Player support 101: The five basics of great gaming customer service
Gaming is more popular now than ever. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), over 215 million people in the U.S. play video games regularly. The ESA also reports that gaming has transformed into a more than $60 billion industry, and it will only continue to grow.
A growing games industry means greater competition. To rise to the challenge, games companies need to find ways to stand out. While marketing initiatives and gameplay innovations might grab headlines, the subtle power of a great player support experience should not be overlooked.
Read on to learn more about player support and how to make it a defining characteristic of your success.
What is player support
At a basic level, player support is all about helping your players do what they want to do. That could involve assisting players with activation and getting started, navigating account and payment issues or in-game support like help with one of your boss battles.
Player support is not channel specific, but rather, encompasses all of the touchpoints a player might have with your brand. Studios that excel in this regard are prompt and consistent across email, chat, voice, social media and within their titles.
Ultimately, to resonate with your unique players, your player support experience should evoke your company, your culture and your games.
Types of player support services
There are a number of critical components to player support. Consider the following:
- Technical support for activations, billing, payments and refunds, as well as matters like performance and connectivity. These activities maximize the amount of time your players spend playing and enjoying your games.
- In-game support for players struggling to overcome various gameplay challenges and mechanics. Your goal is to lend a helping hand and to investigate potential gameplay issues that require correction.
- Trust and safety support like community and content moderation to create and maintain a welcoming player community.
Player support best practices
Looking to pass player support 101 with flying colors? Start with these fundamental player support best practices.
1. Provide a human touch
Automated support, like conversational bots, are important in the modern day delivery of customer service, but according to PwC, 82% of customers have said they want more human interactions. Pairing human and automated support to work together can help fill service gaps.
Madison Annibale, a product manager at Australian game developer, Halfbrick Studios, believes a friendly human tone goes a long way to providing successful support. "We found our [customers] became a lot calmer, nicer and more polite when they realized they're not just talking to a generic keyword bot," says Annibale.
Hiring gamers who understand the passion of their fellow enthusiasts, and speak their language, can produce even more rewarding support and a more meaningful connection.
2. Ensure a quick customer service response time
Playing time is precious. This becomes abundantly clear when it comes to mobile gaming. In 2022, the BBC reported that people spend 4.8 hours on their phones each day, meanwhile mobile games account for 43% of all smartphone use per Techjury.net. Taken together, that equates to approximately two hours of mobile gaming every single day. For many, it's how they enjoy their commutes or unwind after work. That's why the cornerstone of any gaming customer service strategy should be to get gamers back to playing ASAP.
To improve your player experience, you first need to measure important player support metrics. First response time — and ideally, first contact resolution — need to be between 24 to 48 hours for email, with immediate response, and similar resolution time expected for other channels. Even a quick personal acknowledgement that their message has been received, and providing a deadline for a response in full, will do wonders. "Typically, [gamers] thank us for letting them know that they weren't being ignored and they're pretty much happy to just continue on with us trying to help them out," adds Annibale.
3. Provide added value by anticipating issues and creating self-help options
According to the Entertainment Software Association, players believe that gaming provides more value for their money than any other form of entertainment. Basic gaming player support services need to maintain that value outside the game. To that end, companies need to invest in predictive and proactive customer service that anticipates gamers' needs and queries before they ask for help.
This includes knowing what the frequently asked questions are so that your team is in the best position to resolve them quickly. Doing the legwork can boost multiple aspects of gaming customer service — for instance, more effective content moderation, more in-depth self-help sections and empowering community managers to be better equipped to address issues brought up on various forums like Reddit or Discord.
With players increasingly comfortable using self-service options to find their own answers, it's particularly important for any game-support initiative to include the creation of knowledge bases and FAQs in their strategy.
4. Let players know their feedback matters
Game-breaking bugs and corrupted save files are two common reasons why gamers give up on a game. Luckily, they're both problems developers can fix if customer support is willing to listen.
Gamers want to know their feedback will have an impact on the product, and conveying this message is vital for any good player support strategy. "Anything they send to us, we take it seriously," says Annibale of Halfback Studios. "If people give us feedback, it is heard by the people who make the game. I want players to know that we genuinely care about their concerns because that helps us shape the game."
A loyalty-building player support strategy isn't just being reactive, but proactive. Begin by collecting player feedback in a qualitative way from the various tickets like live chat sessions, social media postings and all other community channels that are of relevance to the company. Then consolidate and filter that feedback back to your development unit for continuous improvement.
5. Help players even if there is no obvious solution
Not all game issues can be resolved. Some saved game data can't be restored, and some side effects to software updates can't be undone. It's still vital in these moments to make gamers feel like they've been helped to the best of your ability. "Even if there's absolutely nothing you can do to help someone, you can still find something to do," says Annibale.
For example, sometimes when players lose their data in Halfbrick Studios' game, Fruit Ninja, the company won't just shrug their shoulders and say, "Sorry." They will give customers in-game credit to shortcut their progress back to where they were before things went wrong. It's a small gesture with a huge impact.
In this sentiment lies a core philosophy that should be part of every gaming customer support interaction: communication is key. Gamers tend to be passionate individuals who are investing their time and money in your product. In return, games customer service needs to reflect their level of commitment by consistently delivering quick, personal and proactive player support.
Seize the benefits with elite player support outsourcing
In addition to engaging and retaining your existing players, an outstanding player support experience will draw new players to the fray.
Games companies of all sizes can seize these benefits through player support outsourcing. TELUS International handles over 43 million player support interactions each year in support of our diverse games industry client partners.
For help putting the fundamentals of player support into practice, reach out today.