5 tips to smooth a new BPO transition for your players

While your game devs are responsible for creating the skeleton and body of your game, your players are the beating heart that keeps it alive. Keeping something alive is a big responsibility, and as such, your players deserve amazing support from you. But sometimes, the AAA-quality support that we want to provide isn’t within our scope, especially if you are using a third party to provide it.

Once you identify that the service quality you offer customers isn’t quite up to snuff, it’s time to make a change. However, it can be a huge undertaking to rip out your processes with an existing BPO. It may even feel like such an expensive sunk cost that you don’t want to deal with it. But, as we said above, when your players deserve better, it’s on you to deliver. 

Here are five key ways to successfully start and manage the transition from one BPO to another.

1. Get your stakeholders on board

A good BPO partner will touch many business areas. So, even if you’re primarily just using them for player support, other areas within the business may have opinions.

The first step in transitioning to a different partner is understanding any business-wide impacts the move would have. For instance, you may use your current BPO partner for QA, localization, and player support. In that case, it’s important to get buy-in from your QA and localization teams and understand what the impact of a transition would be on them as well. 

Making a decision to move player support without also knowing whether your partner is delivering on expectations in other areas of the business could add complexity and degrade player experience even more. 

Maintaining the same BPO partner across different areas of the business helps to create uniform processes and maintain experience continuity for your players. In the event that other teams don’t have issues with your partner, it may be good to consider what things could shift within your player support team instead.

2. Ask the right questions

Your players aren’t in the room to advocate for themselves or their needs. You’ll need to do that for them. When you’re considering leaving your BPO to work with another one for player support, be sure to ask the right questions, and don’t be afraid to say “no” if it sounds like something isn’t going to work for you.

Here are a few questions that might get your thinking juices flowing:

  • Does the BPO have experience with the tools they’ll need to support your customer base? (e.g., Discord, your help desk, or your game itself)
  • How have they created service transition management plans in the past? Do they have examples?
  • Do any internal tools that they use integrate with the platforms that you use?
  • How do they handle support volume fluctuations? For instance, if there is a widespread bug, server issues, or a new launch, will they be able to grow with you?
  • What metrics do they currently track, or can they implement the metrics that you need to have tracked?
  • Any questions or concerns that your various stakeholders had.

Any business that you decide to transition to should be able to answer you with “best practices.” While best practices are great, you’ll also need to understand how they can customize those to fit the processes that your team already has in place. 

3. Make sure your technology is on point

Depending on the size of your player support organization, there can be a lot of bureaucracy behind getting a BPO partner access to your tools—this is especially true if any of your tooling is internally developed or homebrewed. If you’re transitioning from one BPO to another, the pain is doubled. 

Start the conversation early with your IT team and double down on understanding what processes your new BPO partner needs in order to be able to connect to your systems. For instance, how do they get into your Discord? What access, if any, do they need to your billing platform? Do they need to have an in-game account with specialty status for player support?

Having an understanding of the needs on both sides of the equation can help to reduce pain (and downtime!) during the transition period.

4. Transfer your knowledge

Usually when issues occur, especially when switching BPO providers, the blame automatically falls on the BPO. However, the impact can be minimized with just a little bit of work on your part. Start creating a transition plan as early as possible. For instance:

  • Create a list of required documentation for your BPO partner to access to
  • Identify which tools BPO associates will need to access
  • Consider retaining some of the original team from your first BPO partner to assist in transitioning knowledge to new team members
  • Craft a change management plan to identify which pieces of the puzzle will be handled by whom. For instance, “QA will transfer from BPO Partner 1 to BPO Partner 2 on [date].”

The largest issue that usually occurs when transitioning from one BPO partner to another is that operations fall by the wayside. When you’re transitioning a tool’s management from one BPO to the other, there are often a lot of backed-up player requests that need to get picked up immediately or soon after. The management of this change is integral to the happiness and success of your players.

5. Let your players know

Some companies may feel squeamish about letting their communities know that player support is outsourced, but when you’re transitioning from one BPO to another, it’s a strength in your favor.

Be transparent with your players and let them know that certain segments of your player support will be in transition. Just like you would notify them about service maintenance, keep them in the loop for when or if they can expect service degradation as you transition player support providers and when you expect things to be back to normal.

Play as a team

Communication is key. The more you open the conversation between your existing and potential BPO partners, your internal team, and your player community, the better. Even though you are making a change to improve your players’ experience, it’s possible that some hitches will arise in the process. Get everyone on the same page with answers to key questions before making any moves. 

Ensure that your team is intentional with transferring knowledge and technology access to minimize hiccups when the transfer is occurring. Lastly, give your players a stake in the game. Let them know what changes are coming and when so that no one is taken by surprise if they can’t log in—your game has more impact on them than you think!