The Importance of Getting Social Media Customer Service Right

It’s the year 2000 and you just picked up the game of the season – only to be annoyed by a bug that’s halted your gameplay. What do you do? You pick up the phone, call the customer support and remain on hold for hours. Worse, you write an E-mail to support and wait for days in the end for a reply. Cut to 2018, where you find the slightest fault or defect, you just pick up your phone and tweet to the Game Publisher’s handle to get a quick resolution! Things surely have changed for the better! Today, as per Hubspot, 72% of the consumers expect their queries to be resolved via Twitter within an hour. Social Media, therefore, has to become an integral channel of communication and a key component of your customer support strategy. Not only is social media customer service fast, it is also effective and personalized – helping you maintain an overall positive outlook and a better CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) score!

As the digital entertainment industry grows massively, there’s a need to maintain excellent customer service to retain their existing fan base and at times, even use it as a competitive advantage to gain new customers. As per research, retained and loyal customers can help increase your incremental growth by up to 20% a year!

Let us take a look at the customer expectations from social media customer service that can help gaming studios and developers maintain a positive reputation online:

Responsiveness: The number of queries/ complaints resolved and the time taken to respond to these queries matters and determines how many customers will actually write to you.

Utility: A query can be resolved faster if the right kind of tools are employed. This increases efficiency by sourcing the queries to the right person in the team thereby the answers can be delivered through social media effectively.

Relationship: The tone of your company defines everything because people are always watching on social media. Be genuine, communicate effectively, and be polite. Please and thank you can go a long way!

Now, that the expectations are set, the record must be set straight that if there’s one thing that’s worse than no social media customer service, it is bad customer support! The right kind of approach to social media can do wonders for your company. Let us take a look at some of these approaches:

Responses: Time is money. About 40% of the customers expect their complaints to be resolved with an hour, whereas 30% expect their queries to be resolved within 30 minutes. If you take more time than that, you are already a step down in your social media customer service endeavors.

 

Empathy: The ability to look from the customer’s perspective is one of the best qualities a brand can adapt. Responding to a customer in a kind and thoughtful way on social media adds that personal touch and feel that makes the customer feel connected to you.

 

Feedbacks: When the query is heard and resolved, asking the customer to share their experience and customer service can help in turning a critic into an advocate. If they are supremely satisfied, they might even end up deleting the posted message and even replace it with a positive one.

 

Escalations: Escalations are a part and parcel of every product but if neglected can quickly spiral out, especially on social media. It is very important to get the customer off social media and get them to speak with you directly to prevent more damage. Direct contact can even speed up the process which is very important to both the parties involved.

A good social media customer service strategy is essential for improving the life cycle of the game and the value of the brand because of the increasing competition in the digital entertainment industry. A good player support strategy can be a game changer – improving gamer experience and ultimately resulting in player retention and increased in-game spending!

GlobalStep provides end-to-end customer support helpdesk, community / social media management, forum/chat room moderation and integrated QA and customer service. Get in touch with us to know more.

[ Shailesh Dev, is a customer service manager at GlobalStep and ensures maintain the highest grades of responsiveness and customer satisfaction while building a strong rapport and relationship with the customers.]

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What to expect at Game Developers Conference, 2018

With a rich history spanning over 3 decades, the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco has firmly established itself as one of the flagship events on the gaming industry calendar. Attracting over 26,000 attendees each year right from programmers, artists, producers, game designers, QA professionals, audio professionals, business decision-makers, etc. – GDC is a must-attend for anyone working or looking to make a career in the interactive entertainment industry.

As one of the world’s leading Game Testing Companies, GlobalStep has been a key part of GDC in the past as and delegate as we led conversations about the future of QA in gaming. We were there in 2017 as the Nintendo Switch started making big waves and redefining console-based gaming, and as Augmented Reality finally took a big step forward with Pokémon Go.

