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ELECTRONIC ARTS RELIES ON RIGHTNOW TO COST-EFFICIENTLY SUPPORT GLOBAL GROWTH AND BRAND DOMINANCE As the world’s leading independent producer of electronic games, Electronic Arts (EA) has some serious customer service challenges. Millions of customers all over the world play EA’s numerous games on a variety of gaming platforms. They can have questions about everything from game rules to sound card configurations. They may pick up the phone to ask their questions, or seek their answers online. They may ask their questions in Japanese or Czech. And, as the online gaming market expands, the number of questions they’re asking is growing faster than ever. But with RightNow’s uniquely effective and adaptable on demand contact center technology, EA’s customer service organization has been able to cost-efficiently support the company’s continued growth and global market dominance. In fact, over the past two years it has successfully handled both a 50 percent increase in incident volume and a 10 percent budget cut—while still delivering the first-class support required for the company’s premium brand. “RightNow’s technology and people have been extremely important to EA as our business continues to grow and change,” says Boyd Beasley, EA’s senior director of customer support. “They’re an extremely responsive partner I can count on to work with us as we face the challenges that come with being a market leader on a global scale.” And thanks to the help of RightNow, Electronic Arts was recently awarded the 2007 Gartner CRM Excellence Award—an award given to a company that most clearly demonstrates excellence in their customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives. Unifying a Multi-Organization, Multi-National Support Team RightNow’s web-based on demand delivery model has proven to be ideal for EA’s globally dispersed, partially outsourced contact center operations. Over 80 percent of the company’s first- and second-tier phone and email support is handled by outsourcers around the world. Third-tier support is handled in local territories in strategic locations, with the management team located in Redwood City, California. Because access to RightNow is provided via the web, everyone everywhere shares a common incident management system. This allows EA to dynamically assign responsibility for specific games or tasks anywhere in the world as appropriate to meet fluctuating demand, without having to worry about provisioning additional servers or installing software on an outsourcer’s end-user desktops. RightNow’s hosted model also means that EA doesn’t have to own or manage any additional IT infrastructure to keep its global contact center operations up and running. RightNow takes care of all the hardware, software, and data protection associated with the system. This hosted environment also gives EA managers full visibility into all support activities and metrics. They can see how all incidents are handled, perform Quality Assurance, and monitor outsourcer performance. They can track all key performance indicators (KPI), pinpoint process bottlenecks, and quickly spot emerging support issues. They can also run reports on all individual contact center staff members in order to award performance-based bonuses.
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“By providing us with a common environment for tracking email and phone support, RightNow improves both our productivity and our market insight.”
— Boyd Beasley, Senior Director of Customer Support, EA Industry: Entertainment/Media Goals
· Provide effective support to millions of customers worldwide across hundreds of titles · Handle growing incident volume generated by new online titles · Seamlessly link multiple offshore outsourcers and internal resources
· Able to handle 50% increase in incidents despite 10% budget cut · Delivery of premium service levels in support of premium brand · Awarded the Gartner CRM Excellence Award · Global visibility into service processes enables continuous improvement · Tens of thousands of email messages answered daily with a 24-hour turnaround · Unified environment for incident tracking enhances the customer experience
EA took the added step of promoting the knowledge base in the “hold” message for its phone queue. Now. The insight the company gains from this data has been very useful for ensuring the technical quality of its products and the subjective quality of its customers’ gaming experience. For example. When customers first notify EA with their sound or video problem. Thanks to this system: · Less than 10% of emails received by first-level support have to be escalated · Of the escalated emails. customers are usually given the actual URL for the necessary download.” explains Beasley.” Effective Support for an Interactive World One of the primary challenges for EA has been supporting the new generation of online multiplayer games. customers are more prone to ask for support as soon as they encounter an issue—and they’re much more likely to want an immediate answer. and the U. The capture and management of all email and phone incident in a single system generated many benefits. the U. Because the quality of gameplay in the online space is dependent on real-time interaction with other players. the first step is to capture the relevant PC configuration data. The problem is that online games generate about ten times as many incidents as their conventional counterparts. more than half of EA’s customers are playing online games. Support staffers simply click on the relevant knowledge item in the RightNow knowledge base—which has been organized into folders for easy navigation—to quickly provide the appropriate answer. allowing the support staffer to quickly pinpoint the specific driver needing to be updated. As a result. these games comprised less than 20 percent of the company’s business. EA’s support staff. we can make optimum use of that channel across all of our games in 10 key languages—with plans to double that number within the next six months. In fact.S. since our customer base is very web-literate. This significantly reduced the contact center’s workload. EA is able to track issues with added granularity.com . it received several hundred thousand hits on the game’s self-service knowledge base during launch week—enough for every player to have looked up at least one answer there. and EA anticipates that number to significantly increase as new products take advantage of online features. Gamers can access the knowledge bases directly from within some of the games—enabling them to get fast answers to their questions with minimal impact on their gaming experience. Unifying Email and Phone Communications After its initial successes with the email channel. freeing them up to handle other issues. For one thing. when EA scored a big hit with Battlefield 2.. they reply to most customer inquiries with a click of the mouse. “Self-service is an extremely important support channel for us. English. EA began migrating