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Pocket Gamer Connects London 2017 spotlight: Helpshift on why customer support is essential to successful games

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Pocket Gamer Connects London 2017 spotlight: Helpshift on why customer support is essential to successful games
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Pocket Gamer Connects London will kick off 2017 in style on January 16th to 17th.

Tickets are still available.

So to give you a hint at what you can expect, we're shining the spotlight on those who will be in attendance. To that end, we spoke to Nathan Ritchie, Head of Technical for EMEA at Helpshift, about why customer support is key to a successful mobile game. Can you tell us a bit about your experience and your position within the company?

Nathan Ritchie: I am head of Technical for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) for Helpshift, the world’s leading customer support platform for mobile games and apps. For more than 15 years I have been involved with many US start-ups, helping them to grow their business and create strong brands within Europe.

At Helpshift I am able to translate my experience into significant improvements for our clients when it comes to mobile & omni channel support and customer engagement. Helpshift power in-app support in more than 4,000 games and apps from very small to very large, in use by more than a billion mobile users.

We are the leaders in mobile gaming support and clients of ours include Supercell, Wooga, Future Games of London, Virgin Media, Glu, Microsoft, Zynga, News Corp, Flipboard and countless other household names.

Just how important is customer support for mobile games?

It’s incredibly important and a key part of forming a successful game, as there is high churn in the first seven days after install across the industry.

“Not only is it important to deliver a great support experience. It must also be delivered in-game.”
Nathan Ritchie

Mobile gaming retention ranges from 20% to 40% one day after install, and drops to 5% to 15% 30 days after install. More than half of mobile gamers never open the game again after install.

Within mobile gaming, emotional intensity is high, so gamers need answers to their questions extremely rapidly. Furthermore, gamers are likely to take to social media as an outlet for their frustration when things go wrong, which negatively impacts the game’s image and potentially its Appstore rating.

Because of this, mobile games should have an effective onboarding process for the gamer, experienced and rapid customer service, and provide product iterations and updates based on gamer feedback.

Where do you think mobile game developers go wrong with customer support?

Not only is it important to deliver a great support experience. It must also be delivered in-game, where the user is looking for help. Our research shows that on average one in five mobile game users will at some point need help. That’s huge.

And again, they want help where they need it - in-game. So from an engagement point of view, don’t ask your users to leave the game to get help. Don’t ask them to email, call you or browse web based FAQs which take them out of the game.

Once users have left your game to seek support, it’s very difficult and expensive to get them back - if it’s possible at all.

Where the user is paying for the game or where the game offers IAP (In-app purchases), it becomes even more important to deliver a great support experience.

Further, in-game support should not be an afterthought when designing and developing a game. It should be an important part of the overall design and UX strategy

What are the key things mobile game developers can do to improve customer support in their games?

Games with the best retention strategies will onboard their users rapidly, offer proactive customer service, and have fast, easy to access help centers in-game.

Supercell, for instance, has incredibly detailed, searchable FAQs, as well as an in-game chat feature. It’s no coincidence that their customers do not have to leave the game to get help, and that their games have some of the highest retention rates in the industry (disclaimer: they use Helpshift)

The 5 key points to consider should be:

• Superior In-Game Customer Service (to include push and in-game notifications, FAQ’s, in-game chat)
• VIP Programs
• Player Community
• Easy Onboarding Process
• Continual Product Improvements

Helpshift allows you to tackle all of that, due to the combination of in-game FAQ’s, inbound support, outbound support and in-game chat capabilities.

What do you predict will be the major trends in mobile in 2017?

I’d love to see VR make more of an impact in 2017 but the reality is that the hardware, or at least the adoption of the hardware will mean this is more likely something we see in 2018 onwards.

“I expect AI and bots will have an impact to how users interact and find support within a game.”
Nathan Ritchie

Augmented reality will feature more in 2017 following the success of Pokemon GO. At Helpshift, we are already working with Snatch - an augmented reality treasure hunt game, allowing gamers to discover prizes from leading brands and gain real world rewards, such as free pizza!

Lastly, eSports seems to be gaining followers and interest from the behemoths of the computing world with Amazon already hosting a tournament for mobile games with a not insignificant prize fund.

In terms of player support, I expect AI and bots will have an impact to how users interact and find support within a game.

For example, it would be useful to have an AI driven bot assist the player in-game or help to answer common support queries or perhaps suggest relevant help or community articles, essentially automating many of the common support tasks and further reduce the needs for a large numbers of support staff.

Some of the biggest mobile gaming companies have a ratio of one support agent to 250,000 gamers. As gaming support tends to be more intensive than what’s required from a typical app, that’s a great player to support agent ratio!

With AI and bots this could be reduced even further. Such functionality is something Helpshift is looking to provide as we head further into 2017.

What are you looking forward to seeing at Pocket Gamer Connects London 2017?

Mobile game developers, product and customer support leaders from companies of all sizes, with plans to launch new games, who understand or would like to hear about the value of providing the best possible mobile and cross channel support experience.