As we get ready for GDC 2018, here are our thoughts on what we think will be some of the main talking themes this year:

  • The return of PCs and Consoles: With mobile-based games gaining significantly over the last few years, we’re expecting PCs and dedicated consoles to dominate developer interest this year. With all the 3 major console manufacturers tasting success and customer acceptance with their flagship consoles – The PlayStation Pro, The Nintendo Switch and The XBOX One X, The PS VR, we’re expecting to see several interesting hardware and software concepts to be unveiled at GDC. That said, mobile continues to be the future of immersive gaming and we expect to see some fascinating game previews especially around Mobile AR / VR.

 

  • Monetization & Community Management: With the lifecycle of games steadily increasing, we are expecting to see interesting discussions on monetization strategies – including in-game advertising, loot boxes and freemium models. Developers and studios are also increasingly becoming aware that the fate of their games depends upon user acceptance and opinion – most commonly displayed on social media. Community management and social media engagement strategies are therefore going to be an important topic of discussion, especially among the burgeoning community of indie developers.

Over the last few months, we have been having some fascinating conversations with our customers as well as industry leaders over the need for QA to extend itself beyond the traditional beta phase of development. This led to the reimagining of traditional QA into holistic 360-degree QA that has a far-wider influence and improved value addition into the game development process.

Re-imagined QA shifts left to provide valuable insights into the design and development phases to improve predictive outcomes. It shifts right towards the release process with a focus at collecting data to provide insights into a better update and monetization strategy. It shifts up to align itself with business strategy and KPIs to provide better return on investment. And last, but not the least, it shifts down to be closer to players, social media, and communities to provide valuable insights into maximizing a game’s value proposition.

We’re excited about the week-long of exciting new developments, announcements, and deliberations at the GDC. Are you going to be there too? To set up a discussion with us, click here. and follow #TalkToGlobalStep for more updates from us!

[Aashish Washikar is the Head of Corporate Communications at GlobalStep. ]

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Cheatsheet To Ensure Your Video Game Passes the Compliance Test

Be it any platform – XBOX One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch or 3DS, months of development and QA efforts will go to waste if your game fails to clear the console manufacturers’ compliance testing parameters and guidelines. Though developers cannot release a game without getting an express approval from the console manufacturers, QA houses often tend to miss reporting these critical and easy to find defects.

Before heading into full-fledged compliance testing, it is critical to get an insight into how console manufacturers usually test games. Because the timeframe is limited and there are numerous projects in the pipeline for submission approval especially during specific seasons, every console manufacturer creates a set of standards against which they test games. They may not play the game end-to-end and at times may also ignore the occasional aesthetic issue – but if a game throws any severe compliance testing issue against their standards, publishers will be asked to resubmit. It is therefore essential that game developers test their games against these standards to ensure quick approval. This is where a knowledgeable and experienced game testing companies come in handy.

GlobalStep has worked closely with leading video game developers and publishers, providing them class-leading compliance testing services, thereby helping them get their titles approved with minimal resubmission. We have one of the best pass-through rates in the industry. Our experience and close partnerships with leading console manufacturers also provides us unique insight into the testing process. Now, we understand that by the time it is time to send the game over to console manufacturers for the final approval, you are already running against tight timelines and a resubmission can be costly both in terms of the redevelopment needed to fix defects as well as possible release delays.

Based on our extensive experience, we have developed the ultimate compliance testing cheat that will come handy when you have very less time remaining for testing. These are the absolute minimum tests that you must perform to maximize your chances of getting approved in the first-go:

Screen Resolution:

You must check your game against all the screen resolutions supported by the targeted console – from lowest to highest resolution.

Goals:

(a) Game compatibility with the set resolution from console settings
(b) Display stretching
(c) Text visibility – Pixelation is fine in lower resolutions as long as users can read the text
(d) Cropping of the display in an inappropriate manner which truncates important game screen elements such as text/HUD

Accounts:

Testing end-user scenarios with test/sandbox accounts

Goals: 

(a) Basic Sign-in and sign-out functionality
(b) Cloud save handling with user’s online account
(c) Game compatibility with and without the use of online accounts
(d) Checking online rankings/posts using multiple accounts on the same console

 Terminology & Artwork:

It could confuse the user if each application used its own terminology. To prevent such confusion, First Parties have defined unique set of wording and artwork to represent their system components, operations, peripherals, services, and other items.

