A Guide to Building Killer Player Support Operations

This article was originally published at The PX Hub.

One of the more common questions I receive from people in newly-formed studios is how would I set up Player Support (PS) Operations for success. More often than not my answer ends up being “it depends”, as there are so many different factors to keep in consideration. No game or studio is ever the same. This means that there is no clear-cut answer, no secret formula for certain success.

Yet, there are a couple of components you should add to your proverbial toolbox to increase the probability of succeeding. This blog post will touch on a set of key building blocks for creating killer Player Support Operations at your studio:

  1. CRM software that suits the needs of your audience and your PS team
  2. a PS administration portal to manipulate player profile data
  3. a full analytics overview and KPI dashboards
  4. a PS Playbook that contains guidelines, policies and describes your voice
  5. a public localised knowledge base with FAQs
  6. Automations and/or Bots to help you with menial tasks
  7. a closed player feedback loop

For the sake of simplicity, this series of blog posts will not cover team-building. How to build and grow efficient Player Support teams merits its own series of posts, which I will tackle at a later point. To make sure you do not miss out on these future blog posts, sign up to The PX Newsletter.

1) CRM Software

When shopping for CRM software, you need to keep a couple of things in mind. Without a doubt, the most important points are:

  • Ease-of-use by the end-user (both player and PS specialist)
  • Ease-of-integration and customisation
  • A fit for your need and that of your audience

The three points above are by no means the only criteria but will get you a better bang for your buck.

2) A PS Administration Portal

Administration portals or consoles allow Player Support specialists to manipulate and/or search for player profile data to solve support requests. You do not want to call on a developer each time a request requires more support than a simple reply. Most consoles are a visual representation of profile data with a layer of functionalities added on top. These will allow your specialists to link accounts with identifiers, manage scores or in-game resources, reset player progress, etc. Do not resort to support agents making changes straight into a JSON file! Ever!

New game features often need new administrative functions or changes to existing ones, so plan adequate resources to update your portal or console.

The most common actions PS specialists need to perform:

  • Search for player profiles
  • Adjust basic player profile data
  • Recover player profiles
  • Gift in-game resources

Depending on feature-depth, the number of functionalities required differs from game to game.

Image by Brandon Serna Correa from Pixabay

3) Analytics and KPI Dashboards

Ensure you have dashboards that show agent performance and high-level operational metrics. Measure at the very least:

  • Contact rate
  • Time to first reply
  • Resolution time
  • Player satisfaction

The best possible scenario consists of linking your operational PS KPIs and data to your business analytics. This will allow you to oversee the effect of positive interactions on retention, LTV and conversion.

4) A PS Playbook (guidelines, policies, voice)

A) Policies help clarify to anyone in the company (and outside of it) how you view particular topics and provide a strategic direction. Examples of policies include:

  • Privacy Policies
  • Service Standards
  • Code of Conduct
  • Reimbursement Policies

B) Guidelines and procedures explain how your PS specialists manage particular conversations or requests. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Receiving player feedback
  • Bug reports
  • Account recovery
  • Reimbursement requests

C) It is not only what you say, but rather the way you say it. Having both a style guide and a tone of voice guide is vital for remaining consistent in your communication.

  • How do you write dates or quantities?
  • How do you use punctuation and capitalisation of words?
  • Do you sound casual? Or formal?
  • Is there room for humour?

ADDED BONUS: Having a PS Playbook in place is also beneficial when on-boarding new team members or a new service partner (BPO).

Image by Mario Aranda from Pixabay

5) A localised Knowledge Base with FAQs

Having a localised knowledge base with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) is crucial nowadays, for Player Support operations. Players want answers now, not tomorrow, so they can get back to enjoying your game. From a studio perspective, they offer many positives. FAQs allow your PS specialists to aid players in need, instead of answering basic questions. Well researched and well-written FAQs can have a deflection rate of 90–95%. They can range from basic information on a feature to more elaborate instructions.

The best FAQs:

  • Answer the right questions
  • Are clear, concise and straightforward
  • Are always up-to-date
  • Are categorised

Always keep an eye on your FAQ analytics and compare with volume generators. Trending FAQs are usually not a good thing. They can be indicators of larger underlying Player Experience issues.

6) Automations and Bots

There are a variety of easy and repetitive tasks that are well-suited for automation. Which is why you will find many of these manageable within most CRM software. Things such as:

  • Auto-responders
  • Requesting information
  • Routing to queues
  • Sending reminders

Then there are more powerful automations where you will need to tie in your Admin console to your CRM. These can be:

  • Name change-requests
  • Refund requests
  • Game log requests
  • Lost item claims

Always make sure to keep an eye on both the performance and outcome of automations. In the worst-case scenario, you could end up with automations that do exactly the opposite of what you expected. And that would deteriorate the player experience and efficiency of your operations.

7) A closed Player Feedback Loop

Player feedback can take many forms; from topical conversations to reviews, surveys and Player Support KPIs. All contain aspects of how players experience your game or brand. But the loop also needs developer feedback and response. What is being planned next? What improvements are being investigated? What did not work as planned? Transparency and honesty matter to players.

Here are four qualities you should strive for in your feedback loop:

  • Do not over-promise or under-deliver
  • Be as transparent as possible
  • Consolidate information
  • Always follow-up

It is worth noting that closed feedback loops are an essential part of successful live-game development. By triggering more engagement within the community, you will gain access to more feedback, which continues the cycle.

A studio that puts time and effort in each of these components will see increased efficiency in its Player Support operations and have more satisfied players, than those without. I hope this post provides a good overview of the essential building blocks and helps out anyone looking to set up Player Support operations. Next, I will dig deeper into each of these components.

If you enjoyed reading this post, make sure to head over to The PX Hub to read even more on Player Experience, subscribe to the newsletter or connect with me on LinkedIn.