When you are looking for a new online casino to play at, what do you usually pay attention to? Bonus amounts? VIP programs? Games offered? Withdrawal speed? All of these are important, but there is one factor which I think a lot of players overlook until they really need it, and that is customer service.
Why Customer Service Is Important
You might think to yourself, “How much time will I really spend talking to the customer service agents on a casino site? Hopefully none.” That is all good and well, except that unexpected things do happen, and there is a good chance that sooner or later, you will be dealing with an agent.
In fact, one of the chief complaints which make it to a lot of negative reviews of online casinos is a lack of quality customer service. This makes sense when you think about it. Any site can make a mistake—but not every site fixes its mistakes. Customers often only complain when a company fails to correct its errors, or gives them a lot of trouble along the way.
Here are just a few reasons why good customer service is vital in an online casino:
You rely on the customer service team to process your identity verification paperwork and schedule your withdrawals in a timely fashion. If there is some kind of holdup with a withdrawal, you may need to get an agent to deal with it personally.
If you have a question at any point, you will be depending on an agent to give you an answer. If you cannot get fast, thorough answers, you may not be able to do whatever it is you need to do, or play at the site with confidence.
Should there be some kind of a glitch with the software or such, you will be talking to the customer service team about what went wrong. A poor quality team can cost you money.
If you break the rules on mistake (i.e. opening two household accounts without meaning to, or unintentionally abusing a bonus), a good team may be willing to work with you and give you a second chance.
Let’s say you actually win a massive jackpot. You will need to contact the casino to talk about how and when you will receive your payout.
When I read complaints about online casinos, it is never just about software or withdrawals. It is almost always about how the team did not handle it well. Look up negative casino reviews and you will see statements like:
- “It took an hour to even get hold of someone to talk to, and then the phone line dropped me…”
- “I got transferred from department to department; nobody wanted to help me with my issue. Everyone thought it was someone else’s responsibility.”
- “Different customer service agents told me different things.”
- “An agent said he’d fix the problem, but two weeks have gone by, and nothing has happened …”
- “I couldn’t reach the customer service team at all. They just went silent.”
There is no way to be 100% confident that this will not happen to you, but you certainly can take some steps to try and check up on the quality of a casino’s customer service department.
I recommend that you do the following:
- Read customer reviews for the casino, positive as well as negative, and look for patterns in stories about customer service.
- Check to find out what methods you can use to reach the team, and when they are available.
- Try actually testing customer service by hopping on the phone or live chat line to ask them some questions. Ask some easy questions and some hard ones, and see how they respond.
Again, doing this will not necessarily spare you from every bad experience, but sometimes it is enough to identify a lousy company right off the bat. After all, if a team’s performance looks dodgy before you even register, you already know you should probably avoid that site. They are unlikely to do better when you have a real issue as a real customer.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating a Customer Service Team at an Online Casino
So I have talked about why it is so important to check on the quality of online casino customer service, and I have given a few recommendations for how you can go about it. But what do you actually need to pay attention to while you are doing so? Here are some questions to ask along the way.
1. Is the customer service department accessible through multiple channels? If so, will I be satisfied with how I can reach them?
To check this, visit the Contact page for the casino. There, all of the contact methods should be mentioned. These might include a web form, e-mail address (maybe several), live chat, telephone number (possibly including regional numbers), and/or social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
Naturally, a wide range of contact methods is preferred. Regardless of how many methods are available, make sure that the methods that you prefer are offered.
For example, at the very least, I always like to make sure that both telephone and live chat are available. That way, I can talk to someone in real time using my voice when necessary, but I can also do so in text, which is important if one requires a written record of communications. This could be essential in resolving a dispute.
One can tackle disputes through e-mail, but this is generally a very slow approach, and you are unlikely to get anyone to make your case priority if you do not seem to be doing so yourself.
2. What times and days is the team available?
The next matter to consider is when the team is reachable. Are they there only from 9-to-5, or are they available 24/7? If they are only in from 9-to-5, what time zone is that based on? Are they in five days a week, or all seven? I would not say that 24/7 customer service is necessarily vital, but it is a major help.
3. How available is the team in reality? How many minutes do I have to wait to reach an agent?
Next, there is the matter of reality not necessarily mirroring policy. The customer service team may state that it is available around the clock, but the only way you can know that that is true is by finding out yourself.
In the worst cases, the company may not deliver on its promises all. You might open the live chat box to find that no agents are available, or you might pick up the phone only to be asked to leave a message.
In other cases, you might always be older reach someone, but it may take an excessively long time, and you may be bounced from extension to extension before someone actually picks up. So while the customer service is technically available 24/7, they are not exactly accessible. To say that this is frustrating if you actually have a problem is an understatement.
4. Are there major language barriers?
Another issue is language barriers. While outsourced customer service has a reputation for incompetence, it is not universally the case. If that outsourcing presents too large a language barrier or however, even a knowledgeable and helpful staff member may have a difficult time working with you.
In some cases, the problem may be even larger. It might not be that the agent does not speak your language well, but rather that he or she does not speak it at all. If for example you only speak Russian, you will have a hard time if the casino only provides customer service in English.
5. Do the people I talk to seem to know what they are talking about? How long does it take them to give me an answer?
Let’s say that the casino’s customer service team is reachable, and can communicate with you. Next, you need to evaluate how knowledgeable they are. If each agent you talk to needs to spend 5 or 10 minutes giving you an answer to a basic question which you could actually answer yourself in less time than that just by looking through the website, but does not inspire confidence.
