Games companies rank lowest in customer support ratings – here’s how it can be fixed

Leading customer support software provider Zendesk feels that there are two primary issues facing customer support in the games industry right now - he're why it's important, and how these issues can be fixed

Zendesk

We spoke to Sam Boonin of Zendesk about the issues facing customer support – “One is the massive scale of support incidents that gaming companies experience, as more and more consumers play their games on a daily basis.” “You can see this from the massive numbers of DAUs (daily active users) that many online and social games have.”

“The second challenge is the gamer’s real-time expectations. If they have a support issue, they expect an immediate resolution.”

For the first time, engagement directly correlates with revenue.

“For the first time, engagement directly correlates with revenue. Gaming companies make money the more people play, not when the game is initially purchased. This is much different than the old days where you bought a console game.”

Traditionally, support was totally disconnected from the game experience.

“You called a call centre or sent in an email, and the game company would take their sweet time getting back to you. Gaming companies didn’t care about abandonment because the purchase was already made. Today, engagement = monetization, so abandonment is a huge issue, and traditional methods for supporting customers don’t work as well.”

Angry Birds

Zendesk offers a "consistent way of gathering insights of issue volumes and types in different areas to better understand the needs of our customers and feed customer feedback to the rest of the organization" - Saara Bergstrom, Rovio (maker of Angry Birds)

New gaming companies have different outlooks: How customer service is a key focus at Rovio, maker of Angry Birds

Rovio told us how it is a “fan and fun-focused company and that extends to customer service as well” – and as  such it’s customer support includes a  “traditional contact center” powered by Zendesk for all aspects of their business, ranging from technical game support to online shopping and other feedback. “Additionally, we serve our fans on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as locally in China on Sina Weibo, for example. We also offer basic self-service facilities for solving problems and are planning to develop these further.”

So why is customer support so important to Rovio?

They told us how “…our goal is to offer our fans easy access to support wherever they want to get in touch with us be it via email or via a tweet. We also go through vasts amounts of fan mail and make sure everyone gets a personal message from us”.

“Each fan gets a timely and friendly response to their questions, concerns, or feedback”

“We have a dedicated team of professionals who make sure each fan gets a timely and friendly response to their questions, concerns, or feedback. Our support team takes pride on our high customer satisfaction scores, powered by Zendesk, and short resolution times – in particular, we score very high in solving problems in one shot, despite the large quantities of requests we receive. This shows that we have been able to combine both efficiency and great service very well.”

“At the end of the day, we’re doing our job right when our products are of rock solid quality and our fans are happy!”

So what is different about the video game consumer? Gamers have a demand for real-time – and this extends to support

“Gamers have a demand for real-time – that is – how the game loads, how it plays, and when they get support. These expectations are vastly different from other entertainment experiences. Consumers have adjusted to expecting poor customer service from say their telecommunications or cable company, and will deal with long wait times for other entertainment, but will not tolerate this from a Zynga game. The expectations are different.”

Zendesk is great for game developers for three reasons.

  • First, it’s easy to incorporate Zendesk support into the game experience itself with technology that helps gamers get support while still playing.
  • Second, Zendesk helps game developers offer self-help through our Forums. One leading game company drives a 10:1 ratio of self-help to support tickets, which matches what gamers want to experience.
  • Third, Zendesk helps game developers deal with a massive volume of tickets – in some cases hundreds of thousands of tickets per month – through business rules and other automations.

Zendesk

Zendesk enabled me to scale out our support. In six months, we went from literally nothing to an average agent ticket throughout of over 2,000 tickets per month.

“One European game developer put it best: “Zendesk enabled me to scale out our support. In six months, we went from literally nothing to an average agent ticket throughout of over 2,000 tickets per month. This is unprecedented in my career.”

Video game companies rank almost last on their technical support quality ratings compared to all other consumer electronics

Video game companies rank almost last on their technical support  quality ratings compared to all other consumer electronics (source: PC magazine) – and Sam has some insight. “They are manufacturers, used to multi-tier distribution and are unused to directly engaging with their consumers.”

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“Zendesk helps them learn to better engage multiple channels — the Web, email, phone, chat, even social channels like directly, most importantly through Twitter and Facebook. “

 How can games companies improve their support?

“You have to have a commitment to providing good support; it must be considered an integral part of the customer experience. It cannot be an afterthought, simply relegated to low-wage workers or off-shored for cost savings. Second, game companies should focus on the metrics that matter in support: customer satisfaction, average response and resolution times. All of these are easy to measure and track with Zendesk.”

Deflection: The art of satisfying customer requests without human intervention through FAQs, forums, communities and self-help tools

“Ticket deflection is the art of satisfying customer requests without human intervention through FAQs, forums, communities and self-help tools. For example, Zendesk offers ticket deflection at the point of submission. If a customer submits a support ticket for a lost password, Zendesk will point that customer to the appropriate knowledge base article before submitting the ticket, satisfying the customer’s request and “deflecting” it from a support agent.”

GTA San Andreas

Deflection: "Post articles as soon as issues arise and ask people to log in and subscribe to be automatically emailed as soon as there are updates. Then update frequently. This prevents repeat follow-ups that use up time that should be spent fixing the problem." Justin Scott, Rockstar

Speedy response: Wrapping any business logic and workflow around these tickets will increase response times dramatically.

“Using macros, which are standard answers to common questions (like “I want a refund”), as well as automations that handle different tickets in different ways. Wrapping any business logic and workflow around these tickets will increase response times dramatically. Zendesk’s gaming customers are the most productive support teams we have on our product. “

“Zendesk Benchmark data shows that response times are the biggest indicator for customer satisfaction. Simply put, the faster gaming companies can address their customer inquiries, the happier their customers will be. Gaming companies – like other entertainment companies – struggle with fast response, and have some of the lowest satisfaction ratings of any industry. Entertainment finished last in satisfaction in our recent index at 77%, and they were third-lowest in average time to respond at over 31 hours. There is massive chance for improvement.”

Anyone can easily sign up for a 30 day free trial on Zendesk - all trials start on the Plus+ plan where you’ll get the best overview of product features.