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Live Chat vs. Phone Call Support: Pros and Cons

Enhancing Riot Company’s Customer Service


Riot Games, Inc. creates player-oriented games. It provides economic online games, battlefield, and multiplayer online. However, the company still has some improvement areas, particularly on the quality of its customer service. Riot created and operates League of Legend, the widely popular computer game (Preston 2). Riot Games has recently publicized the numbers of active players of League of Legends. The company reveals that there are 27 million players every day, whereas the number of simultaneous players reaches its highest at 7.5 million. All in all, there are 67 million players per month (Tassi para 1). Given its continuously growing customer base, the company should consider a more direct method of communicating with its customers, in addition to its existing online community forum and email support.

There are two options for the company, namely: online live chat or phone call. To prevent customers from going to other online gaming sites, there are two methods for Riot to choose that will make the customer service better. The first one is to set up an online live chat for customers that need help from Riot support. The second option is providing customers a number that they could call whenever they have complaints, problems, or issues that require immediate attention. The company must choose an option that is both inexpensive and efficient. This report aims to comprehensively analyze these two options and then decide which option is better for Riot Games. The first section discusses the need for customer service expansion; the second part explains the weaknesses and strengths of Riot Games; the third section enumerates the pros and cons of live chat and phone call support. The last part determines the better option.

Live Chat vs. Phone Call Support: Pros and Cons

Why an Expansion of Customer Service?

Every game company needs customer service personnel to assist players with issues, yet online games require more significant customer service staff. In offline games, players usually require support or assistance with technical problems; for questions regarding gameplay, players can look for hints online or purchase strategy manuals (Preston 5). However, in a live, online setting, these customers want to obtain assistance directly and instantaneously. They require support for a much more extensive array of problems than they do in an offline environment (Knapp 16). Riot Games would, therefore, add value to their customer service by adding another option, either live chat or phone call support.

What is the Problem?

Online gaming companies are usually at the bottom in terms of the quality of technical support. Sam England (2012) stated that “They [online gaming companies] are manufacturers, used to multi-tier distribution and are unused to directly engaging with their consumers” (para 12). Riot Games should consider the threats to its business, especially regarding the quality of its customer service if it wants to become a global leader in the online gaming industry.

Increasing Consumer Demands

Zendesk, the primary provider of customer support software, believes that there are two main challenges confronting customer support in online gaming. Sam Boonin of Zendesk clarified these two challenges: “One is the large scale of service accidents that gaming companies face as more and more customers play their games on a daily basis. You can see this from the massive numbers of DAUs (daily active users) that many online and social games have” (England para 2). He continued, “The second difficulty is the real-time aspirations of the player. If they have a support problem, they expect an immediate response “(England para. 3). The second challenge should be the focus of Riot Games.

Growing Global Competition

Motivated by more excellent PC dispersion, intensified use of online video game consoles, and more prominent broadband use, the DFC Intelligence, in its Online Game Market document, forecasts that the global market for online games will increase from “$3.4 billion in 2005 to over $13 billion in 2011” (eMarketer para 1). In response to this pattern, growing recognition of games as a promotional instrument, online digital distribution, and consumer subscription offers are also surfacing as popular developments (eMarketer para 2). Online gaming companies do not merely announce their newest products and services on social media; they ensure a continuous flow of information about product changes, promos, new service offerings, and fads. Games with more significant, more loyal fan bases, like League of Legends, are expected to have supporters that want and obtain loads of social interaction, with the convenient, fast, and easy access to customer support (Preston 10). Without high-quality customer service, Riot Games would face severe threats from its competitors.

What Ensures Riot Games’ Survival?

One of the company’s main strengths is its business model– its effort to provide players free access to the game. League of Legends was one of the first games developed in North America to be made to enable free access (Gaudiosi para 4). According to Brandon Beck, the company’s CEO, “When Marc and I founded Riot, most gamers were being asked to pay $60 for a traditional game-in-a-box to be played on consoles or PCs” (Gaudiosi para 4). The company has also spent a considerable amount of money in e-sports, transforming the League of Legends into a global spectator sport and generating a massive number of live-streams for the online gaming industry. The company’s League of Legends Championship Series introduces avid players to another mode of experiencing and keeping in touch with the game (Gaudiosi para 10).

  • Customer Experience

Riot Games emphasized providing an ideal player experience. This involves offering game features that are easily accessed and used by new players, introducing electronic sports competition, focusing on original content, and developing a game with higher complexity (Preston 8).

