What kind of Customer Service should you
expect from a Sportsbook?
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What kind of Customer Service should you expect from a Sportsbook? Posted on Tuesday, May 04, 2004 (CAST)
By: Bill Dozer, SBR Analyst
(c) 2004 All rights reserved
Is customer service really important?
For most players, choosing a book based on customer service is like buying a car for how many miles per gallon it gets. It is something we should consider from the start, but we usually do not. Often, we are left staring at features like discount line prices, fees and the big chrome bonus. Then, a few miles off the lot, we realize we are out of gas and they already have the deposit.
Customer service is a very general term which refers, not only to polite attentiveness, but also to competence. A well-oiled machine will always need less service. Some books seek praise for dropping everything and running to tend to the player’s issue; and a conclusion to a problem is great, but not having a problem needing service in the first place would be better. The majority of players don’t wish to chat with the bookie. I don’t want that from my book. In fact, as a player I don’t want to get to know the clerks at all. It’s a business, and I want the job done right the first time. The more issues you have with your book the more you are forced to deal with those responsible. Being on a first name basis with your clerks and ending up as a god-parent to their child is not an outcome most of us are aiming for. I, myself, am very happy to be only client BD4365.
A sure fire way to end up spending some quality time with the clerks is to choose a book with grey areas. This would refer to a book that leaves a lot open to interpretation and fine print. It is not uncommon for a casino to try to hide a rule within mumbo jumbo because they think listing it clearly may deter a sign up. It is common for a player to land in such a situation. They wish to grab a line or promotion and don’t take the time to see the five pages of undefined rules. In my opinion, CS starts there. In situations where rules seem to become defined as you go, or each player is treated differently, the stage is set for a customer service nightmare. If you are asking a preliminary question such as “what is the roll-over requirement for my bonus?” and are told “I think its” or “I’d have to ask but I am pretty sure” chances are they will know for sure by the time you are looking to withdraw. The odds of having to deal with CS can be cut dramatically by recording all information presented to you. I am a big fan of the live chat feature because it easily allows me to show a record of all CS transactions so there is rarely any contradiction.
Some types of CS
At the risk of pointing out an obvious fact, quality books tend to have quality customer care. Here are a few examples of what players should and should not expect.
Pinnacle Sports – Handles all client issues with ease and does it with one hand tied behind its back.
You will see a lot of new players take a first glance and give a negative CS assessment. They see a lack of phone support and assume the worst. The truth is Pinnacle has some of the best customer service in the industry.
Pinnacle does not offer phone support for web clients; but they return clear and concise emails within minutes. Their website has a FAQ page that is second to none. Any literate player will have few questions after reading this page. When clerks are emailed questions at CSD@pinnaclesports.com they are able to quote directly from this fact page, making the client understand clearly. If you are looking for a shop that will hold the newbie’s hand and explain how payouts are calculated this is not the shop for you. If you are looking for a no-nonsense shop you will be content with Pinnacle’s superb email service.
VIP Sports – As close as you can get to being at the counter without buying a plane ticket.
VIP sets the standard for which all CS departments should be measured. This group was one of the very first to add the live chat feature. Unlike other books who have followed using this tool, the VIP live chat is open 24 hours a day, every day. Rarely is there a wait for the same educated clerks that also man the phones. This shop also employs the motto “the customer is always right.” This is hard to come by with most books on the defensive due to the scammers this industry can attract. If you are looking for a book to interact with anytime, both on the phone and online, without the fine print, you can not go wrong with VIP. GameDay and the rest of the shops within VIP management will also provide the same level of client care.
Olympic Sports – If this book has a weak link it may be its customer service.
Olympic is known for its sharp early lines, fearless booking style and financial stability. They do have good preliminary service in terms of concise rules and generally offering little to worry about. But when it does come time to make contact with Oly, the mold of excellence shows a crack in it. A phone call to their 1-800 line provides a faint connection. Couple that with a clerk who has an accent, and Olympic’s phone support isn’t winning any awards. Email replies are also slower than customers may expect. For a veteran player with patience, Oly CS is not a deterrent but if you are shopping for that one bookie and scouting by phone it is likely you will pass over Olympic.
WWTS – Experienced has taught this book how to treat its clients.
No book has the history of client care that WWTS has. This book has been servicing professionals and entertainment players alike for over 12 years. Phones are answered promptly by English speaking clerks who encourage you to call again. Betwwts.com has a live email feature where questions asked via this method are given priority and answered in minutes by a clerk standing by. This is the place to play if you are looking to place large wagers without forfeiting phone support that the shops catering to new players provide. Since the recent addition of sister book www.wageronsports.com, service has improved yet again. The same clerks are now prepared to assist many smaller, new players of which Wager On Sports caters to.
Cris – Managers on site 24 hours a day means customer service does not have to start with breakfast.
Cris is another veteran shop with extensive experience dealing with its players. When you call inquiring about signing up they will likely tell you up front that they will take care of you. They mean it. Cris has long been a player favorite. There are better bonuses and cheaper prices but this shop is still a must for veteran bettors. Clerks are well informed and available 24/7. They go the extra mile keeping a manager on at night. This is a rarity for a CS department. Cris also offers the live chat feature at all hours.
