Full Tilts Downfall Was Their Customer Service?

Ok, maybe it didn't directly lead to their downfall, but it certainly was a telling sign of things to come.

It sounds like an easy, and shitty, thing to say, but I always imagined Full Tilt could have gone the way they have. I am shocked on some of the minutia involved, but not surprised they are in the situation they are in.

When Black Friday happened, I had money in Stars & Tilt, I left the money in Stars and panic withdrew from Full Tilt. It was a gut reaction from years and years of experience with them, which was it seems a good move on my part. I had no previous evidence to suggest they were in financial straits, no rumours anything dodgy was happening, no inkling they were doing anything illegal - it was purely down to their customer service.

I actually was offered a job at Full Tilt a few days before Black Friday, I didn’t apply for it, I was approached by them. I probably wouldn’t have took it anyway, but my gut told me no to taking it for the same reasons (That would have sucked, leaving PokerNews for Full Tilt AND releasing my book, both on Black Friday).

Head of Customer Service at Full Tilt
In my opinion, FTP were as big as they were because of their software, and nothing else, I had money in there because of the software. I loved the software, they had some really interesting games, most notably Rush Poker, but beyond that they were awful. Getting a reply to an email was a rarity, and when you did, it was usually a cut & paste job that didn’t come close to answering your question.

This is not just their customer service team either, as a journalist and working for an affiliate they have been appalling to deal with. Even some of their sponsored pros struggled to get basic responses from them pre Black Friday.

Contrast that with Pokerstars, who not only have the best customer service in poker, they are up there with some of the best customer service I have seen full stop. At the heart of this was clarity, they kept us in the loop, even during Black Friday, questions are rarely left unanswered. You didn’t get that with FTP before Black Friday, you certainly don’t get that now.

So I withdrew my money from Full Tilt Poker on a hunch based purely on customer service, which I think is a decent barometer for these things. If you cannot show an ounce of respect to the people who are paying for you to exist, if you are not doing everything in your power to keep them happy and playing on your site, then what other crucial elements of your business are you neglecting?

We live in a world of extremely savvy consumers, the internet and social media has levelled the playing field and you can’t pull the wool over people’s eyes any more. Going forward I don’t think I am ever going to invest a significant amount of my time or money in any entity that doesn’t hold transparency and customer service in the highest of regards. 

Update: For clarity, I am referring to the people in charge at Full Tilt, not customer service reps. 


Anonymous said...

Customer Service reps are just doing what they can with the resources the upper management provides for them. If you have bad customer service, its because the upper management has #1 over-worked/under-staffed them, #2 didn't train them well enough #3 didn't provide the tools/information they needed to do their job.

Be careful about blaming low-level employees when this was obviously a miss-management of finances and resources.

Barry Carter said...

Not disagreeing with that at all, not once have I sited any lower level employees and reps. This is entirely aimed at the people in charge and their attitude towards their customers, I don't think my post implies otherwise.

Neil Clarke said...

I disagree totally with anonymous regarding customer service, I work for the biggest telecommunications company in the UK and they are passionate about customer service and turning "customers into fans" however people still get poor customer service from time to time sometimes due to misunderstandings but most of the time its individuals who couldnt care less, I once had appaling c/s from my own company and it was down to an individual not the company.

Customer service in the poker industry is notorious and I have my own list of under achievers who I now won't touch with a barge pole no matter how good there current promotions are and fwiw Pokerstars are far and away the best I've dealt with.

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