Managing a customer support strategy in mobile games is riddled with bloating overhead costs, time consumption and for the most part is fairly thank-less. In owning the customer support strategy for one of the highest ticket volumes games on iOS (The New York Times Crosswords App), we’ve iterated on our support strategy more times than we can count on two hands.
This post is a high level take away on how you can flip your customer support on it’s head and treat the channel as a thriving community engagement strategy that delivers valuable qualitative feedback that will shape your milestone development and create a lasting gameplay experience for your users.
In App Support
Today’s third party support tools have become increasingly powerful in ways that just weren’t available to app developers 2-3 years ago. As these tools have caught onto the growing mobile market they have focused their feature development on areas that help mobile devs engage directly with their users inside their mobile apps. Leading the charge is the well known UserVoice. With both an iOS and Android SDK, uservoice allows developers to layer an in app view that users can interact with to submit tickets, read FAQ’s and even recommend features they’d like to see in your game.
The move towards embedding your customer support portal in game can have significant impacts on the engagement level of your users. In some cases we’ve seen as much as a 1000% increase in end user engagement. With Uservoice this is solved through a mechanic known as the forum, a 1 to many platform for users to vote on issues rather than submitting a ticket to the same problem many other users may be facing.
Managing the Volume Increase
With increased end user engagement you’ll need to be wary of the increased amount of resources needed for the channel to run smoothly. The traditional support ecosystem treats an end user as an individual with a problem, the over worked agent then typically solves the users problem in a robotic pre-generated macro.
The Community Management approach focuses on the Problem > Solution relation, not the Agent > User relation.
Instead of this traditional one to one relationship, we can treat many users with the same problem as a single ticket and increase the agents bandwidth.
The mechanism for managing this one to many relationship is in feedback forums. When someone begins to write a support ticket in game we can suggestion possible feedback submissions that are in line with the issue they may be having. Instead of submitting a new ticket into our support queue we can have the user vote on the issue and instantly provide them with more information on whether the fix is imminent, the feature is no longer supported, or instruction on how to overcome the issue. Additionally, when resolved, a mass resolution email is sent to everyone who voted for it.
Feedback forums create true real-time community management in the app. Since what can be talked about in the forum is flexible, you’ll find your users will use it as their primary method for communicating with you. Users who may have also been hesitant to reach out will join the conversation thanks to ban wagon mentality.
Pulling in contextual Data
When using an in game support layer you have the ability to increase the amount of contextual data you can send in with a ticket. This helps categorize tickets, identify potential lack of support for device or OS, and in trying to recreate issue on a QA device.
You can also use this contextual data to optimize the experience for power users. Setting rules to prioritize end users who have invested a lot of currency into your game is a simple example of how you can keep important players engaged.
Answering questions before they’re asked
An in game support layer also means you can provde users with na FAQ and knowledge base. In doing this you are providing solutions to problems right away, and decreasing your ticket volume by up to 60%. This has a large impact on the overhead cost of maintaining the channel and keeps users playing the game rather than being frustrated and quitting.
Create a feedback loop for your team
You should be aiming to update your team with 1-2 week post-mortems for every update that has an impact on gameplay. A good way to report to your team is by helping them understand the different personality types that are playing your game based on the four bartle types. Look at your highest voted feedback and identify which personality types may be affected by it. This is a great way to have your community manager speak in a language the game designer can understand and direclty influence.
Let’s take this quick snapshot as an example:
140 Votes – Bring Scores Back
A game design decision to remove a core feature to simplify the game can have very active backlash that should be analyzed in parallel to metrics that could be influenced by the change.
Your community Management strategy should help provide your game in providing you with qualitative feedback that will lead you to investigating further in a quantitative way.