Customer Service RPG
So, I opened my mailbox this weekend to find package awaiting me . . . Kobold Quarterly 12. So BAM! – already a warm, happy feeling. However, I then look towards the upper right hand corner of my envelope and there, scribbled in blue ink, is the following handwriting: Thanks for renewing your subscription.
First of all, I am a huge proponent of Wolfgang Baur and his stuff . . . I am currently enjoying my first go-round with Open Design, and I have all the issues of the magazine except for the first and the sixth. Did he, or whomever, need to write this little message in the upper corner? Would I have noticed its absence? No on both counts . . . but its inclusion was much appreciated. That little touch goes a long way; it sends a message that the company cares about its patrons.
Am I sounding a bit cheesy right now? Probably.
But, I think the overall strength of customer service in the RPG industry goes along way towards affirming my unshakeable belief that D&D is best defined by the passion its truest fans have for it. During the so-called “Edition Wars” (is this still going on?), I never bought into the darkest of the doomsaying simply because regardless of what WotC does with their IP, the game is too ingrained with its fans and other designers to leave us high and dry. Someone, or more likely someones, will always carry the banner in some shape or form.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I think a lot of companies can take a cue from the way many RPG industries handles themselves.
Kobold Quarterly/Open Design – Aside from the above instance, every single interaction I’ve had with Wolfgang Baur and crew have been great. They gave me my first break into published RPG material (KQ 7), when they’ve rejected articles, they’ve done so with kind words and an explanation of what may be lacking, when they’ve accepted ideas (for the website, or Open Design pitches) they’ve done so with an enthusiasm that is rewarding and contagious, and any other interactions I’ve had with them have been friendly and open. Often times it feels like just talking to a guy in your gaming group; example being, I recently pitched some stuff regarding the Courts of the Shadow Fey, I mentioned how I was most excited about how Courts was really pushing the boundaries of what the gaming community thinks 4e is fit for, his response felt less like publisher responding to someone’s query and more like one gaming geek responding to another.
Paizo – I may, perhaps, be beating a dead horse here, as Paizo is fairly legendary regarding customer service and possessing a rabid fanbase, but it bears repeating. Paizo’s key I think is primarily based on being exceptionally available. They frequent their forums, they’ve embraced public playtests of their material, offer fan ‘contests’, and their work is usually high-grade and shows a real love of the game.
But there customer service goes even beyond this openness. The first time I ever ordered a product from Paizo, I found a deck of their GameMastery Item cards in with my order. Apparently I am of good alignment because I reported the ‘error’ to them . . . no, error, they replied, just a thank you for ordering. One small example of many . . .
Wizards of the Coast – Likely the most maligned RPG company, WotC has since the inception of 4e becoming increasingly more fan-friendly. Some of this is very overt. As a company, I wonder if they’ve ever been more accessible. Their designers are blogging, on the forums, twittering, and making the podcast rounds fairly frequently. The company has been actively seeking ways to engage more fans, be it pushing Living Forgotten Realms and other community events, or enlisting the aid of Penny Arcade, PvP, Wheaton, or their recent collaboration with Robot Chicken.
However, more subtly has been the availability of their products. A DDI subscription is cheap and eliminates the need for books, boxed sets, a return of fan-favorite settings . . .
Hmm. I am running out of steam here, and I am sure I am shortchanging a lot of RPG designers/companies by not mentioning them 1. . . but that is my point. If you’ve read this blog post to here, the RPG industry is one you have some form of connection too; and, as the generally high-level of customer service indicates, it is an industry that regardless of the economy seems to possess no shortage of passion.
1 – I would be totally remiss if I didn’t add RPGNow’s fundraising for Haiti. I’ve heard estimates that show they, along with the RPG customers who bought in, have raised roughly $175,000 for relief efforts. Wow. That’s impressive!
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