Taking Customer Service to the Breaking Point
by Martin R. Baird

Taking Customer Service to the Breaking Point
By Martin R. Baird

During a family vacation in upstate New York, we had a wonderful opportunity to tour the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG). This is a great place. It’s a museum, gallery and history lesson all rolled together. You also have a chance to work with glass
Now when I think of glass, I realize how easy it is to break and what a mess it makes when you drop a piece of it. Casino guest service is that way, too.
If casinos don’t handle guest service just the right way, they could damage that relationship and never be able to repair it. That is what makes working with casino guests so challenging.
CMOG is an incredible showcase of quality customer service. Even though it has nothing to do with gaming, it offers invaluable lessons for casinos worldwide. I’ll tell you why by their own example.
CMOG offers live glass-blowing demonstrations. When we arrived for the show, we were the only ones in the area and the room felt good. Coming from Arizona where it can get real hot, we found the 70s in upper New York a little on the cool side. Being around a 2,000-degree oven felt more like home.
I commented to one of the men on stage that the heat felt good and we talked for a moment. As the program started, he announced that I was from Arizona and that if I wanted to join them on stage to warm up, I was more than welcome.
That is wonderful guest service. He was building a relationship and that is one of the most important elements of providing top-notch service to your customers. You want to develop that long-term relationship so as little bumps happen along the way your guests don’t overreact and think about looking for a new casino. Give them a good reason to visit your property again and again, no matter what. You can achieve that goal by providing stellar service and paying attention to other details, such as keeping your property clean and sparkling.
After the program, I thanked the CMOG staff and told them that the glass pieces they created looked great. They invited me up to actually see the oven and feel the heat. All the other guests had left, so it was just me and my family in the area. I put on safety glasses and marched up to these amazingly hot ovens filled with molten glass.
What a great experience. And here’s the important point – it made me feel special and further solidified my increasingly positive feelings about Corning glass. Do your property’s guests feel special? Make eye contact and smile. Listen when guests talk to you. Listening shows you care. Be proactive and provide service to your guests before they ask for it. When a guest appears to be lost – they may be looking for a restroom, the buffet or a way to get downstairs – don’t just point the way, take them to where they want to be. Make your guests feel welcome and appreciated.
The next make-or-break experience at CMOG happened a little while later when we were given the opportunity to blow our very own glass flowers. I saw how simple it was to do and now it was my turn! Instructors worked with each guest to help them make their creation out of that amazing liquid glass.
My instructor introduced himself and explained the process. I knew they did this at least 10 times a day, but I felt like I was the first and most important person. Then my instructor shook my hand and we got going. He and I worked together for about seven minutes making my not-so-impressive flower. But after I was done, he thanked me, shook my hand again and told me what a great job I did.
Not only was this whole experience wonderful guest service, it also was good management training. He gave me positive reinforcement. Now I can’t wait to make my next glass piece.
But there was yet another guest service lesson to come!
The glass takes almost 24 hours to cool. We went back to CMOG two days later to get our creations. A Corning staff member saw me as I walked into the room and said, “You’re here to pick up your flowers?” As I nodded yes, she went on to say, “Will you be picking up all of the Baird flowers?”
She wasn’t the instructor I worked with but she still remembered my name two days later. I know that they don’t have thousands of visitors like many casinos, but they have more than a few. And she remembered my name! Do you greet your regular guests by name?
As I said before, glass and guest service both need to be handled with care to ensure that they are not damaged and you don’t get cut.
The next time I have a choice in the glass I purchase, I guarantee it will be Corning. I have a relationship with them that will be very difficult for anyone to break. They did all the little things to show that they cared about me, their guest.
Now let’s face a harsh truth about operating a casino in today’s highly competitive gaming industry. Competing for a guest’s business is no longer about bigger casinos and resorts. It’s all about giving guests a reason to play at your property and quality service is a crucial element of this process.
There’s even more than that at stake. Stellar service leads to positive word-of-mouth advertising that can translate into new guests. Conversely, if a guest doesn’t have a wonderful experience, they will tell lots of people about it. That’s the kind of advertising casinos cannot afford in today’s business environment.
So how do your guests feel about your casino? Do they feel welcome and special? Do they have an enjoyable gaming experience? Do they come back? Do they tell others about your wonderful casino?

Date Posted: 28-Feb-2003

Martin R. Baird is president of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a guest service consulting firm based in Phoenix, Ariz., that provides specialty guest service training, management skills training, presentation skills training, team building programs and employee incentive and recognition programs for the gaming industry. The company is owned by Lydia and Martin Baird. The Bairds have a Web site, www.casinocustomerservice.com, that’s devoted to helping casinos improve their guest service so they can compete and increase revenues. Robinson & Associates may be reached by contacting Lydia at 480-991-6421 or at lbaird@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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