Evolving Procedures: GM’s Petition Review Initiative

A Game Master's job is constantly evolving. I would not be lying if I told you that my job three years ago was almost completely different from the job which the Game Master title entails now.

Our beloved EVE grows more complex and engaging with each expansion and our community continues to grow. The GM department has been expanding alongside to meet the increased demand for support presented by a larger community, and with growth come growing pains. What worked for us five years ago may not necessarily work now. In order to adjust to the ever changing petition battlefield, work processes and procedures are commonly changed and new ones often created so we can accommodate changing priorities, support expectations and contribute to self-improvement of our department.

I'm going to tell you about one of these new work processes which we've dubbed the „Unhappy Customers Project".

Unhappy Customers

Those who read Lead GM Ender and Fate‘s blog from last June will know that the CSM (both CSMs 3 and 4) brought some considerations to the table in regards to the GM department. Among other things, the CSM suggested that we correct mistakes made by our GMs when they come to our attention. This is something we've already been doing, but not to the degree we should.  We fully acknowledge that we are not perfect and that there's room for improvement. Contrary to some urban legends, all of our GMs are human beings after all.

Before starting the Unhappy Customers project we were doing regular quality audits as well as using the escalation process and organic peer review to locate and fix mistakes. But we wanted even more overview.

The first challenge we faced was finding a way to proactively spot mistakes in petitions that are neither escalated nor reported to Senior or Lead GMs. As we receive approximately 30 thousand petitions every month, manually going over each one was not an option (not one we‘d want to bill you guys for, that‘s for sure). It didn‘t take much deliberation on our part to realize that the rating system which we‘ve already got in place could be used as a way to spot potentially mishandled petitions by simply looking up the petitions rated poorly by our own customers.

We‘ve assembled an expert team of experienced GMs set with the task of giving a second review to the petitions that are poorly rated. The project effectively has two sides to it. The „correction" side and the „feedback" side.

Correction

This side of the project yields immediate results visible to the player. If the second review of a petition reveals a mistake which affected the outcome of the petition or if the customer received wrong or insufficient information, then the player who submitted the petition is contacted by a member of the Unhappy Customers team and corrections are made.

Feedback

We‘re also using this project as an opportunity to spot areas in which we, the members of the GM team can improve upon, both on an individual level as well as a team. If trends are spotted where mistakes are repeatedly being made by several members of our team, we use that information to initiate team wide training sessions. When we spot areas where internal policies are being misrepresented or misunderstood, we use that knowledge to clarify our policies. We‘re also individually contacting the GMs whose petition(s) came under scrutiny where needed. They receive anything from minor suggestions, to in-depth advice on log reading, our work policies and other more complex aspects of the job. This obviously helps people not repeat their mistakes, catches bad trends in the making and strengthens our service to you.

Statistics!

About 30 thousand petitions are submitted per month on average. Every month, roughly 500-600 petitions are rated in a way which fits our screening criteria. This translates to roughly ~2% of the total amount of petitions submitted each month being manually screened by our team.

To give you some perspective, the team screened 561 petitions (~2% of total) which were submitted in April this year (which was incidentally the first full month reviewed as a part of this project). Out of those petitions, 146 warranted some action on behalf of the team, which translates to roughly ~25% of the reviewed petitions, or in other words, ~0,5% of the total number of petitions submitted that month.

I hope this blog gave you some insight into the proactive behind the scenes action we‘ve got going on behind the scenes in order to provide the absolute best support possible for the citizens of EVE.

  • GM Lelouch