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Feb 01 2008 -
An Inside View into CipSoft's Customer Support
wo months ago we gave you a general introduction to our company CipSoft. Today we would like to go in more detail and give you some background information about our largest department: customer support.

In the first years when Tibia was still small, our 4 CEOs not only took care of programming and developing the game, but they also answered emails of Tibia players and provided ingame support. Because of this there is a popular and quite persistent misconception that Guido is still working in customer support, which is not true, of course - in fact, he is Tibia's executive product manager. As a result of the continued growth of the game, further manpower was needed to take care of the community. Finally, in July 2003, Solkrin was hired as Tibia's first community manager and CipSoft's very first employee. Back then, he was quite busy answering all emails as well as managing the gamemaster team and writing texts for the website. It became clear soon that more people were needed to provide support for the growing community. In 2004, 3 further community managers were hired, 2 followed in 2005, and last year a further 4 new colleagues joined the team. In January, we welcomed Lionet, our latest addition to the team, and a 12th colleague has already signed the working contract and will start in March. This makes customer support the biggest department of CipSoft by far, providing nearly 1/3 of the CipSoft staff.
Some of you might ask yourselves now why there are so many people working in customer support. The answer is simple - our customers are the most important factor to keep Tibia running! For this reason many people are needed to take care of the needs and wishes of our players.

The tasks here in customer support are numerous and diverse. Generally speaking, they fall into 5 categories:
  1. Assisting players
  2. Rule enforcement
  3. Guidance and support of helper groups
  4. Text work
  5. Project work
1. Assisting players
The satisfaction of our players is of utmost importance to us. For this reason helping players with problems is a crucial aspect of our work. We communicate with players via email and the various support boards. Every day, we receive more than 100 emails. Sidnia takes care of payment requests and answers questions on the billing board. Tavaren supervises the technical board and answers emails that focus on technical problems. Emails concerning problems of a more general nature are processed by various team members who are assigned for the task on a day-to-day basis. No single team member answers more than 30 emails per day to ensure that there is enough time to read and answer all emails thoroughly.
Additionally we receive around 50 TibiaME emails daily which are mainly answered by Isolan. Of course, from time to time, we also assist players ingame, especially if they have a problem that tutors cannot solve. However, as a rule, players that need help or assistance should firstly turn to our tutors in the help channel to get a quick solution for their problem.

2. Rule enforcement
As we want to ensure a maximum of fairness for all players, enforcing the Tibia Rules is an important part of our work. Apart from dealing with rule violations ingame, rule enforcement includes processing reported names, illegal statements and posts. Every day, we process some 400 statement reports, 500 reported names and around 150 board reports from tutors. Moreover, approximately 400 new name proposals are checked to see if they are acceptable under the Tibia Rules. The decision on whether or not reports are justified and if the reported players deserve to be punished rests solely with the customer support. Regardless of its type, any report is checked by a team member, and only if we are convinced that a Tibia Rule has been violated the reported character will be punished. This means also that nobody has to fear to get banished just because some tutor abuses the position.

3. Guidance and support of helper groups
CipSoft's customer support cooperates with a large number of players who help us in many ways and who have a tremendous effect on the community. For this reason it is extremely important to support and guide their work. First of all, there is a total of 34 gamemasters that enforce the Tibia Rules. Alguzara and Neofine answer their questions, help them with day-to-day problems, explain new situations, but also keep an eye on them to ensure that a gamemaster cannot abuse this responsible position. Of course, both Alguzara and Neofine are also in charge of recruiting new gamemasters from the ranks of our most knowledgeable and dedicated senior tutors. Moreover, Alguzara takes care of our senators whom we often ask for advice if it comes to new features, for example.
In addition to the gamemaster team, there are nearly 4600 Tutors and 800 senior tutors who answer questions in the help channel and on the support boards and report illegal names, statements and posts. Needless to say, they ask many questions, which are mainly answered by Iscen and Neofine, but also by other tutors. We know it is very important to give our tutors clear guidelines in order to make sure they can provide good and helpful support to all players. There are precise sets of rules which explain clearly which names are legal and which should be reported. For senior tutors it is important to know which statements and posts are classified as illegal and how to deal with them. Tutors that are unable to follow these rules will be dismissed as we are determined not to tolerate tutors that abuse their position or do not have sufficient knowledge to help other players.
Last but not least, there are the administrators of our supported fansites. As they contribute much to the community with their work, Andasstra gladly answers their questions, provides them with interviews, pictures and texts, or hands out prizes. Occasionally, some of us also act as jury members for fansite events.
We would like to use this opportunity, to thank all of our helpers for the wonderful work they are providing for the Tibia community.

