The Changing Face of Customer Support and What It Means for Your Player Support Services
As you might have heard, a little while ago Eric Schittulli joined our ever-expanding team here at MoGi.
What better way to welcome him to the fold than let him settle in and get his feet under the table before barraging him with questions about his experiences in player support, how it has changed and what games need to do to ensure they aren’t left behind? The answer, of course, is none. Here’s what he had to say…
Customer Support – The major changes
“In the last 10 years, there have been some seismic changes in the customer support industry,” Eric says. “More than anything else, there has been a power shift away from the companies and in the direction of the customer. It used to be the case that companies could direct the customer to the support channels they wanted them to use. Nowadays, for a number of reasons – the advent of social media, online communities, new technologies to name just three examples – you need to go to the customer and use whatever channel they are most comfortable with.”
Over the years, this has seen an increasingly close intertwining with customer support and other company departments – especially community management and online marketing.
“Before, businesses could, for want of a better word, crush negativity,” says Eric. “These days, that’s simply impossible. Whether it’s on a social media account, a forum or online comments and review sections, everyone can see what is being said about your business. Inevitably, this led to customers being more dissenting and willing to publish their criticisms.”
This has made effective customer support more important than ever. The library of ‘customer support done wrong’ stories is as extensive as it is entertaining/shocking, and the last thing you need is your company joining the list.
Has Player Support followed these trends?
In short, yes, and to a greater extent than most other industries.
One of the greatest things about gaming is the size and strength of the communities that surround the games. Everywhere you look, there are experienced players sharing their knowledge, solving problems and highlighting issues, not just with other players, but with developers as well. No industry matches the strength of connection between product (and the team behind it) and customer that exists with video games.
The passion gamers have for what they play is another element that is not replicated with other businesses. Games are so much more than functional products. They are a vital form of escapism, education and entertainment for millions of people all over the world.
Players are the biggest marketing tool in a games’ armory. The best games enjoy bands of fiercely loyal players who, through their passionate advocacy, will influence the reputation and popularity of a game far more than any advert.
So, what are the keys to successful player support?
As Eric says, support should be available through as many channels as possible. At the very least, a game should be backed up by:
- An official support ticket system
- Social media profiles
Naturally, you will need the best people to run these channels. Player support agents should be passionate, experienced gamers themselves. Not only does this save time (and therefore money) when it comes to training, nobody understands the frustrations of games going wrong than gamers themselves. The best player support agents provide empathy and a comprehensive knowledge of the game as well as solutions.
“Some negativity and criticism is inevitable,” says Eric. “What you cannot do is ignore it or try attempt to crush it. For game companies, it is essential to show that you are listening to the problems players are having, acknowledging constructive feedback and providing a level of interaction that shows you care about a player’s experience beyond the initial purchase.”
Inevitably, some people will complain for the sake of complaining – as detailed in our previous blog ‘6 Things You Will Experience As A Player Support Agent’ – but, just as players can be your greatest marketers, gaming communities are also a goldmine for ideas and suggestions for patches, updates and future titles.
Of course, if you want your game to played all over the world, you need multilingual, multinational player support to back it up. As well as providing word-perfect answers, native player support agents provide invaluable insight into the gaming culture of different countries.
What does the future hold?
Easy-to-find support is the very least modern customers expect. You only need to witness the frustration directed at companies that cling to offering little more than a phone number to understand that the more channels you offer, the better.
This infiltration of support into other departments is only going to increase. The games that offer the best support, through the most convenient channels, will enjoy the greatest success. Support is constantly evolving – don’t be surprised to see support services through messaging apps such as WhatsApp emerge – and video games, perhaps more than any other industry, need to keep pace.