Customer support as an extension of marketing

Customer care and service is one of your best marketing tools in the video game industry. The industry is known for its extremes – several companies, big and small, offer next to nothing in terms of support for their users and fans.

But the companies who go the extra mile and provide for their users tend to benefit from it.

So, say you spent money acquiring customers. Customer care and ensuring a great onboarding experience helps retain the users that you spent marketing money obtaining in the first freaking place.

Here’s how you can start thinking of customer support more seriously, even if you’re a small indie developer.

Set up a customer support system to make your life better

There are tons and tons of customer support tools out there. Some are more expensive than others. Some are open source and free and beautiful.

Depending on your size and needs, find a tool and implement it. Develop a system that works for you and your team. What you really need is:

  • Something with ideally an internal-facing and external-facing knowledge base (this saves you time from answering the same questions repeatedly and helps whoever else is doing support with you)
  • A ticketing system (so you can prioritize and manage requests as they come in)
  • Automation (something that manage templated answers for when you get similar questions)
  • Analytics (you don’t have to be like Amazon and neurotic about customer response times, but analytics help you get an idea of when people are sending messages, reflecting on your responsiveness, what the most common questions are – which may help your designers, etc.)

Nice to haves, depending on your game and your niche in the industry:

  • Live chat support
  • Social media support tools (for fielding questions that come in through your social channels)
  • Customer feedback support (for getting an idea of how people are viewing your customer care efforts, for better or worse)

Can’t afford a tool? At least have a FAQ and template responses

Well, I still think you should have a tool, even if it’s just something open source and extremely basic. A spreadsheet can even work if you actively manage it.

But at the very least, make sure you have an FAQ on your site and some template responses drafted in your emails or in a Google doc. You don’t want to be typing the same thing over and over again, I promise you.

People typically will try to ask questions first rather than search for the answer themselves. It’s just kind of how we are as humans. If you can provide them with simple means in an FAQ, though, you may at least keep a handful from taking up extra time.

If you don’t want to go out of your way to make templates, just wait until people start asking questions. Then copy your initial responses over to a doc and you’re good to go.

Set up a separate support email address

Make life easier for you or whoever is managing your support by setting up a separate email address to filter incoming issues. This is especially helpful if people tend to come and go within your company or game project, so there isn’t a personal address linked to the account.

Something like contact@ or support@ can make a world of difference in terms of organizing and prioritizing emails.

Test your tutorial over and over and over and over again

Onboarding is a whole separate thing that plenty of wiser people have written about – but do test your tutorial over and over and over again with people outside of the company.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten frustrated with a game and dropped it because the tutorial is bad and assumes I know things that I don’t know. We’ve all been there as gamers. Don’t do this to your users.

They’re not stupid, but assume they know absolutely nothing when it comes to playing your game. You know what happens when you assume.
You lose users.

Respond. Quickly and/or consistently

If you’re a small team, make sure someone (one specific person) owns this.

You know – one person’s owning design and writing while someone else is owning coding and the technical piece and someone else is owning the artwork and music, etc. Someone needs to own your customer care.

It’s going to make or break your small game like the other components will so don’t take it lightly.

For being responsive, consider tactics that other companies use. Set customer support hours where you’ll typically be online or checking your phone. That keeps you sane/not checking your email or forums around the clock and it sets expectations for your users.

Set up a forum and moderate it

This is community management 101 but community management is basically the illegitimate child of customer care and marketing anyway.

If you’ve got the bandwidth, set up a forum and field customer support questions through there. Just make sure you or someone else is actively moderating it.

Be nice

Customer care isn’t for everyone. If you can’t be nice, get someone else to do. Remember Thumper’s words of wisdom –

You’ll deal with some interesting people but remember: what you’re saying to them is a representation of your company, your brand, your marketing. If being nice isn’t your thing, that’s okay too. But still be professional or at least consistent with that voice. You can see their voice echo through their reddit comments and the approach they’ve taken.

Marketing may bring a user to your game, but your support will keep them coming back.