Take A Cue from Delta – Casino Guest Service Matters
by By Martin R. Baird

Delta Air Lines gets it and I wonder why more casinos don’t. “It” is the important role customer service plays in setting yourself apart from the competition.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Delta – no longer the world’s largest airline – will begin emphasizing service instead of size to lure customers. According to the Journal, Delta plans to spend more than $2 billion through 2013 to lure travelers with new flat-bed seats in business class on transoceanic airplanes, video on demand for movies and TV in economy class on its larger jets and upgraded facilities in hotly contested markets. Any way you cut it, that is a gigantic commitment to service.

“Delta began an advertising campaign that plays down size,” the Journal reported. “’No one who flies is waiting for a bigger airline, they’re waiting for one that’s committed to making flying better,’ says a print ad.” The Journal quoted Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s head of network planning and revenue management, as follows: “We ultimately believe the carrier providing the best customer service will win.”

Delta, a behemoth of a corporation, understands something that some casinos with infinitely smaller operations, don’t – no business will succeed if customers don’t want to patronize it.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that casinos spend billions of dollars over the next few years making costly upgrades that might catch guests’ attention. Customers look for something different from casinos. Sure, they enjoy fancy properties with lots of glitz. And a huge casino with seemingly unlimited gaming options may be attractive. But guests patronize casinos for one big reason – to capture an outstanding gaming experience. To have fun! Leading the charge for that experience is customer service.

So forget about gaming’s equivalent of flat-bed seats, video on demand, etc. Like Delta, focus on making the guest experience at your casino better. I won’t take up space here suggesting what would work at one casino or another. You should know what your guests want in the way of a dazzling experience. If you don’t, then you need to find out and start offering it. What’s important is that you take action now.

Having said that, following are some service-improvement suggestions that should work well at any casino. These ideas will get you off to a good start.
Team Effort. One employee or a few employees cannot provide a great gaming experience. It’s a team effort. Every employee must pursue the goal of stellar guest service every day. If one employee fails to pull their weight, that’s the employee who is remembered the most by the guest, the one the guest tells all their friends about. This may not be fair, but it’s a fact. Everyone must make a positive contribution to the cause.

Entertainment. Everyone at the casino, from top management down, must have an entertainment mindset. Casinos are in the entertainment business. Employees are part of the entertainment, as are the tables, the restaurant, the hotel and the lounge act. It really is easy to smile, be part of the show and entertain guests. Employees must be entertainers.

Guest Rather Than Customer. I know I use the words “guest” and “customer” interchangeably, but it is best that casinos view the folks who walk through the door as guests. A customer is someone who buys a good or a service. A guest is a person who receives hospitality or is entertained. In the gaming business, your goal is to have guests. If it helps, think of your guests as people who come into your home. If you treat customers as guests in your home, they will look forward to coming back.

Listen. I cannot overstate how important listening is to providing great service. Employees should slow down, stop, sit back and listen to their guests. Listen to what they’re saying with words, body language and facial expressions. If you really listen to what they have to say, you can usually find solutions to their problems and you might discover a new opportunity to provide excellent service.

Timely. Service needs to be provided in a timely manner. Guests only have a certain amount of time to play and you want to be sure every minute of it is spent at your property. The faster they’re served, the more quickly they get what they want, the more likely they are to stay. So whether you’re bringing someone a drink while they’re on the casino floor, filling their machine or making a delivery to their hotel room, it’s important that you be timely.

These are just a few of many ways any casino can improve its guest service. As you learn more about what your guests want in a great gaming experience, my suggestions will help you provide it. But first, you must take a cue from Delta and understand that service is your ticket to future success. Service matters.

Date Posted: 10-Jan-2011

Martin R. Baird is chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a Boise, Idaho-based consulting firm to the global gaming industry that is dedicated to helping casinos improve their guest service so they can compete and generate future growth and profitability. Robinson & Associates is the world leader in casino guest experience measurement and improvement. For more information, visit the company’s Web sites at www.casinocustomerservice.com and www.advocatedevelopmentsystem.com or contact the company at 208-991-2037. Robinson & Associates is an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.

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