You've built an amazing game and brought it to market. Reviews are favorable, and player adoption is increasing. It would seem the heavy lifting is done. Rest easy, and watch the revenue pour in, right?
Nope. Not in today's collaborative world where your target audience has increasing expectations of your business. Get anything wrong, inside the game or otherwise, and thanks to social media, bad news spreads like wildfire. This creates new competitive challenges for you that go beyond the quality of your product. Instead, they speak to a level of service and support, affecting brand perception, fan bases, and even the gaming experience itself.
Gaming companies need to support games with the kind of world-class service that raises customer acquisition rates, builds customer loyalty, enhances game quality and promotes new monetization opportunities. The challenge is doing just that without draining budgets.
Here are six tips for gaming companies looking to determine a service strategy that takes into account all of today's unique challenges.
As myriad new players with their own unique needs happily crowd into your game, game weaknesses, programming quirks, and simple experiential differences of opinion will begin to be uncovered. Service requests and feedback will be varied and potentially overwhelming.
You need a strategy to deal with all that will happen or even may happen after your game goes live. Protect yourself -- and enable even higher levels of business success -- by putting structure around your service.
Begin by setting up strict response rules, processes, and automation that allow users, whenever possible, to resolve their own issues. Whether that is through access to an in-game knowledgebase or the ability to chat live with a customer service representative from within the game, you need to provide answers and service resolution at your players' fingertips.
It's what they expect, and keeping them satisfied will lead to longer play rates, and foster a sense of loyalty and evangelism that brings new gamers to your game. Plus, it will help you from being overwhelmed by noise and escalating costs.
In providing automated self-service, there are a few things that you can and definitively should consider.
First, establishing automated responses to inquiries for things like password resets will free up customer service representatives to focus on higher priority requests that cannot be automatically resolved.
You can also build out mass response communications for critical moments that can lead to lost customers if issues are left unaddressed or unresolved, like when your game goes down. This, in turn saves money.
Second, make sure you put in place a rich knowledgebase that provides a branded experience where players can self-serve. You'll experience the additional cost benefit of smaller CSR teams, and halt the need to grow your CSR team as your game scales.
iWin's customer care team did just that. When iWin switched from what they called a "glorified email solution" to implementing an end-to-end self-service-focused solution that included a knowledgebase and automated responses, iWin was able to improve ticket response times from one to two weeks to only a few hours. Also, as the company's subscribers doubled, they only needed to add one new service representative.
The company's CSRs maintain a rich, updated mix of resources for portal visitors through a knowledgebase. On the welcome page, an introductory video guides subscribers in how to use the support center. Players can search by keyword, browse a library of articles and how-to videos, or submit a ticket. At times, CSRs push out specific videos in response to ticket inquiries.
IGN Entertainment also offers a great example of a company that employed service best practices via automation and process rules. They were able to scale their service efforts to the growth of their game-selling service Direct2Drive, while avoiding what would have previously added, by their estimates, ten additional staff members.
That's a huge cost savings, and, automated communications resulted in a more positive perception of their brand and gaming experience. The company has achieved self-service issue resolution at 92 percent, and 57 percent of all their logged tickets are satisfied with auto-responders.
Slick branding is still important -- the "cool" factor remains crucial in the gaming industry -- and, traditional and online marketing demand generation still play an important role. But, today's gaming company looking for mass adoption needs to make sure customers walk away from an interaction satisfied and loyal to the game.
Every service interaction is an opportunity to add another member to your game evangelist army who will spread the good word on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and more. Fast, structured service enables a new kind of customer marketing that we are only beginning to see. Viewing service as a key component of your marketing strategy will lead to increased sales and revenue for you.