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Changing the Game with Player Support
 

Changing the Game with Player Support

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The interactive-entertainment industry is undergoing dramatic change. Gaming platforms are evolving and studios must keep up by offering games on social networks, mobile phones and tablets. Along for ...

The interactive-entertainment industry is undergoing dramatic change. Gaming platforms are evolving and studios must keep up by offering games on social networks, mobile phones and tablets. Along for the ride are the players. Often viewed as a commodity, players have high expectations, but are often disappointed when it comes to customer support. Every touch-point is an opportunity to deliver an exceptional customer experience, however in gaming, customer service is often a secondary concern; edged out in favor of rapid development and design.

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    Changing the Game with Player Support Changing the Game with Player Support Document Transcript

    • Changing the game withplayer supportProviding customer service in theinteractive-entertainment industryWhite PaperPart of the Best Practices Series for Customer Service byTELUS International.Learn more: telusinternational.com© 2013 TELUS International telusinternational.com
    • Customer service in the interactive-entertainment industry White PaperContentsSetting the stage ........................................................................................................................................... 3Level up with customer service .................................................................................................................... 3 1. Improving player connection ............................................................................................................ 4 2. Streamlining player support ............................................................................................................. 4 3. The metrics that matter .................................................................................................................... 5 4. Personalizing sales ............................................................................................................................ 5 5. Proactive vs. reactive approaches .................................................................................................... 5 6. Being social ....................................................................................................................................... 6Customer service tactics to unlock value...................................................................................................... 6 Unlocking value with analytics .................................................................................................................. 6 Unlocking value with skill-based routing .................................................................................................. 6 Unlocking value by communicating in the right channels ........................................................................ 7 Unlocking value with dynamic sales ......................................................................................................... 8Measuring success ........................................................................................................................................ 8 Real-time measurement of satisfaction.................................................................................................... 8 Meeting brand commitments with NPS ................................................................................................... 9Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................... 11About TELUS International .......................................................................................................................... 11 Connect with us ...................................................................................................................................... 11© 2013 TELUS International 2
    • Customer service in the interactive-entertainment industry White PaperSetting the stageThe interactive-entertainment industry is undergoing dramatic change. Gaming platforms are evolvingand studios must keep up by offering games on social networks, mobile phones and tablets. Along forthe ride are the players. Often viewed as a commodity, players have high expectations, but are oftendisappointed when it comes to customer support. Every touch-point is an opportunity to deliver anexceptional customer experience, however in gaming, customer service is often a secondary concern;edged out in favor of rapid development and design.With an increasingly competitive global gaming market – predicted to grow from $67 billion in 2012 to$82 billion by 2017 (Source: Forbes) – the continuation of a de-personalized, homogenous consumersupport experience for players will make it difficult for game developers to sustain brand loyalty andimprove a player’s likelihood to recommend.Now let’s talk monetization. Of the 400 million multiplayer online game players across the globe, 220million did not spend money. The remaining 180 million constitute “paying” players that have an activesubscription, pay once, or purchase the game through a retailer (Source: PC Gamer). Understandingplayers (whether paid or free-to-play) means understanding how to maximize return on gamedevelopment and potentially