Gaming (specifically MMORPG games) and customer care have much in common. If you are an avid gamer – you’re probably thinking “WTF? I don’t see any commonality!” If you’re a customer care professional, you’re probably thinking “WTF? I’m selling mattresses, what do I have in common with Fortnite?” Well, a mattress retailer may not have much with Fortnite – but when it comes to provide good customer care – both have many common grounds and objectives.
A Kudos to Netflix
Before we begin, we need to take a step back and have a look at the last 40 years of gaming, specifically – computer and console gaming. I have to be open; this blog post was very inspired by two things: my older daughter, Nitzan and Netflix.
For the past 12 months, she has become an avid gamer. Don’t get me wrong, she’s only 11 – but her overall gaming proficiency, her assimilation into the gaming culture and her growing fascination with MMORPG games is something I look at with great amazement (and fear at the same time). Being aware of what I do for a living (and is very much aware of my gaming past) tends to ask me questions about her games. Honestly, I have no clue about Minecraft, Animal Crossing or Roblox – so normally she will turn to the online community for solutions – mostly YouTube, Twitch and Discord.
Recently, Netflix released a documentary series called “High Score”. The series walks through the early days of gaming – ranging from the early arcade machines, 8bit consoles and more. For me it is a trip down memory lane – and an excuse to pull her aware from the console screens – and maybe share some quality time with her, somewhat nostalgic, geek dad. She was shocked when I knew most of the names of game creators and companies – and was shocked that Mario and Sonic are over 30 years old.
Whether you are an avid gamer or not – this is a MUST watch.
From Game Counselors to Whatsapp
I’m a 46 year old techno-geek, which means that I originally enjoyed classic computer games like Montezuma’s Revenge on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (or if you’re from the US – the Timex Sinclair 1000). Since then, much changed in computer gaming. When originally computer and console games were a “singular” at most “dual-player” experience – today’s MMORPG games are a global, cross culture, cross language, cross console social experience. Gamers may be completely alone with their game console, but they are actively conversing via text and voice – either via in-game communication or external tools, as Skype and Google Hangouts.
When I look at her playing – in many cases she will have her mobile phone next to her – and will be actively engaged with another player or set of players via voice chat. To me, that is somewhat amazing – as sometimes a team of 3 or 4 kids, between the ages of 11 to 13 will collaborate in solving a puzzle or challenge in the game.
In the early days, Nintendo used to have ‘Game Counselors’ in their shops. They knew all the puzzles, solutions, cheats, workaround for every possible game. The best job in the world – get paid to play games all day long. Today, players can obtain online any type of information and game-play.
While game counselors are gone – Epic, Mojang and others maintain huge customer care centers. When Covid-19 hit around March/April – contacting Mojang (Minecraft) customer care via email was a challenge (voice isn’t even available).
It’s all about the customer experience. When a customer care call is accepted at the call center, the customer is already fully immersed into the experience itself. However, as with most customer care experiences, it starts with a phone call – a device that is out-of-band.
This situation impairs the experience – as it is not immersive. Imagine calling Netflix from your TV-app and conversing with customer care from your Smart-TV remote. Imagine playing a campaign in Fortnite and being able to converse with customer care to resolve an issue you are having? – how cool will that be?I
Gaming is a truly ubiquitous experience. Be it via console, PC or mobile device – the game and its surrounding eco system and services are identical. When it comes to experience, customers normally expect that products from a single vendor will share common traits.
When it comes to customer care, I would expect that a vendor will provide the same customer care experience across all products. For example, if I’m a Samsung customer – I would like my Smart-TV, Smart Phone, Refrigerator, and Microwave, to all share a common customer care experience.
Brands are not born, they are made by their customers and the community around the brand products. Apple users are most notorious for being ‘brand locked’.
Strong brands leverage their product communities, by enabling direct communication paths between brand customers. Product forums have been around for over 30 years. Today, a faster response is expected, instant response and gratification. Enabling an immersive communications channel, as part of the product, between customers will contribute to a successful brand.
This is what gaming companies do – enabling gamers to verbally interact, from within the in-game experience.
Conclusion and Take-away
There is still much to learn from the gaming industry, specifically when it comes to building communities and leveraging these within the customer care experience.
Providing customers with immersive experiences, such as in-app calling, will ensure that customer care experiences are not broken. Enabling the same experience with community oriented communications – will greatly increase a product stickiness and brand strength.
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