Growth & Gamification At The Dentist

Growth & Gamification At The Dentist

I recently went to the dentist for a chipped tooth, it started when we were in the middle of lockdown and unsurprisingly it is actually difficult to book a dentist appointment. 


The dentist was very well prepared for everything that was happening.
You rightly had to wear a mask, you had to sanitise your hands, you had a designated seating area with where you could sit and where you could not. There was a designated entrance and exit and the whole process ran very smoothly. 
Just before your appointment, the dental nurse would come out and take your temperature, pretty standard with the area in which they work in and around. 
As a person who likes to understand and breakdown processes, you weren’t always told your temperature and you will walk into your dentist not knowing how you ‘scored’, well unless you were too high and in which case you were sent home.  Upon asking, thankfully this has not had to happen. 
As many of us have, I have struggled on and off with lockdowns, new processes and not understanding certain decisions and other peoples behaviours, one thing that it has given me is time and space to think more clearly and think about addressing problems or issues I see.  The dentist trip was one experience that gave me yet another idea. 

Understanding Your Score 📈

The idea popped into my head that if you knew your temperature, you didn’t know how you scored or if you were low, average or high. 
We have been primed for understanding how we do vs another person. It is how a lot of are wired…and some always have to win. In this case, winning is being average or low not scoring the highest.  
The dentist practise logs all temperatures taken and thinking it through it would be super easy to anonymise data and having a daily, weekly and monthly average would be something that could be applied. Doing this whilst the seasons change and the weather becomes colder, might well help keep track of many things. 

The Idea 💡

I suggested to my dentist that if you were to have a scale (not a scoreboard, it would suggest higher is best) in the reception area, you could reduce the fear of your temperature and gamify it. Especially for those younger patients and the concerned, the dentist scares enough people let alone another thing to be worried about. My temperature was early 36c’s which was fairly average. 
As a kid, visiting the dentist was a process, as a twin my brother and I had to go together and was a family checkup. We were always given a lolly and an A-Team sticker, as a reward for going.  That reward loop made sure we as the kids would keep going back and stay with that dentist for years to come. Retention 101.
As I said in retention growth ideas, retaining customers and helping them along the journey in a way that helps them first, will help you as a company retain the best customers and create loyalty.
Why not reward someone now with information and reduce the fear? Maybe too subtle of an idea but one that plays on everything we learn as Marketing leaders and in growth.   
It made me think about how there could be feedback and rewards loops applied to this process. 
Let’s face it, when we go to the dentist we tend to have to follow up with another appointment, if we knew we scored lower or kept a similar body temperature we would not be nervous, we would remember it and likely be a topic of conversation. 
I haven’t been back yet to see if this has been rolled out however it’s a simple exercise we can apply in other areas or visits that could be intimidating us. 

Why Is This Important? 🤔

By reducing the fear and increasing our ability to normalise the newer processes and behaviours, we can have a more positive experience. 
We will tell numerous of our network about the experience and provide some normality to new and well-thought-through processes and create a game with our friends and family. 
I believe there are many areas like this with a simple reframe or tweak we can apply marketing or growth mindset to help reduce fear in the time we need to most. 
We often forget to think about how we could apply Growth thinking or gamification to simple routine behaviours or importantly how we could use our skills to newer processes. 
We as humans are more predictable and conditioned than we think, if we can reward simple behaviours with the feedback we can normalise many things happening around us to reduce fear and normalise even brand new behaviour.  

Maybe the next time you go to an appointment or have your hair cut or see a doctor, there might be an optimisation or an opportunity to apply your skills and help to improve a new process or habit to help many others. 