convert non-paying players into a loyal revenue base.In short, what an opportunity for game developers today! Using customer service, studios can stand outfrom the crowd – creating brand loyalty, improving games with real-time feedback, increasing a player’slifetime-value, and more. Forward-thinking studios realize that providing exceptional customerinteractions, alongside popular games, can directly impact the bottom line.This paper will provide readers with a view of how gaming companies can benefit from offering astructured customer care program for their players, as well as best practices to consider along the way.Level up with customer serviceWhile technological advances have enabled real-time interaction with consumers via websites,community forums, or with the latest handheld devices, many studios are forced to ignore customersupport programs due to the constraints of development. This inability to integrate customer serviceinto the development schedule can lead to a poor player experience and a loss of player basesurrounding the product.An organization’s leadership team should consider how satisfaction is linked to revenue-producingbehaviors, including the probability of the player to purchase online or offline. A growing player baserequires happy players who are likely to recommend the game to other prospective players. Recurringpayments requires recurring customers. Customer service needs to move up the priority list.© 2013 TELUS International 3
    • Customer service in the interactive-entertainment industry White Paper“Know your player” has been a studio mantra for a decade. Studios are now evaluating and segmentingdata in order to better understand and predict their players’ buying behaviors. As a result, product-centric programs are being replaced with strategies centered on the customer experience. Intelligentplayer platforms collect user data by individual game, franchise, or geography and dynamically presentdifferent in-game experiences based on customer preferences. This creates a bond with the player anddemonstrates that a game developer really “gets” their audience.The following are some of the top reasons to consider a customer support strategy:1. Improving player connectionUnderstanding each stage of the players’ lifecycle and recognizing the important role of customerservice in retaining players is no longer an option. Studios need to develop emotional connections withplayers, particularly Millennials (often defined as the generation born 1980 to 2000), and match theirplayers with like-minded customer service representatives. Consider hiring game players as your supportagents and have them continually level up in the game to truly understand the players they serve.As we know, not all game players are created equal. PCgame players are often proud of their technical abilities Does it take one to know one? Consider hiringand are more inclined to find websites to download other game players to handle customer service inquiries. The best customer servicepatches and fix their own problems. In contrast, console results have come from customer service repsgame players are convenience-driven and typically that are culturally aligned (both values andprefer having easy access to customer support. Free-to- attitudes) with the player.play game players are used to finding support incommunity forums or on the developer’s website.Hardcore triple-A title players are another breed altogether and expect their support experts to be justas hardcore as they are. As a result, customer support needs to suit how each player likes to play.2. Streamlining player supportA positive shift occurs across the organization when customer service departments move their focustowards dynamically routing and handling calls based on player history. The studio’s competitive stanceis improved by the ability to deliver highly differentiated services that actually drive revenue.Operational efficiencies also increase because all key delivery components are better aligned withplayers’ goals. Players enjoy a more rewarding experience because their customer support interactionsare tailored to their preferences, based on purchase history, interests, or value to the studio.© 2013 TELUS International 4
    • Customer service in the interactive-entertainment industry White Paper3. The metrics that matterIn most studio environments, existing technologies and processes limit management’s ability to viewcustomer service and sales results based on what actually transpired during a call. Network analyticssuch as call length, hold time, and transfer rates are often the only metrics used to evaluate and planfuture strategies.For example, a customer service operation might trackaverage customer contact handle times, versus examining Everything can be measured, but focus onways to shorten handle times for low revenue-generating those 2 to 3 metrics that matter most.customer contacts. They also might neglect to evaluate Metrics and customer contact channels mayappropriate opportunities to lengthen handle times with vary depending on free-to-play vs. paidhigh-value customers in order to resolve problems or player support programs. But in the end,increase cross-selling opportunities. Another common knowing and measuring what matters most for each player type will deliver the bestexample is when a company’s operational team focuses on player experience possible.measuring a support professionals’ sales performancebased on total revenue per month, while the outcome orconversion of a high-value call may be a more relevant