  • Defy Tradition

The creators of Riot Games do not have their work stations within the Santa Monica workplaces. They always accompany other game designers and are available to or easily reached by gamers and employees. They support the value of defying traditions by granting prizes to people who challenge the system, customs, and rules to achieve their vision (Kong para 5).

  • Diversity

The company was founded to launch a new revolution in the evolving multiple online battle arena game (MOBA) category developed from the changes in Blizzard’s WarCraft and StarCraft (Kong para 5). Kong (2015) further stated that they diversify via intellectual property, electronic sports, community, and gameplay.  

Expansion of Customer Service: Live Chat vs. Phone Call 

As mentioned previously, Riot Games should consider adding either live chat or phone call support to their customer support service. This section discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each of these two options. It is essential to consider the strong and weak points of each option for Riot Games to make an informed decision.

Live Chat

Online live chat is a way of helping or assisting the customer through real-time online customer service conversation. Live chat enables a reduction of customer service response time and enhances the satisfaction and experience of customers. Numerous companies fail to retain most of their customers because of failure to competently take advantage of their web site to instantly give information and support to customers (Knapp 18). Most online users choose to live chat to obtain direct, instant support than waiting for answers through email or telephone lines.

There are numerous advantages of live chat that can benefit Riot Games. First, the quality of customer service can easily be rated or evaluated to acquire an idea on the quality of support the staff is giving, merely by looking at log files. Second, chat can be deactivated. If there is a single staff, s/he can simply go offline or disconnect and change the chat menu into a contact form if s/he is unavailable. This is one of the advantages of live chat over phone call support (ChatToolTester.com para 1). Third, one can look at live analytics to search for the most relevant content. Fourth, customer service staff can quickly provide useful links, contacts, or information to the customer via the chat interface (Collier 56-57).

Fifth, there are totally no additional costs for the visitor of the website, albeit they are out of the country. Sixth, there are no issues with inappropriate statements or unusual accents. Seventh, support can assist more customers simultaneously. Eight is immediate feedback or response (Collier 57-58). Chat is generally quicker than phone call services, where one usually has to go through inconvenient lists of options. And, lastly, live chat offers more proficient, quality service. Compared to phone call support, it is more convenient for the staff to get all the correct responses, for they can merely ask coworkers if they are asked difficult questions (ChatToolTester.com para 1). The customers would not even know about it.

Still, live chat is not without limitations. There are some disadvantages, as well. First, not like email live chat support cannot delay their response for several hours. Second, chat support should respond immediately. If the staff is unable to answer quickly, the visitor may end the conversation upset and unsatisfied (Gibson 113). Third, support is likely to receive prank chats. However, if this often occurs, the staff can block the individual or turn on email as a required item in the pre-chat field, which could considerably reduce such a form of misuse. Fourth, live chat is not satisfactory on mobile devices. Not every mobile device is capable of supporting live chat.

Moreover, mobile users who are not capable of typing in a quick manner would only be disappointed (ChatToolTester.com para 2). Fifth, not every user has the knowledge to use it. And, lastly, not every user will find it likable (Knapp 20). Users who do not have much expertise in using the application would perhaps find the experience frustrating.

Phone Call Support

Phone call support is one of the most widely used channels. It offers a quick and efficient method for customers to acquire help after making a purchase and allows the company to receive feedback or comments from customers. Not like the online live chat, the phone call of the customer will be logged and recorded for future use, particularly for customer service training, which will enhance the service and thus raise customer loyalty and satisfaction (Lebed para 10-11). In comparison to living chat, conversations through phone calls will resolve the issue more quickly because speaking is consistently quicker than typing. If a customer refuses to wait, the support can just make an appointment for a callback. Given customers’ ages, older people are not comfortable chatting online (Teach-ICT.com para 3). They choose phone call support, and it will undermine the loyalty of the customers if they find it difficult to call the company when they have complaints or problems.

Similar to live chat, phone call support has both advantages and disadvantages. Some of the benefits are the following: first, the customer can obtain instant response; second, the conversation is relatively private or confidential; third, online phone calls can be free of charge; fourth, telephones are easily accessible, and they do not require expert knowledge to use it; and, lastly, the customer can get direct, the immediate response from customer service staff (Gibson 188). On the contrary, the disadvantages of phone call support are as follows: first, the team should be available to answer the call; second is the inconvenience of waiting in the queue; third, some phone calls are costly; fourth, there could be interference or noise-making the quality of the phone call miserable; and, lastly, with regular phones, only verbal information can be provided, files cannot be sent (Teach-ICT.com para 8).

