In-house vs outsourcing, The ROI of customer support as a service.
According to Forbes, companies prioritizing customer experience witness an increased revenue of 4-8% compared to their competitors. Gaming companies are no different. The average US adult spends at least 30 minutes per day playing computer games. With these statistics, gaming companies across the globe are battling to increase their share, with customer experience being at the top of their list.
When it comes to player support, gamers have probably exhausted all other forms of help before reaching out to your call agent. In the gaming community, there are many forums and self-service technologies that are the first tier of help for gamers. For this reason, support representatives must speak the players’ language and understand that the game is part of who they are.
Customers across all industries agree that customer support plays a vital role when it comes to brand loyalty. This is the case for gamers as well. So how do you guarantee optimal player support for your gamers? Is outsourcing player support the answer to cost-effectively meeting all your customer support challenges? Let’s examine these support costs in detail starting with the in-house costs.
The hidden costs of starting with in-house player support
Staffing in-house customer support is expensive as there are many hidden costs. Startup costs include the time and expense spent hiring, onboarding, and training new employees. Then there’s the fact that no one works 100% of the time: there are breaks, meals, meetings, and, of course, the occasional office celebration.
In-house staffing with full-time employees is inefficient in other key ways. You can’t always have people to work when you need them too. Suppose you need help both early in the morning and late at night, but you can’t split a shift. Suppose you need help all seven days a week, but your in-house agent needs a day off. Suppose you need 40 hours all at once. An in-house agent or agents simply aren’t as flexible as an on-demand team. You’ll end up either sacrificing response time or overstaffing to cover the busy times. Playing Tetris with 8-hour shifts will never get you the results you want.
Don’t forget the associated equipment and IT costs: desks, chairs, computers, software, internet connectivity, and the time and people who manage all of that. It adds up.
The opportunity cost of in-house support
In addition to the fiscal costs of running customer support in-house, there’s an opportunity cost. Time and energy spent managing an in-house team could often be better spent on what gaming companies do best: building great games.
For example, consider a gaming company that licenses a physics engine instead of building their own. This allows developers and producers to focus on the unique aspects of their game rather than reinventing the wheel. Companies who find expert, outsourced support enjoy the same benefit.
Outsourcing promises reduced costs
Outsourcing is a common strategy for reducing customer support costs. With the right vendor, you can enjoy considerable savings. Not all outsourcing is equal, however. Pick the wrong vendor and what initially looked like a good deal can turn sour.
The best outsourcers focus on efficiency
We’ve discussed the inefficiency of using full-time employees to cover customer support—it’s one of the inefficiencies of in-house support. But many customer support outsourcers suffer from the same problem: they sell time-based on single-agent shifts. And while you might reduce some internal costs and get a lower hourly rate, you still won’t be able to efficiently staff player support. The result is either inconsistent response times or overstaffing to meet peaks.
Instead, look for a vendor that offers an hourly model that allows flexible assignment of coverage either spread across the day or all at the same time.
Time and efficiency are the biggest variables in support costs
You can’t judge a player’s support outsourcer by hourly rate alone. Your cost is determined by the amount of time spent on the job. With that in mind, there are a couple of things to look for when evaluating a proposal.
Are you paying for downtime or are you just paying for hours spent on the job? Are you getting 100% utilization?
Next, look for outsourcers that will work with your team to constantly optimize and improve efficiency. Vendors who look to improve workflows, optimize help desk configurations, and bolster documentation can save you money by reducing handle time. (Not to mention that reduced handle time will likely raise your CSAT scores, thus increasing the value of the support.)
In short, your most cost-effective solution might not be obvious at first glance. You can’t judge true cost solely on the hourly rate. Outsourcers that offer hourly deployment and pricing, 100% utilization and continuing optimization are often a better value than slow, inflexible outsourcers with deceptively attractive low hourly rates.
Don’t cut quality when you cut costs
Most outsourced support has a (deserved) reputation for poor quality. That’s true across industries, with gaming as no exception. We’ve all experienced customer support agents who just don’t get it, and don’t care. Nothing is more frustrating than someone reading from a script. And, as we know, gamers can be even less patient when seeking help.
That’s most outsourcing. Not all.
Though it’s a hard task, it is essential to find the right partner to professionally and efficiently handle your overall customer support. As we know gamers, can be impatient when seeking help from inexperienced support agents.
The challenge is finding experienced vendors, but it’s worth the effort.
With the right partner, it’s important to note that in-house vs outsourcing is not an “either/or” proposition. Flexible providers know how to blend both types of player support to maximize the advantages of each.
In short, outsourcing is a common, but very efficient way to reduce costs. However, the trick is to maximize savings without compromising on quality support. Outsourcers that offer hourly deployment and pricing, 100% utilization, and continued optimization are a better value than slow, inflexible outsourcers with deceptively attractive low hourly rates.
In an era when customer support has proven to be a greater indicator of brand loyalty, gaming companies need to make conscious and well-researched choices when it comes to a player support outsourcer. Hiring a vendor that offers hourly-based models and continuing optimization schemes will save money, and make your customers happy. You will also find the time and energy to focus on the thing you do best — making amazing games!