Goals:

(a) Verification of terminology displayed in the game against the standards set by console manufacturer
(b) Ensuring that consistency is maintained throughout the title
(c) Checking the artwork of product/controller/ used in the game

 Error message handling:

Except for a handful of system messages, nowadays almost all the First Parties have given developers the freedom to create their own messages so that end users can easily understand and resolve the error.

Goals
(a) Validating the user-friendliness of the message or information displayed after an error generation
(b) Checking the flow if user is able to resolve the error

Controller/Peripheral Support:

What is required to run through a game? Of course the input! Done via controllers, touch or different peripherals for consoles.
Goals
(a) Verifying if user is able to change the supported controller configurations
(b) Supported & unsupported controller/peripheral connection and disconnection impact on the game
(c) Least one but checking the controller vibration feature functioning

Online Connectivity & Network errors:

The current trend is to keep more and more people engaged with in-game online services/features.

Goals
(a)Verifying if supported online features are accessible/playable in end user similar conditions such as account creation/network strength
(b)Performing several network interruption errors and checking the game handing

Save & Load:

Another important section! This area is the most utilized one by end users, so there is a high likelihood that end users will encounter any relevant issues that are present in the Master Candidate.

Goals
(a) Save data compatibility between main game version and patch version
(b) Trophy/Achievements unlocking with local & cloud save data

Parental Control

Parental controls and age ratings allow limiting the types of content that can be accessed online, and type of game that can be played. Certain settings even allow to restrict access to the Internet, disable in-game purchases, and regulate the amount of time a child can play and more.
Goals
(a) Setting up the supported parental controls and checking the game behavior accordingly.
(b) Verifying that notifications are displayed to end user and temporary or permanent lifting of restrictions is functioning as intended

DevMenu /Debug Settings

To aid with testing end user scenarios, first parties do provide Devmenu /debug settings in their development/testing kits.
Goals
(a) Generating message pop-up to confirm the handling for certain end-user scenarios. E.g. Insufficient Memory
(b) For every in-game operation, specific functions are being called in the background which are not visible to end user. These functions can be checked through debug settings E.g. Default age, Save data creation, online multiplayer, PSN network, etc.

Paperwork:

To conclude, please do not ignore the submitted paperwork as well. Most of the times, game is found to be compliant with the standards but basic paperwork issues are flagged which results in a submission failure.

This basic cheat sheet will help you minimize the chances of resubmission, but there are still chances that a console manufacturer raises a red flag against your game title. The best way of ensuring that your game sails through compliance testing is to work closely with an experienced game testing company like GlobalStep. Learn more about our game compliance testing services.

[Lekhraj Premraj Pardeshi, is currently working as an Assistant Manager in the Interactive Entertainment dept. He brings to the table 9+ years of experience in gaming industry, and possess excellent domain testing domain knowledge across different platforms. Lekhraj is a specialist in Compliance testing for Mobile & Nintendo platforms.]

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The Next Wave of Game QA – Unlimited Opportunities to Exploit

Games QA has traditionally been and continues to be one of the key components of the game development life cycle. At its core, it consists of ensuring that the game is behaving as intended, reaches the quality standards expected by users, and meets the requirements set by hardware manufacturers. Games have experienced a paradigm shift themselves – from being one-time monetization model (Develop, Package, Ship) to an ongoing monetization model (Develop, Go Live, Update) model. Previously, games were boxed products, which were once published and done with. The environment has now moved to digital platforms, Games as a Service and freemium models.  Alongside, QA has also evolved to take on a much wider role.

QA has evolved from a rudimentary beginning where quality was more of a reactive concept and undertaken only in retrospect. As publishers and developers realized the implications that a poor quality gameplay could have on a game’s lifecycle and customer satisfaction and retention, they started becoming more proactive, and the significance of QA started gaining momentum.

