Customer Service and Casino Player Development

There are parallels among all the service industries, if one cares to look for them. Throughout my career, I have made it my business to understand the impact that customer service has on my operations, with an eye to profitability and loyalty, particularly as they apply to player development. In that career, I’ve done a lot of service jobs. From fast food to retail to supply chain to casino marketing, there are a lot of commonalities.

Like any business that requires patrons to enter its bricks and mortar locations to spend their dollars and their time, a casino is selling a product. The catch is that the product may be much more nuanced from customer to customer in a casino. I’ve written about what motivates players to patronize casinos before, and I’ve written often about how an attentive casino host can provide guests a compelling reason to visit one casino property over another. But today, we are going to explore the parallels between casinos and other, similar establishments.

When a shopper enters a department store, he may or may not have a particular item in mind that he would like to find and purchase. There may be more than one target in the customer’s crosshairs, and he may or may not need assistance with making his selection(s). A smart salesperson (especially one who works on commission) will develop a method for assessing the interest and commitment levels of each customer he encounters. This enables the associate to quickly determine how to allocate his resources (time, attention, computer systems, fellow associates) to serve as many customers as he can, as quickly as possible. This makes customers happy, and has the added benefit of increasing profits. It’s especially true if customers become frequent purchasers because of the service they receive.

A casino host on the gaming floor must have similar skills: while walking on the floor talking with known players of worth, a host takes a moment to speak to each player nearby. If any of the patrons need a player’s card, the host can proactively bring it to the player at the machine. Should a known player have a friend nearby, the host makes a good impression on both by acknowledging the “new” guest personally. Perhaps there are patrons listening to a host offering an inducement to a coded player, and they want to know how they can have something like that, too. The principle is the same: understand who is in your area and how you can best serve them. The more delighted patrons you have, the more loyalty to your property you create, and the more your bottom line is boosted.

In big box stores, appliances and electronics are aplenty. Customers can easily be bewildered by the sheer number of options available, each with features which may or may not be available on the next model over. It is simplicity itself to greet every customer who graces your place with their presence, and doing so provides each of them with a familiar face if they require assistance. Being attentive to the facial expressions and body language of your guests makes it relatively easy to spot the ones who are seeking help, and proactively offering your expertise is a fantastic way to delight a customer.

This is remarkably similar to the wide-eyed look one can find on the face of a patron who has walked onto a jam-packed casino floor looking for a game she recognizes. If your property doesn’t have an electronic wayfinder to help guests find particular machine themes, make sure your hosts know the layout of the floor well enough to escort the player to an appropriate area. In fact, it would be ideal if everyone whose work takes them to the gaming floor was able to offer this sort of assistance. This is the kind of service that will pleasantly surprise your guests and make you stand out from among your competitors.

Even online shopping has parallels to gaming. There are a couple of ways to look at it (particularly online slots vs. casino machines), but we will compare the casino guest to an Amazon customer. Amazon has an uncanny suggestion algorithm that crunches what you look at with what you’ve ordered and (I’m sure) looks at your spending patterns.  Then, it shows you items related or similar to the things in which you have expressed an interest, all in the hope of getting you to buy something more.

So, when a host sends a carbon-copy e-mail or quarterly letter to all his players, he is missing an opportunity to emulate Amazon’s enormously successful “personalization” strategy. The host should write a communication with room for variable fields related to upcoming events or other news that can be customized based on the patron’s interests and past activity.

Here’s how it works: on Amazon, if I buy 3 books by the same author, my suggestions will include others by that writer and books like hers, so I may learn about a new series or author I’ll enjoy, so I buy more books than I originally intended. With my favorite casino, if I get a letter from my host every few weeks, I’d like it to specify the things the host believes I’ll like instead of just reiterating everything the monthly coupon mailer already told me about. Perhaps I’ll call the host to book my room for the slot tournament if he suggests that in his communication. Long story short, Amazon doesn’t show me country music artists, because I have never purchased any of it from them. In the same spirit, my host shouldn’t tell me about a blackjack tournament if I have never played cards at his casino.

Now that you’ve seen my parallels, see if you can find some of your own. Think about your outstanding or most disappointing experiences as a customer and find some inspiration in it. Either emulate what was done well or provide in your own role the things you wish the service providers who failed you in some way had done.

Customer service is at the heart of gaming and hospitality.  Without it, every hotel or casino out there is pretty much just like all the others. To differentiate yourself, start with these two notions: Player development team leaders, include in your hosts’ goals some direction for reaching out to “untouched” patrons of worth (collecting  player profile information, calling through an inactive player list, etc.) . Hosts, make it your personal goal to provide the kind of service you’d like to receive. Find the grumpy faces and make them smile. Delight your customers so they come back and see you next time.

What parallels can you find?