As Mobile Gaming Booms, Automation Keeps Player Support Running
By Jade Emmons
With millions of people across the globe social distancing and largely restricted to their homes, it comes as little surprise that the gaming industry is booming. Spending hours in a virtual world provides a break from our current reality and, in a way, enables us to ‘go outside’. Gaming brands have seen a spike in demand during this time and pressures on their contact centers have increased as a result. Indeed, the current demand for player support outstrips that seen during the holiday season (more on that later).
Gaming traffic on Verizon’s network rose by an unprecedented 75 percent in the week following shelter in place announcements. Those under isolation in Wuhan, China, report that gaming was one of the only ways to pass the time and keep them sane. One player spent up to eight hours a day playing various games.
As Christian McCrea, a media studies lecturer specializing in games at Australia’s RMIT University, explains, online gaming communities help to “…create the public space that’s been lost.” He also predicts that the current state of affairs for gaming brands will continue for some time, especially for younger players. “Overall the big impact will be younger kids at home for months on end with parents out of work. Games will be at the centre of a lot of their spare time.”
The challenges facing gaming brands
The pressure to satisfy and support players is immense. There’s an emotional urgency when a player has an inquiry, especially when they are contacting player support in-game. Due to this, gaming brands must find innovative ways to make their support more effective and efficient. Consumers are used to their services being delivered in an instant and the same expectations apply to player support.
Players now demand more from gaming brands, especially when the cost of entry for mobile gaming is exceptionally low (often free). There’s little stopping someone from switching to another game if the first doesn’t engage with them or they experience an issue that isn’t quickly rectified. If demand suddenly increases and support agents become overwhelmed, response times will suffer. When players churn early-on it negatively impacts revenue, and dissatisfied players may take to online communities and social media to voice their experience.
How technology can help
However, there are solutions to these challenges. New technology makes it easier than ever to engage with players at-scale and meet their expectations, even when facing huge upswings in demand.
Forward-thinking gaming brands are empowering their players with easier access to support through asynchronous messaging, automation, and bots. Technology that additionally supports each agent to focus on more complex tasks and relationship-building, instead of fire-fighting when demand spikes.
Enable automation through messaging
Asynchronous messaging is ground-breaking for mobile gaming brands as it empowers a player support team to have fluid and ongoing conversations with players. These aren’t dependent on real-time responses, allowing players to engage with support at a time frame that suits them. In fact, 96 percent of consumers find it important to be able to return to a support conversation, so messaging also helps brands directly meet player expectations.
This type of messaging allows gaming brands to move fluidly between engaging with a player in real-time and returning to a conversation at a later date when it suits the player. Plus, the format is a familiar one, looking much like iMessage, WeChat and various other common messaging platforms.
As well as providing a frictionless support experience, asynchronous messaging enables greater automation, which impacts scalability. Helpshift data finds that agent productivity is boosted when a brand invests in both asynchronous messaging and automation (using bots). These teams also achieve the strongest KPIs.
Automation: answer bots
Automation and bots can also take over a lot of time-consuming and manual work that would’ve previously been done by an agent. Collecting a customer’s contact details and validating their identity, for example, can be carried out initially by a bot. The number of average agent-sent messages per interaction is therefore reduced as automation does much of the groundwork before an agent gets involved.
In fact, answer bots can even direct players to self-serve options like FAQs and knowledge bases, so agents don’t have to be involved at all. This empowers players to find the right solution to their issues and frees up agents to focus on the most urgent and complex problems while reducing their backlog. In times of high-demand, this differentiated approach is crucial as it helps to resolve simple player inquiries (like resetting a password) and escalates more complicated ones to an agent. However, for an answer bot to work effectively, there must be a comprehensive knowledge base or FAQs available.
Answer bots can also scale support to different regions, by directing players to resources in their language or agents who understand their unique needs. Helpshift’s answer bot supports up to 20 languages using an algorithm to identify a player’s language. It can then suggest relevant FAQ resources in the same language.
Automation: custom bots
Further automation options are available to brands that use custom bots. These can be created for different workflows depending on your brand’s requirements. They can collect information and metadata to streamline the interactions between agents and players. So that a player doesn’t have to repeat themselves every time they are handed over to a new agent. Custom bots can also help to direct inquiries to the right teams, respond to players immediately or completely resolve an issue in certain categories without an agent’s input.
Again, this enables agents to be more efficient and focus their efforts on the most urgent issues or tasks that require more human skills.
The results of automation
Brands that automate significantly using bots find there is no compromise to the player support experience. Those that automate over 50 percent of their support operations maintain a high CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) while also making their operations more efficient and scalable to demand. CSAT is highest when both agents and bots work together. The bot can handle simple questions and issues, while the agents work to build relationships and step-in when an inquiry requires their human skills.
As for other metrics, Helpshift research has found that Time to First Response (TTFR) is dramatically improved when using full or partial automation via chatbots. Going from an average of nearly 17 hours to respond for fully manual issues, to instantly when automation is involved. This is because a bot can respond to a player immediately, regardless of the time of day or volume of other inquiries coming in.
Time to resolve (TTR) also improves when automation is combined with live agents. Bots can collect and rapidly surface relevant information for agents based on a player’s responses, removing several steps in the traditional agent-player interaction.
Learn from gaming
Before the current crisis, gaming brands were already experiencing a significant boom and high upswings in demand. Pre-pandemic, the industry was forecast to grow 2.9% annually to hit $56.6 billion by 2024, with players expected to grow 22.5% by 2024 (more than 1.7 billion people worldwide). Because of this, gaming brands were already sharpening their player support to meet rising demand and expectations. Their solutions and processes hold lessons for all brands – especially those that are now facing extraordinary pressures on their contact centers.
Vitally, it’s worth remembering that the best results for gaming brands have come by combining the strengths of humans with automation. Bots can help teams achieve greater scale without a big increase in headcount. Likewise, bots can take over a lot of mundane and repetitive work, improving agent productivity and job satisfaction.
All customer support leaders must take the time to understand the benefits that technology can bring their teams. From asynchronous messaging for a more seamless and customer-centered communication experience, to automation that improves quality of service, scalability, and timeliness.