Why customer self-service is crucial for gaming player support
Among the several customer care and support options, self-service has become increasingly prevalent. Microsoft’s Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report found that 90% of customers now expect companies to help them help themselves with self-service support. And while more and more customers are turning to FAQs, instructional videos and online forums for assistance, gamers in particular are one group that gravitates towards self-help customer support as a primary means of service.
An often tech-savvy community, gamers have long turned to online peer-to-peer assistance and other DIY options for support. “It’s far easier to just type your problem into Google and find out what other people are saying about the same problem, instead of trying to contact a support person,” explains Wyatt Fossett, content consultant for companies in the games industry.
Self-service is also a faster support option than calling or emailing, minimizing lengthy disruptions to the gaming experience. That’s why it’s critical that gaming companies prioritize self-service as a first line of support in addition to the traditional support channels. Here are four ways to provide exceptional self-service support to gamers.
1. Let gamers run the show
Before developing self-service support material, games companies must listen and be receptive to players and their issues. “Never assume you know what gamers will want or ask,” says Sethlans Vayu, former customer experience manager at HalfbrickStudios. “Player interests are diverse and will grow and evolve.” Creating a static FAQ that assumes the problems gamers will face, and only addresses basic concerns, simply won’t cut it.
Self-service options need to be driven entirely by gamers’ needs. “Whatever we want is secondary to what our consumers actually want,” says Tony Walsh, founder and director of indie-game developer Phantom Compass. “We need to pay attention to what they’re talking about.”
Besides collecting data and feedback from tickets via other support channels (i.e., email, phone, live chat, etc.), Vayu stresses the importance of going online to see what’s concerning gamers. “Trawl forums, Reddit, your game’s social-media page, Twitter – wherever there is mention [of your game]. Start a tally of things your players are saying or asking. This is not only the best way to keep ahead of issues, but to keep connected with your players,” Vayu says.
2. Leave self-help breadcrumbs online
Participating in forums like Steam Discussions and Reddit are a part of many gamers’ natural habits. It’s in these online communities that gamers like to present issues and engage in peer-to-peer troubleshooting before they even consider reaching out to a contact center for support. It is, therefore, critical for games companies to be present in these forums, too. “Sometimes questions come up in there that really only a developer should be answering,” says Fossett.
Answering forum questions is an act of customer support in itself, but where self-service comes into play is in the digital breadcrumb trail left behind. The question and answer becomes archived in the forum thread, and any gamer who has the same issue later on will likely come across that response in their online search.
However, Walsh does emphasize the need for companies to find the right balance of interaction; sometimes it’s better to allow the community to answer their own questions. “[Be] cognizant that gamers don’t want a parent in the room the whole time. They want to have their own conversations and don’t necessarily want the developers to get involved,” he says. “We need to allow gamers to have those conversations where they want to have them and we just need to be available if we can.”
3. Create strong knowledge bases
In addition to listening to gamers and leaving digital breadcrumbs, companies should also create “original” self-service content options. One common approach is a knowledge base, made up of short, cross-linked and SEO-friendly articles offering simple explanations to common challenges or inquiries. The support material can function like instructional encyclopedias that expand as new customer concerns come in, or as old ones evolve.
Knowledge bases often appear directly on a company’s support website, but both Walsh and Fossett also suggest creating Wikis on gaming sites like Fandom or Gamepedia, where a company can catalog information about its game, including any patches that have been released to address problems.
When it comes to the creation of any type of self-service material, SEO optimization is critical, as these documents must appear in a Google search in order to be useful. After all, creating the most educational FAQ document around will be of little help if a gamer can’t find it online.
4. Stay involved — because the job is never done
Like game development, self-service is not a one-and-done process. Keeping gamers happy withself-serviceis an ongoing and adaptive venture. “When your product’s long-term success depends on constant engagement and content updates, then this is a good way to be involved, whether it’s directly moderating those conversations or leading those conversations,” says Walsh.
Walsh likens neglecting self-service support options to an ignored garden: “If you walk away from it and it gets untended and weedy, then you have a lot more work to do when you go back in.” By ensuring self-service is a priority with a regular maintenance strategy, gaming companies will keep their players happy and coming back for more.