Alan Greenspan Offers Valuable Lessons for Casino Training
by Martin R. Baird

Alan Greenspan Offers Valuable Lessons for Casino Training
By Martin R. Baird

In his typical fashion – head down and mumbling into the microphone – Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan regales an audience with his vision of the U.S. economy. He talks about trends. At times he’s a little hard to follow. And, of course, there’s the need to read between the lines. But people know these are very important words. When Greenspan talks, he has an impact on the U.S. and even the world.
But what if he wasn’t seen as a financial genius? I guarantee many people wouldn’t make the effort to listen.
Greenspan’s speeches have nothing to do with casino training but his presentation style is a textbook example of how some gaming industry trainers impart their words of wisdom, lulling their audience to sleep in the process. Greenspan can get away with a less-than-interesting presentation. Can your property’s training sessions be so lucky? If you’re like most properties, the answer is a resounding NO!
I recently talked with a client who used a new company for training and he said the information was great, that the presenter was knowledgeable. But the delivery was awful. The presenter talked in a monotone and had no interaction with the session’s attendees. This is a sure sign that the sandman is coming soon. If Greenspan was a customer service trainer in the gaming industry, he would starve because people would zone out as soon as he started babbling.
You know exactly what I’m talking about. We’ve all experienced dull training. So what can you do about it?
Prevention is the best first step. The best way to keep dull training from happening is by demanding a presentation before you make hiring decisions. If the presenter can’t make a one- or two-hour talk fun and interactive, you really should think long and hard about your training investment. It shouldn’t cost much more for fun, interactive training than it does for a talking head.
Another answer to this problem is good old-fashioned adult learning done in a different way. What most of us usually experience is a lecture followed by reading. But it’s a proven fact that this approach has the lowest retention level of all types of learning.
Adult learning needs to be participant centered. It should be active so participants experience the learning process using all their senses. Studies have shown that as a person uses more and more of their senses during a learning experience, their retention level increases. Think about how we learned as children. We touched, smelled, looked at, listened to and tasted everything. All of these activities increase the amount of data that the participant’s brain stores for future use. Notice I said participant, not attendee. When people just attend, they are not involved and learning.
After involvement, you need to make the experience fun. When people have a good time, they’re more open to new ideas and concepts. This means they’re open to learning. Training should be fun and educational. That’s not an oxymoron. Learning and fun actually go well together.
Now let’s take a look at content. Some people think good training must be harsh to the palate. They believe that if it doesn’t taste like medicine, it can’t be doing you any good. That is simply wrong!
You need to have first-rate information that’s specific to the gaming industry. The presenter should talk about real customer service challenges that hard-working, front-line people face on an hourly basis. If the quality of the content is not considered along with the effectiveness of the delivery, it’s almost assured you will end up with a less-than-great learning experience.
Content also needs to be at the right level. You can talk about behavior theories to a group of 50 dedicated employees, but you will get far better results by letting them share their ideas and learn for themselves. This creates buy-in and also helps diminish the boredom. The only people who care about theories are academics. People on the front lines care about the customer. They care about heir own lives, i.e., how can this training help them make more money?
The information delivered during a training session needs to be very carefully presented so it’s easy to understand and apply in the real world. You can’t force people to read between the lines or figure out complex information. You need to spoon feed the information with just enough fun to make it go down easy. It should be tasty to the palate, not harsh.
Once you understand his shortcomings as a speaker, Mr. Greenspan sheds an interesting light on how to do training the right way. He offers real lessons about content and delivery. The challenge all of us in the industry face is that we can’t rely on one or the other. Great training needs to have a strong emphasis on both content and delivery or it will be a poor economic decision for the property. To make that crystal clear – it’s a waste of money!

Date Posted: 25-May-2005

Martin R. Baird is author of “Gaming Guest Service from A to Z,” a book that uses the alphabet to help gaming executives, managers and employees understand the importance of outstanding customer service and how to provide it. He is chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a customer service consulting firm based in Annapolis, Maryland, that provides specialty customer service training, management skills training, presentation skills training, team building programs and employee incentive and recognition programs for the gaming industry. The company Web site, www.casinocustomerservice.com, is devoted to helping casinos improve their customer service so they can compete and increase revenues. Robinson & Associates may be reached by phone at 480-991-6420 or by e-mail at mbaird@casinocustomerservice.com. The company is a member of the Casino Management Association and an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.

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