FRIDAY 11 OCT 2019 3:04 PM

RINGO THE RING-FENCER

Using gamification techniques and an engaging storyline, RBS and The Team were able to communicate challenging messages around new government regulations to the bank’s internal audience

There are not many things that aliens and banks have in common. And yet, for RBS, the development of a gamified internal communications programme to support the administration of a new financial regulation brought these two things together in beautiful harmony.

As a result of the 2008 financial crisis, financial institutions have been required by law to separate investment banking from everyday banking within their internal structures. For RBS to comply, it needed to educate its colleagues about ring-fencing and its impact on the bank and on customers. It had been doing so through more traditional internal communications methods, but needed something to really solidify understanding.

Thus, Ringo was born. RBS worked with communications consultancy The Team on a game designed to spark engagement, educate users and ensure ring-fencing was well-understood by the target audience. 

The Team developed a mobile game that asked 16 questions on ring-fencing. But the key was making the game exciting. In came Ringo, the lovable, yet lost, alien who needed users to help him return to his home planet, Robos. 

“We wanted to do something that was a little bit more engaging, a little bit more interactive and a little bit more fun,” says RBS’ strategic communications advisor Jen Martin. RBS worked closely with The Team to develop the idea and tackle the prevailing myths around ring-fencing to ensure the information communicated within the game would be effective
and clear. 

The Team’s experience design director Kardo Ayoub says, “We thought that gamification was a bit lighthearted and would be the right way to engage people. The message of the game itself is no matter who you are or who you work for, you are still part of RBS; we are still one family.” That was the key internal message for RBS throughout the entire ring-fencing process.

The game itself is question-and-answer based, but it allows the Ringo character to be developed by each individual user. Along the way, users collect unique items, so that the resulting version of Ringo is  different for almost everyone, encouraging colleagues to share their characters across RBS’ internal networks. By customising and personalising the character through the game, it also ensured people would take notice of the game and its key messages. 

The game was enjoyable, but needed to deliver educational messages about ring-fencing and assure that those messages were understood. The Team used different gaming techniques to allow questions to be addressed in more detail, whether the user got them right or wrong. 

But it wasn’t all fun and games for RBS and The Team. One of the biggest challenges was making the game broad enough for use across the business, encompassing all levels of understanding of ring-fencing. As the regulations were not going to affect the entire bank, some colleagues had less of an interest in the subject. But, it was important that they understood the key points about ring-fencing, wherever they may be situated within the business. RBS and The Team undertook research across the organisation using focus groups, conversations and phone calls to gather information about the areas the game would need to focus on. 

“The language was quite straightforward,” as a result, says Ayoub. Martin adds that this approach was key to the project’s success, “It’s quite different language to what people are probably used to within the organisation. It’s very lighthearted and the messaging is given in a way that is educational, but it doesn’t penalise you for not knowing the answers. It was really important that we didn’t make people feel foolish if they didn’t know the answer to the question. We needed to make sure the language was simple and easy to understand, but still legally and technically accurate. Not an easy task given the regulatory nature of the project.”

The results were right on for Ringo. Game play exceeded expectation by 600% and understanding of ring-fencing improved.  The backend of the game allowed the RBS team to check which concepts were less understood by users, giving them the opportunity to support those points with further communications. A custom-built dashboard allowed the RBS team to gather and analyse game metrics. RBS used this insight to update the game and relaunch it at the end of 2018, to gauge understanding of ring-fencing at the tail end of the overall campaign. The internal comms had proven successful. Martin says the bank saw “excellent results.” 

It also earned RBS and The Team a gold award at the Internal Communications & Engagement Awards in the ‘Best use of mobile or apps’ category. Judges thought the alien-themed gamified internal comms programme was out of this world. One said, “The innovative approach to gaming towards a traditionally dry area for employee engagement was brought to life by this fresh mobile content.” Another added, “A fantastic example of taking a dry subject and making it fun and engaging using technology! This strong creative concept has shown fantastic results.”

With this outside-the-box thinking and a charismatic animated alien, RBS was able to prepare its colleagues for a major regulatory and internal change, while also helping set a new standard in the engagement of colleagues through mobile apps.

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