Quality assurance in Plarium's VIP program: building our service model

Articles
11/23/2018

Hi everyone! My name is Nastia, I’m a Quality Analyst in the VIP Team of Community Management Department at Plarium. My job is to review and assess my colleagues' chats with players and prepare educational workshops which help us to continuously advance the quality of our service. This year we started developing our service model and improving the chats assessment procedure. In this piece, I’d like to tell you about the challenges we faced while looking for ways to evaluate something that is, in fact, quite hard to shape and measure.

Our VIP program and how it works

Here at Plarium, we have a dedicated support channel for the most active and loyal players who have become true legends in our gaming community. As a way to express our appreciation and gratitude, we wanted to give them an opportunity to have direct contact with a company representative right in the game, where they spend at least a couple of hours every day. So we created the VIP chat, a place where players can share feedback, have their questions answered, and receive various gifts and exclusive offers.

Each VIP Support Agent in our team is assigned to a group of players. There are 10 people on our team working in shifts to support our VIP players seven days a week, however, each of the agents has an opportunity to get to know their players better.

Resolving players’ issues isn’t the only thing we do. One of our main goals is to build a personal connection with every player and become their trusted assistants in the game. To achieve this, we strive to create a friendly and constructive atmosphere in the VIP chat by initiating small talks and discussing topics that aren’t necessarily game-related. We also aim to always find an alternative solution whenever needed and make sure our service is always top-notch.

For us, user retention is the main KPI, which is why we focus so hard on maintaining relationships with our valued users and pay so much attention to the quality of our service. All our actions are aimed at keeping the players in the game for as long as possible. The quality of our product plays the main role here, along with the social aspect of our games. Offering a great service to the key players in the game adds to the combined effort of our game designers and developers and helps to improve the retention rate even further. Naturally, we had some unique offers and solutions for players from the very beginning, which had a positive effect on retention too, but soon we realized it was not enough to encourage players to spend more time in the chat and, therefore, in the game. The thing is, for reasons of playing it fair with regard to the whole gaming community and complying with the company’s policies, we’re not always able to fully satisfy every player’s request. Focusing on the quality of our service turned out to be the missing piece. So what exactly is our service model about?

Talking to Very Important Players

As already mentioned, we believe the possibility to establish a long-lasting connection with VIP players to be our strongest asset. The model where every agent is assigned to a static group of players means that not only do we know about players’ current goals and needs in the game, but can also learn more about their occupation, family status, and interests if players feel like sharing this information with their agent. Unlike the representatives of regular support centers whose interaction with players is normally limited to one event, we are able to keep learning more about a players’ background through what they talk with us about in chats over a long period of time and use this knowledge to adjust the approach and the solutions we offer. Approaching every issue from the perspective of finding a tailored solution for every player became the cornerstone of the service model we are building.

With the focus on personalized service comes great responsibility. It starts from the moment we invite a new player to the program. From the very beginning, we aim to build the communication with every VIP player according to our main principles. In addition to the personal approach, there are other values that shape our service:

  • Empathy: Understanding the situation from the start and learning more about the player’s needs helps a lot with our task of finding a personalized solution whenever possible. As we are constantly in touch with our players, the empathetic approach helps to build trust and supportive environment in the chat which means that players will more likely come back to the chats where they feel safe and comfortable, and, therefore, continue using our service.
  • Mindfulness: Building a connection with players is one of our main goals, so we take personalized communication strategy seriously. Long-term communication with players means that agents need to consider all their previous correspondence, feedback, requests, and complaints when responding to each new message. So we want to stay in the loop and be aware of what is happening with our users. Also, when we’re unable to say “yes” to a request, we make sure to give our “no” a solid background so that the players can be sure we did our best to help.
  • Proactivity: In conjunction with the empathetic and mindful approach, being proactive not only helps us to build a connection with VIPs but is also the ground on which we build protocols and guidelines that regulate our work. Our procedures focus on preventing negative tendencies rather than fixing them. While communicating with our players, we try to be one step ahead of the situation, foresee the players’ needs and requests, and be prepared to offer a personalized solution based on players’ preferences.

Quality Assurance and Service Vision

To ensure we perform up to our standards, we developed a dedicated QA procedure. Reports with ten reviewed chats are made every two weeks so that all agents can be aware of the tendencies in their chats, have a list of things to fix, and know their strengths.

The QA criteria are based on the main principles of our service mentioned above, but there are many more checkboxes on our list than that. The QA procedure has been around ever since the VIP team was formed in March 2015. It has seen numerous changes and upgrades and continues to evolve. To date, we have seven criteria which constitute the main part of the assessment. Every two weeks, each agent from the team receives a detailed review of 10 chats chosen randomly out of the recently processed. The criteria focus on the following aspects:

  • the level of personalization in responses: was the previous correspondence and player’s preferences taken into account? Was a personalized solution offered when needed?
  • agent’s communication skills, i.e. the ability to build a conversation, phrase questions and responses, maintaining a friendly atmosphere in the chat
  • compliance with the company and team policies
  • four criteria for evaluating whether the standards of service were met when processing players’ negative feedback and resolving money- and payment-related issues

For the second part of the QA report, we track the processing rate of the low marks our players send via a rating tool. Agents make follow-ups for players who gave us a low mark to find out what they want us to improve. The third and final section of the report is the review of agents’ responses to gameplay-related questions only. Our social games are hardcore strategies, so the features can be quite complicated. Since the criteria aimed to assess soft skills cannot be used for evaluating the agents’ knowledge of the game features, we decided to review it separately.

One of the main challenges was to develop the criteria and grades for something that is really tricky to assess and measure. How do we check if an agent is executing a personal approach? How do we understand whether they are empathetic enough and properly process players’ feedback and complaints?;

To tackle this challenge, we started with defining what “having a perfect chat” means for us and designed a set of protocols and guidelines that reflect the ideal scenarios of building a relationship with our players. The guidelines help us in setting the right path and offering ready-made solutions for the most common requests. We make sure that our agents’ creativity is not limited in any way and they are free to share a story, a picture, a song, or a video with a player etc. as they deem fit. Players who have been members of the VIP program for quite some time now tend to share lots of personal details with us, which is very inspiring. It encourages our agents to express themselves, share their opinions with players and have a bit of laugh. This approach pays off in the most positive way helping us to earn our players’ trust and letting them be more open with us, whether it’s telling us about their day, talking about their interests, or sharing other stories.

Naturally, we want to grow professionally and get better at what we do, so last year we conducted four workshops dedicated to communication techniques, psychology, and developing the right mindset. But, most importantly, we started creating our own service vision.

We’ve had a clear idea of the service standards for awhile now, however, this vision wasn’t always exactly too organized or structured, and that limited us a great deal. So, creating a statement which would reflect our standards and capabilities made perfect sense. It’s already in the making, and upon its release, we’re also going to update our QA procedure once more, even though it’s already been improved a lot — so that the updated criteria can be as much in line with our service model as possible.

What my team and I are trying to do is to make sure the QA criteria perfectly reflect our goals, needs, and capabilities — the latter being a special focus for us. Setting the bar for the level of service we want to achieve is making a promise to ourselves. The position of the mediator between the company and the user brings certain limitations which means that our service model has to be not only ambitious but, first and foremost, achievable. The goal is to promise ourselves and our players something we can deliver, then assess our results and see if we’re any good at keeping those promises.

I hope you found this article helpful. Thank you for reading!