Badgeville's Radical Idea: Tell Customers What You Want Them To Do

12/15/11Follow @wroush

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reward those people? If you have a community on your site, are you using modern techniques to make things engaging, fun, and immersive? Are your top contributors being recognized?”

When I spoke with Duggan again this week, his earlier emphasis on loyalty had shifted somewhat; he’s now talking more about reputation and ranking, which are the main elements of the programs Badgeville is selling to its enterprise customers. It turns out that nearly half of Badgeville’s revenue now comes from internal deployments of its software on company intranets. The customers are big companies who want to incentivize certain behaviors among employees or suppliers—eBay, for example, is using Badgeville to power the reputation system for X.com, the e-commerce infrastructure platform that has already attracted a community of 400,000 third-party developers. The more posts developers contribute to X.com forums, and the more their peers like those posts, they more points and badges they’ll receive.

Tom Peterson at El Dorado points to Duggan’s background in enterprise sales as key to Badgeville’s rise in enterprise deployments—meaning not just that Duggan knows how to sell software to big companies, but that it takes a guy like him to build a product that so thoroughly embodies the sales mentality.

Duggan himself explains it this way: “Giving people praise and credit for the thing they have done, those are all sales management techniques. And if you think about it, the department in every company that is the most metrics-driven is sales, since those metrics are very easy to surface and compare. We are just taking those fundamentals of sales management and deploying them to the other departments”—and to customers themselves. Duggan argues, based on his own experience keeping a sales force motivated, that “If you tell people what you want, most of the time you are going to get it.”

I’m not sure that translates perfectly to the Web; I think most people visiting a website have too many agendas of their own to be so easily roped into serving yours. But the converse is surely true: If you don’t tell people what you want, you won’t get it. The simple idea at Badgeville is that you should make it easy for your strongest supporters to express their support, or for your most gung ho employees to be recognized for their team spirit. There are so many organizations that don’t yet do these things that Badgeville may only have begun to tap its potential market.

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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