If the company cares about its customers, it is going to take time to train its customer associates. If it has failed to provide even the most basic training, that sends a message that your customer experience is not important. You also can be pretty sure this point that you are not dealing with an in-house team.
6. If they do not know an answer right away, how willing are they to research it?
Imagine that you have asked a challenging question, not an easy one. At this point, you should not necessarily expect a fast, immediate response. In some cases you might actually get one, which should impress you if it happens.
If you do not, the agent will typically do one of two things. Either they will refer you up the chain, or they will attempt to answer the question themselves.
If referring up the chain actually is the most efficient way to get you an answer, that is perfectly fine. What is not okay is when you are told to send an e-mail, and then you have to wait days to get a response.
If the agent opts to try to answer the question or solve the problem on their own, that is almost always a great sign that you are dealing with a company that genuinely cares. Waiting on live chat or on the phone for someone to conduct research may be frustrating, but the agent’s willingness to research proves their dedication to helping you out.
Most customer service agents in any business spend most of their time working from a script, whether it is one of the company gave them or one that they developed for themselves. I would say that this is even more prevalent online that it is offline.
While that is fine for everyday questions and small concerns, you want to work with a team that is willing to go beyond the script when necessary.
7. Is the information the team gives me consistent with what it says on the site?
Another thing to be wary of with casino customer service is team members to seem knowledgeable, but actually do not know what they are talking about.
Say for example that you ask a question about withdrawals, and the customer service agent quotes you one fee, and the website quotes you another.
That means one of two things. Either the agent is misinformed, or the website is out of date. Either way, contradictions like this are a concern. If the agent cannot give you a clear explanation regarding the discrepancy, you are taking a chance when you make that first withdrawal.
8. Are these people really here to help me, or are they just here to sell me on signing up and depositing money?
The motivations of customer service agents need to be identified as well. Obviously, an agent is concerned with doing his or her job. But what is that job? That is what you need to figure out.
“Well, that is simple,” you might say. “The job of the customer service agent is to help me.”
While that should be the case, it is not always so. Often times the real job description of the agent is simply to get you to sign up, or to refer you to someone else who will try to get you to sign up.
There is nothing wrong with employing sales agents, but a casino which has no genuine customer service to speak of obviously does not have your best interests at heart.
9. What is the team’s attitude like? Do they seem happy to help me, or irritated at having to do so?
The personality of a customer service agent may be secondary to knowledge and competence, but attitude is just as important. Some agents are clearly bothered at having to do their jobs, and it is hard to rely on someone who really does not want to help you.
Other agents however clearly actually enjoy being helpful, and care about whether your needs are being met. These are the agents you want to be dealing with, not someone who cannot be troubled to lift a finger.
10. On a scale of 1 to 10, how safe would I feel if this person were handling my hard-earned cash?
Last but not least, there is a more nebulous, subjective consideration. Based on all of the above as well as your simple gut instinct, how comfortable would you be handing $10 or $1000 or $1,000 to the person you’re talking to?
While you will not be literally doing this when you make a deposit, you could very well find yourself depending on this exact same agent if you have some kind of problem with a software glitch, the withdrawal snag, or so forth. So whether or not your money is safe and accessible to you could very well come down to the competence, dedication and trustworthiness of the casino’s customer service agents.
Customer Service Red Flags
Now that you know what to look for, let’s quickly go over a few red flags that you should be wary of.
Hard-sells. There is not a problem per se with a site aggressively trying to sell you on joining, but there is a difference between a sales agent and a customer service agent. If all you get is a hard-sell every time you ask a question, you know the site values its earnings much more than its customers. Sites like that often end up a revolving door for customers, and there is a reason for that.
MIA customer service. If a 24/7 live chat line routinely comes back with “All agents are busy right now, please send us an email,” or a similar message, that is a cause for concern. It is quite likely that the agents are not busy at all, but simply are not there, and may not even exist. In situations like these, the live chat is just for show. If the casino is willing to break this promise, how many other promises will they break as well?
Canned responses. A few scripted replies, especially at the start of conversation, are to be expected from many agents. But if an agent cannot seem to give your response outside the script at all, that is concerning (and in some cases may indicate that you were talking to a bot). Canned responses which quickly and thoroughly answer your questions are sign of efficiency, but canned responses which do not even address your question or statement directly are a problem.
Agents who give you the runaround. Finally, one of the most concerning red flags is when you are talking to a customer service person who refuses to give you a straight answer to a question, especially if the question involves something like fairness of games, regulatory status, fees, or withdrawal policies. People who have nothing to hide generally do not dance around awkward questions.
Conclusion: Customer Service May Seem Unimportant Until You Need It, But At That Point, It Is Everything
Hopefully when you play at online casinos, everything will go smoothly from your deposits through to your withdrawals. But questions and problems can sometimes arise. When they do, the fate of your bankroll or winnings may hinge entirely upon a stranger at the other end of the phone line or internet connection.
For that reason, it is well worth taking some extra time and effort to ensure that if that moment arrives, someone you can depend on will be there are to help you out with your question or concern. That way you can continue to have a great experience gambling online.
Not sure where to begin? We have thoroughly tested out the customer service teams of all the online casinos that we suggest. Take a look at our reviews to find the best online casinos with the most reliable customer support!
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