A few days ago, a co-worker asked me what my strategy was in handling the really disgruntled customers. You know the type, the players that, at times, submit some really angry, downright nasty support tickets and emails. I feel that one thing that helps me manage, is recognizing that the majority of the time our medium for communication with our players and customers is the internet. It is difficult to convey one’s tone in text over the web, and couple that with the fact that dealings are not face-to-face, and it’s a little easier to understand how a disgruntled customer can easily come off as aggressive. Also, many complaints revolve around money and poker. As someone who has logged over 2M hands of online poker, I understand how emotional someone can become when the cards don’t fall their way. And when money is involved, emotions often become amplified. Being able to recognize this allows me to let the more personal criticisms roll off my back.
If a player is especially angry, heated, or nasty, I typically go over other support requests and come back to the “angry” guy. Things never seem as angry or personal when reading them over the second time around. Another method I use to appease a disgruntled customer is something I learned a few summers ago when working in the dining room of a high end spa and resort. Often time’s customers simply wanted to be treated with respect, and recognized with a little personal attention. After all, they are the ones that make a business run, and sometimes customers just want some recognition that the company needs them.
Something else I learned at that old summer job was if someone is especially offensive, I try to be overly polite, and explain the entire situation. Giving out minor details in regards to how a process is run, instead of a just a blanket response of “we are working on it” or “it will be done soon”, helps to foster understanding between the customers and the company. Often times in the course of text correspondence, things are overlooked or forgotten. At times I’ll receive complaints that a player only received a Freeroll invitation 3-4 days before the tournament. They didn’t check their email until now, and forgot about and/or missed out on the Freeroll tournament. Now they are livid that we did not provide them with adequate notice. When this happens, I very politely let them know that the email is just a friendly extra reminder, and provide them a link to the rakeback page where all Freerolls and events are typically posted 3-4 weeks in advance. Back when I was more involved in playing online tournaments, I would often have Post-its stuck to the four corners of my monitor, scribbled notes, and multiple cell phone alarms set for different times of the day when various tournaments and freerolls were going off.
All-in-all, dealing well with a disgruntled customer comes down to patience, politeness, and understanding. You need to put yourself in the players’ shoes, and try to imagine where they were, and in what state of mind they would have been when they fired off that angry email. Understanding the customers’ predicament, while responding politely and informing them of the current situation has helped me to disarm many tense situations and foster a better relationship with our players and customers.