Ellis Communications, Inc.
Casinos Urged to Invest in Customer Service, Gaming
Experience to Meet Multiple Challenges in 2012
In 2012, an array of forces are coming together to present the gaming industry with more competition and challenges than ever, a casino expert announced today. Martin R. Baird, chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., says an emphasis on customer service and casino guests' gaming experience is the answer.
"Bare-bones state budgets, taxation, new casinos, social media and online gaming – these are all factors that contribute to a challenging year for casinos," Baird says. "Stellar guest service and a superior gaming experience are the only real competitive advantages casinos have. That is where they must focus their efforts to compete."
The recession has depleted state coffers and states are on the prowl for ways to increase revenue for schools and social services without raising taxes, according to Baird. "That old standby – the sin tax – is a perfect solution," Baird says. "Nobody cares if existing casinos are taxed to the max. I receive lots of emails about state legislatures looking at ways to implement gaming taxes or increase the casino tax streams they already receive. In the meantime, states that have rejected casinos for years are now taking a hard look at them and the tax revenues they would generate. Some states that already have casinos are thinking about expanding gaming. Add it all up and you have new competition from gaming properties and governments eroding casinos' bottom line."
Social media has become a competitor in the sense that it can drive customers into the arms of other casinos, Baird says, noting that Internet chatter is a serious problem for casinos with poor service. "Social media commentary is powerful and it can work for or against a casino," Baird points out. "Customers who play at a casino with substandard service and a lousy gaming experience can turn to Yelp, Twitter and Facebook to spread the word like wildfire. People who read these posts give them far more credibility than such casino marketing efforts as advertising."
Baird says Forrester Research, an independent research company that provides forward-thinking advice to global business leaders, states that we have entered the "age of the customer" and that "empowered buyers demand a new level of obsession." Thanks to the volumes of information available on the Internet, casino customers are indeed empowered and they will demand even more, according to Baird. "Forrester is right," Baird says. "Businesses must become customer obsessed and that includes casinos."
The Internet is also a direct competitor. Online gaming is a reality that takes a bite out of brick-and-mortar casinos' business, Baird says. "Baby boomers may take pride in their physical vitality, but they are tech savvy and they are getting older," Baird notes. "Clicking a mouse is so easy compared to driving a couple hours and working the casino floor."
Successful casinos spend time and money on training and infusing their property with a service culture. The first step toward creating that culture is establishing service standards. The next step is training that helps employees meet those standards.
"The service standards need to be S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound," Baird says. "Training needs to go beyond the usual. One option is to select 10 or 12 employees, put them through challenging, life-changing training and have them train the rest of the employee population. The potential of a service culture buy-in increases when employees learn from their peers. We call this Train the Trainer."
About Robinson & Associates
For nearly 20 years, Robinson & Associates, Inc., has been dedicated to helping casinos improve their guest service so they can compete and generate future growth and profitability. A Boise, Idaho-based consulting firm to the global gaming industry, Robinson & Associates is the world leader in casino guest experience measurement and improvement. For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.casinocustomerservice.com or contact Lydia Baird, director of business development, at 208-991-2037 or email@example.com. Robinson & Associates is a member of the Casino Management Association and an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.
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