Formation of the Support Division of the Krasnodar studio Plarium

    Traditionally, it is customer support specialists who provide interaction between developers and players. They officially communicate with users on behalf of the company and provide them with qualified assistance: answer questions, explain the rules, the subtleties of game processes and provide technical support in various situations.

    The Support Division of the Krasnodar studio Plarium works with a multi-million audience of projects Vikings: War of Clans and Throne: Kingdom at War. Our support managers not only respond to approximately 2000 requests per day, but also analyze, respond to comments and collect the wishes of the players, which allows us to take into account the needs of users and have a flexible approach to the development of projects. In this article we want to tell how this unit was formed, what it represents today and what goals it pursues in the future.

    Formation of Support Division

    At the very beginning, when the Plarium studio in the south of Russia specialized only in games for social networks, the client support department consisted of several people who moderated official communities in Odnoklassniki, VKontakte, My World and Facebook. Gradually, the company had the goal of reorienting itself to the growing market for mobile games. Thus was born the project Vikings: War of Clans, which attracted a multimillion-dollar audience and took high places in the ratings of application stores. Due to this circumstance, the structure of the Support Division has changed. His task was to organize support for users of social networks and mobile devices, respectively, there was a division into Social Team and Mobile Team. The specifics of the functioning of the Support Division also changed due to the introduction of the new Helpdesk tool - a system,

    During the reorientation to new sites, we faced a sharp increase in the number of tickets (calls from players) due to the success of Vikings: War of Clans. Previously, the unit received 300-400 requests per day, but this number increased on average to 2000, and during the update - to 5000. In addition, we had other projects that required attention. Therefore, we decided to increase the Support Division staff several times and further optimize the processes within the team.

    Support lines

    Thanks to the ticket systems, including those developed by the company's specialists, we were able to provide most of the requests with pre-prepared template answers, which were compiled based on the most frequently asked questions of users. So we have identified the first line of support, which includes an automatic response to the player’s letter, an answer to his question and, if necessary, a template request for additional information from the user. Today, templates cover 80% of requests.

    The analysis of the questions received allows us to predict the difficulties that players may encounter during the next update. This helps us to be fully equipped with updates when game activity increases several times.

    If the user's request is beyond the scope of existing templates, and the response requires time and analysis, then it is transferred to the second support line. Specialists in this area are looking for a solution, in some cases, turning to the player for clarifying information, and then respond to him.

    The third line of support is the Technical Support Team. She considers non-standard questions, the answers to which the first and second lines of support could not find. As an example, such game situations as loss or freezing of troops can be cited. Using the log visualization tools developed by our specialists, support managers check whether this situation actually occurred and make a decision on compensation or return of any items. They also test special tools designed for the entire Support Division. It should be mentioned that the Technical Support Team does not communicate directly with users. After resolving the issue, the third support line sends a response to the second line, which passes it to the player.

    Thus, the request processing process may consist of one, two or three stages, depending on its complexity.

    In addition to a clear structure, various KPI indicators have been introduced in the unit. The most important of them are user satisfaction with the quality of service, the number of processed tickets per person, the time the player waits for a response, and the time taken to process one ticket. If we talk about the number of processed requests per day, then the rate is 100 tickets per specialist with an eight-hour working day. As for the response time, it must be given within 24 hours. This applies to questions on social networks as well as in Helpdesk. It is highly undesirable to exceed this period. On average, the Support Division on the Vikings: War of Clans project processes the request within 20 hours, on Throne: Kingdom at War - 16 hours. On Facebook, this figure is even higher - up to 8 hours.

    At the moment, we are engaged in supporting players 7 days a week for 8 hours a day, but we plan to switch to round-the-clock work. We have officially announced Russian, English, Japanese, Korean and Turkish languages ​​of service, but at the request of users we can give answers in Italian, Greek, Chinese, Spanish and German.

    Features of the selection of personnel in the department

    The successful functioning of the department is affected by the selection of qualified specialists. It is always difficult to find such, regardless of the field of activity, and a support service is no exception.

    A person needs to have a certain mindset in order to reach heights in this area. The ability to maximize concentration, attentiveness and the ability to abstract. Stress resistance, patience and love for people are very important, because working with users is quite monotonous. You should also observe the etiquette of writing, it is desirable to have excellent knowledge of not only Russian, but also English.

    I would also like to talk about cooperation with freelance moderators. Since we provide support in many languages, their speakers remotely help us. When selecting a freelancer, the degree of knowledge of the required language, the structure of thinking and the ability to get out of non-standard situations, the general adequacy of a person play a role. For remote employees, there are several test levels, the results of which are tested by native speakers. If the candidate copes with the test task, he begins a probationary period. Using a special technique, the supervisor teaches the remote support manager all the specifics of work and coordinates the execution of assigned tasks. As knowledge accumulates, the new specialist passes several more levels of tests, which gradually become more complicated. In case of successful overcoming the trial period, our cooperation with him continues.

    Prospects for work in the department

    There is a myth that employment in customer support is a kind of dead end branch, a temporary part-time job for students where there is no room for improvement. In our studio, we are fully responsible for the quality of the Support Division work, therefore, for us, high motivation and professional development of employees are priority tasks. Support managers who show good results and have the courage to take more responsibility are encouraged by the leaders of Plarium and climb up the ladder of the job hierarchy. Today, all the leaders of the support areas who came to the unit as simple specialists have become strong leaders within the company.

    Another important point is that such a profession is not taught anywhere. It can be mastered only in practice. It is also one of the areas of game dev that is relatively easy to get to, and a great start, allowing you to explore this area from the inside. Here it’s really possible to find out about all stages of the project development, since the customer support service interacts with almost all departments. With the right choice of company for further activities, you can get unlimited career opportunities.

    Tips for Young Support Teams

    In conclusion, we want to give some general tips that will help the newly formed customer support departments.

    • As early as possible, begin to regulate work processes. This will greatly facilitate control over them. Prepare instructions, rules and indicators of KPI, be consistent and adhere to the developed methods.

    • Remember flexibility. The sphere of computer games is constantly changing - after half a year the needs of the company may be different, and you will have completely different tasks. Therefore, you do not need to get attached to the structures and tools that you have now. You may need to make changes to the hierarchy, hire professionals with specific skills, or master new platforms and systems.

    • Always keep abreast of what is happening in the gaming industry market, stay tuned for updates on used platforms and systems, and also analyze the work of your competitors. You can face big troubles if you fail to notice changes in a timely manner that could entail the reorganization of the customer support team.

    Probably one of the most important parting words is not to be afraid, but to do, take on serious tasks and cope with them. The gamedev world is highly volatile, and you do not need to fear change. You must be able to keep the punch, as you are the link that builds communication between developers and players. Know that your presence in the company softens the contradictions and, if necessary, helps to reach compromises where, it would seem, they simply do not exist.

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