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More Important Keys to Improving Casino Guest Service
by Martin R. Baird

More Important Keys to Improving Casino Guest Service
By Martin R. Baird

Last month, I told you how outstanding customer service leads to a great guest experience and explained that a combination of these two factors can create more play at a casino and increase profits.
That was followed by a description of three of seven keys to improving casino guest service, including the importance of customer service training. This month’s column explores the remaining keys.
Let’s get started!

Key # 4: The Fun Factor

In Key No. 3, I mentioned that you are in the entertainment business. It’s important to realize that your guest service training needs to be entertaining, too. Most people think training is a form of torture. It doesn’t have to be that way. If people are not having fun, it’s very difficult to get them to listen and pay attention.
Think for a moment about children and their ability to watch cartoons for hours. They smile and laugh. They’re riveted to the TV. If you asked them to tell you about the cartoons, they would remember them in vivid detail.
The reason these children remember is because of the fun factor.
Several years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with a gentleman who had invested a good part of his life helping the people who produce the Sesame Street children’s show. He showed them how to develop lessons and taught them about the child’s learning process. He focused on accelerated learning, a technique that makes training so interesting and fun that people can’t help but learn.
Learning IS fun and if you start customer service training with that premise, you will increase both retention and application. If you learn only one thing from reading this column, make it this – add more fun to your training.

Key #5: It’s An Investment

I know training can cost a significant amount of money. It can be the equivalent of several salaries. But you need to view training as an investment. With training, you’re investing in your people and in the opportunity to generate more revenue for your property. If you invest in your people, it helps both them and you.
Studies show that most employees want to be recognized and appreciated and that they rank these two items much higher than pay. By investing in your employees with training, you’re recognizing them and showing appreciation. You’re telling them and showing them that they are important to your success and that you want to enhance their value. If done correctly, you’re also giving them tools they can use to make more money the next time they start their shift.
There’s another investment to consider, the fact that improved service and a better guest experience can increase your property’s play and, ultimately, its profits because those factors encourage guests to come back. It can be eight to 10 times more expensive to get a guest to visit once than it is to get them to return. Many properties use frequent player cards because they know they’re building a habit for some of their customers. The sooner that happens, the sooner they can save a little on marketing and increase profits.
I hate to say this, but all the wonderful marketing in the world will not and cannot make up for poor guest service. People have too many entertainment choices. They don’t need to come to your property. Even if you’re the only game in town, people now have the choice of online gaming. They don’t even have to leave the comforts of home.
If you could improve your guest service and get 10 percent of your visitors to play one hour longer, how much would that contribute to your bottom line? If you could invest $100 and generate $200, would you do it?
Improving your people and improving your guest experience is a simple investment. You add hotel rooms or restaurants so guests will stay and play longer. That is the same as a wise investment in great training.

Key #6: You Need to Start With An Accurate Perspective

I’m disappointed by the number of gaming venues that really don’t know what their guests want. Management will tell you they understand their guests, but all their information is second-hand or biased by their experiences. For example, some people in management think employees always smile. Of course they smile when a boss walks by. Or they see only the negative because that’s what they hear from guests. They get feedback from guests who are upset and hear nothing from those who have a great time.
Creating a guest service culture at your casino involves change and in order to start that very challenging process of change, you need to have an accurate, unbiased view of where you are today. You need to know what your guests really see and think. An insider’s point of view is not nearly enough. Do a 360-degree evaluation so you see things from the guest’s perspective, from management’s viewpoint and from the employees’ standpoint. When you do this, you have a clear view of what is really happening.
If you don’t start with this perspective, you are doing training or trying to improve service based on fiction. If I were going to invest a significant portion of my budget on improving service, I would want to base my investment on honest, unbiased observations.

Key # 7: People Are Not Born With the Guest Service Gene

Wouldn’t it be great if you could do a simple test to find out if the person you’re about to hire has a great guest service gene? It could save all of us some big hassles.
Unfortunately, there is no such gene. Good customer service is not born, it’s built over time with great training.
The few people who do it naturally simply see how great service works, and they like the way it makes them feel when they help a guest. But most people are not so blessed. Most people don’t see how service affects them. They don’t see that they can keep their job and make more money if they provide better service. I’m surprised at the number of gaming staff members who don’t understand that they’re commission-based employees. They live for tokes and the higher the level of service they provide, the better the chances they have of getting great tips.
So if they’re not born with the gene, you need to provide training that’s fun and interactive. You need to offer training that shows them that they and your company will be rewarded if they adopt these new, better behaviors. I’m talking about learned skills that are an investment in your employees’ future.
Now you have the seven keys to improving customer service. Guest service is an unending battle that your property faces every day. There will always be a newer, bigger gaming venue, so how will you compete? Will you try to fight the never-ending battle of outspending your competition or will you outservice them and win customers that way?

Date Posted: 01-Dec-2002

Martin R. Baird is president of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a customer service consulting firm based in Phoenix, Ariz., that provides specialty customer service training, management skills training, presentation skills training, team building programs and employee incentive and recognition programs for casinos. Baird has a Web site, www.casinocustomerservice.com, that’s devoted to helping casinos improve their customer service so they can compete and increase revenues. Baird may be reached at 800-279-1775 or 480-990-1775. He also may be reached by e-mail at mbaird@casinocustomerservice.com.

 
 
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