management of its incoming phone support from a home-grown application it had been using for years to RightNow—starting with its North American. almost all are dispatched in a matter of minutes · Customers rarely wait more than eight hours for an email reply. RightNow’s streamlined incident management and highly effective self-service knowledge base technology have been instrumental in helping EA cope with this exploding workload. “With RightNow. Many configuration issues require a two-step process. it receives tens of thousands of email messages. “RightNow enables us to transform all the customer feedback we get from every customer touch-point into actionable customer insight.rightnow.speaking contact centers serving Australia.CASE STUDY: ELECTRONIC ARTS By adding a custom field to RightNow. the company has a very active email communications channel. That’s because the overwhelming majority of those inquiries center around a few basic technical issues revolving around the configuration of players’ PCs. That number can spike more than five-fold when a new game is released or a new gaming platform hits the market. Online games have also created a whole new class of issues. it enabled support staffers to view the complete history of www. however. The customer then transmits that data file to EA by email.K. thereby reducing both costs and wait-times. On a typical day. They can also immediately see if there has been a prior email exchange. so they can easily avoid giving the customer redundant information. as players who behave inappropriately can disrupt the gaming experience for others. is able to plow through these emails with remarkable speed. the knowledge bases—which serve up millions of answer-views per month—have relieved EA’s staff of having to handle routine questions. A few years ago. In fact.” says Beasley. “That insight is invaluable as we seek to strengthen brand loyalty and make customer service a competitive advantage. and greater than 99% are answered within 24 hours RightNow also makes it easy for EA managers to continually monitor the email queue to make sure response times don’t drop below service-level targets.” Making the Email Channel Work Because EA customers are so internet-oriented.
“We would not have been as successful as we are without that added dimension of professional services. With the new unified service environment. APAC Headquarters +61 2 8198 1300 www. policies. and came up with recommendations for process. Thanks to that model. “By providing us with a common environment for tracking email and phone support. we tend not to be a priority when it comes to IT budgets and project lists. EA develops. RightNow improves both our productivity and our market insight. publishes. and software configurations. “It also enables us to deliver a more consistent customer experience across all channels. EA didn’t build a lot of internal IT infrastructure to support its global contact center environment. and recently launched RightNow’s voice solution to give customers another option for quickly accessing the information they need. so much knowledge about the RightNow product. including charging contact center costs back to specific products and prioritizing technical enhancements. EA contracted for a RightNow technical account manager (TAM) to work on site for several months. “That’s exactly the kind of partner you need when you’ve been growing faster than the market—and when you plan to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. we’d have to invest a significant amount of capital in hardware to handle periods of peak demand— even though that hardware would basically be sitting idle the rest of the time. even though these have historically been left to unauthorized.” Beasley points out. In fact.” he observes. Because phone calls account for about 20 percent of EA’s support volume. support staff can instantly see and delete the extraneous incident. “The great thing about RightNow is that it has kept growing with us as our business needs have grown and as we have set higher goals for ourselves. is a leading global interactive entertainment software company. EA is also planning to use RightNow’s marketing solution to provide more proactive support and strengthen its relationships with its customers.” Beasley also gives RightNow’s professional services organization very high marks.” says Beasley. personal computers. the TAM met with EA’s staff. having the TAM on site was so successful that EA recently included this in-house resource in their most recent contract. on demand solution. we are treated like a valued customer and can escalate any issue we have as high as it needs to go.” In fact. By doing so. we’ve offloaded all those capacity planning issues on RightNow. reliance on email statistics alone would obviously compromise the accuracy of its reports.CASE STUDY: ELECTRONIC ARTS communications with each customer. EA’s implementation continues to evolve and expand. This reporting is important for a variety of reasons. EA hopes to keep customers returning to its websites and further promote the use of online self-service. it’s not unusual for customers to contact EA by both email and phone at the same time—in an effort to get a response via whichever channel is fastest.rightnow. “Because customer service departments are cost centers rather than profits centers. It is adding tips and hidden tricks (known to game enthusiasts as “cheats”) to its knowledge bases. wireless devices and the internet. Before RightNow. During that time. US Corporate Headquarters Toll Free 1-877-363-5678 +1-406-522-4200 European Headquarters +44 1628 511900 Beasley is also a strong proponent of RightNow’s on demand delivery model.” ABOUT ELECTRONIC ARTS Electronic Arts Inc. the staffer could refer to those earlier emails to provide more personalized service and avoid wasting time talking to the customers about things that had already been covered.” A Critical Partnership for Customer Service Beasley values RightNow’s responsiveness and expertise as much he does the technology itself.” says Beasley.” Beasley says. The company doesn’t get wrapped-up in the ongoing management of that infrastructure or the application itself. “If we owned our own RightNow servers. Unified management of the two channels also means that EA can now perform unified reporting on all support activity. observed how they worked. “It was great to work with someone who had so much experience with customer service best practices. and it doesn’t have to worry about whether it has enough capacity to cope with sudden spikes in traffic. “With RightNow. and distributes interactive software worldwide for video game systems. third-party websites.com .” Five years into its engagement with RightNow. on the other hand. We could not have received the Gartner award without RightNow. So if someone called the company after a series of emails. and such sensitivity to our political environment and culture. “By going with a hosted. that customer behavior would create duplicate incidents for EA to manage.