By Shawna Wolverton, Executive Vice President of Products, Zendesk
As a parent, you can bet that at any point across the day there is at least one person in my house who is immersed in a game — and that includes me and my husband. This year, gaming has provided us all with much needed moments of solitude, as well as moments of connection and entertainment.
The famous Lenin quote feels particularly apt this year when it comes to customer experience (CX) — there are decades where it seems like nothing happened and weeks where decades happen. It’s obvious the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted all industries — either positively or negatively – and gaming has been one that has continued to thrive. In fact, industry experts predict that consumers will collectively spend over 670 billion hours playing games on their mobile phones this year – that’s a significant increase on the 558 billion hours we spent in 2019. In terms of revenue growth, the mobile gaming industry continued to outpace both PC and console gaming in 2020.
Mobile gaming in particular has a set of unique challenges. Most games have large numbers of both casual and heavy users, as well as free and paid users. And so it is incredibly important to understand how to deal with each kind of player, their level of commitment to the game, and the support they need.
The foundation of any gaming customer service strategy should be to quickly resolve gamers’ issues so they can get back to playing as soon as possible. That is particularly important for mobile gamers who are used to being able to get the support they need within the app they are already using. You can have an engaging, beautifully designed mobile game, but you risk losing customers with a poor experience in a matter of minutes.
As game time increases, so does the need to make support faster
For these companies, the aim is always to keep players in the game, with loyal players tending to invest more time and money in their favorite ones. This makes it imperative for gaming companies to retain existing players, and not just attract new ones (it’s also a much more affordable marketing tactic).
People expect to get answers as quickly as possible and this has put a tremendous amount of pressure on gaming companies and their support teams. According to our Zendesk Benchmark data, customer support requests have increased in nearly every industry since the beginning of the pandemic, but especially in gaming. Average weekly tickets are up more than 25% for gaming companies, compared to roughly 20% for other industries globally. Meanwhile, knowledge base views have soared by more than 60%.
When mobile gamers need help, they often struggle to find where to go to get support, and are often sent down a rabbit hole of confusing and vague self-service channels, interrupting gameplay and adding a layer of friction to the customer experience. However, we are seeing a larger trend shift across industries as customers increasingly prefer the ease and convenience of contacting support in a company’s own mobile app — in other words, within the game itself.
Today we announced that Zendesk is bringing seamless customer experiences to mobile gaming apps with the first native customer support SDK for Unity, the world’s leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D (RT3D) content, including games. This partnership enables players to get immediate help via messaging support within the game’s own app without having to leave the game or interrupt their experience, and will provide integrated customer support functionality that can be set up in minutes.
Partnerships like this are proof that gaming companies share our vision that customer service solutions should enhance the mobile gaming experience, not disrupt it. By meeting players where they are, gaming companies can eliminate gameplay interruptions and solve problems smoothly.
Good support translates to good value
We know that customers prefer to seek answers on their own, without involving customer support agents—and gamers are no exception. It can be argued that usually tech savvy gamers have been ahead of the curve in this respect. But the last thing players want to do is leave their favorite game in order to conduct a web search or call a customer support number.
Many gaming studios are under the impression that they don’t have the bandwidth or resources to provide constant player support, which encourages gamers to seek help over peer-to-peer networks, like third party community forums. While that may work sometimes, game developers have more control over the customer service experience if they provide their own support channels, which should also include company-hosted communities. And with the rapid growth of mobile games this year, it’s more important than ever for players to get the help they need – and even connect with other players – so that they continue to stay engaged.
At Zendesk, we talk a lot about how companies need an omnichannel customer experience strategy that makes it easy for customers to engage with your business, where and when it’s right for them. Channels need to be connected so conversations are seamless, agents are more productive, and information can be shared across your company — all without losing focus. In many ways, this mimics how games are designed to move you seamlessly through each stage of your quest, each level a little more advanced than the last.
Your support strategy should be the same, made up of multiple layers of increasing complexity, starting with self-service knowledge bases and chatbots that can tap into FAQs gleaned from issues brought up on various forums like Reddit and Discord. Automation tools can then help escalate issues from self-service channels into an instant messaging environment where players are able to talk directly with a support agent to get the expert help they need.
The winner is customer experience
Ultimately, providing great customer support has always been about creating a seamless experience for customers that lets them get back to their day – or in this case, their game – faster. Mobile gaming companies are no different, in that they need to embed quick and easy ways for customers to get the help they need inside the game.
While the gaming industry has experienced an exponential boom this year, developers and publishers will need to keep their fingers on the trigger for what’s to come in the months and years ahead. With significant growth comes significantly bigger expectations to continually deliver a better experience across the player’s journey.
And as some of the world’s leading gaming companies have realized, inventive game design and brilliant code are only part of that path to success—the real end game is a winning customer experience, from start to finish.