by Sudhir H. Kale
I have been having a terrible run for the past six weeks. No matter what I do or which game I play, I keep losing, day in and day out. I don’t know where these casino gurus get these figures of half a percent and one percent house advantage. I go to the blackjack table with a thousand dollars and barely survive one shoe. Baccarat is even worse. The more I lose, the more I play in hope of making up what I have lost. My salary for this month lasted for a week at the casino and I am now drawing heavily from my credit card. I was to send some money to my ex-wife but that’s now out of the question.
I have quite a few comps accumulated in my account at the casino. Yet every time I ask for a docket, the pit bosses act as though they are doing me a big favour. Sometimes, they simply forget about my request. Think of it. I play at least three days a week with two or three grand each time. I cannot remember the last time I had a win. I know it is my choice and that ultimately it is my problem. But at the very least, I expect genuine courtesy from the casino staff. They seem oblivious of the fact that if it weren’t for mugs like me, they would not have a job.
This punter’s story is all too familiar to every pit boss, supervisor, and shift manager. Casino staff gets to the verge of being jaded by listening to customers’ sob stories. You witness people losing their money every single day. Somewhere down the line, most casino employees begin to view their customers as suckers, as people with more money than sense. It is hard not let these perceptions become apparent in your interactions with customers.
Let’s face it. Most businesses spend considerable effort in manufacturing a good or a service. The good or service, once sold, results in revenues. Casinos sell the hope of money. They take in cash and sell hope of cash. Yes, there is also the thrill and excitement that are sold. There are aspects of entertainment as well which casinos provide. Not all customers come in to make money and not everyone is hopelessly addicted to gambling. Casino customers, like others, come from various segments or groups.
When we talk of enhancing customer satisfaction, engendering rapport, and building loyalty, we are referring mainly to what casinos call “good customers.” Not that someone walking into the facility and blowing twenty bucks on the pokies before walking out is a bad customer. Yet, casinos tend to differentiate between the “good” customers and the “not so good (?)” customers. Like most businesses, casinos use customer portfolio management. Casinos, at least as far as tables games go, derive 80% of their revenues from 20% of customers. The lament above comes from one of the “good customers.”
What can supervisors, pit bosses, games managers and shift managers do to preserve their base of “good” customers? The answer is simple, “keep customers satisfied.” The devil, as in most situations, lies in the details. I have come up with seven simple tenets the front line staff could follow in their quest for customer satisfaction.
1. Realise and then reiterate to yourself at every opportunity that the only reason you have a job is because customers frequent the casino. All of your operating efficiency will amount to nought if customers stop coming. The Reef Casino in Cairns is a good case in point.
2. Money is as real for most customers as it is for you. When customers “lose” as they are bound to if they play long enough and often enough, they will be upset and frustrated. These feelings sometimes inevitably translate into difficult behaviours that you as casino staff have to contend with. This is as much a part of the job as figuring out the table drop and win/loss. You need to handle these behaviours with sensitivity and empathy.
3. Every encounter with a customer is a “moment of truth.” As far as a customer is concerned, you are the casino. Good buildings and aesthetically appealing facilities are nice, but the customer’s perception of a casino will ultimately be determined by how you, the frontline staff, interact with him.
4. Always remember the “lifetime value” of a good customer. A thirty-five year old local customer who spends two thousand a month supporting his habit is worth at least a million dollars over a lifetime. Imagine what most businesses will be willing to put up with to make a million-dollar sale.
5. A good casino culture is one where the top bosses support staff who are responsive and understanding toward customers. However, most casinos falter when it comes to understanding the essence of “player development.” All the fishing trips and golf tournaments cannot ever compensate for a customer’s being aggrieved by frontline staff. Human relationships are complex, but one can get better at them with the right training and attitude.
6. You are the role model for croupiers and it is the croupiers who spend most time with a customer. Your caring and concern for the customer should serve as a benchmark for them. If they do right by the customer, you will have fewer customer problems and complaints. Both by your behaviour and by your direction, you need to underscore the importance of responsiveness and caring for the customer. Croupiers will value customers only if you value them, and this value needs to be demonstrated in your customer interactions.
7. Developing a personal relationship with your good customers is vital. Once you develop a rapport with them, customers are more likely to open up to you and listen to you. This rapport is critical for resolving any conflict or grievance that might ensue subsequently. Developing rapport takes so little and yet it means so much. All that most customers will ask of you is courtesy, politeness, and responsiveness. Approach each customer with an attitude encompassing these three attributes and you’d get to keep most of them for life. Believe me, it will be quite sometime before any organisation can make “managing relationships” a redundant job!
Date Posted: 14-Jun-2001