive process. We worked with Blauw Research, co-creator of Design Game, to understand from learner drivers everything they want to see in a new safe driving website.

Using the format of a board game, the learner drivers worked in two teams to complete tasks and challenges around website design, content and functionality. The first half, or the analysis phase, helped us gain an insight into their attitude and the challenges we may face. The second half, or synthesis phase, generated ideas and solutions for some of the challenges identified.

Win or lose?

It’s amazing to see the amount of valuable information and insight to come out of one 90 minute session! Participants don’t really have time to internally vet their answers. Rather they blurt them out in the spirit of competition and completing the task, giving honest answers which offer a true reflection of their views. Some genuinely inspiring and useful ideas came out of our research.

This led us to consider how this research format could work for a different customer group. Would a slightly older audience, participating in a professional capacity, be as enthusiastic about playing a game? To test the theory follow up sessions with driving instructors proved just as fruitful.

If you’re working on a brand new idea or trying to identify which format, content or functionality suits your audience, the Design Game gives a refreshing, fun twist to regular focus groups.