Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Martin R Baird Archives
More Strategy Experts
28 February 2015
By Martin R Baird
Wouldn’t it be great if casino employees inherently knew how to provide outstanding service for their guests? They could just work the floor and do their thing, much to the delight of people walking through the door.
While some employees seem to have a natural talent for providing service, most are not born with the customer service gene. For the vast majority of casino staff members, guest service is a learned skill.
That means gaming properties must invest in casino customer service training. And it is an investment, not an expense, because guests tend to stay and play and return to play again at casinos that offer great service.
So how do you offer only the best in training for your employees? The following seven keys to great guest service training should give you a good start.
Key #1: Management Must Commit
For training to be successful, a casino’s management must be totally committed to creating a guest service culture at their property.
When the general manager participates in the training along with hourly employees, it sends a powerful message to everyone that this is important. When each person from the management team participates, word gets out that this is a mission, not a one-time event.
Key #2: All Aboard the Customer Service Bus
Guest service training is not just for management and employees who have direct customer contact. It’s for ALL employees. Many casino employees who do not interact with guests do have contact with other employees who, in turn, have an effect on the guest’s experience. If guest service is crucial to success, you can’t afford to have any weak links. Everyone must be on the customer service bus.
Key #3: Start With An Accurate Perspective
Now that management fully supports the concept of quality guest service, it’s time to find out where you are today. You need to know what your customers really see and think. An insider’s point of view is not nearly enough. Do a 360-degree evaluation so you see things from the guest’s perspective, from management’s viewpoint and from the employees’ standpoint. When you do this, you have a clear view of what is really happening.
If you don’t start with this perspective, you’re doing training or trying to improve service based on fiction.
Key #4: Boring Is Deadly
Looking for a good way to waste your time, energy and money on training? That’s easy. Make it boring.
You are in the excitement and entertainment business and if your training isn’t exciting and entertaining, what message are you sending to your people?
The subject isn’t what makes training fun. It’s the way the material is presented and the thought that goes into developing and planning the program. If the training is well designed, it will get the participants so involved that they will actually want to learn and open their minds to new opportunities. In this industry, training should be glitz and glamour, fun and excitement because that’s what you sell to the public every day. Your training should mirror the experience that you want your employees to pass along to your guests.
Training should be participant centered. That means the program should focus on the people who are there to learn new skills. People learn by doing. Great training uses activities and exercises to keep the participants interested and active.
The program should be timed and choreographed so that there is a change or new activity every seven or eight minutes. Develop a series of games or activities that encourages or requires the participants to say and do the new behavior. Take a current trend and blend it into the training. For example, how can you incorporate a reality TV program into your training?
Key #5: Hire the Right Trainers
I recommend that casinos hire training companies and in-house staff trainers the same way they hire an act to entertain their guests. Have open auditions. Good facilitators can take a roomful of people through a variety of exercises and emotions that foster learning. Simply put, they must be able to work a room.
The trainers also need to know the industry. They should understand that most gaming employees only make money when they offer their guests a great experience.
Hire a company that specializes in customer service training for the gaming industry. If you need to improve guest service, don’t hire the most available company. Invest a little time auditioning to make sure you find the best solution for your guest service needs.
Key #6: Size Does Matter
I’m often asked how many people should attend a day-long training session. When a training session has a group of 90 or more people, it’s difficult to get all of them to participate. With a group of 40, people have an opportunity to express their opinions and have their voices heard. So, yes, size does matter!
But there’s more. What about the size of the training room? The room can actually have an effect on how people participate in the training. If you have a group of 30 and your training is held in a showroom that seats 500, people feel lost and intimidated by the size of the room. Likewise, when you pack 50 people into a room that’s designed to hold 35, they can’t get comfortable and they actually find it difficult to participate.
Key #7: Length Matters, Too.
How long should the training session be? As long as it needs to be to get the information across without becoming repetitive. Any longer than that and the attendees will zone out.
Problems can arise from a session that’s too short. If you try to cover three hours of material in two hours, you’re wasting everybody’s time, including yours. It can take 45 minutes to an hour for a group to get warmed up and start taking part in the training. If that only leaves an hour to cover the material, you could end up accomplishing absolutely nothing.
The length of the training modules – organized sections of the training – also must be taken into consideration. If modules are too long, they lose impact.
Some people try to have one module for eight hours of training. This is very difficult for the participants. People who go through training need to see progress and that requires a beginning, middle and end. Modules give participants a feeling of progress so they know that they are reaching the goal.
The length of the lecture also is important. There’s an old saying in the training profession that the mind can only absorb as much as the backside can endure. If a trainer stands at the front of the room and drones on and on, they will lose the participants very quickly.
Now you have seven keys to providing great customer service training. To survive in today’s brutally competitive gaming industry, casinos need to stand out and give their guests a reason to come back again and again. Stellar service is the answer. And training gives your employees the skills they need to help you create that crucial guest service culture at your property.
Martin R. Baird is chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a consulting firm to the global gaming industry. Robinson & Associates is a member of the Casino Management Association and an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
14 February 2015I’ve been helping casinos improve the quality of their customer service for more than 20 years and I’ve been writing about the topic of customer service just as long. Occasionally, I like to let other people speak for me just so readers can see that I’m not making all this stuff up. This is one of those occasions. ... (read more)
8 November 2014I was at a gaming conference and an industry marketing consultant talked about a publicly traded gaming company that spends 37 percent of its revenue on marketing. I know of a property in a very competitive market that spends more than $1 million a month on marketing. Why all this spending? Casinos say they need to be seen to keep guests coming through the door so they can grow. ... (read more)
11 October 2014For us, the buzz word of the year is “culture.” Every gaming property we meet with doesn’t want a “program.” It wants to create a casino customer service culture. We could be talking with management about a custom casino "Train the Trainer" session or a comprehensive program that includes everything from ... (read more)
Martin R Baird