Player support – a customer support game changer in the games industry
Video games are no longer relegated to the basement and left for the kids. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 57% of parents in the U.S. play video games with their kids at least once a week. And they’re gaming without their kids too — Statista reports that the average age of video game buyers is 36, and 70% of gamers are aged 18 or older.
Gaming has evolved. Take a look around and you’ll notice how popular mobile games have become and how professional gamers are taking things to the next level. With all this considered, it’s no wonder that the games industry is growing at a rapid pace. But with this growth there has also been a rise in player expectations.
This is transforming the industry. Where once studios could rely on their ability to design, develop and launch great games, they are increasingly looking beyond that for a point of competitive differentiation, and for many studios, it is customer service that will enable them to compete successfully in this fast maturing market.
Moreover, the industry is realizing that customer service can be more than just a cost factor; it can be a significant revenue generator. With the number of gamers worldwide expected to eclipse 3 billion in 2023 and the global spend already well over $120 million per quarter according to Statista, the opportunity can’t be overlooked. Customer service is a differentiating factor that represents a massive opportunity.
The bottom line
Yet, all too often games studios fall into the trap of seeing players as a commodity, a mere number on the screen. This misses out on a major opportunity. By offering professional customer service, studios prevent players who experience problems – whether they are technical, payment, or game-related – from simply leaving the game. Instead, that player can find a solution to the problem and then continue playing the game, spending money, recommending the game to friends, and then buying more games from that studio.
Times have changed — a blockbuster game is unlikely to capture the market for a studio without robust player support to back it up. Gamers might want to slay dragons, but that doesn’t mean they want to go it alone.
Many in the gaming community rely on peer-to-peer player support, but there is a real advantage to offering excellent customer service directly. Every touchpoint with a player is an opportunity to deliver an exceptional customer experience, to stand out from the crowd, create brand loyalty, increase a player’s lifetime-value, and even use real-time feedback to improve games. All of this directly impacts the bottom line.
Five principles of successful customer service
TELUS International provides outsourced customer support to many leading games companies, including one that has a daily active player base of nearly 100 million. We know how to make customer support work in this sector and are here to share our top five guiding principles in implementing customer support for gamers:
1. Understand your players
Studios need to develop emotional connections with players and match gamers with like-minded customer service representatives. So, staff your customer service team with people who play games themselves. This will ensure your customer support agents are speaking the same language as your customers, and understand the issues those customers are facing.
It’s important to remember that there is an opportunity to deliver an exceptional customer experience with every interaction. Carefully consider your customer base and then be present on the platforms they frequent with a brand voice that really speaks to them. Doing so can directly impact your bottom line.
2. Tailor customer service to specific platforms
Customer care needs to suit various types of players, so keep in mind that gamers are different. PC game players are often proud of their technical abilities and are more inclined to work with websites or download patches to fix their own problems. In contrast, console game players are convenience-driven and typically prefer having easy access to customer support. Free-to-play players are used to finding support in community forums or on the developer’s website. Customize your customer support in order to match the needs of the different types of players.
3. Team up
Studios that lack the customer service expertise in-house should consider partnering with a contact center provider that does. This will leave the company free to focus on its core business of designing, developing and marketing great games.
4. Ensure real-time, omnichannel support
Providing 24/7 omnichannel support via voice, email, online and social networks enables your players to interact with you whenever and however they want. Social media presence also allows players to engage with developers in real time, in their preferred communication channel. For smaller game studios, social media offers an effective way to reach a targeted and relevant audience and to increase their player base.
5. See the value in player feedback
Ensure that your games reflect the latest player demands by analyzing the player feedback that comes into your customer support channels and funneling it back to development teams. This alone will increase player value, playtime, satisfaction, and retention, and ultimately increase their likelihood to recommend the game to friends.
Games’ new battlefield
Customer service is a new concept for many games studios. Yet it is far from a new concept in the world of business. Companies in other sectors, from financial services to manufacturing to food service and so on, all know that alongside product and marketing, customer service is essential to success.
The games sector is maturing rapidly. It is evolving like other sectors, and so customer service is rapidly becoming the battlefield on which companies will stand or fall.