Why we love… what!?

We’ve been supporting our customers ever since we first started selling our games in the mid 1990s, and almost all of our support has been by email.

We’ve tried a number of methods from the simple (keeping a single mailbox) to the downright complicated (writing our own bespoke support system) and then back again.  As we moved back to being a 2 person team we wanted to make sure our support load didn’t weigh us down so much otherwise we’d never have the time to get any new development done!

So, David did some research, and discovered Freshdesk.  They provided a system where you can handle your own customer support more easily.

There’s only two of us, and Freshdesk’s services start with a package for up to three ‘agents’ (ah, we’re agents – that gives us a nice Men In Black feeling) so for us as a small independent developer that’s perfect.

We’ve always tried to make it easy for people to contact us with support issues (bugs in the game, purchase queries, suggestions) so as well as linking to Our Support Pages we’ve usually built in feedback pages within the games themselves  so that people can get in touch really easily.

We get a couple of dozen valid customer support messages per day (and a whole lot of spam, but hey-ho), so it’s not a huge quantity by the standards we used to receive in the mid 2000’s where it would be dozens per hour, but having a tool to help us organise and deal with these still makes a difference.

But what a difference!

Freshdesk is the only product we use on a daily basis where it is so good (and makes a task so enjoyable) that we actually say out loud “I bloody love Freshdesk!

What on earth would cause either of us (generally considered to have at least a marginal grasp on reality) to wax lyrical about a customer service tool?  Simply, it does everything possible to reduce the annoyances (struggling to keep track of threads, finding the right info, finding which emails are new, which are waiting on something), and does everything possible to slicken up the process – meaning we can make things right for the customer as quickly as possible, which in turn, makes us happy!

Freshdesk Makes Us Happy!

So what does it do that makes us happy? Okay… here’s the things which we use which make us impressed… [deep breath!]…

  • We can redirect all of our incoming support mail to their system, no more mailboxes.
  • It keeps track of each customer and threads the conversations – giving the user a ‘ticket’ which they can contact us with either by email (replying) or online via their web portal
  • It lets us tag each ticket with a status  ( we use “Open”, “Resolved”, “Waiting on Customer”, “Waiting on Update”, and “Waiting on 3rd Party”), and automatically deals with an incoming reply (reopening it), or closing it out if we’ve been waiting for a response from the customer for more than a time we choose (sometimes it takes people a couple of weeks to get back to us, so we mark them as closed after a month without a response.)
  • It lets us assign (if the user hadn’t already chosen it) which game the ticket is about
  • It lets us write FAQ items (a.k.a. “Solutions”) which we can copy to users, but also publish to the portal so that others can see it and hopefully get a solution to their problem without having to contact us.
  • We can tag the solutions with key words so there’s a really good chance someone can find the solution easily.
  • We can embed images (very helpful!), links, or even videos into the solutions, so it’s ideal for writing step-by-step guides for our most common queries.
  • We can set up our “portal” so that someone creating a ticket is prompted to supply the information we’re going to need (game, platform, Unique ID if available, and a few other things), which really helps to slicken up the support, and we’re much more likely to be able to resolve the issue with a single action and reply.
  • It lets us embed the portal directly into our own website, and add in the branding and surrounds so that it’s all appropriate for us.
  • It’s really easy for us to add new products, add in extra statuses and support categories, create new ‘canned’ responses and solutions.
  • We can set up our own auto-responses, our own signatures, and customise it all to be “ours”.
  • We can mark items as spam, and have it block that sender too (there are lots of companies that scrape the Google Play store for all the company support addresses then use those to market their services, it’s nice and easy to flag those as spam and never see them again!)
  • We can pull up reports and select by various features; in particular when we have an update available, we can bring up all of the people who are “waiting on update” for a particular game on a particular platform, and then send them all a message at once to get the update.
  • We can tag tickets themselves with keywords to make it easier to search, and we can add our own fields (for instance we added a 1-line bug precis field, which we can use to make the fastest summary of a problem – brilliant when we’re working on an update and want to bring in any other issues that need sorting out too!)
  • We can tag tickets with what kind of query it is – a bug report, purchasing issue, general query, suggestion, or even (and we love these!) praise! Again if we want to pull up the suggestions about a particular game, this makes it really easy!
  • Our interface to it is all via a webpage – no custom software to install here, we just log on wherever we are.
  • They have an app to be able to do the support without having to be at a desktop, which is nice to check to see if there’s any new support in.

…Aaaand breathe!

But wait! There’s just one more thing…

So we’ve got this brilliant web based solution that means we can do the best support possible for people who send us emails for support, including from emails generated by our in-game feedback pages… what would make this even better?

Well a recent feature they added is called “Mobihelp” – which means a help system embedded into the actual game, which we currently are adding to all of our iOS and Android games each time we do an update.

The players can look up our FAQs and solutions – images included – from within the game (which solves 90% of the issues right there!), and if they need to, write a message to us within the game.

That message comes through to us, and we can respond… and the player gets the reply back and can see the conversation thread within the game! How brilliant is that!

The big advantage is that no matter what email provider they use, no matter what crazy filtering they (or their ISP) have in place, the message gets through! (And if they mistype their email address, it doesn’t matter – they still see the replies!)

Lastly, when a message comes through to us, it has the associated info we always have to ask for ( which game, which version, what platform, which device ) already available, as well as any extra custom info we find useful (we use it to pass which In-App purchases have been made and which achievements have been unlocked, and the Unique ID from the game so that we can also send any special unlock awards) and even a trace of the most recent system events which we can use to help diagnose any recent crashes… all without having to go back and forth asking the customer for more and more info.

This has saved us so much time and cuts out so much frustration for customers who really don’t know what model device or OS version they have!

How much is all that worth? How much does it cost?

As well as making the experience of contacting support better for our customers (because we don’t lose them in the system, and it’s so much faster for us to get them a successful resolution), it probably halves our customer support time.  OK, for us now, that’s probably a saving of half an hour per day on average, but that adds up – that’s a day or two a month.  Add in all of the customers who now don’t need to contact (as all the solutions are up there on the web, and available within the games too), and it’s certainly much more saved still.

How much does it cost us?  As mentioned right at the top, their current offering (to entice people in, I’m sure) is free for up to three agents. Yup, that’s right, free.

It cost us perhaps a day initially to set up the mail system, add in our categories and products, and populate with a reasonable number of our FAQs.

We don’t even use all of the features they have (which would be perfect for a larger support team), but wow, just what we do use is fantastic.  Now we know they’re using the free entry to get small successful companies to continue to use them as they grow (and then charge for the usage, which is the cost of a couple of hours of equivalent salary for each agent), but that value is awesome too.

Freshdesk aren’t paying us to say this – we’re just very very happy users (especially happy they let us use the free tier!).

We are genuinely delighted to use their system, and to recommend it unreservedly to other companies!

After all, when was the last time you said “I love this!” out loud about any other piece of office productivity software?