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September 19, 2012

People Are People and Casino Customer Service
Training is a Powerful Force Around the World
By Martin R. Baird

Several years ago while I was in Athens to speak at a conference, I had dinner with the general manager of a Greek casino where I do employee training.  I was thinking about this the other day and realized that the lessons I learned from her about casino customer service training are still valid today.

This lady has worked in or with casinos literally around the world.  She started as a dealer in the United Kingdom for a very high-end club that was featured in a James Bond movie.  She talks intelligently about what it’s like to work in Dubai.  One of her most challenging jobs was running a casino in Beirut during Lebanon’s civil war.

Then the subject of employee training came up.  We talked about the weeklong “Train the Trainer” program I rolled out at her casino and I explained how “it” happened  in the middle of everything, between the second half of day two and halfway into day four.  A light magically went on in the employees’ eyes and the value of quality customer service began to sink in.  She noted that before the training, her employees were resistant to or neutral about customer service.  She joined the training during the last two days but she could see the difference in her staff.

Then we started talking about people in general and the phrase “people are people” came up over and over.  Talking with her, I realized that this is so true.  When she talked about casino employees in distant lands, I could match them to staff members at a casino in the U.S. that had similar challenges.  It really struck home with me that gaming is global and the people who work in that industry are very much the same.

But the ultimate common denominator was this – no matter where you are in the world, gaming affects two large groups of people and, ultimately, training has a critical impact on both.  You have the players (in my world, they’re called customers or guests) and then you have the people who work at the casino.  These two groups have a symbiotic relationship.  They both need each other for success.

So what can you do to make both of them happy?  How can you help casino employees enjoy their jobs and how can you help customers look forward to coming to your property to play?  On a more basic level, how do you make people happy?  What can you do to help them have a better day, week, month and life?

Let’s start with casino employees.  Here are a few things I hear from frontline staff and I’m learning that they are important to gaming employees around the world.  Note to executives:  these are things you need to keep in mind as reinforcement to training.  They will encourage your employees to keep giving 100 percent.

First, they want to be appreciated.  They want to feel as though they are more than just a punch bag for the guest and management to use eight to 10 hours at a time.  Most casino employees feel like they are little more than meat thrown to the crowd to keep it moderately happy.  The kind of appreciation most often mentioned is little things like saying thank you and letting people know they’ve done a good job.  Any personal gesture that tells people they are important and recognized as a human being goes a long way toward helping them feel more satisfied.

Next, they want to have fun.  They always ask for picnics or parties – any type of group activity that they can share with each other and, sometimes, their families.  Family “buy-in” and support are critical to long-term employee happiness.  Nothing could be worse than to work a tough 10-hour shift and then go home and hear how much your significant other hates where you work and what you do.  Ouch, that really hurts!

Finally, they acknowledge that they have short attention spans.  In other words, they eventually forget about the nice gestures if too much time passes.  Appreciation and fun need to happen frequently enough that people have consistent and constant reminders that they are important to your success.

Now, if you think these pointers are just for your employees, think again.  They also can work wonders for that other important part of your business, your customers.  Guests want to feel appreciated and I guarantee you that they want to have fun.  The more they get of both, the happier they are.  Training and reinforcement help your employees make sure life is good for your customers.  And that fulfills their symbiotic relationship.

I’m grateful for what I’ve learned from the Athens casino general manager.  She broadened my horizons.  It’s nice to know that casino employees are truly the same anywhere in the world and that they face the same challenges.  Its encouraging to know that training can be a positive and powerful influence no matter where a casino is located.  After all, people are just people.

To read other articles by Martin Baird, go to www.casinocustomerservice.com/post.htm

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, management 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 a member of the Casino Management Association and an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.


BUSINESS INQUIRIES FOR ROBINSON & ASSOCIATES:

Lydia Baird
lbaird@raresults.com
208-991-2037

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