With competition from Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and other nearby states, it’s no secret that some Atlantic City casinos seem to be fighting for their lives. “I’ve never gotten so many offers for complimentary rooms, meals and drinks, as well as free play, gifts and bonus comp dollars,” says one player who describes herself as a “light gambler.”

While these “perks” may help to draw players to Atlantic City, the key to customer retention seems to be customer service.

Here are some experiences I’ve heard from “real” customers:

Grant some decision-making authority — “I showed up on the wrong day for a two-day gift card giveaway. I acknowledged this, and the event supervisor confirmed it by checking my account. She said my host might be able to authorize it. When I said that I didn’t have a host, she told me to call the host on duty. He asked me to call back in 15 minutes. He didn’t ask for my name or even what I was calling about. If he was ‘too busy’ or on a lunch break then he shouldn’t have picked up the phone in the first place. I just left; it wasn’t worth this much hassle for a $25 gift card — especially when it was my own fault, and I might not have gotten it anyway. Why couldn’t the woman in the ballroom who was supervising the event have been allowed to make the call on such a small amount?”

Grant some more decision-making authority — “I won 250 bonus slot dollars in a kiosk game. I was late meeting friends for dinner at the casino next door — where I was staying — so I planned to return later. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized I missed the midnight deadline for turning in my receipt, but the next morning I asked at the player’s card desk if they could do something. They contacted my host, who asked her boss, and on my next visit they gave me a check for $250 cash! I probably gave it all back to them in slot play that trip, but I didn’t care. That’s my idea of ‘Customer Service’.”

Show some compassion — “I got something in my eye during a recent overnight visit to a casino. It was a Sunday morning, so I called the concierge to find out if there was some sort of clinic nearby, rather than traveling to the emergency room. She said that there was a clinic in the casino and I should go to the Security Desk. Someone would escort me there, she explained. The guard could not have been nicer, offering comforting words as a friend and I followed him through the ‘Employees Only’ door into a world usually not seen by guests. He took me to a small medical facility managed by AtlantiCare, and an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) washed out my eye and sent me back to my room — all at no charge! Later that afternoon we ran into the guard on the casino floor, and he asked how I was feeling. I was impressed!”

Show some more compassion —“I had a similar experience at this same casino. At the time, my mother was using a wheelchair — not because she had to, but because it was just easier to get her around the casino. She needed to use the restroom and a security guard noticed she was having a difficult time getting out of her chair. The guard offered to take her into the restroom and assist her. When they returned I tried to give the guard a gratuity, but she wouldn’t accept it, saying she was just doing her job. How refreshing to meet someone so kind!”

More “personal” communication — “I’ve been a top-level cardholder at one casino for three years now. It would have been nice to get an email or personalized letter from my host congratulating me. Instead I got a generic mailing detailing all the ‘benefits’ of my player’s card — most of which are available to anyone who signs up for the ‘starter’ card. Compare this to a competing casino where I got a beautiful booklet detailing the benefits, and a whole weekend of activities, including a cocktail party, dinner and commemorative gift.”

Information is key —“My host of nearly five years resigned. I found out only because an email I sent was returned. I’ve still not received an ‘official’ acknowledgment, nor, to my knowledge, has anyone been assigned to my account. Frankly, with the convenience of making reservations through the casino’s Web site, I haven’t missed not having a host, but it irritates me that someone couldn’t at least send a letter or bulk email to her customers informing them of her departure, and giving them another contact. This same thing happened at another casino a few years ago, but my email was not returned. I learned about my host’s departure when I called to follow-up on a emailed room reservation request. And, since no one was assigned to my account, I basically just stopped playing there.”

Information is really key — “My host was promoted within the company, but in a different capacity. I got a very nice personalized letter from her former supervisor; however, it didn’t tell me where she was working or if anyone else had been assigned to me. Because my former host maintained the same email address, I was able to follow-up and stay in touch with her at her new workplace. However, I still never heard about a new host, so I, too, just started playing at another casino.”

“What have you done for me lately?” - “I had been a loyal ‘top-level’ player for five years, but an illness incapacitated me for about three months and I was unable to travel to Atlantic City. When I recuperated, I called my host to request a complimentary room and was told that — due to my lack of play the past three months — I didn’t qualify, but she could get me a ‘casino rate’. What about all my past play? Shouldn’t that count for something? I took my player’s card to a competing casino, got upgraded to their higher-level card and received a complimentary stay, as well as access to their player’s lounge. I never went back to the other casino, and have been a loyal customer at my new casino since.”

Have a comment on this or a question specifically related to an Atlantic City casino, player’s club or other promotion? Email Mr. AC Casino at MrACCasino@gmail.com and he’ll try to respond to you personally. Your question — without your name — may appear in a future column.