I Dont Want to Disappoint Family! The Risk Is Too Great!
by Martin R. Baird

I Don't Want to Disappoint Family! The Risk Is Too Great!
By Martin R. Baird

Pam, my cousin's girlfriend, was wringing her hands and agonizing.
"My fear is that I would disappoint family," she said. "If you were just a friend from work or someone I didn't know, it would all be different. I would jump at it."
I'll get to the cause of Pam's mental anguish in a moment. Right now, I want to focus on her comment. When Pam uttered those words, something hit me like a ton of bricks. Suddenly, I realized she had given me an answer I had been looking for.
Think about her statement for a moment. She didnt want to disappoint family. Is that a statement that a person would make without thought or caring? Of course not. I can hear you now: "OK, we get it, Marty. For some reason, a person named Pam cared enough about you to worry about letting you down. Big deal!" Sorry, but this is a huge deal that can have significant impact on your casinos success and it relates to what I've been writing about lately.
I've been writing about the fact that guest satisfaction has zero correlation to future growth of your casino. I'll say it again. No matter what your guest satisfaction surveys say "even if satisfaction is in the stratosphere" it doesn't matter. I know some of you are still stuck in the mental mud and you are convinced that satisfaction leads to future growth. But research doesn't support that concept.
So if satisfaction doesn't predict growth, what does?
That's a great question and the answer is risk. Which brings us to Pam's problem. Pam would not even try going through our company's "Train the Trainer" program. I think she would be an amazing facilitator but she felt the risk to her reputation was too great. She didn't want to be put in a situation in which she might disappoint a family member.
Think about this. In her mind, the risk to her reputation was huge and she wouldn't take a chance that she would fail. I asked her what failing would "look like" and she said, "I don't know how it would look, but it would feel awful to let you down."
Ding! Ding! Ding! That is the bell that rings when we have a winner! Pam's comments go to the heart of why satisfaction doesn't predict future growth. The nebulous term "satisfaction" carries no personal risk. A casino guest who says on a survey that he or she is satisfied with their gaming experience and your customer service can make that comment because it doesn't put them at risk.
But if you can elicit an answer to an entirely different question, then you are on the road to predicting your future growth.
If I asked Pam to tell me which restaurants she is satisfied with, my guess is she would come up with a long list. She knows I've eaten at many satisfactory restaurants so what risk does she have in suggesting a few more? She has no risk at all. She didn't tell me to eat at them. She just said they satisfied her and that would be a relatively low bar to jump over.
Now let's change the question to, "What restaurants do you recommend I eat at?" I'll bet she would be hard pressed to come up with a handful of them. Pam knows that in my travels, I've been blessed to eat at truly great restaurants. The thought will go through her mind that she doesn't want to disappoint family, so the ones she says to go to will be the very best in her mind.
By moving from satisfied to recommend, you move from a low-risk question to a high-risk question. That movement adds amazing validity to the question and the response you receive.
We're not far into 2006, so I hope that many of you are kicking off new research initiatives or becoming more customer focused for the year ahead. You may think that you can add that question to your market research and have a better understanding of your guests.
And you would be right!
Now let's put everything I've said in perspective. The first critical step is getting past your preconceived notion that satisfaction is what's important. Then get your arms around the concept that risk is a key factor in predicting future growth. Do your research. Then put a system into place for improvement. Getting data that matters is great but then it's time to look at the pieces you have in place to make it easy for your guests to risk their reputation by telling family and friends about your amazing casino.
Here's the bottom line. The easier you make if for your guests to feel comfortable recommending your casino to family and friends, the better your casino will do going forward.

This article first appeared in Native American Casino

Date Posted: 22-Jan-2006

Martin R. Baird is author of Advocate Index": An Operational Tool and chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a global customer service consulting firm for the gaming industry. Robinson & Associates helps casinos worldwide determine their Advocate Index, a number that indicates the extent to which properties have guests who are willing to be advocates, and then implements its Advocate Development System to help casinos create more guest advocates. The Advocate Development System uses the proven methodology of Advocate Index in combination with best business practices to chart a course for growth and profitability. More information about the Advocate Development System and Robinson and Associates is available at the companys Web sites at www.advocateindex.com and www.casinocustomerservice.com. A copy of Advocate Index: An Operational Tool may be obtained by calling 206-774-8856. Robinson & Associates may be reached by phone at 480-991-6420 or by e-mail at mbaird@casinocustomerservice.com. Based in Annapolis, Maryland, Robinson & Associates is a member of the Casino Management Association and an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.

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