This merits the question – has games QA as a process achieved its maximum potential? I say – far from it! QA is still an isolated part of the game development process, restricted to the beta phase in most instances with a limited scope on either side of beta. But this is about to change as GlobalStep gets ready to reimagine Games QA at the Game Quality Forum 2017. We are introducing the concept of Holistic 360° QA – the new wave collaborative and inclusive QA approach that will have a far-reaching impact on how QA is perceived and the value addition that it can provide

Can you imagine a completely revamped scenario where:

– New wave QA extends far beyond its existing scope and applies itself to the game development life cycle to provide inputs into each stage – resulting in improved predictability and reduced risk.

– Early and continuous engagement of QA right at the start of the game development life cycle during the design phase resulting in better predictive outcomes.

– The entire development team’s DNA becomes impregnated with a strong focus on finding and fixing faults early, incorporating and leveraging feedback from a wide network of sources including telemetry and analytics and deployment of automation – inspired by new wave QA.

– Continuous improvement doesn’t remain a QA-specific process only – but extends throughout the development cycle and closed-loop feedback is incorporated at every state of input and output to improve quality.

– The operating model fosters and empowers collaboration, coordination, and co-operation not just between QA and other teams – but between all the stakeholders for the most optimum and long-lasting games.

The new wave of QA will be pragmatic, creative, supportive and an enabler adopted by emerging leaders and game changers in the games industry. It aims to improve everything from overall game quality, to speed to market, player retention, customer satisfaction, and net promoter scores!

Are you excited about reimagined QA? Watch it being unveiled and meet our experts at Game Development Forum 2017. Click here to book an appointment.

[Suresh Iyer the Senior Vice President – Delivery and Operations and is responsible for the overall strategic and operational responsibility for all service lines of GlobalStep – Testing and Validation, App-Dev, Customer service and Video Analytics. He will be part of the delegation attending the conference.]

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5 Benefits of Outsourcing Game Testing and QA Engineering

Outsourcing tasks within an organization to an experienced partner can help drive cost savings of 20% to 40% depending upon process complexity and capabilities of the service provider. On the other hand, there’s always a nagging doubt in the mind of the management regarding the ability of the service provider in understanding the typical complexities of the market and delivering on promised service level agreements. While both approaches have their pros and cons, increased process orientation, better project management and the demand-supply gap for experienced testers are making the case for outsourcing stronger.

Software Testing traditionally has had a rich history of outsourcing success. While Game Testing is conceptually similar to software testing, it has its own nuances and challenges. Game Development studios are constantly struggling to make the right decision between in sourcing and outsourcing. But with a market that’s growing fast both in terms of the number of gamers as well as the number of devices games are being played on, the scope of game development and testing has amplified manifold.

Blog_v2_24JUL2017

Gaming: Projected Market Growth

Game developers/publishers now need to ensure a much wider testing coverage to maintain the same levels of quality as doled out before. Agility of testing also needs to improve to test the multiple updates and patches that developers are now rolling out to gamers within shortened schedules. This is where an independent game testing company can help developers get access to the right talent at a cost better than companies can manage internally. Today, we look at how independent game testing service providers like GlobalStep can help your business.

Why should you choose to outsource?

  • Gain access to an experienced team of the industry’s best game testers:

Game testing service providers will provide you access to the best-skilled game testers. These teams usually have an experience of working in different genres of games and on multiple platforms. Their credibility, experience, and a wide perspective ensure that defects are identified and communicated at an early stage, enabling you to maintain high-quality standards.

  • Ensure complete coverage with the best tools:

Experience with best in class tools, technologies and frameworks can be a key factor to ensure that your game is tested inside out. Game testing tools and technologies such as Appium, Robotium, Calabash, Device Anywhere typically require a different skillset. An independent testing service provider can help you gain access to the best tools in the market as well as the resources trained to use these tools to maximum advantage. Advanced project management methodologies and proven frameworks can further enable independent service providers test various scenarios faster and more effectively than you can internally.

