Posted May 2, 2017
For a long time, the Nintendos, Segas and Sonys of the gaming world were king — but the rise of the smartphone opened the door to a new ruler: mobile games.
In a relatively short period, games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush have helped create a US $36.9 billion business that currently represents upwards of 90 percent of Apple and Google Play’s app store revenues.
A recent state of the industry report by Adobe, however, found that mobile games have the highest abandonment rate out of all app categories. To continue to grow their audience— and their top-line — mobile gaming companies have to prioritize the customer experience, or risk irrelevancy in such a highly competitive marketplace.
Mobile gamers are everyone
The accessibility and low cost of mobile games means that players aren’t like “traditional” console and computer gamers (although there can be overlap), says David Laperle, customer service director at Ludia, the Montreal-based mobile-game developer behind Jurassic World: The Game. “With [mobile games] we reach a totally different type of customer that we couldn’t reach with console gaming,” says Laperle.
Mobile gamers are distinct in that there is no real set demographic. For contact centers and customer support teams, that means being prepared for anything, including requests from people who may not understand some of the basics of gaming. “You can’t go into it with preconceived ideas about what the level of knowledge or product understanding these players have,” says Wyatt Fossett, a communications consultant at Adrian Crook + Associates. From lost progress due to a dropped connection, to in-app purchase and billing issues, customer service teams need to have the patience and willingness to field all types of request from a wide variety of customers.
A quick response is key
Mobile games may be addictive, but that doesn’t mean gamers won’t abandon them in an instant if they’re unhappy. “There’s so many options out there,” says Fossett. “If the one game that I’m playing isn’t responding to me, or one tiny thing is wrong, I’m going to uninstall and install something else.”
With plenty of opportunities for gamers to flee, ensuring a timely and efficient customer support can serve as a differentiator. “The industry standard is not very communicative,” says Fossett, who knows some companies that can take weeks to respond to customers.
Responding to customer inquiries within 24 hours is the general expectation, but on social, those timelines are even shorter. Ryan Loerke, a player experience manager at game developer Hyper Hippo stresses that if a mobile gaming company uses social media for customer service, responses have to be almost instant. “Our rule of thumb is checking in at least every hour while we’re in the office,” he says.
Picking the right tools
Having the right tools and the right team in place is critical for delivering the best customer service with minimal customer effort.
In-game tools like KTplay, Zendesk’s Embeddables and Helpshift allow players to remain immersed in the gaming experience as they seek assistance, while simultaneously providing support teams with comprehensive customer information to effectively troubleshoot. “If someone sends us, or anybody, a support ticket through in-game settings, that ticket will come with all [their] information: Device ID, type of device, how much RAM is on that device, how long they have been playing,” explains Laperle.
Offering a combination of customer support avenues, such as in-game tools along with self-help FAQs and email support, allows players to engage with customer service in a format that works best for their needs.
Optimizing email for the modern customer service environment
How to make the most of your email support programDownload PDF
Managing team size
Staffing can often be a challenge when it comes to mobile games support. When you have millions of users, how do you determine the right size team to deliver great customer service without cutting into profits?
Unfortunately, there is no secret formula. “There is no real answer to the size of the team. It is all a feeling-out process,” says Fosset.
At Ludia, the team has opted for a hybrid internal-external approach. “What we want to do is offer a structure that allows us to grow over time,” Laperle says. Although they have a core, dedicated in-house team of experts, they also use an outsourcing partner to help scale when needed.
The right outsourcing partner will be able to work with you to determine a team size that leaves you agile enough to scale up or down based on customer needs.
Understanding mobile gamers
While slightly different demographically, mobile gamers are still seeking the same level of high-touch customer service as their traditional gaming counterparts. A big part in delivering that exceptional service is understanding what the games means to those who play them. “For some people the games that we build are way more than just a game. It’s an exit, an entertainment after a long day at work, something that they can rely on,” says Laperle.
By understanding that games often mean more to players then just winning or losing, it will enable the kind of customer support Loerke, and the industry, aspires to deliver: “Our number-one goal is just to make sure when you contact us, you leave feeling like we did everything we could to make you want to keep playing.”