The Evolution of Gaming
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 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 its growth has been phenomenal to date. 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.
According to consumer research and analytics company Newzoo in their 2020 Global Games Market Report, the number of gamers has grown to 2.8 billion globally. Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing games market capturing 54% of the global market—fuelled by rising smartphone usage, improved internet infrastructure, and competitive and immersive mobile games.
In their 2020 report, Newzoo explore how gaming is becoming the new social media, as well as how the next-generation consoles are bringing new business models.
Such is the exponential growth of the video games industry that it is driving its own 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.
The Experience Era – Level up CX!
Video games entice and hook players in a collaborative, immersive and interactive environment. 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 state of fight with hearts racing and adrenaline pumping.
Creators are continually looking for ways to enhance in-game experiences, yet the quality of the experience does not end there. When a player encounters a glitch, cannot 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 may resemble a real-life crisis scenario.
If gaming providers are not equipped to deliver effective customer support, users will quickly move in the direction of the competition. To seek validation, there is a tendency to air their complaints amongst gaming communities on forums, review sites and social platforms.
Customer Experience is a key differentiator
Historically, the gaming community has relied on peer community support to answer questions and troubleshoot technical issues. Today, there’s an increasing demand for high standards of customer service unknown to the industry a decade ago, which puts a new focus on customer experience. Because the market is now flooded with consumer options, gaming companies who are proactive, attentive, emphatic and most of all fast-responders—can outsmart their competitors.
From game payment transactions to customer support or technical support, user experience serves as a competitive differentiator in this rapidly growing market.
Gaming Customer Support Outsourcing
Given the rate of video game development, it’s not surprising that resources are tied up in the process of creating and promoting the video game. Consequently, a gaming company may not have an in-house or a dedicated customer support team.
There are significant time and cost requirements to hiring and developing skilled in-house customer support teams to service global users, and even more so across different time zones and unfamiliar geographies. For this reason, gaming customer support outsourcing is fast becoming the preferred option for gaming providers who want to focus on their core business, deliver a high-quality service—and leverage the CX advantage throughout local and global markets.
24/7 Customer Support 365 days a year
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 customer support to a global, diverse audience to meet their growth goals?
Customer Experience = Gaming Experience
So, here’s how we can classify the service needs of gamers, 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 don’t want to lose their ranking after the strategy and skill they’ve demonstrated so 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 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. Personalisation 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.