Tech Talk: Online Game Site Develops Forum
Goozex, an online video game trading business based in College Park, Md., launched in 2006 and now has five employees. CEO Valerio Zanini tells IncTechnology.com that upgrading to a new community server platform enabled the launch of a community forum that helps nurture community trust in the site and its members and has improved customer satisfaction through enhanced services suggested by community members.
Elizabeth Wasserman: What is Goozex and how does it work?
Valerio Zanini: The premise of the site is to allow customers to trade video games with other people using a point system. You earn points by trading a game with other people and you can then use those points to trade for games with other members. We are able to deliver to our customers true market value for their used games. If you trade them at the local video store, such as GameStop, you'll lose $20 of value compared to what they're worth. We only charge them one dollar for a transaction fee. And we make everything easy for them. On the website, they have the option of printing out a shipping label so that they can send the game to their trading partner.
Wasserman: Why did you decide to set up a customer forum on your site?
Zanini: Goozex is a peer-to-peer trading system and the people that need to trade games with each other need to talk to and trust each other. To sustain and leverage this trust factor we had to integrate a community service into the platform, fostering a community environment where people could virtually meet each other, exchange information, talk about games and problems they may have experienced on the site. They can also use it to ask for suggestions from other members. At the core of the community environment, we realized that there should be a forum and we decided to add this about a year after we launched.
Wasserman: What type of technology did you decide to go with behind the forum?
Zanini: The Goozex system is based on a Microsoft platform, and we wanted to have a very integrated customer community based on a Microsoft platform as well. There were only a few professionally done products that fit our criteria. We went with Telligent Community Server for several reasons. It was the best on the Microsoft platform. Users can access the forum from within the game pages and talk about specific games. They can also access some features from pictures and avatars and these run on the Community Server forum. Most importantly, the forum is used to create a strong community involvement and feeling among members. We use it to create sense of trust between users that provides the support to drive interaction on our site.
Wasserman: What type of results have you seen?
Zanini: The most obvious is that our active users and most experienced users now act as the first line customer support for Goozex on the forum. About 50 percent of the customer support requests are addressed on the forum and don't get to the customer service department at Goozex. That means we have been able to improve our customer support efficiencies by 50 percent. That's a huge cost savings for us. By officially answering questions and also having our users answer questions helps us create a strong sense of trust between the users, the site and Goozex. Our membership is growing by about 10,000 new members every month. Deploying Community Sever is one of the best decisions we have made in terms of service improvements and strategic choices. The reality is that this community environment or social networking is not our core business. We're not a social network. We're an e-commerce application. But fundamentally this has been very important to help us sustain the core of our business.