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Case study: How customer service affects the online gaming industry

11th Aug 2016
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Regardless of the industry one chooses to observe, if there is some sort of a client-provider relationship involved, the customers' satisfaction will always play a crucial role in how well the business in question performs.

Customers are the heart and soul of nearly every business endeavor: if you have something to offer, there's got to be someone out there interested in buying it. Otherwise, you should probably reconsider your modus operandi.

When it comes to online poker, players are the customers. They are the ones who can make or break a poker room and without them, not even the best software solutions can save the business. However, poker is not your everyday type of product. You are not only selling what can be seen but also much of what can only be sensed.

Customer Service: The First Line of Defense

Regardless of what anyone tries to tell you, most online poker players don't just come to play and pass a few hours. They come with certain hopes, expectations, and desires. Due to the nature of the beast, these expectations often don't come to fruition. When this happens, players will look for an explanation and who better to provide it than the customer support?

The kind of questions customer support agents at an online poker room have to deal on a daily basis range from very sensible ones to completely ridiculous queries that must make their heads spin and question their reasons for being there in the first place.

But, here's the thing: they need to be able to listen to all sorts of questions and provide some sort of assistance.

Try to understand your players

Your average poker player doesn't understand how things work. They are not acquainted with your RNG, they don't understand the reasoning behind your KYC procedures, etc.

You might be wondering: they can find all of that online, why don't they just get educated?

The answer is really simple: because they don't have to. Or, to put it even more bluntly, because they don't care to do it. The way they see it, they are paying for the whole package and, to be perfectly frank, it is the package advertised by most online poker operators.

Customers are right to expect awesome support, not only because they are paying for it, but also because sites always like to brag about how they care about their players. Is it really that shocking that a novice player is complaining about busting out from three tournaments tonight?

US Facing Rooms: Where Customer Support is Everything

If players are often concerned about the most trivial of things at some of the biggest, best, and most regulated poker sites in existence, this concern is augmented tenfold for those playing on unregulated, US-facing rooms.

It is no secret that nothing really happens smoothly on unregulated sites open to Americans. Withdrawals take forever, tournaments get canceled, and on top of all that, players are in constant fear that all of their money could be seized overnight. It is not a good place to be in.Some of their questions may seem silly or, to be blunt, straight up stupid. But always keep in mind, they are the ones that keep the ship afloat.

Your customer service needs to be aware of this and always stand at a ready to talk to the players, be it via email or live chat feature. Live telephone support should be expected for almost every business in the world, yet even PokerStars lacks it as the largest regulated online poker room in the world. According to this review of BetOnline Poker, they’re one of the only US-facing sites currently offering telephone support.

Why Your Customer Support (Maybe) Sucks?

The world of online poker and online gaming in general is a very peculiar one. It is hard to understand the players if you have no idea what they are talking about; and the kind of knowledge required cannot just be picked off the streets.

Here's the deal: your players expect to talk to someone who understands what the problem is.

If they sense that the customer support agent hasn't got the foggiest what it means to "bubble three tournaments tonight," they might be one foot out the door. Not to mention the more serious issues regarding bonuses or technical issues.

I may be wrong here, but I am firmly convinced that there is nothing worse a customer service agent can do then try to shift the blame to the player. I've seen it or heard about it way too often.

“Everything is fine on our part, it's your connection.”

You wouldn't think it was a smart idea to insult a business partner sitting across you at the table. Doing it remotely to a customer is equally as bad. They know when you are lying to them and it does nothing but frustrates them. Honesty usually works much better with most people.

Give Your Players What They Deserve

It doesn't take all that much to train your customer service team. Even if they know nothing about online poker, there aren't that many things they need to learn. But, these few things can make all the difference in the world.

You want your customer service guys and girls to always be on top of their game. A good customer support agent can wipe even the worst night at the tables clean. Be there for your players, try to understand them or at least pretend that you do.

Lying and trying to trick them will achieve nothing. Even if they know nothing about poker or how things work behind the scenes, most people have a pretty good radar to help them detect when they are being lied to.

Once that happens, you've probably lost them for good.

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