Problem, Pick, Plan, Prepare, Predict, Present, Preview, Prove, Proof

Problem, pick, plan, prepare, predict, present, preview, prove, proof - the 9 p's Here you go, it has a name. The 9p’s (not as catchy as the title) is the process we all go through at large organisations, every quarter we run through the same process to understand what we should be working on, how we hit the goals that are set, be proactive in making positive change, present it and then spend months chasing the goals or in many cases trying to prove and get proof it worked.  
This process is a silent process, we typically run through this but rarely map it out in a way that it formalised or easy to apply for many departments.
I was recently speaking to a senior leader of a business, we discussed an array of subjects but one that stood out was the difference between teams within organisations.  We landed in saying that Marketing, Growth and Product Departments have the impossible task, they are the only teams that have to predict the future and then make it happen.  Let that sink in for a minute, only three departments truly have to think, collaborate (yes the best ones collaborate) and create the future alongside making it happen. 
Product Departments have the difficult task in managing and delivering big techinical projects, Product Teams are often behind on delivery, catching up with predicted and long serving roadmaps or having to pick up tech debt.
While Marketing and Growth have to pull the company and their users to the future and help to enable the future to happen. There are no real excuses for Marketing and Growth teams not to do this. 
There is a but, almost all departments follow the same flow;
  • Understand the problem(s) we are solving,
  • pick what they are going to be working on,
  • plan for the future,
  • prepare a presentation or the numbers,
  • predict the outcomes, (assign yourself a large enough number to please the bosses but in near enough reach for you to actually hit
  • present to senior stakeholders,
  • preview the work,
  • prove it was the right thing(s) to have done
  • Show proof that it worked.
Then rinse and repeat. This can be frustrating but it is the nature of the business world.
Marketing and Growth often have what looks like the easiest or best jobs but the constant need to pull the company forward, breakdown every penny they spend, analyse and communicate user behaviours is challenging and getting harder.
The more channels that become popular the harder the job becomes, the more effective the messaging and targeting has to be and then passing over users to other teams to ensure they have a great experience often removes marketing from understanding their customers and who is likely just browsing. 
Growth often has to pick up where Product work drops out and Marketing do not have the time or resource (typically technical or development) to improve the experience for the customers they worked so hard to get to the product or service.  Marketing does not sound so easy now, does it. 
So although the 9P’s sounds like a silly process, it actually is a good way to build action plans and connect into the company-wide strategy. This 9p process will work in Marketing, Growth and Product Departments, a word of warning – do not allow teams to run off and create their own team version otherwise you are instantly siloing projects, tests, campaigns or programmes. In recent conversations I have used these nine steps and have simplified the process down and enables staff of all levels to write down their action plan for the quarter ahead. 
Why not try out the 9P process and see if it helps you focus the departments efforts for the future quarters ahead. 
9 P’sExplainer
ProblemProblem(s) you and the team are trying to solve. List out the problems and think through the next three to six months. 
Pick Pick the most important problems and the ways you are looking to solve said problems. Pick a date for when they need to rolled out by 
Plan Plan your activities, plan the projects and the campaigns and demonstrate you understand the impact you are going to have. This is the spike or hunt phase for Growth or Product teams. 
PreparePrepare the data, prepare the deck, prepare the communications and understand how you are planning to move forward and backing up your problems and why you picked these and why they are a priority. 
Predict Predict the outcomes, breakdown by priority and show you understand you are going to move x or y metric. 
PresentPresent the findings, present the campaign overviews and present it in a way that will get cut through
PreviewCreate a preview of the work, show the teams around you, preview the campaign or project and start to roll out to live. Your plan and deadline dates will be important here 
Prove Prove you have done the right thing, prove you know the metrics you are moving and update to the teams and management that you picked the right work, prove it is working and show when you know how to optimise and improve. If it is working this is where you can ask for more investment. 
ProofThis is the second most part of the process, gaining and showing proof you have answered the problems, that your plan was right and you are pushing the company into the right place. 
The 9P’s
With strategic projects there are so many ways teams and departments tackle presenting these issues, they all create in different formats and all predict in different ways, this is a way you and your departments can tackle the coming quarters and apply one theme or process for all to follow. I cannot stress how important it is for teams to collaborate and partner through the creation phase and check in constantly and not on slack or teams but on a centralised tool or in person.
Remember numbers are what senior leaders want but it is hard to demonstrate a story and growth of what you are doing without a presentation or video. Lead with numbers for trust but story-tell for cut through.

Retention Test Ideas

Retention is often one of the more difficult elements of Marketing, Growth or Product. Typically you are reliant on extra work or building bespoke tools or flows. Growth loops are more common now and with the recent lockdown, retention is going to be essential for all existing businesses. I’ve said on recent panels and livestreamed events, retention will be the new growth for many companies. Retention can be broken down into the traditional
(1) repeat usage,
(2) repeat purchases. Or into the more modern approach
(1) re-engage (when the user has gone quiet, consider comparing against their L (usage plotted over time) or apply on a smile graph)
(2) reactivation (reactivating the user when gone inactive)
(3) reacquire which is the hardest as the user has decided not to use you and you will have to pay another fee to bring them back to you. Retention used to be the overlooked part of Marketing teams, many Marketing and Product Departments rely on the email (CRM) teams taking the lead in the lifecycle emails.  Repeat users would either use the brand or received enough comms (email, social media, SMS you name the channel) until they brought and used you again.  In the over-communicated world we live in, there just are too many channels, this blast (or spray and pray) approach just won’t work.