Analysis of Customer Service Expansion Opportunities

This section analyzes the feasibility of live chat and phone call support for Riot Games about five factors, namely: effectiveness, convenience, cost, time, and customer preference. As discussed in the previous section, both live chat and phone call support can enhance customer loyalty and satisfaction through its effectiveness, convenience, cost, time, and customer preference. Based on this comparison, Riot Games can make an informed decision regarding the type of customer service channel; it should add to its business model.

  • Effectiveness

The effectiveness of live chat rests in its potential to provide convenience and ease of access to customers. According to the ATG Global Consumer Trend Study, 90 percent of customers regard live chat useful and practical (kissmetrics.com para 5). This finding was supported by an emarketer.com study, which reported that 63 percent of customers were more likely to go back to a live chat (kissmetrics.com para 5). Further study reports (kissmetrics.com para 5):

62 percent announced that they were more likely to buy from the platform again. An additional 38% of respondents said they had made their purchase due to the chat session itself. Both these habits were also more prevalent among respondents who purchased online at least a week.

Customers can quickly obtain responses to their complaints or questions through live chat. This would be very useful to Riot Games’ public relations.

On the other hand, phone call support is also useful in resolving customer issues due to its fast response time. However, waiting in the queue can be very frustrating for customers, even with the callback option. Unlike in live chat, phone call support is not compelled to respond within a given time frame. Hence callbacks may not happen in phone call support

  • Convenience

The concern with online businesses is that numerous customers are cut off from someone who can solve their problems directly and instantly with accuracy. Instead of watching prospective customers leaving their websites, countless online businesses have been implementing live chat support because of the convenience it offers. Live chat can provide timely responses or answers that customers are looking for while simultaneously enhancing substantial gains to the company’s customer service support and profitability.

Phone call support is also convenient because telephone devices are easily accessible, not to mention mobile devices. One can reach customer service support through a phone call anywhere in the world. The problem with phone call support is that there could be interference or noises and problems with unusual accents that could make the phone conversation miserable.

  • Cost

Live chat can also cut down customer support and sales costs. Live chat software has always shown that it can lessen phone costs and staff hours. Two of the essential cost-effective benefits of live chat are (kissmetrics para 6): (1) increased efficiency by enabling live chat support to manage several conversations at the same time, hence cutting down the need to employ more staffs; and, (2) live chat lessens total ‘contact center costs; through cutting down ‘average interaction costs.’ Live chat contributes to the reduction of business operational expenses through toll-free phone customer service. Not merely is adding live chat a process improvement; it also contributes to the increase in total sales. In contrast, phone calls can be free, but not always. Hence customers may find it inconvenient in terms of cost to use phone call support

  • Time

Live chat saves time for both the customers and the customer service staff. When one engages in a chat conversation, s/he will seldom find his/herself waiting for as long as s/he might when initiating a phone call. Although the length of a chat conversation could be lengthier than a regular phone call, the time used up chatting with support is merely a portion of the time one would spend on a phone call. Customer service agents find it more productive doing live chat than answering customer concerns through a phone call because they can do other tasks while waiting for their customers to respond via live chat (Lebed para 9). Likewise, phone call support saves time, not only for the customer but also for the customer service staff. Phone call support demands the full attention of the customer service agent, limiting the tasks that s/he can do while dealing with the needs and demands of the customer.

  • Customer Preference

Not all customers will prefer to live chat over phone calls. Like what is mentioned previously, older generations find live chat more complicated than a mere phone call. However, in the case of Riot Games, the demographics it is catering to are mostly composed of the younger generation. Thus this problem would not be much of a concern for the company.

Conclusions and Recommendations

 For the younger generation of today, especially for the fan base of online gaming sites, like Riot Games, using the computer and typing quickly is not an urgent matter; thus, live chat is a more straightforward, more comfortable, and more convenient phone call support. Live chat will help Riot Games remain updated, trendy, and connected to youngsters. Speaking, live chat provides a direct, instant, and convenient way to communicate with a customer service agent without the information or conversation getting interrupted or misplaced. Although it may not have some of the advantages of phone call support, live chat compensates through convenient, efficient, and effective communication.

In addition to looking for the appropriate software, Riot Games will have to offer focused, expert training for its customer service staff. Live chat is entirely distinct from phone call support because all responses should be brief statements or answers that are straightforward, substantial, and right to the point. Lengthy explanations are a no-no in live chat. Therefore, besides online community forum and email support, Riot Games should add live chat to their customer service chain to enhance customer loyalty and satisfaction.

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