A blog post about United Airlines’ “losing” a ten-year old girl has recently blown up on the Web and provides some great lessons for the social game industry. It was written by Stanford Professor Bob Sutton and describes not only how United lost the girl but more importantly how little the staff cared or tried to remedy the situation (rather than repeat the story, I recommend you read the entry by clicking here ). The only time United acted like it cared was once an investigative reporter got wind of the story and started looking into it. Even then, it was obvious to all involved that the “sympathy” was insincere.
This story is relevant to our industry because some social game companies take a cavalier approach to their customers. Whether it is referring to its best customers as whales, not responding to support requests or using manipulative offers, there is often a derisory attitude to users. This culture creates a situation in which employees do not consider the interests of the customer and often drive a wedge between the player and the game.
Just as bad customer service has made the airline industry one of the least profitable sectors, a similar attitude can affect our industry. If we make customers feel alienated, unappreciated or— even worse—scorned, they are less likely to come back, try our other games or monetize. Rather than repeating what the major airlines do, social game companies should look at how firms like Amazon and Trader Joe’s treat their customers (and generate much higher enterprise value). Create a culture of valuing the customer and working together to create a great user experience.