Four Winds Casinos meets online gaming demands amid high growth
After introducing online gaming in 2021, Four Winds Casinos faced significant increases in ticket activity and challenges while trying to uphold the company's standard of outstanding guest service. In less than a year, Four Winds scaled up an existing Zendesk presence to streamline all support requests across its online and physical locations, reducing resolve time to just 24 hours.
“When we started looking at guest service tracking and ticket handling solutions, Zendesk was a clear standout due to its scalability and integrated reporting features. Implementing Zendesk improved our ability to handle every guest concern quickly and consistently.”
Director of Guest Services at Four Winds Casinos
“Zendesk supported our guest service goals by making it known that there are innovative ways to deal with everyday challenges that come up in the growth of a business.”
iGaming Support Manager at Four Winds Casinos
New Buffalo, Michigan
Started Using Zendesk
Average monthly ticket volume
Since opening its first location in New Buffalo, Michigan in 2007, the tribal-owned Four Winds Casinos has focused on creating an extraordinary experience for guests, allowing them to “escape the everyday.” The original Four Winds casino features a hotel, bars, restaurants, entertainment venues, and a swimming pool. And the company recently added three more resorts, including two in Michigan and one in South Bend, Indiana.
Key to that experience is Four Winds’ emphasis on outstanding guest and employee service—and the company takes great pride in ensuring customer satisfaction through smooth, seamless support.
At Four Winds Casinos’ brick and mortar locations, external support is usually a matter of following up on guest inquiries and concerns. Meanwhile, internal support encompasses IT, network ops, information security, and back-end service work on servers.
Meeting demand with the guest service support team
One of the first issues that became clear after implementing Zendesk in 2015 was the need to grow the guest service support team. Even with a better support solution in place, there were not enough guest service support agents to keep up with the number of tickets in a manner consistent with Four Winds’ commitment to guest service. Within the first year of adopting Zendesk, the guest service support team has quadrupled, ensuring shorter resolution times and higher guest satisfaction rates.
With the introduction of online gaming in 2021, Four Winds Casinos’ guest service support team faced a new challenge. When a guest experiences an online gaming concern, it could be at any one of multiple potential touchpoints—or a combination of multiple concerns. The complex nature of online gaming means that each ticket requires a lengthy troubleshooting process before the agent can begin to address the guest’s needs.
And the tickets increased exponentially—two to three times the number of tickets they had previously. Guest Services Operations Manager Dyane Thomas-Niemzyk recalls that she and her team were “tasked with handling an increase in support tickets while making every effort to maintain our guest service standards.”
Unifying the customer experience in supporting online gaming
Since Four Winds was already using Zendesk for guest service support needs at its physical locations, scaling up the platform to serve guests online was easy. In less than a year, Four Winds streamlined all of its support requests—both physical and online—with Zendesk.
Zendesk has also empowered the Four Winds’ guest service support team by giving them reliable, easily accessible templates, macros, and shortcuts. While templates can’t cover every situation, they do help agents navigate the practical and legal complexities of online gaming with greater confidence.
Even if multiple teams are involved in resolving a support ticket, the guest now has only one point of contact. The guest service support team absorbs the entirety of the process from A to Z, ensuring that the guest doesn’t have to take any further steps beyond filing the ticket and then waiting for their issue to be resolved.
“The ability to push forward into smarter workflows was really helpful,” Jessica Hargett, iGaming Support Manager at Four Winds Casino, said. With the omniview across physical and online channels, the support team’s resolve time is now 24 hours.
After seeing the success of the customer experience with Zendesk in both their physical and online casinos, Four Winds expanded the platform’s presence to include the IT team.
“As the help desk, we’re the call center that employees call when they need IT help,” Greg Howard, Systems Engineer at Four Winds Casino, explained. “Phone calls, emails, and new tickets come straight to us. Then, if we can’t solve it, we distribute it to the next level of support. And if it’s not a task for either of us—we’ll send it to an even higher level of support, with specialized teams.”
The support technicians on these specialized teams are the “boots on the ground” staff who physically work on machines, or create temporary setups for PCs and POSes. These technicians also do hardware troubleshooting that agents in the call center can’t do remotely.
Automations and macros for the win
The implementation of automations and macros has made a big impact on Four Winds’ productivity, especially for the IT team.
“We’re the filter for everything—everything flows through us,” Matt Roach, Help Desk Supervisor at Four Winds Casinos, said. “Before scaling, we would probably see 30-40 tickets to monitor per day. Now, with the automations and macros, it’s gone down to single digit numbers. If we get ten—it’s been busy!”
“It’s really cut down on the amount of repetitive behaviors that we have to do,” Howard added. “So, knowing what needs worked on—and showing that first and foremost—has helped tremendously in being more efficient.”
“Anything and everything that we can automate—we will,” said Roach. “We’ve got triggers built out so that if an email comes in and a ticket is created with certain keywords, it goes right to the team that needs to work on it.”
And with the popularity of self-service help, Four Winds uses Zendesk Guide to keep their knowledge base up-to-date.
“There’s a lot of information to keep straight,” Howard said of the 300 articles in their knowledge base. “One of our latest pushes is to use Article Verification for accuracy.”
Identifying and addressing support staffing using analytics
And when it comes to tracking metrics, the senior leadership team at Four Winds wants to see long-term trends so they can plan strategically.
“It helps us with scheduling,” Roach explained. “We looked at the trends of each day of the week and actually shuffled some shifts around, so people are off on different days. That way, we’ve got more people on certain days than others—it’s been really helpful.”
No matter what innovations the casino implements in customer support, Four Winds’ first priority will always be building relationships with people.
“A lot of people who frequently call us for help can recognize voices and remember names,” Howard said. “Not having strict guidelines on how quickly a call has to be resolved really gives us the opportunity to build more of those relationships.”