Insert coin: Level up your player support experience

8 min read
Artwork by Tetley Clarke

If you’re wondering if I’m a gamer, I’m not.

I don’t play video games every day, I don’t crowd my mobile phone with gaming apps, belong to any gaming community, I’m not even that good at them! However, from time to time, I do play a game or two. I’ll get excited and even start screaming to the lifeless screen in front of me — and that’s when my inner gamer, dormant most of the time, comes out to play.

For this reason, going to Gamescom 2018 was an entirely new experience to me. I may have been working with gaming companies for the past year at Unbabel, understanding the challenges as they scale, and helping them provide great customer service to gamers around the world, but that was nothing compared to Gamescom.

Attending one of the world’s largest gaming events last month, surrounded not only by the so-called real gamers and all the gaming enthusiasts, but also by the actual brains (and hearts) behind what we see on the screen, made me realize how fast this industry is growing and the ease with which a single game reaches millions of people globally.

Game demos at Gamescom 2018

An ever growing industry

In the latest update from Global Games Market from Newzoo, they forecast that 2.3 billion gamers across the globe will spend $137.9 billion on games in 2018. This represents an increase of +13.3% from the previous year. Moreover, digital game revenues will take 91% of the global market with $125.3 billion.

Just mobile alone, their revenues are predicted to grow 25.5% year on year to reach $70.3 billion. This means that for the first time, more than half of all game revenues will come from the mobile segment.

That is pretty impressive if you ask me. And so was Gamescom. Celebrating its tenth edition, with 370,000 visitors from 114 countries, it shows no signs of slowing down. Besides all the announcements from the big companies (new Xbox bundles, Overwatch LEGO sets, new graphics cards from Nvidia, even a new Super Smash Bros), I got a glimpse into the gaming community, exploring the worlds of Warcraft, Hearthstone and the massively popular Fortnite, playing new games, even experimenting with VR!

Fortnite booth at Gamescom 2018

The future of gaming lies in customer experience

Nevertheless, my main goal was to understand the way companies see the future of gaming, what they expect and aim to achieve, the challenges faced and the strategies being implemented. I had the opportunity to speak with some industry leaders from the likes of Nintendo, Ubisoft, and Xbox and what amazed me the most was how concerned they were with their players’ experience and satisfaction.

In the past, the main focus (and sometimes the only one), used to be the game. Today, the range of choices is much bigger. It’s not just about creating the best game, but also the best experience. Gamers need to feel both engaged by the game and the company that created it. As the customers’ retention becomes more and more relevant, there are metrics we should consider:

  • Response times: customers should be acknowledged as quickly as possible, and so it’s important to measure First Response and Average Reply Times. Keep in mind customer expectations vary according to different channels (e-mail, chat, social media), so plan your response time strategy respectively.
  • Resolution time: it’s not just about getting back to them, it’s also about solving their issues as quickly as possible. This metric helps to understand the time it takes to do just that, and it is measured as a percentage of requests solved in a determined period. It reflects effectiveness and shows you how many times a ticket was solved on the first interaction.
  • Customer Satisfaction: determines whether customers are happy and how the business/service is perceived by them. It’s important to be proactive about it because some players don’t complain, they simply stop playing.
  • Backlog: refers to unsolved issues. It happens when there are more support requests then the ones that can be handled.
  • Ticket distribution: monitoring how support requests are distributed can uncover issues with the product, service, or even with agents from the support team.

Armed with these metrics, the next challenge is to figure out how Customer Support teams should look at them to understand what is wrong. If there is an unexpected increase in the number of support tickets, or too many interactions per ticket, it can frequently mean that the customer is not getting the right support.

But that’s easier said than done. Of course, you want to provide great support to your players, but that can be complex, and costly. According to a European Gaming press release, customer support costs currently make up 50 to 60% of a certain Asian iGaming company Costs of Goods Sold. These costs are particularly high as companies tend to centralize their operations in the few regulated markets and therefore need to import a large number of staff for multilingual customer support teams.

So how do you support your entire player base all day, every day, in every language, in every channel, at a low cost? I’ve discussed this over and over again during Gamescom and in every single conversation, we realized the solution is finding the perfect support agent.

In other words, finding an agent with superpowers.

Grab your superpower

But what should be the profile of these super support agents? After asking around, these were the most common answers:

  • Expertise: no one understands gamers better than other gamers. And so, the best person to answer all your customer requests is a person that also plays, or intimately understands, the game. That’s non-negotiable.
  • Quality: the solution you provide your players should, for obvious reasons, be correct. Your customer support team must receive proper training and have access to resources, information systems, and internal knowledge bases to have an understanding of what fixes what.
  • Speed: the agent must be quick when replying to the request, as efficiency and accuracy alone are not enough. The more time a gamer spends getting answers, the less time a gamer has to play (or the more likely he starts playing something else).
  • Multilingual support: the agent must fluently speak different languages so that the conversation can flow and the player be engaged: speaking the player’s native language will make everything so much easier for both.
  • Personalization: In the age of bots and mass emailing, the ability to show empathy and care is becoming more and more important. Receiving a personalized reply shows that the brand values you as a customer.
Ghostbusters cosplayers at Gamescom 2018

To bot or not

Customer support automation is one of the hottest topics being discussed today. Gamescom was no exception. For the three days of the event, there was a lot of talk about how automation could solve support teams’ challenges, and speculation about whether technology will really substitute humans in the future. While many people say it may happen, we know that at least it won’t happen now. Humans are still essential to build efficient operations and are the only ones capable of properly engaging with other humans.

I was glad to hear companies are not willing to replace people with bots, but instead use bots to solve annoying repetitive tasks and leave humans to handle the more complex problems. Those are the ones that build brand loyalty, and the ones we’re really good at.

So, how can we combine those CS metrics, agents with superpowers, and automation in a single solution and solve the current challenges of CX professionals in the gaming industry? Well, that’s why we joined forces with our partners in crime 5CA and Helpshift. Together, we can help you design the ultimate player experience with multilingual support tools and player experience management.

Unlock the next level of customer support in gaming

Just imagine this. Through our AI-powered, human-refined Translation as a Service platform, Unbabel gives multilingual superpowers to your support team agents, which can be hired by their skills and knowledge without any of the language constraints. You leverage Helpshift’s AI wizardry to help bring to life optimized service operations, maximized ROI and improved CSAT. Finally, 5CA brings out the big guns with their outstanding customer support at scale, so you can focus on building the relationship with your players. How does that sound?

It may sound too good to be true, and yet, it’s all up for grabs. But sponsored moment aside, we’d love to hear more about your challenges. How are you looking at these support metrics? How are you tackling your player’s support experience? And perhaps most importantly, how are you keeping your players happy?

Because in the end, it’s not about the algorithms, the graphic rendering, or even about cheat codes that make you obscenely rich. It’s about the people.

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