What is at the heart of great player support?
It’s clear that great players are needed to support other players, but first let’s explore a related question – what are the most important attributes you need in the best customer service agents? Enter this question into your favorite search engine and you will find many blogs and articles filled with tips and ideas, but this one is typical.
The top five skills or attributes you can expect when searching for great agents are:
- High Emotional Intelligence. There will be ‘situations’ and a smart agent with high EQ will know how to negotiate tough conversations and angry customers.
- A positive attitude. Customer service agents need to be naturally friendly, positive, and upbeat. Nobody wants to be served by someone with zero enthusiasm.
- Flexibility and adaptability. Customers want a solution right now and this may require some juggling on the part of the agent to get the right answers quickly.
- Clear communication skills. Being able to convey complex ideas in an easy-to-understand way is a useful skill when talking to a confused customer.
- Familiarity with the products. Knowledge and a passion for whatever product it is that they are supporting.
This is typical of the customer service industry and the customer service contact centers – often known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies. There is a strong focus on finding positive, upbeat individuals with the ability to communicate.
But most BPOs hire agents into a job and then move them from one account to another. The agents are primarily experts in the process of customer service. They may not be experts in the product at all. Imagine starting your job on Monday thinking that you are supporting a food delivery company only to find that they assign you to a retailer you have never even heard of – because Black Friday is on the way and that is the account where they need most resource.
Product familiarity and passion is the least important attribute – if it is even considered at all.
At Testronic we believe there is a fundamental flaw in this idea that an agent can support a supermarket customer in the morning and help with a pizza delivery in the afternoon. It doesn’t work for gaming.
We hire primarily based on product and domain knowledge. We need to know that you are a gamer, you love games, and you can talk to players about the games they love. We can work on improving your EQ once we know that you can talk to a player because you are a player.
So let’s turn that top five list of agent attributes upside down and state from the outset that if you know nothing about games then we don’t want you on our player support team. Period. It doesn’t matter if your EQ score is off the charts and you have a dozen LinkedIn testimonials about your flexibility in the office.
Tudor Costea is our player support delivery manager. In a recent interview he talked about the difference between supporting players and supporting customers in other industries. Tudor said: “I would use the analogy of comparing a utility to a hobby or passion. If I am calling about a consumer electronic device then I just need the product to work. If I am calling my bank then I just need them to process a transaction. I’m not enjoying any of these services – with gaming I will be passionate about the game I am playing and so the interaction is entirely different.” He added: “Players are a lot more passionate about their game than customers calling about a broken vacuum cleaner! Some people do call shopping their hobby or passion, but I think there is still a big difference between a player calling for support and an e-commerce customer calling to find why their package has not been delivered.”
Tony Won is a legend in player support circles as a leader in both Epic Games and Riot Games. Now on sabbatical he is still commenting on the industry, such as in this July 2022 podcast interview where he talked about customer service BPO companies offering player support: “There is a spectrum of understanding in the BPO space from some companies with solid experience through to those with a very light understanding of gaming. There is a lot of head nodding going on. BPO leaders are saying they need a player support service, but that requires a lot of investment and cultural change to allow that vertical to operate completely differently.”
This is where the rubber meets the road.
As Tony acknowledges, it may be possible for a general BPO to offer player support services, but it will only work if they separate the gaming vertical from their other services – so it can be staffed in a completely different way.
Player support needs players. It needs people who really understand how players think and communicate. It needs people who intimately understand the games that are being supported. It needs people with shared experience and language to support the players.
Player support can’t be learned from a 90-minute webinar. You can’t hire people based on their EQ score and then quickly get them “up to speed” on a game they need to support because the players will see through this in seconds.
Player support needs a talent strategy that attracts players to support other players and a focus on this knowledge, rather than on the process required to manage a contact center.
Player support isn’t just customer service as usual.
Follow the Testronic company page on LinkedIn for more insight and information on gaming and player support.
CC Photo by Javier Martinez