Moderation Teams and Technology: Improving Customer Retention

Brian Pontarelli

It’s common knowledge that online communities and online games have loyal fans and critics alike.  Many web sites utilize social media management tools, moderation services, as well as profanity filters to weed out as many inappropriate comments and behaviors as possible.  But when it comes to online games, the stakes get even higher for performance.  Usage stats from various sources report that online game players spend 22 hours a week playing the game, despiteCustomer retention the fact that half of the players have full-time jobs, are married and nearly one-fourth have kids.  Surprisingly, only one-fourth of players are teens.  The majority are college students, early professionals, middle-aged homemakers and retirees.  Sixty percent of players have reported at least 10 hours of continuous play.

You would think this kind of fanatical devotion to online games would mean loyal customers for life and customer satisfaction levels through the roof.  However, companies have to work more diligently than ever before to keep performance as near to 100% uptime as possible in order to avoid massive backlash from their fans.

Double – Edged Sword

Online game producers need to deliver content patches faster. Players have become much more adept at finishing new content and many gaming companies have struggled to keep up.  This may be a double-edged sword – the need for speed of content development may improve user satisfaction in the short term, while at the same time increasing the probability of bugs and poor performance.  Satisfying customer demand for content could contribute to a company’s downfall since poor game performance directly correlates to negative player experiences and ultimately abandonment as a subscriber.

The notion of having a moderation team that immediately addresses issues when they occur is of paramount importance.  Players are unwilling to tolerate losing what they worked so hard to achieve due to bugs or performance issues.

Moderators to the Rescue

Oftentimes players don’t want to take the time to submit a ticket for support when they find issues.  They simply expect immediate resolution.  Moderation service teams can monitor player communications using intelligent filtering and moderation software and then step in to provide quick response to potentially prevent the customer from leaving.

If the games are run in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environments, it is typical for game performance to decrease.  Since speed is of utmost importance, the most solid solution to guarantee high performance is to utilize servers on premise or in a private cloud.

What are the top reasons gamers get frustrated with online games?

  • Bugs (Enough said)
  • Getting kicked out of the game due to server error
  • Losing assets or experience in the game because they haven’t saved at the opportune time
  • A glitch in the system that prevents the player from progressing in the game even when they’ve earned it
  • A weapon or token doesn’t have the power it is supposed to have

What can moderators do real time?

  • Work with the players to reproduce the bug and get it submitted right away so it does not have to be researched by another team (customer service or tech support)
  • Look for customer reports of system issues in the chat using filtering technology. If everyone’s talking about it, it can be a major issue.
  • Identify server issues so they can be reported immediately. Server downtime reduces overall satisfaction with the game.
  • A moderator’s presence alone can help defuse a player’s anger, frustration and anxiety. The immediate gratification beats waiting for a response to a submitted ticket.
  • Discover issues that are unknown to the development or QA teams.
  • Reduce the time to resolve issues versus relying on ticket submission.

What is the bottom line for the organization?

  • Responsiveness has a direct correlation to customer satisfaction. The longer it takes to resolve an issue, the more likely it is customers will move on to another game.
  • Happy customers = customer retention = increased profits.
  • Reduce the negative chatter and tirades by the players in forums and various social media networks. This is at the heart of reputation management.
  • Identify otherwise unknown issues in real-time from actual users of the game.
  • Reduce the time it takes to resolve issues and communicate with players. The feedback loop can be painful for players due to delays in response and a lack of understanding the real issue.
  • Server downtime can be dramatically shortened. Every minute counts!
  • Improve product quality at a pace demanded by today’s sophisticated players.

The moderator, along with the right technology, can be the missing ingredient that keeps a user from leaving and never coming back.  It is vital to identify problems and respond to customer issues quickly.  Having human moderators in place provides a direct communication channel for users to report problems and give real-time feedback.  The use of moderators armed with filtering & moderation software can help game producers and online community owners improve performance and customer satisfaction.

For more information on tools and resources that are available to manage an online community, click here.