Image: Courtesy of Patrick Tomasso
From action to adventure, the video gaming industry has come a long way since the explosion of the internet. Prior to this, video arcades housed some of the earliest electronic games—including Pong and Gran Trak 10 in the early 1970s. Despite their simplistic mechanical design, as some of the earliest electronic games, they are firmly rooted in popular culture. Their appeal and popularity sheds light on how competitive the human race is. We want better results, we want to reach our potential, we want ultimate success.
And today, gaming has revolutionized into a social, interactive hobby, where gaming enthusiasts can compete with a global collective of players via desktop, console, tablet or mobile. Enter the online world of epic fiction—an authentic, enchanting social experience. The gaming industry understands how to tap into our ancestral needs, not only to display courage and improve our status, but to feel connected as part of a tribe.
The Gaming Reality
In non-fictional terms, the industry has undergone a total transformation to maximise revenue growth and consumer engagement on a global scale. In 2018, the video games market was worth more than $130bn and is likely to become a $300bn-plus industry by 2025, according to GlobalData figures. Mobile gaming has already outstripped the console and personal computer (PC) markets. Over the coming years, with the increased maturity of streaming (supported by 5G), cloud services, and mobile esports, more gamers will shift towards mobile gaming platforms, driving the expansion of this market to over $100bn by 2022.
The exponential growth of the video games industry is driving its redesign from a product-focused model to as-a-service model. Accelerated growth has compelled leading gaming companies to redefine and transform their business models in order to stay competitive.
According to consumer research and analytics company Newzoo in their 2018 Global Games Market Report, the number of gamers has grown to 2.3 billion globally. Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing games market capturing 52% of the global market—fuelled by rising smartphone usage, improved internet infrastructure, and competitive and immersive mobile games.
There’s an increasing demand for high standards of customer service unknown to the industry a decade ago. Today, customer experience is a competitive tool. The market is flooded with consumer options, so gaming companies who are proactive, attentive, emphatic and most of all fast-responders—can outsmart their competitors.
Servicing users around the clock in different times zones and catering to their specific needs demands a proactive, carefully planned approach. So how can gaming companies offer high quality support to a global, diverse audience to match their growth goals?
The Experience Era – Level up CX!
Video games entice and hook players in a collaborative, immersive and interactive environment. Creators are continually looking for ways to enhance in-game experiences, yet the quality of the experience doesn’t end there. Combat games can be highly intense where players invest lot of time in their game character. Hours of levelling-up can keep players in a constant state of fight with hearts racing and adrenaline pumping.
When a player encounters a glitch, can’t log in, or their game crashes, they expect it to be resolved quickly. Gamers don’t have patience for average customer service—they have low tolerance for interruptions and delays, they want it fixed now. Ultimately, they want to resume their position without consequence. Serious gamers are adrenaline chasers. When they encounter a problem mid-play, their adrenaline plunges, to be replaced by frustration or anger. This is a stark lesson every gaming company has experienced where users’ frustration levels can match a real-life crisis scenario. If customer support teams aren’t equipped to deliver effective customer support, users will quickly move in the direction of the competition. What’s even more damning is the likelihood of publishing their annoyances to gaming communities across forums, review sites and social platforms.
Customer Experience = Gaming Experience
So, here’s how we can classify gamers and their needs, along with CX solutions to meet them where they are:
- Speed – Gamers expect an immediate response and fast issue resolution so they can continue playing. They definitely don’t want to lose their ranking after the strategy and skill they’ve demonstrated to get this far. They expect rewards not problems or outages and certainly not a lengthy wait for support. Historically, support responses took longer than a week.
CX Solution – Resolve customer issues quickly and efficiently. Some key metrics include:
- Service level: the efficiency of your team when handling tickets in a queue.
- First resolution: the percentage of tickets the agent resolves without having to transfer, escalate or return to again.
- Customer satisfaction: measured via customer surveys and assessed against quality standards.
- Customer Support (user segmented) – Today, gamers are diverse folk, no longer the geeky stereotypes. They span a wide demographic of age, gender, location, skill level and technical competency. Historically, gamers used forums to troubleshoot issues amongst peers, unsurprising considering the industry had a poor reputation for response times.
CX Solution – Robust support programmes are tailored to a wide range of personas and pre-qualified accordingly. It’s crucial to ensure agents are trained to identify gaming personas and provide solutions tailored to their needs, activity levels and spend.
- Localisation – support services localised to users in their native language whether that be German or Russian or Chinese have a CX advantage. Personalization helps to satisfy users’ needs. For example, the growth of the Asia-Pacific games market and localisation strategies for delivering products and support services in native languages such as; Mandarin, Burmese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai, Nepalese, Indonesian.
CX Solution – 24/7 Multilingual customer support with clear guidelines of how to access via channels such as chatbots, email etc.
- Security – It’s common for gaming enthusiasts to worry about their account security due to the prevalence of hacking and the perceived value of long-standing accounts. The hacker’s mission is to steal virtual goods and sell them for real world money. Ensuring vigorous account security measures enables users to quickly lock their accounts if compromised, especially if financial information is involved.
CX Solution – Customer Support agents who demonstrate relevant soft skills to manage users concerns, while also being able to detect hackers who present themselves as users. Because gamers range from children to adults, it’s important that agents display care and empathy throughout their communications.
Acquiring Customer Support Talent in the Gaming Industry
What’s apparent about modern video games is how strategy, positioning and teamwork skills come into play. Acquiring the right talent could also be approached in this way.
Strategy: Talent attraction and acquisition – What strategies will you utilize to source the right talent? Where are they currently located? Who are they working for and how will you attract them to your brand?
Positioning: Which audience segments will they service? How will they communicate your brand to the target market/ persona? What problems will they solve? What will they do better than your competitors do?
Teamwork: What soft skills should your Customer Support teams demonstrate? How will you elevate your teams to work towards a common goal? How will you manage team performance?
As gaming companies expand their international footprint to serve a wide range of users with diverse interests and preferences, there is immense value in offering localisation services beyond content translation—to include agent customer support. A comprehensive approach to enhancing gaming CX can deliver a competitive advantage to providers. AI can be utilized to sort and direct customer requests, with self-service solutions comprised of FAQs, user generated content and chatbots. However, the power of human interaction in the form of live customer support cannot be under-estimated.
Covalen provides people-centric managed solutions, outsourcing and advisory services.