Ellis Communications, Inc.
The World Has Changed and Casinos Need the Competitive
Advantage of Real-Time Customer Feedback
A casino resort customer checks into his hotel room and discovers that it's not quite as clean as he would like. After that unhappy surprise, he goes to the spa to relax and his experience there is underwhelming. He could have received better service at a spa close to home 1,500 miles away.
Another guest goes to the restaurant and the medium-rare steak she orders is served up well done and tough. Another guest drives up to valet service and it is painfully obvious the only thing the bored staff there cares about is tips.
These kinds of problems happen at casino resorts and gaming properties all the time and for decades many of them have gotten away with it. In other words, they have survived in spite of themselves. But times have changed. REALLY changed. Thanks to the Internet and social media, casino resorts and casinos will suffer greatly if they don't get a handle on the quality of their service. And they need to do it in real time.
What am I talking about? Let's take the examples of poor service outlined above. It wasn't so long ago that those customers had limited options in how they could respond. They could complain to a supervisor or put up with the situation and choose to patronize a different property for their next outing. Today, those customers have the world at their fingertips and they are talking very loudly to other people who are potential customers. The guest who discovered a dirty room sits down on the bed, opens the Twitter app on his smartphone and within seconds tells thousands of people what he just experienced. He posts an uncomplimentary Facebook status update before he even leaves the spa. The customer who could barely cut her overdone steak posts a negative review of the restaurant on Yelp while she is still sitting at the table.
What's changed is that people have cheap technology at their disposal that allows them to rant incessantly to the world about the poor service they receive. And if you read the previous paragraph carefully, you likely noticed that this can happen very quickly. Add to that the fact that communication via the Internet can be anonymous and potentially nasty.
Casinos simply must get ahead of these problems by using the same technology to collect real-time customer feedback. Without it, they are at a competitive disadvantage. Unhappy guests should be able to use their smartphones, for example, to communicate how they feel to management first and the world second. After expressing their dissatisfaction to the property, perhaps they won't even need to turn to Twitter, Facebook or Yelp. A problem could be resolved before a guest leaves the property. Yes, the customer's room should have been sparkling clean when he walked in, but a quick resolution, well, that's impressive! Possibly impressive enough that he will make a reservation at that resort again in the future.
Real-time feedback offers other benefits, including increased guest retention and repeat purchases, improved guest satisfaction, long-term customer relationships and positive word-of-mouth advertising.
I can hear you now: "We're fine because we use comment cards, surveys and mystery shoppers. We've got it covered." First, comment cards. Comment cards are useless and old school. They're also expensive to print, mail and tabulate. It can take days or weeks to glean important information and by that time, service recovery is almost impossible. Comment cards have a very low response rate from mostly "lovers" and "haters," people who either think your casino is the most exciting place in the world or the worst. What about the thousands of customers who fall between those extremes and never pass along their thoughts? They matter.
As far as surveys are concerned, many of the ones I have received from casinos are too long. They ask way too many questions. Most people will not take the time to fill them out because they simply don't have the time.
Many casinos and resorts use mystery shoppers to collect feedback and they serve a very valuable role. But mystery shoppers are not real customers and they are not spending their own hard-earned money. Shoppers can evaluate how well employees meet specific performance standards, but they can't explain what real customers think and feel.
Real-time customer feedback is what casinos and casino resorts need now. Having that capability shows that the property is caring and innovative. But more important, it allows customers to tell a property how they feel about their experience as they feel it. This can turn the tables and put Twitter, Facebook and Yelp at a disadvantage while giving you the opportunity to make things right with your customers, improve your service and set the stage for future success.
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 lbaird(at)raresults(dot)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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