metric.4. Personalizing salesWho better to translate the voice of the customer than the person they talk to most. Connections madewith customer service reps are a great opportunity to personalize revenue generation programs thatalso positively impact the customer experience.Revenue-building opportunities exist at every stage of the player experience and carefully targetedofferings can be seamlessly blended throughout the players’ lifecycle. Typically, these types of revenuegeneration programs can be converted into a transaction-based pricing model with a variable coststructure. Changing player demographics and expanded platforms allow for the monetization of newbusiness models, creating a growing community willing to spend money in the virtual world.To maximize incremental revenue, it is essential that game developers include additional services forpremium subscriptions, virtual goods sales, incentive marketing support, and application installations.Innovative business models like free-to-play can generate revenues from micro transactions whileenhancing the game-play experience for the player if managed properly.5. Proactive vs. reactive approachesWhen a studio adopts a basic customer contact strategy, engagement most often only occurs when theplayers are unhappy. From a branding and loyalty perspective, the implications of this approach arehighly detrimental. Studios cannot maximize the players’ lifetime value or influence brand loyalty whentheir personalized interactions occur only when a player calls regarding product delivery dates, billingstatements, or product anomalies. With proper planning, studios can create more proactive and positiveengagements.© 2013 TELUS International 5
    • Customer service in the interactive-entertainment industry White Paper6. Being socialAs players flock to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and others, gamedevelopers should consider leveraging these communication channels to improve their customer serviceand gain a competitive advantage. Social networks offer a tremendous opportunity to proactivelyrespond to player complaints as well as collect feedback to tailor the game. Using social media forcustomer care can also create “brand promoters” within the player base. These are players that act asan extension of the customer service organization, offering advice and gaming assistance in return fornon-financial rewards, like recognition and praise.Customer service tactics to unlock valueAs the interactive-entertainment industry becomes increasingly fragmented and competitive, forward-thinking studios are realizing the untapped potential of a customer service offering. The following is adeeper examination of how a well-structured customer service plan can directly impact the bottom line.Unlocking value with analyticsAs the value of data mining becomes table stakes for game developers, it will be important to avoid thepitfall faced by many organizations – having customer information stored in multiple data repositories.When organized well, this data represents a goldmine of information that can be used to designdifferent customer-focused support opportunities. Studios will benefit most from a centralized playerdata repository that is universally accessible. This data has the potential to elevate customer servicedelivery from a level of basic customer support to a high-quality, very personalized, customerexperience.To assist, many studios are partnering with third-party customer service providers that can enhancetheir business processes through the use of player analytics and performance optimization applications.Typically, these systems leverage an established methodology to produce both component andcomposite scores designed to identify opportunities to positively impact player satisfaction levels.By embedding analytics in every step of a high value player’s life cycle, studios are better-equipped topredict the player’s behavior. When player behavior becomes more predictable, sales, satisfaction andrevenue are all positively impacted.Unlocking value with skill-based routingThe concept of skill-based routing is simple. In a micro-transaction support setting, a high-valuecustomer (one who meets pre-determined criteria) can be serviced by a higher-skilled game specialistwho is capable of providing both service support and sales assistance.© 2013 TELUS International 6
    • Customer service in the interactive-entertainment industry White PaperAdditionally, providing a richer support service by customizing the support professional’s skills tospecific product sets, and routing players based upon purchase history or the nature of the inquiry hasproven to increase brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. This approach is easily undertaken bybuilding tools that will adjust to and account for demographic variables such as player behavior history,gender, geography, language, and credit history. More advanced approaches to data segmentation, suchas User Persona Research, can also identify how peoplebehave while playing online. Consider the use of internal social media platforms and tools – including the use ofBefore implementing any skill-based routing program, gamification elements that enable yourhowever, it is important that support professionals are customer service reps to work the way they play. By incenting customer support reps toequipped with guidelines, conversation etiquette, and share knowledge with the team and improvescripts to use as reference during their conversations the support knowledge base – everyone winswith