Ready Player One: Is Your Customer Support Primed for a BIG YEAR of Video Game Releases?
2023 is going to be a BIG YEAR for the gaming industry. More than 100 new video games are set to be released and video game revenues will reach $61 billion as highly anticipated RPG’s, remakes, and big-name games, held back during the pandemic, are finally released to an eager and hungry gaming audience. Player support will play a crucial role in the overall gaming experience (GX), especially in the first 90 days of a game's release. Turns out there's a good reason why you want to be known for both your games and player support, so here are three ways you can ‘level up’ in time for the busy spring season…
Customer Support Is Just Like Any Game, But You Only Get One Chance to Win
In the ‘game’ of customer service, if you’re helpful and empathetic, you move up a level in customer satisfaction. If you disappoint your gamers, your customer satisfaction score goes down. Players may give your game, or company, another shot. Then again, according to recent research by leading customer service expert, Shep Hyken, 83% of customers say they are willing to switch brands or companies after only one bad experience.
Gamers are also highly influenced by other people’s reviews. Google for Games’ 2022 Report showed that, in the mobile game market, one of the fastest-growing segments, 33% of players try out new games based on recommendations from family and friends, or from positive user ratings and reviews. What causes many players to abandon a game? Crashes, bugs, and glitches claim the top spots. But what happens when one unpleasant experience is amplified through social media? 65% of today’s consumers engage with a social media platform or service several times a day. It simply takes one well-known influencer with a large following, posting about a system glitch or a badly timed game crash, and there could be a ripple effect of negative reviews throughout the gaming community.
Just ask the developers at EA Sports, when Madden servers crashed in 2021 and one of the affected players was none other than rap celebrity, Snoop Dog. One of his Instagram rants targeting EA Sports garnered over 1.2 million views. Comments showed that many other players agreed with his frustrations with the game.
This underlines the importance of good player support. Imagine if Snoop Dog had instead posted about how quickly EA responded to his problem and how fast they had resolved it? That would have been excellent PR. And as we gear up for a major gaming year, it’s vital to remember that the first 90 days after a game’s launch are critical. This is when players will have the most questions about the game and when most bugs or glitches will reveal themselves. Support needs to be fast, convenient, and if players encounter issues, they should be resolved as soon as possible.
Level 1 Service
Unfortunately, this is where the video game industry still faces some challenges. Many are stuck at Level One service. This is not a terrible thing. It means you cover the basics. You might have a dedicated customer service line or at least an email support channel, where players can contact you if they have questions or concerns or need technical support. But is it prompt? Is it responsive? According to a recent industry report, only 54% of gaming companies even have an accessible email address and 76% of those ignore customer service emails. Even if they respond, the industry average response time is 39 hours (when most consumers now expect 24 hrs or less).
Overwhelmed support teams may have difficulty handling sudden call or email volume increases. Many gaming companies start with smaller in-house teams, but as games take off, developers are so focused on game development, they forget that their support teams must also scale as their business grows. Since the pandemic, game play has increased 55% and over 60% of U.S. adults now play video games on a regular basis. Call volumes, especially around new game releases, can spike unpredictably, and when forecasting models don’t match reality, many in-house teams don’t have the capacity to ramp operations quickly. If your in-house team is unable to meet call or email surges, you may want to consider outsourcing your player support to a partner that can exclusively focus on experience management and delivery.
Level 2 Service
Even in the case of companies that have good response times, there are still missed opportunities. According to the formerly mentioned surveys, 1 in 10 email responses from support agents don’t hold any relevant information, not even a game recommendation, which is a lost opportunity to not only drive customer satisfaction, but also a potential sale. Level Two service requires more engagement with customers. Which means providing more than links to general FAQs, but personalized responses with relevant information. Many players also report that empathy is lacking when there are issues with a game. Only 6% of game companies are cited as ‘fully empathetic’.
Going a level above basic customer support means finding agents who have the necessary skills to give your players the best gaming experience. They need to have the right communication skills, with enough product knowledge and technical ability to accurately troubleshoot issues. Support teams can be cross trained in sales, which we often do at itel, to maximize productivity, but also to position upgrades or new game recommendations even on support calls/emails. Ideally, it is best to seek out agents who are gamers themselves. No one will empathize more with fellow players, and they often turn into the best brand advocates. One of the best ways to source those is through hiring segmentation, which we do at itel, where we target tech-savvy applicant profiles with people who already show an interest in games or the gaming community.
Boss Level Service
If your goal is to win customer loyalty and satisfaction, you want to offer Boss Level service. It’s all about offering your players options for multichannel engagement via email, chat, voice, and social media support. Meet your gamers where they would like to be met. Live chat offers more immediate response and may appeal to PC gamers, who generally have a higher degree of technical ability and often prefer fast forms of service that allow them to troubleshoot game problems on their own. Whereas younger consumers, such as Gen Z, may prefer receiving support via their favorite social media platform, as 1 in 5 report that they are constantly on one platform or another throughout the day.
The ultimate goal, though, should be to offer in-game support. This will likely involve a sophisticated combination of artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and a special chat interface that allows live chat support to take place inside the gaming platform, without the need for an external communication tool. If your organization already has this capability, then you’re one step ahead. If not, tech-savvy customer experience partners can help. For instance, at itel, we have an in-house innovation team with RPA (Robotics Process Automation) engineers and developers who are well-versed in the latest communications technologies. They can help you move toward an in-game chat system that works with your gaming platform.
The End Game
As the gaming industry becomes increasingly competitive, the key differentiator may not be ‘can you build the best game’, but ‘can you also offer the best support’. Those who stand out in both arenas will be those that win customer loyalty and retention. Because in the gamer world, the worst thing than a problem is a lack of response, empathy, or a quick resolution. It’s all about getting back in the game…
Ready to Power Up Your Game Experience? Contact our team to supercharge your CX!