Thanks for an amazing Extra Life!

Retention, Part Three: Form Bonds in the Physical World

By Sanya Weathers

Most people say “IRL” or “in real life,” not “the physical world.” I prefer the latter construction, because to suggest that the lives people lead online are somehow less real? That’s condescending bull hockey.

However, it’s fair to say that we as a species are wired to assign a greater value to relationships between people that have met in the flesh. If customers assign a high value to the relationships they form with other players, they will be less likely to want to abandon those relationships even when their infatuation with the product is fading. You’ll retain more customers.

And if your customers think of you and your developers as people, they are less likely to spew anonymous and personal venom when something goes wrong with the product. New people will not be turned off when they come to your community section, and you’ll have a shot at retaining them as customers.

Finally, if you think of your customers as individual human beings instead of a great mass of faceless anonymous people spewing venom on the internet, you are more likely to make decisions that are customer-friendly. You’ll retain customers you didn’t even know you were at risk of losing.

How do you score this triple win? Get out of the cubicle and meet people.

You don’t need to put on an entire full-fledged Fan Faire, although satisfying events can be done on the cheap. But speaking of cheap, consider:

–    Player luncheons. This old standby can be pulled off using the multipurpose room at a public library and a tray of sandwiches.

–    Player-hosted events. Your customers will do meetups on their own. Ask the planners if they’d like you to show up. Bring t-shirts.

–    Hotel suite parties at cons. A booth at Comicon, GenCon, Pax, and the like are great ways to meet customers, but if you don’t have the budget, so what? Go to the city. Get a hotel suite. Invite your fans who are already attending the show to join you at an exclusive cocktail party in your suite.

–    Fansite media day. Invite all the fansites to your office for a tour and dinner.

–    Web conferencing. IRC and other live chats are effective, but only to a point. Humans are wired to enjoy seeing faces. So put yours out there. If you do a web chat, hook up your webcam. Let the attendees see you laugh, your reactions to their questions, and your appreciation for their support.

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