4. Text work
Of course, we also know how important it is to keep our players informed about current matters or developments that concern Tibia. Many texts have to be written for the website, for the game, and also for internal usage. This kind of editorial work is mainly done by me, Manina. Whenever new features are introduced or old ones have changed, texts on the website need to be added or adapted. News must be written to inform you as quickly as possible about interesting and important matters going on in Tibia. And then, of course, there are the monthly featured articles, like the one you are currently reading, which are written to give you a better idea of our work, of individual aspects of the game, or of other topics that are of interest for all Tibia players.
Votings are also composed in our team. Working together with our marketing manager Mercutio Mercado, Andasstra is writing a new poll every 1-2 weeks that will help us to find out more about your opinion or about the way you handle certain matters. The feedback we receive this way helps us to adjust our work according to your wishes and needs.
Even though ingame texts are generally written by the content team, all texts are proofread by customer support. This includes book texts, new NPCs, but also the texts for the quest log.
Finally, there are texts that we need for our daily work. To ensure a consistent handling of the various tasks by all team members, several guidelines that describe our work need to be kept up-to-date. Important for our daily work are also texts that are used as standard replies in emails and in the forums. About half the emails we receive are answered by using more than 100 standard answers, which are, of course, often adapted to suit the individual problem of the requesting player. Even though many people prefer a unique answer, standard replies have many advantages. Aside from the obvious advantage that standard replies save us valuable time that can be spent for other important tasks, we know from experience that many Tibia players have similar questions and consequently require similar answers. Standard answers are generally well thought-out and contain all important information concerning the player's problem. They are carefully worded to make them easily understandable even to second language speakers. Moreover, standard answers ensure that all players with the same problem are treated the same way. Needless to say, all emails we receive are read thoroughly, and standard answers are only used if they fit the situation of the requesting player.

5. Project work
In addition to our routine work load, we often work on individual projects that are realised in our team or in cooperation with other departments. Such projects may include all kind of topics ranging from revising the screenshot page, planning new tools to improve our work, or testing new game features, which is mainly done by Grimrath. Like all CipSoft employees, we are also involved in finding and collecting new ideas either to improve our work or to improve the game. Apart from our own ideas, we also collect promising ideas from our players which have been submitted on the proposal board. Grimrath scans this board regularly and collects interesting ideas to share them with the company.

Supporting such a huge and young community is quite a challenge. We are often faced with difficult decisions, and we know that our work is under constant supervision of our watchful players. This is not always an easy job as we simply cannot explain all details to players mainly for reasons of data protection. There are often misunderstandings and we are accused to be unjust or even corrupt, e.g. players do not understand why they get different punishments for the same rule violation, however, you have to keep in mind that we take a look at the complete account when punishing players, so a player might receive a longer banishment because he had been punished before.
Even though all of us really enjoy playing Tibia ourselves, we can assure you that we always have an objective view on all punishments. We do not hold personal grudges against single players or guilds. Sometimes we are blamed to just banish a player because we dislike him or her. The truth is in most cases we have not even heard of the character before.
Sometimes players are angry with us because they lose their accounts and cannot get them back. However, this happens mostly if players forget to register their accounts or do not enter correct data when registering them. The rule is that we cannot give accounts to players unless we have clear proof that they are the rightful holders. This policy is reflected in our Lost Account Interface: If a player cannot get the account back using the Lost Account Interface, there is nothing we can do for him or her. It also happens that players accuse us of not caring about rule violators. As has already been said above, ensuring a fair and trouble-free gameplay for all players is an important part of our work. Many players are disappointed if we do not banish a character right away of which they are convinced to be shared or traded. However, it is our conviction that solid proof is a must before punishments are issued, since we do not want risk to see innocent players punished. As proof is very hard to gather in many cases, we rather try to implement solutions that make cheating or sharing unattractive or useless, such as stamina.

As customer support is the department to be closest to our players, we also act as mouthpiece for our community. Together with Mercutio Mercado, we are the ones that stand up for the wishes and needs of the Tibia players. We are the first to hear if there are any problems in the community, and we are the ones to forward all relevant information to other teams. We know the mood of our community better than anybody else, so our opinion is often sought to make sure that CipSoft is not losing the touch to its community and that the company's work is based on the wishes of our players.
We see ourselves as the contact point between the community and the company, and if we are convinced that you have strong feelings about some Tibia issue, we will make sure that your voice is heard at CipSoft. Our first and foremost goal is our players’ satisfaction, and we are dedicated to this task.

Under the guidance of our team leader Solkrin, we are constantly working on further improving our work. There are regular team meetings in which daily problems and their solutions are discussed. Important decisions that have a greater impact on our community are never made by a single person, but decided by the whole team. In the last years, we have already gained a high service level, but of course there is always room for improvement.

Working in CipSoft customer support is a challenging, but also a very satisfying job. Of course, it is sometimes difficult to deal with problematic situations and we often have to deal with false accusations and insults. By far the worst, however, are situations in which you simply cannot solve the problem of a player.
Still the work is many-faceted and it is a great feeling whenever you are able to help a player and he happily replies: Thank you CM!

Enjoy Tibia!
Your CipSoft Team

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