The Differences Between Customer Support and Community Management
To the untrained eye, it may seem as though customer support and community management are both one and the same. After all, they are both involve answering questions, handling complaints, providing assistance and helping the customer out, right?
Whilst there is an element of truth to this, the reality is that community management and video game customer support services are two very different things and should be treated accordingly if you want to provide effective services (which, of course, you do!)
What is community management?
Let’s start with the basics. A community, essentially, is a group of people who come together around a similar cause, action or interest. In this blog, we are talking about game communities – people who are united by their love of a particular game. The community exists throughout the virtual world on social media and forums with people sharing hints, tips, stories and problems and on the game itself for those that have in-game chat functions.
The job of a community manager is to monitor these chats and conversations, as well as posting announcements, news and responses to queries on all the relevant platforms.
Video game community managers are also tasked with creating engagement and ensuring that the players feel as though they are part of a community that both supports them and cares deeply about their overall experience.
What is customer support?
Customer support services for video games are made available to users and players that are having a specific issue with the game or need a particular problem solving. They are there to help satisfy the customer and have official procedures in place and rules to follow.
The steps of customer support, invariably, stay the same.
1. Customer has specific issue
2. Customer contacts support
3. Support investigate the issue and provide a solution
4. The issue is resolved
Of course, we all know that step three can, on occasion, be repeated several times over until a solution is found but the basic formula tends to stay the same.
What are the differences?
Game community management and customer support differ from each-other in a number of ways and striking the right balance between each is one of the keys to providing high quality gaming services.
Tone: On the whole, community managers are expected to be more informal, relaxed and ‘fun’ with their customer interactions. One of the most important ingredients of successful community management is growing the community itself, something which is best done through interaction and becoming part of, or initiating, the online discussion.
On the other hand, video game customer support tends to involve waiting for the customer to make contact through official channels. Tones are kept formal and professional and everything – queries, responses and feedback – are logged to help with future queries or monitor the quality of the service. This often involves something of a balancing act as some companies like the tone of their customer service to remain as relaxed and informal as the style used in other company communications.Video game customer service goes far beyond simply creating the feeling of a community, it is about actually solving issues and helping players through specific difficulties and problems.
Creativity: The onus is on community managers to be creative. Whether this is through the posts they make, the answers they provide, how they come up with solutions, or suggestions for in-game announcements/events, a great deal of initiative and the ability to think on your feet is required.
Customer support for video games is comparatively more straightforward because guidelines and regulations to follow are normally in place. However, this can present its own challenges as striking a balance between company procedures and ensuring the customer is satisfied is not always easy.
Audience: When a community manager speaks, they do so to the entire community. Everyone can see social media posts, announcements in forums and anything else they may post as part of the online discussion. This is where the ability to judge the situation and tone of voice required is essential.
Providing video game customer support is more likely to involve one-to-one communication. Of course, any experience, positive or negative, is likely to be repeated by the customer in wider circles, something customer support workers must be fully aware of throughout the process.
Outcomes: Perhaps the biggest difference between video game community management and customer support is their ultimate aim. It may sound strange, but customer support never wants to hear from a customer again. Silence from the other end means a successful solution has been found and their job done.
Conversely, customer silence is the enemy for a community manager. Conversations should constantly be evolving, relationships continuously building and video game communities consistently growing.