Sportsbook.com – An example of a formula for CS disaster.
Many veteran online players would tell the new bettor that Sportsbook.com and their parent company, SportingbetUSA have more money than Donald Trump. The size of this company and its marketing campaigns are responsible for attracting many gamblers. Unfortunately, a large company doesn’t necessarily equate to a large CS department. The clerks are often uninformed, and are not able to answer questions above the simplest in nature. They are instructed to take care of issues themselves, which makes reaching a real manager a challenge. Earlier this year there were mass slow-pays, apparently due to an error in the bank wire system. Players called for answers as to where their funds were. Worried customers were getting multiple processing dates, and different reasons for the botched payout. Players seem to return to Sportsbook.com unaware of the upgrade in CS available elsewhere. Players calling SB should be prepared to be put on hold for clerks with heavy accents and comments like “I don’t know. I just work here”.
BoDog Sports – Low limits, high level CS.
Bodog is a book that aims to keep betting fun. They see themselves as providing great entertainment. This can’t be accomplished if gamblers are struggling through the betting process. Bodog’s emphasis is on ease of use and simplicity. They positioned their whole business model on letting the player watch the game they bet on, and not their account activity. Almost everything on the Bodog site is set in the model of simplicity, making the CS clerk’s job easy as well. For every account action made online there is an automated email to the client. Every deposit earns an automatic bonus and the requirement is as simple as betting your balance one time. No one needs to do any math. Even the in-house money transferring system requires you to manage nothing except to watch your own checking account. When you call Bodog you feel as if they are located in the United States. No accents can be heard through the quick clean connection. Another nice feature is important messages are left for the customer to see upon logging in. If you want the feel of betting with your friendly local bookie BoDog service may be for you.
Royal Sports – The crapshoot of customer service.
Royal is a prime example of a grey area or fine print book. Customer service is polite and readily available, but is not authorized to speak on some important matters. Once a prime example of top notch CS, Royal clerks now find themselves just hoping not to get yelled at. When an issue arises they may have to tell you that they “can not speak on that subject” or ask you to speak to management. Management, on the other hand, is not readily available. Players may call for days before they reach a manager; who then acts as if the problem was never actually a problem and invites clients to call back anytime. A possible reason for their CS problem is Royal’s tendency to change rules on the website and make decisions based on individual accounts. When this happens, players get trapped in grey areas. What was okay when they joined is now a rule breaker a month later, according to the site. Along with rule-changing are the different promotions. Clerks see Player A has a 5 time roll-over, while Player B has a free 4-team parlay with a 2 time roll-over, and Player C has 1,000 dollars won as a result of a Royal Test Drive promo. It’s no wonder the service agent can’t sign off on a free bumper sticker. If Royal solidifies the business model, the individual accounts will likely be more cut and dry.
Sports Interaction – If you like drama and watching soap operas while living on a California fault line isn’t enough, try dealing with SIA.
If Sports Interaction put as much effort into their client support department as they do in their marketing department they might be taken more seriously. Many players see them as a gimmick book, a place to stop by for some great dog lines until the welcome treatment wears off. At some point the player may think he is betting into a ghost book. Withdrawal requests lay stagnant in the Queue, wagers are graded slower than term papers on molecular evolution and the chance of getting an email reply are the same as if you tossed a message in a bottle and flushed it down the crapper. The up-side is when players do receive a payment, it is a pleasant surprise because they had no idea anyone was tending to their request. Add these struggles to clerks who may give you wrong information and an evolving banking policy and you may feel like adopting a red-headed kid so you can smack him around. SIA is said to have recently hired two new managers to improve their service. I will believe that when I get email replies from 2001.
Hollywood International– Opposite of SIA. Another top book that values return business.
Hollywood is a shop that offers great options to its players. They attract the client looking for the head start bonus as well as the bettor who wants to play at reduced cost. Offering programs catering to more than one type of market can double the work load while complicating accounts but Hollywood doesn’t miss a beat. The management team strives to make each player feel like they are the only player. Emails are answered within ten minutes, the phone line is never busy and a manager will always be willing to speak to you upon request.
Getting the product you expect..
These are some examples of different types of customer service. There are many more books who provide exceptional client support, and there are even more who don’t. The one expectation a player should have from their book’s support department is the ability to provide assistance for what their book offers. If your book has only email CS, then expect them to do it well; and if they offer five different promotions, expect the clerk to be able to assist you with those. It does not do any good to offer you three 1-800 numbers to some very polite English speaking clerks if they have no knowledge of what is going on. If the manager is the only employee allowed to comment on anything, one should expect a manager available at all times. If you wanted to leave him a message you would have emailed him instead of calling. Customer support is about making sure the product offered is the product received and making sure it functions for the client as intended.
Now that I have offered my opinion on what standard a CS department should be held to I will give my …
My All CS Team
Bill Dozer: SBR Writer, Analyst, and Sportsbook player.
Mr. Dozer helps other players avoid scams and provides advice in dealing with offshore sportsbooks. For more information visit SportsBookReview.com or send an email.