players. This will not only increase efficiency, but – the studio, the player, and your supportalso provide a consistent customer experience. professionals.Unlocking value by communicating in the right channelsWhen developing a customer care program, it is critical to know how your players prefer to interact withyou. Their communication channel of choice may vary depending on socio-demographics, time of day,location, availability of technology and so on. It’s also important to allow players to initiate aninteraction in one communication channel and continue it in another – for example, moving from arequest on Twitter to a more private discussion via online chat.The following channels are most commonly used as part of a multi-channel support strategy:  Web self-service. Helps players locate the right answers to their questions using web self-service knowledge management.  Self-service to live-service transitions. Offers players the option to escalate a request from a web self-service site to a live agent; notifies and forwards information to a customer service rep when a session transitions from self-service to live service.  Telephone. Supports phone customer service reps in creating player incidents, routing incidents, and handling inquiries within customer service guidelines, and provides full computer telephony integration (CTI) capabilities with screen-pop.  Customer-to-agent chat channel. Provides reactive and/or proactive chat, co-browsing, and page push.  Email. Effectively manages and responds to high email volumes via customer service reps who have access to productivity tools such as canned answers, auto-suggestions, and auto-responses and are linked to a single company-wide customer information database.  Community forums. Supports information-sharing forums with peers, including participant registration and administration, integrated forums with knowledge bases, and ranking and rewarding customer advocates.© 2013 TELUS International 7
    • Customer service in the interactive-entertainment industry White PaperUnlocking value with dynamic salesThe keys to dynamic selling are data-driven routing and intelligent business routing. Data-driven routinguses customer information to intelligently direct calls within the system, attach the call data, and deliverit to the support professional’s desktop. This information provides the support professional with theplayer’s identity and the purpose of the call. Intelligent business routing matches the caller’s profile withthe appropriate associate to ensure an optimal customer experience and maximize the value realizedfrom every interaction.Creating predictive models, centralizing customer databases, and linking them to inbound channelsrequires solutions that work across disparate systems. The effort to make these connections happen willprovide a significant return in customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and revenue generation.Studios no longer need to disrupt player support experiences with inappropriate sales offers or riskoffending players for the chance to create new revenue streams. Dynamic selling is well within the reachof every service delivery center that wants to leverage these essential strategies to stay competitive andprofitable.Measuring successAs the saying goes, “what gets measured gets done.” Any successful customer service program needs tobe backed by metrics that tell you what is working and what is not. Below is a framework for measuringyour customer service program to achieve player delight.Real-time measurement of satisfactionDetermining how your organization can positively influence future player behavior can yield significantreturns. To increase conversion rates, game developers should implement analytical tools that canmeasure satisfaction with the following:  Pre-purchase website elements  Game drop-off rates  Overall purchase processIt is also important to measure player behavior at incremental stages of the customer experience. Forexample, game developers should consider measuring satisfaction levels while the player is in beta. Avariety of research activities and information-gathering tools are available to capture this information.While this is an often-ignored measurement, in many ways it is the most critical, as satisfaction at thisstage is key to influencing the purchase decision of a player.Collectively these measurements enable the studio to make changes that increase the likelihood ofpurchasing again and/or recommending the game to a friend. When consumers abandon their playing© 2013 TELUS International 8
    • Customer service in the interactive-entertainment industry White Paperactivity, it’s important for the studio to pinpoint which factors left players dissatisfied and identifyspecific changes that will prompt the player to return to the site and/or make a purchase in the future.To boost the retention rate, studios should know what contributes to players’ ongoing satisfaction.These elements could be incorporated into other public and secure areas of the publisher’s website,including purchasing, order tracking, and micro-transaction collections. For example, when the playerabandons their game without notice, did they jump offline due to performance, platform, or usabilityissues? Or were they just browsing and intend to return later?Meeting brand commitments with NPSAs customer service becomes more consistent and homogenous, the traditional customer satisfactionmeasure (CSAT) becomes less helpful for driving business improvements. Instead, Net Promoter Score(NPS) is an extremely