Gaming Industry Overview:
The gaming industry has seen phenomenal growth in the last ten years and will continue to have unprecedented growth in the coming years (Forbes). According to newzoo’ s research report, the industry will see a whopping 180-billion-dollar revenue by 2021. Forbes predicted that by 2017 the gaming industry would grow by 80-billion-dollars, but it went up to 127.78-billion dollars which again denotes the pace at which the industry is growing.
Though the industry is having interminable potential on a global level, only a few major companies focus on their customer support and rest of them look at gaming products as a one-time selling product which doesn’t require any further customer support or service. Also, few gaming studios get deceived and see gamers as a commodity, a mere number on the screen and fail to provide professional customer support, be it technical, payment or gaming related issues. While launching a game, most companies make R&D on the design, development and promotions but miss out on the customer support service. In order to make a competitive difference and standout in this rapidly growing market segment, customer support service will provide a leg up and eventually improves the revenue generation.
Benefits of customer support in the gaming industry:
Regardless of the industry type, one may understand, that if an effective customer/client-provider relationship is established, the customer satisfaction will have a positive impact on the business. Thus far, only a few major gaming studios provide customer support through third-party vendors, and hence the gaming community depend mostly on peer-to-peer support for technical or any other gaming related assistance. By providing the appropriate customer support and experience, companies can measure the satisfaction level of customers, receive real-time feedback from gamers to improve their products, create brand loyalty and finally to improve player’s lifetime value.
These days, any form of customer support is viewed as a profit-generating source and not just a cost center, similarly, gaming industry should also be looking at gaming support service as a revenue generator as it directly impacts the bottom line of the business. The following are the positive outcomes of having strong gaming support for the players.
- Better player understanding: Gamers are the most proactive and supportive customers but still players find it difficult if they face problems such as toxic communities (spammers), game lag (software or hardware update), the present troubleshooting methods, etc. for example, the mass effect andromeda game which had major performance issue, despite players having the best system requirement and internet.
What lacks here is the human intervention, every time when a gamer calls a customer helpline, it takes to an Interactive Voice Process (IVR) for suggestions to follow and at the final stage, the voice prompts the player to reach out to the company’s website where they can view frequently answered questions (FAQs) or meet people who face similar issues. Hence, this leaves the players extremely frustrated at times. Having a customer support team that embodies individuals who can match the gamers mindset or agents who play games themselves will help companies to have a better understanding about the gaming community, to provide an optimized gaming support solution.
- Better Customer Segmentation: Gamers come with different mindsets & demographic groups, hence it essential for companies to tailor games according to these differences. For example a) PC gamers generally possess technical abilities and they feel proud to make research to fix problems through websites or by downloading patches, b) Console players typically seek for easy guidance through customer support, and few other players tend to join communities to get their issues solved. By having a personalized customer support system, companies can design and that match the gamer’s requirements
- Real-time and Multichannel Support: With the technological evolution in the customer support process, companies can offer around the clock customer support with the various multi-channel support tools such as IVR, Voice, Chat, AI Chatbots, email, and social media.
- Feedback based products: As mentioned already, gamers are the most active customers and will go to any extent in order to have a better gaming experience. By having a customer support system to receive feedback and develop products that reflect their inputs will make gamers extremely happy, this will eventually improve the customer retention rate followed up by word of mouth marketing. In order to understand some of the common problems faced by gamers, the company should make a constant effort to receive their feedback.
Challenges in gaming support services:
According to a CNBC report from Morris, the gaming industry is no different from any other industry when it comes to customer support services. The gamers are considered as one of the most vocal customers and tend to voice out their opinions very fast in their gaming communities and social media platforms, so its all the more challenging to address these issues by even some of the largest companies like Microsoft when they had to face issues during the launch of Xbox 360, as some of the initially developed units were not stable and customer faced blacked out screens or unplayable saved games.
- Hardware and Software issues: As companies are developing complex and advanced gaming options for players, to compete with their rivals - the need to integrate high-end software and hardware has become inevitable and hence every product goes through multiple updates. While the customer service representative is trying to fix the hardware issue, there could be a simple software patch up would solve the issue which might take several hours or even days to identify.
- Social Media talks: Gamers are perhaps the biggest online community, they have their communities on social media as well as their own online forums, hence any issue is spread virally which becomes a huge challenge for gaming companies if there is a glitch in the initial phase of the launch. EA faced this issue in the year 2013 when they launched Battlefield 4 when some of the elements were virtually unplayable. So, they had to stop further expansions until the core product worked properly.
Considering these two major challenges, let's discover the possible remedies or gaming support services that a gaming studio or company can opt for.
What’s the best gaming support service approach to have as a company?
- Choosing your customer base: Anyone who has a couple of games installed in their mobile phones is not called as gamers, typically gamers have their own gaming set up, have thorough knowledge about the gaming scenario, spend hours playing on a regular basis. These gamers are more loyal when they like the product and service, also, they have an influencing hand on the gaming market. Companies should develop a customer support service targeting these gamers, by measuring the customer experience and retention rate.
- Outsourcing: Since most gaming companies focus more on their design, development and promotion, they don’t usually possess an in-house customer support team. Also, the time and cost involved to set up their own customer support team are much higher than outsourcing to an experienced service company, hence it is best suggested to outsource the gaming support service to an external vendor and focus their resources on the current processes.
- An integrated approach:Once we have chosen the right gaming support company, the next thing would be to analyze and determine what kind of customer support would cover a 365-degree approach to provide an integrated solution. The four major gaming services which are mandatory to form an integrated customer support approach are
- Game Testing
- Technical Troubleshooting
- Game Piracy
- Localization (customization of the product based on the demographics requirements)
While choosing a customer support service provider, the gaming studio should ensure that the company can support in all the above-mentioned service line, since it would be a one-stop solution for all their customer related problems.
- An optimized solution: The third crucial decision is to make, how are they going to deliver the service. Key things to check for an optimized customer service solution provider:
- Gaming Industry Experience
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Tools and Technologies Readiness (Interactive Voice Process (IVR), Phone support, chat support, AI Chatbots, RPA, email, online, Social Media remote connections, VNC etc.)
- Skilled Human Resource [Technical sound (both hardware and software teams) Gaming knowledge, being empathetic, effective communication]
- Other crucial factors to consider for choosing an outsourcing vendor is to find out whether they can deliver the speed and quality to match the brand image. Certifications for quality and security such as ISO, ISI, Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score and Net promoter score (NPS) are primary considerations to have.