The video game industry is one of the most profitable in the world. It brings in tens of billions of dollars in revenue every year, with some video games grossing more than certain high budget movies! Whenever there is so much money in a particular field, that field becomes a lot more competitive. Most studios relied on improving graphics, creating more engaging video game narratives and incorporating more enjoyable gameplay sequences for gamers to enjoy. However, with so many different studios trying to cut off a piece of the pie, studios have to start branching out in order to maintain or gain success.
One area in which gaming studios are starting to invest increasingly often is customer service. Previously thought to be nothing more than a cost that studios have to bear, customer service is now being seen as a great way to generate revenue. According to recently conducted research, there are hundreds of millions of active, regular multiplayer online gamers in the world. However, only about half of them pay for subscriptions. Monetizing the other half could be the key to taking profits to a whole new level.
What This Means
Major gaming studios, much like most monolithic corporations, see players as statistics and nothing more. This make it difficult for them to see the bigger picture and realize what is to be gained by giving players a better experience after they have already bought the game. Studios believe that once a game has been bought, it doesn’t really matter if problems for a player to stop engaging in that game.
However, if a player were to be given an option to opt for professional customer support that would help them get through problems they are facing, they would probably not have to leave the game they are playing at all. This can help set studios apart from each other, and create a new metric based on which they would be judged: their commitment to the customer experience.
Providing professional customer support can create genuine brand loyalty that exceeds the often fickle trappings of stylistic merit. Players would be more inclined to play a game from a company that they know will support them if any problems arise.
The best thing is that peer to peer support already exists. The information is already there. It just needs to be acquired and then provided through the proper channels by a team of professionals. This will prevent the spread of misinformation as well, along with making it easier for gamers to get the information they need by providing them with a centralized location for it.
There are a few things that gaming studios need to focus on before they can provide customer support. They are as follows:
Getting on The Gamers Level
Gamers are not going to want to talk to someone that they do not connect with. This will ruin the gaming experience for them. A lot of game developers are going to make the mistake of outsourcing their customer support or hiring generic CSRs to handle the job. This is not going to do the trick.
Gamers are going to need people they can relate to. Developers will need to hire gamers to provide customer support for other gamers. Basically, the peer to peer support network needs to be monetized. If a gamer is speaking to someone that is one their level, they would be able to better describe the problem they are having which will help resolve said problem a lot faster as well.
Offer Platform Specific Customer Service
Another mistake that a lot of developers are probably going to make is treating gaming like a monolith. The needs of a PlayStation gamer are going to be very different from that of a PC gamer. Their problems are going to be different as well, as are the ways in which they deal with said problems. For example, PC gamers are going to be more independent than console gamers.
Also, gamers that are involved in free to play communities will be used to forums, comment sections and other informal modes of acquiring information. Offering customer service that has been customized to fit the needs of players in this platform is not just beneficial, it is necessary. Failing to do so would mean that gamers are not going to switch from the options that have already been available to them for so long.
Partner Up And Outsource Smartly
Just because you need to provide platform specific customer service that is on the average gamer’s level doesn’t mean that outsourcing is a bad thing. Developers have a dozen concerns on their mind, and sometimes adding customer support to this list may make it difficult for them to focus on other aspects of the video game development experience. This could potentially result in substandard games which is going to defeat the purpose of creating professional customer support for gamers in the first place.
In such situations it becomes important for a developer to hire a team of professionals and give them a direction to follow. This can give gamers the best of both worlds: a team that is dedicated to maximizing their gaming experience, as well as a studio that is focusing on what it does best.
Versatile, Constant Support
Customer support for gamers is not going to be a nine to five things. If developers want to show gamers that they are serious about this new way of maximizing the gaming experience, they are going to have to start off by providing 24 hour customer support seven days a week. This is particularly true if you consider that gaming is an international phenomenon; providing customer support for people in all time zones will be essential to the success of this experiment.
Developers will also need to ensure that they are giving multichannel support. What this means is that gamers shouldn’t have to call a number to get support. They should be getting this support on forums, over email, and especially over social media. This makes the customer support easier to access. It will also give gamers the ability to use the form of communication that suits them the best. This is also a great way for small studios to gain access to a wider variety of players.
Take Player Opinions Seriously
Gamers are a very opinionated lot. They are going to frequently criticize and nitpick, and a lot of studios and developers take this the wrong way. If they want to improve and give a top notch customer support experience, they are going to have to take this as feedback.
Indeed, gamer feedback in a lot of ways is the best information for improving customer service. It will also make gamers feel like they are being taken seriously which goes a long way towards boosting customer satisfaction. It will set developers apart as being the first to actually listen to what gamers have to say instead of making assumptions and making poor decisions based on those assumptions. Customer retention rates can go through the roof if developers apply this philosophy in their customer support methodology.