Have you seen a program on CBS called Game Changers? We see the tail end of it every Sunday morning before our favorite news program. We noticed its sponsorship by EA Sports and suspected it was a promotion for electronic games. Then we realized the show is about pro athletes serving their communities. So we wondered how EA Sports got involved. Whose idea was it?
A little research revealed several interesting stories about Game Changers and EA (Electronic Arts).
- The Game Changers TV show was developed by an independent production company. Local stations use it to meet the FCC rule to provide children's programming. It's targeted to teenagers, and it's much better than many programs they used to air. We should support it, as EA Sports does.
- The phrase 'game changers' occurs all the time in EA marketing and news. EA recognizes and supports innovation.
- The EA Sports division has had a few different programs going by the name Game Changers. They all support customer involvement, loyalty and community.
Our research revealed how Electronic Arts has improved its handling of customers over the last few years. So this really is a story about CRM! Changes at EA may have been accelerated by EA's winning Consumerist's Worst Company poll in 2012 and 2013. Yet we saw evidence that employees were already working on new processes before that happened.
Some people credit the change in top leadership, but listen to this guy who manages their IT systems, who arrived at EA in February 2011.
Jeff Bradburn of EA (Electronic Arts) as interviewed by Lucian Tucker in blog post Breaking Into the Industry, 2012-Apr-9:
We are always focused on making every single interaction with our customers count. It's another core objective of ours: "Exceed expectations by delighting our customers, the same way our games do." So we want to know as much about our customers as we can and match them with the right agent for their problem.
Most people are familiar with the typical phone experience, where you dial a number and press 1 for X, 2 for Y, etc. We want to take that a step further. If we know our customers – what they own, what they've called about in the past, and (if they allow us to) what they like – we can find an agent that can connect with them based on their need, or even their interests. We are also very interested in the concept of allowing customers to choose their own agent. We've got some really interesting things brewing there.
Another interesting project is around community support. EA is very lucky in that we have very passionate customers that love to participate in forums. We think that there's something really special there for support needs. We want to let customers help other customers and in the process get something uniquely "EA" out of the experience. I can't disclose all of the details, but I think we've really got something special up our sleeves.
And we aren't just focused on our customers. We want to make sure we have the best Customer Advisors (agents) in the world, and we want them to have the best tools in the world. We are investing heavily this year in creating a single unified tool that streamlines the Advisor experience, which ultimately creates a vastly improved experience for our customers.
Jeff Bradburn had a business background from Apple customer support. His team selected Salesforce products and customized it to support EA customers, who are called 'players.'
From the EA success story on Salesforce web site:
EA’s Worldwide Customer Experience team created immersive, interactive websites to help customers quickly access up-to-the-minute status updates, engage with EA game advisors, and discuss hot topics with other members of the community. Most importantly, gamers can immerse themselves in the EA brand. With Salesforce, EA was able to grow its advisor staff from 400 to 1,600 in only 6 weeks. And, EA’s Worldwide Customer Experience websites were able to manage millions of hits per week during peak launch periods.
“Salesforce helped us execute on our transformation at a faster pace than anyone thought would be possible,” says Bradburn. “The close relationships we’re building with customers are a real game changer.” [Emphasis added.]
Here's why we're very impressed with everything Bradburn and his team at EA have accomplished:
- 'Players' are recognized as individual people who are connected to other people and often play more than one EA game.
- Strong relationships between players and EA employees are nurtured. While this story focuses on the customer support, we also found many stories about strong relationships between players and game developers at EA.
- EA invests in training and technology so EA employees can support the players.
- Interactions across many different platforms are integrated so the company can operate in the 'omnichannel' style which is so highly prized in customer experience.
When customers are frustrated and loyalty is dying, employees up and down the organization have to take ownership of the problem and demonstrate they care more about the customer than corporate profits. The CEO is often the worst person to assist because he spends too much time talking to investors, but if he empowers the people who spend all day talking with customers--amazing things can happen.