At The Heart of The Multi-Billion Dollar Mobile Gaming Industry: Product and Customer Service

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At The Heart of The Multi-Billion Dollar Mobile Gaming Industry

Product and Customer Service

For those of us who remember our first video game as a CD version of Mist inserted into a black, fifty pound desktop computer— a game that was only to be played as a special treat on a rainy day— the amount of time and money that has since been funneled into the gaming industry appears astronomical. And it is. But it isn’t just the sheer growth of the industry that is impressive, it’s also the agility of its evolution alongside the technology boom. The U.S. currently boasts 164.9 Million mobile gamers, and the average person in the U.S. spends $26 annually on mobile games.

Of course, this is hardly surprising considering the rapidity with which consumers have moved to mobile to fulfill all of their needs- be it with banking, email, shopping, or social media. But the mobile gaming industry is unique in that games generate the most revenue of any app type, this despite the fact that 90% of revenue generated by games on the App Store this year came from free-to-play apps (with monetization arising from in-app purchases).

So, the challenge for the mobile gaming industry is simply this: captivate users the moment they launch the game, and keep them engaged long enough to develop loyalty.

Aside from the obvious “develop a good game,” retention often boils down to the responsiveness of your customer support team. When the product comes up short, how do you deal with it? It’s the old adage: it’s not the mistakes you make, but how you react to your mistakes that determine who you are. In mobile gaming, it’s all about being proactive — anticipating those blips.

According to a report done by Econsultancy Multichannel Customer Experience, what matters most to gamers when it comes to support is efficient customer service and a quick resolution to problems. No surprises there: gamers want issues to be fixed quickly and easily, so they can resume gameplay.

These are the key ways to retain users at zero days, seven days, and three months:

In-Game FAQs

The fastest way to give your players efficient customer service and resolution is through self-service. Users like to help themselves; in fact, 67% of respondents to a recent survey said that they prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative. Providing FAQs also serves as a way to deflect unnecessary tickets from cluttering your agents’ support queue, allowing support agents to focus on more difficult issues that require more consultation from the engineering or product teams.

The FAQs section of your app should be both easily accessible and extremely actionable. Most importantly, though, it should actually reflect the most frequently asked questions. Gather analytics on performance metrics for FAQs, as well as analytics on tickets being submitted (that could possibly warrant a new FAQ). This let’s you know what to fix in your FAQ section, and what to add or remove as the game evolves.

In-Game Rating Prompt

In-game rating prompts enables a direct line of communication to your dissatisfied players, creates an actionable feedback loop and provides an opportunity to improve the player experience at large. By redirecting unhappy players to the support channel, where the player can resolve their own issue, not only does this deflect 1 star App Store reviews, but more importantly, quickly identifies potential product issues like bugs or feature functionality. Better to discover a problem directly from your customers than to passively find out from the app store why customers are discontent.

Rating Prompt.001

Segment players with intelligent rating prompts, that only request ratings from users who either recently had an exceptional customer support interaction OR fit your highly engaged customer profile. The key is to never interrupt the player’s experience with an annoying, binary pop-up rating prompt “Do You Like This App”. Instead incorporate a dynamic rating prompt that targets loyal customers with a simple question. ‘Do you enjoy Outlook?” If the answer is yes, then introduce the idea of leaving a rating or review in the App Store. However, if the answer is ‘No’ redirect those users to your in-app customer support chat. If your most loyal customers are unhappy with their experience you want to directly connect with them to receive unfiltered feedback.

In-Game Communication With Support

Customers don’t want to leave your game to find help. They want the option to speak with a support agent in the context of when and where they need help. In-app communication puts a human touch on the player experience. When a player seeks help, make sure they can connect with a real human inside the game — without risking abandonment while they exit the app to open their email and then wait around until an agent finally responds. Allowing your players to contact you within the game not only makes players feel that they are being heard, but also ensures you don’t risk game abandonment.

Create A Rapid and Functional Feedback Loop

Gamers want quick resolution to their problems. And when there’s a product issue, the best way to ensure it gets rapidly rectified is through a functional feedback loop.

There are several different kinds of feedback: one, is literal feedback, in which a customer messages your support team in the app. The second is inferred feedback, which is gained through app usage data such as type of user, what screen was viewed when the app crashed, what app version the user is running, etc. And the third type of feedback is from the support portal to the product and development teams to collaborate on product iterations that align most closely with customer needs.

This feedback loop has both long-term and short-term implications for customer satisfaction. In the short term, the user gets their problem fixed. In the long term, though, all of this feedback can be parsed into tangible improvements or suggestions for where the app should go. Developers get to see what their users want, and can give it to them in updated versions. This keeps the relationship between the user and the game from getting stale, and also practically ensures that users will be happy with updates.

Notice how strongly the words “in-game” were stressed throughout the first three components. Why? It’s faster and easier for customers. In fact, one of the reasons that mobile gaming has been so successful is due to the in-app purchases model (IAP) that developers included early-on. Gamers needed only to click a button to make a purchase, and this ease has, in part, led to mobile gaming being the 80 billion dollar industry it is today.

Why Customer Service is So Important to Mobile Gaming

Recently, Sean Murphy, CEO of Andy OS, wrote a piece for TechCrunch in which he explains why we fell for video games back in 1971 when Pong came out, and now, why we have fallen even harder for mobile gaming.

At the heart of both, he says, lies a sense of freedom. A freedom to be other than oneself, to be extraordinary in any way one could desire. “It is this expansive freedom to explore and fantasize that drives people to justify paying for things in a game that are absolutely not real, much to the chagrin of non-gamers or investors who don’t dabble in the space. Once a gamer has a taste of the freedom that gaming provides, desire becomes demand and entire businesses are built to meet it.”

At the heart of good customer service for mobile gaming is an understanding of the total engrossment that gamers feel when they enter this other world. It is a way not just to escape our reality, but also a venue through which one can truly express oneself and move through space and time in a new and different way. To yank someone out of this experience with a tech glitch or improperly explained step can be jarring and upsetting. For this reason, if nothing else, having lightning-fast, in-app, easy-to-access customer service is incredibly important to the mobile gaming industry.

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Published January 25, 2016
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