As we know Ebay uses Gamification heavily to drive business. Sellers and buyers are rated after each purchase. For me as a buyer, rating does not matter much, as my most purchases are prepaid, money is locked in with Ebay, and once I confirm the receipt of good Ebay releases the payment to the seller. Nor, I am a heavy buyer which will get me special access if any which I am not aware off.
Recently I purchased a workout supplement from “sehdevesupplements” who has a more than 98% positive feedback and one of the star sellers. I have made several purchases earlier with this seller, but a recent
purchase went terribly bad. I got a near expiry product, raised my claim for a replacement, when I returned the good I was told by Ebay that the seller will not be able to ship as the product is out of stock with them, and my shipping cost will be reimbursed to me in the form of Ebay coupons and the money bank to my account from which transaction was made.
As the seller and buyer ratings are transaction based, hence I evaluated this transaction as negative, Main reasons being, seller should have checked before shipping for the expiry date, should have honored the replacement (I checked price from other sellers for fresh stock was 500 INR or roughly 10 USD higher), or atleast made a proxy display for customer satisfaction by some other means. In return to the negative rating, the seller got so pissed off that the seller sent me a hate mail outside Ebay mode, as the seller had my email from previous purchases.
After I sent a reply justifying my ratings I get a more harsh reply “never saw such a harassing customer ever before.” All for not getting a 5 star rating. The seller did not think for once about the earlier purchases I made.
This is a point when a well design gamification system is going wrong, ratings are good and meaningful but when they take over the seller neglecting customer satisfaction, it turns BLACK. Though Black hat is not a bad gamification, but here the seller forgot while chasing for current ratings– getting driven by core drive no. 8 of Loss Avoidance– that there can be many more ratings that I could have given if there was a better customer satisfaction in the future. Not only the seller lost my business but also made a bad repo.
- After implementing a gamified system, check if it is being gamed by the players, it is possible that the tricks that players show, were not chalked out while the initial system was designed.
- Is it causing discontinuities among the players.
- Punish a good player to show as an example to other players.
- Change the rules, as soon as the first pernicious discontinuity comes into the light.
PS: To learn more about white and black hat gamification see Yu-Kai Chou’s blog, linked here.