5 More Persistent and Harmful Player Support Misconceptions That Will Affect the Player Experience
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Last week we looked at 7 of the most persistent and harmful Player Support misconceptions that will affect the Player Experience. Judging from the reactions and feedback I received, many seemed to hit home, and more were suggested.
In this week’s blog we’ll take a closer look at an additional set of Player Support misconceptions that are just as persistent and harmful. So let’s dive right in.
1) Player Support is reactive
Being there when you are needed by your players is obviously critical. You want to respond to questions and problems as they arise. However, there’s a lot to gain from anticipating clear Player Experience problems that may arise. By being proactive and taking the initiative, even communicating to your audience on these ahead of time, temporary volume generators that would normally stress your Player Support resources can be avoided. This not only allows your Player Support specialists to focus on any unexpected challenges, but it is a powerful display towards your audience that you genuinely care.
2) Player Support service quality is all about rules and policies
Many studios believe that having a strict set of policies for player interactions is enough to deliver a positive Player Experience. Which might make sense if your Player Support team would not need to deal with individual cases on a regular basis. Blanket policies hardly work and can be a strenuous experience for the player. From the specialists’ perspective, they may feel deprived of the trust to use common sense or make judgement calls according to the context of the situation.
What is more helpful, however, is forming and following a business philosophy reflecting the core values of the studio and the brand you’re representing. Your best bet is to create a framework of principles and values within which you encourage autonomy and responsibility for each employee. Guidance is still needed, but rather than being controlled, your specialists will feel they’re in control of delivering high-quality service to your players.
3) Player Support requires virtually no (tech) resources
Email, specialists, scripts and policies; while each of these ingredients would have helped you respond to player messages in the early 2000’s, it is by no means an efficient nor effective, or even scalable Player Support solution.
- CRM software: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools allows you to receive, categorise and respond to player messages. Recent CRM software is often powered with automated features, workflow management, machine learning and analytics features to name a few. Many offer in-app support solutions (integration via SDK), which clearly is the way for mobile game studios, and integrate with a variety of channels. Integration, new features and regular maintenance requires technical expertise.
- Administration portal: These allow Player Support specialists to manipulate or search for player profile data in order to solve a support request. Most of these are a visual representation of the profile data with a layer of functionalities added on top of it. They’ll allow your specialists to link accounts with identifiers, manipulate scores or in-game resources, reset player progress, etc. Technical expertise is continuously required as new game features often require new administrative functions. Under no circumstances do you want anyone needing to directly manipulate a raw json file. Ever!
Depending on your needs (and size/resources of the studio) there are a variety of additional “tools” you may want to look at to level up your Player Support. If you have in-game chat, ensure you have moderation software in place. Project or work management software is often desired for task and issue tracking. And if you want to prove the return of investment (ROI) of your Player Support department, get resources to integrate your own data with Business Intelligence data. Investing in the right tools will positively affect the Player Experience.
4) Player feedback is the same as negativity and complaining
Players have expectations and opinions, but often also require assistance. Player messages come in many forms. Most of them can however be categorised in the following categories:
- Player Feedback: the process of obtaining a player’s opinion about your studio, game or a particular feature. This can be either praise or criticism.
- Player Complaints: the process of receiving reports from players on a dysfunctionality in their interaction with your studio, game or a particular feature. This can be anything ranging from your company’s stance on sustainability to toxic behaviour or bug reports.
- Player Support Requests: the process of receiving reports from players who require assistance on matters related to your studio, game or a feature. Here you’ll find your GDPR requests, account recovery cases, how-to questions and more.
Player Feedback, the praise and criticism, should never be avoided. Accept that players will sometimes have a different opinion. When you open up for dialogue instead of resisting, you can and should use criticism as a tool for improving the Player Experience. Many studios these days actively encourage players to provide feedback and use both praise and criticism to their advantage.
Player Complaints are reports of dysfunctions that directly impair the Player Experience and a player’s trust. Failure to resolve these will lead to player frustration; repeated failure to resolve them will lead to an increase in player churn. On the other side of the coin, removing dysfunctions leads to restoration of trust. The faster complaints are resolved, the more players feel the studio or team behind the game values its players.
Under normal circumstance you’ll find Support Requests to make up the majority of the volume. Out of all messages from players, they should be the most straightforward to handle, provided you have the right toolset in place. Many of these can and should be made frictionless and automated where possible.
5) Only Player Support is responsible for Player Satisfaction
Let’s face it — software comes often with unwanted behaviour, features are not always working according to expectations. No matter the amount of goodwill your Player Support specialists may show in their messages, they will not be able to directly affect the quality and performance of a game.
And while gestures of goodwill or tokens of appreciation may temporarily alleviate player frustration, ultimately overall Player Satisfaction is dictated by the amount of friction during the whole Player Experience. Use Player Feedback loops to plan necessary Quality of Life improvements; work together with your audience to improve Player Satisfaction.
There you have it, 5 more misconceptions on Player Support that will affect the Player Experience. Do you agree or disagree with them? Like last time, if you think I have missed some that irk you personally, please let me know in the comments.
Missed the previous blog with 7 persistent and harmful Player Support misconceptions that will affect the Player Experience? You can find it here.