powerful tool for assessing whether a studio’s brand commitment to its customersis being recognized and fulfilled. A player’s willingness to promote a service or product to friends andfamily is based upon many criteria, but in most cases requires the customer support team to meet andexceed the expectations set by brand and marketing messages. Once a customer support program hasThe Net Promoter framework can create processes and systems evolved, Net Promoter Score (NPS) – athat help everyone focus on earning the loyalty of players and method for measuring customer loyalty – is one of the best metrics for assessingemployees. The business payoffs are substantial, as loyal and player satisfaction. NPS becomes a way ofpassionate gamers play longer, spend more, share ideas, and running the studio that focuses on theshout out your company’s praises within their networks. loyalty of both players and employees.The same holds true for the customer service reps that enjoyworking for your organization, generate new ideas, and take those extra steps to truly delight players.As a result, it’s not hard to see why loyalty correlates with sustainable, profitable growth. On average,an industry’s loyalty leader grows more than twice as fast as its competitors (Source: Bain & Company).Source: Image from CheckMarket Survey Solutions© 2013 TELUS International 9
    • Customer service in the interactive-entertainment industry White PaperThe ability to quickly gauge your enterprise’s overall health with a single NPS score is useful to let youknow whether you need to make changes. However, NPS is not enough to tell you what changes youneed to make.The Net Promoter Score has become a popular customer loyalty metric, but you need more than asimple measure of the likelihood of receiving player recommendations to help you identify problems inenough detail to get back on track.That’s why the metric’s proponents are now recommending you ‘close the loop’ with follow-upquestions that get to the root of your customers’ neutrality or lack of satisfaction. Studios looking totransform their Net Promoter Scores into actionable insight should consider an NPS-integrated solution.  Ask the right questions in the right way  Dig more deeply into data  Take immediate action based on new found knowledgeFollowing up on the standard NPS question, “How likely are you to recommend our service/product to afriend or colleague?” is critical to knowing what drives customers to be Promoters, Detractors orPassive. Follow-up answers often provide the key to understanding what changes need to be made.Actionable information might include:  Where in the game are consumers dropping out?  What is the network effect of getting new players into the game?  How many players finish the game?  Is the game too difficult or too long?  Was the game overdeveloped or underdeveloped?  Did players finish too fast?  What scores are typically given by high value or frequent customers?  What topics or keywords frequently appear in player feedback?Source: Questions adapted from McKinsey & Company interview with COO of Electronic Arts.In today’s complex business environment you need a feedback solution that gives you a Net PromoterScore accompanied by a comprehensive analysis of all the underlying data. In this way, you can establishthe groundwork for an effective NPS initiative by assigning the right leaders, forging links acrossfunctions, and reorganizing frontline teams around your players.© 2013 TELUS International 10
    • Customer service in the interactive-entertainment industry White PaperConclusionIt has become increasingly difficult for game developers to generate and sustain brand loyalty. Whiletechnological advances and the proliferation of social media have generated more real-time interactionwith players, it is important not to overlook the importance of player support, or to underestimate itspowerful influence on brand loyalty and a player’s likelihood to recommend.Through strategic planning and investment in analytical and support tools, studios can create anopportunity for highly personalized, engaging player service experiences that will “bond” consumers tothe brand. By accurately measuring consumer satisfaction levels after each customer interaction, gameproviders can increase the likelihood of future purchases, gain brand loyalty, and ultimately identifybrand promoters who can spread the good word. In an industry where reputation is everything, this iswhere customer service can be a real game-changer.About TELUS InternationalMany studios are opting to engage with an industry-experienced business process outsourcing (BPO)partner to help them implement the technology and analytical tools that are vital to engaging today’ssavvy online players.TELUS International is a provider of customer care and contact center outsourcing solutions to globalclients including social and MMO companies. Its interactive-entertainment support practice wasestablished in 2005 and has grown to over 2,500 associates providing player support. The company isbacked by its parent, TELUS Corporation, a leading national telecommunications companyheadquartered in Canada, with over 13 million customer connections.Connect with us telusinternational.com information@telusinternational.com @TELUSintCOPYRIGHT NOTICE© 2013 TELUS International. Other company and brand, product and service names are for identification purposes only and may be trademarksor registered trademarks of their respective holders. Reproduction without permission is forbidden.© 2013 TELUS International 11