Ideas To Consider 

Having a look back through more recent retention work and the best performing retention programmes, here are the best from my twenty years across Marketing, Product and Growth.  A word to the wise, the majority of these were hand-cranked, yes there is very rarely the silver bullet. So roll up the selves. 

Personal Concierge Service 

Personal doesn’t mean edit the name and URL it means getting to understand the user, their objective and crafting outreach to let the customer know you are wanting to help their cause, you want to speak to them personally and you will be available to them when it is convenient to them.  The personal concierge service is time-consuming but you are not looking to roll this out to 100% of users, you are looking at a quality cohort of 5 – 10% of users. This can be earlier in their journey or when their usage (or spending) spike drops. A red rope service is always an option if you have the staff who are great at what they do and can speak and create action plans for users. It is important to note in 2020 and beyond many people actively dislike the phone call or look to have live chat or even look to turn it into the dreaded zoom call, if your staff are comfortable these are all options. If you are lean with staff or cannot leverage customer support or customer service, have one dedicated day you can assign for member(s) of the team to offer this.  If you know how to spot early usage patterns and quality signals vs quantity signals you will really easily be able to identify the people to reach out to first. 

Bespoke Personal Tips

Everyone loves a nudge, behavioural science and economics have always said how important personal tips, nudges and recommendations are. When you are close to the product, it is easy to think the product is simple to use. In fact, as I have said previously, products have to be easy to learn, easy to use, easy to share, if your users are not all technology advanced or are time-limited it is important you make the product as easy to learn and as personal to their use case so they can use it more or use the product more effectively.  Something that many teams won’t consider is looking at the users, how many other users or their network they have brought with them and helping users to understand their network makeup and recommending to bring them specifically to the product. Close friends, close family, colleagues, promoting in groups/promoting on social media and then broadening to friends of friends are all ways you can help shape and guide users 

A Thank You

Trivialization Effect is one of the more under-used behavioural economics out there, a thank you is something we as humans are primed for and look for validation or verification from external sources, brands and products can also leverage this if you have a connection with the brand.  A thank you has taken many shapes in recent years (from an emoji reaction on Slack or Microsoft Teams, to a gif in email or a thumbs up in response to an email) but sending a thank you great examples include email, a handwritten card or letter or a personal push / SMS can do wonders for your product and WOM recommendation.  These thank-yous have to be more than a generic thank you or a gif, it has to show you understand them individually and appreciate their efforts. Take it out of the CRM flow and look to review their actions or purchases.  Gifs can now be edited to scale, personalised designs have never been easier or creating video has never been as cheap or editable at scale.  Looking at users product usage or purchase habits does not have to be creepy, it can be something like picking out a review they have previously written, some feedback they have offered or a recurring gift they send.  Be mindful of sending a good time and encourage them to have a conversation with you one to one (over that communication channel) vs taking it to social media. 

Leaderboard (Competition)

Leaderboards are like polls they are great for engagement and great for passive for use. Using the product or connected product is the goal however passively caring about how they are doing and being able to benchmark against someone they didn’t know they could be competing with is a sure-fire away to receive an increase in usage and interaction. Being top of the leaderboard or top x % always leads to social sharing or private sharing across chat apps like iMessage and WhatsApp, look to understand what makes everyone win vs attempting to make it number 1 spot is the only winner.  Encourage lighter competition and fun. Don’t always force competition if you are asking the user to spend more, push more or take a big action. The leaderboard email trigger hooked in users and became the most opened email we sent out, your logic has to be smart and knowing when not to send an email. Something to keep in mind for leaderboards is to ensure if you drive to a landing page you should prompt the user to know they can take their next action in the header or show notifications otherwise you are will a passive user or forget the purpose of why you would like the user to come back to your site. 

Remind Me

Very rarely is it convenient for both parties online, what I mean by this is if someone contacts you it is rarely convenient for you to stop what you are doing and take that action they require. One of my favourite tests was rolling out a remind me feature, it was a calendar based remind me service. A little detail, the calendar is still the best way to nudge someone and remind them of the action they need to take, why you might ask… gmail (50%+ of my email users) nudges users by sending a push into your calendar, sends you one to two emails before the event and stays sticker than any other notification. It can also nudge more than one person at once. Simple, straight forward and is very low cost and low friction and is normal behaviour. Getting the right time will be a test but something you will help you.