  • Optimization of up-front and ongoing investments

All the testing needs discussed above are time and resource intensive activities. Sometimes, production houses also put the onus of testing on developers – which is not an ideal use of their time. An experienced game testing provider can provide access to the best resources, tools, platforms, and devices at a fraction of the cost, allowing you to concentrate on the core processes of your organization and expel your resources on your business priorities

  • Achieve a faster go-to-market

Even a small bug can bog down a game’s experience a great deal. With the Internet providing a voice to consumers, a negative comment can quickly evolve into a situation which can hamper the success of an entire game. However, as comprehensive and competent as your developers may be, bugs are inevitable. The only solution is to test effectively, find the bugs and fix them. Unfortunately, this is time-consuming and with the fast pace of the market, simply not possible anymore! Automation tools and frameworks available with experienced game testing partners can help reduce the time and manual effort needed in testing. With the advent and implementation of new transformation methods – using telemetry for reducing test efforts, risk-based testing, shift left etc., you can further reduce your time to reach the market. Test service providers can also leverage experience from working with various customers and implement best practices from across the industry for your project. This enables you to get your game as well as patches to the market faster, giving you a huge competitive edge!
With the dynamics of the modern gaming industry changing at a very fast pace, game development studios must consider a change in their testing strategy. Increased usage of tools, automation, data analytics and collaboration between developers and testers is going to be the key to rising above competition and outsourcing game testing can help you achieve all of these! It is however also key to evaluate service providers on key criteria such as experience, project management frameworks, quality of their QA labs and testing infrastructure, as well as adherence to metrics and SLAs. We wish you luck in your journey towards finding the right partner!

[Rachit Jain is Sr. Manager – Solutions Engineering at GlobalStep. He is a management professional with a technology background who loves to analyze and understand business needs and devise the integrated end to end solutions that fits the requirements. At GlobalStep he works closely with CXO’s and senior management to devise strategies for business development and devise a game plan to achieve the set goals.]

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Living in the connected world!

Digital technologies have redefined how we interact with the world around us, both in personal as well as professional life.

The “mobile” way of doing things has introduced a new era and a new digital touch-point which has made “omnipresent” connectivity a reality. The invasion of smart phones/tablets in our lives has given the world a new phenomenon i.e. being “connected” anytime, anywhere.

Whether you are travelling to office or on vacation, people tend to stay abreast of all that’s happening around them using their smart phones. We all know how mobility has already made significant inroads in the B2C space. As per statista.com, the number of apps available on the app stores across Android and iOS combined has reached a staggering 3.1 Million as of July 2015.

We are no longer restricted to just desktops at the workplace or laptops at home. People are making use of their commuting time to text, email, take calls and accomplish tasks. Work begins long before we actually reach office, and ends much after we leave. Availability of Wi-Fi is fast becoming an essential list of service desired by the travellers and is one of the top ASKs being looked for in local coffee shops, hotels or even while travelling. A lot of business travellers aim to utilize the flight times to do as much work as they can rather than just spending the time catching up on sleep or watching movies.

This, however, raises an interesting question – Are we doing more work? Are we more productive?

Business and IT leaders consistently rank mobility as one of their highest priorities. As per VMWare 2015 Business Mobility Report, more than three quarters of the organizations surveyed (~1200 CIOs) are striving for productivity and business process improvements by undertaking business mobility initiatives. Those surveyed say their business mobility investments are averaging 150 percent ROI. Compared to surveyed organizations that have not executed business mobility, surveyed companies that have implemented a business mobility strategy are seeing at least 2x ROI.

Thus, there seems to be some validity in hypothesis that mobility has helped improve productivity among the workforce.

However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in achieving greater returns from the digital investments. As per the VMWare 2015 Business Mobility Report, only about 22% were in a mature stage whereas 41% of the companies were still at an early stage of business mobility.

Each of us would need to develop our own strategy to embark on this journey and customize based on and leverage the experience of each other. We definitely would have to go down this path to keep ourselves more competitive and more successful. Let us begin!

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