Another Weapon in the War Against Poor Customer Service

10 June 2000
Good customer service isn't the online gaming business' strongest point. Some operators genuinely work at it and have developed a good reputation among players. Hindering the development of good customer care for many sites, however, is that their customer base is largely American, while the customer service representatives are not. Many sites employ residents from their idyllic island locales who aren't prepared to deal with the demands of American players.

As a result, some operators out-source customer service help with excellent results. One company that has proven its mettle handling picky players is DM Support Inc. Among its clients is an online casino (that refuses to be named) using the company's email and live chat support services.

Several additional operators are talking with DMS as well. During the recent Global Interactive Gaming Summit in Montreal, DMS President Dayna McIntosh was overwhelmed by the number of sites interested in learning how they could improve their customer support efforts.

"Operators recognize the fact that customers are the bread and butter of their business," McIntosh said. She attributes the huge interest in her services to the fact that operators have learned the importance of good service when it comes to customer retention. She's also found that "many operators didn't foresee the amount of customer service issues that actually crop up."

To learn more about the industry, McIntosh checked out other gaming companies' customer service efforts and found numerous flaws. "We can offer much better service than that," she said. "I firmly believe we offer the best customer service for the industry."

That includes going beyond providing just a scripted response. Although most customer questions are about financial or redemption policies that can be handled with a pre-scripted answer, other questions require reps to go further. Plus, some players ask about strategy, in which case, the representative will refer them to information sites. (Those sites appreciate the referrals, she added.)

On one occasion, McIntosh had to perform some research to answer a customer's questions about why his credit card showed charges even after he had cancelled the deposit. The site and credit card company's customer service departments provided a brief, unhelpful answer, she looked into the case and discovered that credit card companies frequently place a charge against a player's credit card, but don't actually bill that amount. (The same thing happens when a customer rents a hotel room or car. A deposit is charged but not actually to the credit card.) After researching the issue and getting a more complete explanation, she was able to satisfy the customer's question.

DMS has about 20 customer service reps (CSR) to handle problems that crop on its clients' sites. They use software to provide customer support via live chat and can back it up with telephone support according to the client's needs and budget. By using DMS' software, customers don't need to connect from the site to call for help, plus a CSR can actually show customers the site's features, McIntosh explained.

For browser-based games, the CSR can "collaborate" with a customer to actually go through the Web together. (Collaboration means that, if the customer agrees, the CSR launches his browser and the customer's browser together, so that they see the same things on the site.) Live chat support is usually less expensive than telephone support, McIntosh said. Additionally, a multi-chat feature will probably be available within six months.

Before signing a new client, McIntosh checks out the site thoroughly. Instead of rushing to sign as many clients as possible, she has taken a more measured approach. "I work very hard to keep all my customers stable," she explained.

She's picky about her clients too. "I'm only interested in the companies that have a more corporate approach to their business," she added.

Part of the service includes testing new software before a site goes live. Not only does this give the operator a third-party opinion of the site, it also helps train the DMS representatives.

DMS services run a minimum of $15,000 or more a month, depending on the level of service the site needs. The company, which is currently revamping its website, can be found at

Vicky Nolan joined the IGN staff in October 1999. She's best known for inventing fire, the wheel and swiss cheese. She can be reached at