TO REALLY CONNECT WITH YOUR CUSTOMER COMMUNITY, YOU NEED TO BE A PART OF IT
While living abroad I began to feel homesick. A friend suggested a solution might be playing an online video game. That was when I discovered the world of MMORPGs (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games) and a whole new network of friends. The game I played was created by ArenaNet and was specifically designed to encourage collaboration rather than competition which helped foster a positive, friendly community. It defied my prejudices about computer games and those who play them and quickly I found a group of people I enjoyed spending my evenings with.
What struck me is the strength of the online community and the way in which ArenaNet played a part in that, interacting with their customers/players. It felt dynamic, it felt human and we felt listened to.
I noticed how they worked with passionate players to create content. Through the ArenaNet Partner Program they support content-creating fans - typically YouTubers, artists, streamers and writers - by providing them with resources, support and early access to new game features. This gives content creators material to feed to the community but also allows Arenanet to get feedback before features are launched. It’s a win/win scenario and fuels an enthusiastic fanbase.
They also felt like one of us – ArenaNet developers are players too and can frequently be seen in game with an icon letting everyone know they’re a developer. They frequently organise live streams where players can play alongside them on a common game mission.
Personally I found it reassuring to know that a company believes in what they’re creating enough to spend their own free time on it – an endorsement of my own investment.
In its enthusiasm, the player community can be demanding yet developers always addressed concerns or apologised for mistakes in a way that felt genuine. They never patronise.
This type of customer engagement struck me as brave but in having the courage to be engaging and present, they created fierce advocates, gained a real sense of the joy they were creating and invaluable development insights. If you fancy checking it out: Guild wars 2