Creating relationships and building trust
Having been in the casino business for as long as I have, I find myself comparing my experiences within the industry to others as I go out into “the real world.” Recently, I witnessed an example of exemplary guest service at a local auto repair business, which has application in our gaming business, especially for anyone who works within player development.
Both the auto industry and the casino industry share a perception of some underhandedness, whether you’re talking about “crooked” mechanics, car salesmen selling you a “lemon,” or “rigged” slot machines and cheap casino offers. Both industries have to overcome the reputation that they are trying to rip off their customers.
My sister was visiting from out-of-state, and noticed a significant drip under her vehicle. We’d just recently moved back to the rural area where I grew up, and didn’t know anyone to take the car to directly, so we just went to a little place around the corner. Now, I think everyone can appreciate how stressful situations like this can be. I mean, how many times have car problems been quick and affordable fixes? Not to mention, my sister needed to be back home within a couple of days in order to start a new job. Not only did they fit us in, but they were patient, took the time to listen, and promised to have an answer back to us by that afternoon. They took the time to listen, and we left feeling that they understood the urgency of our situation.
How many times do we have a stressed-out guest with, what they perceive as, an unfixable problem? About fifty times a day! Approaching each guest in a calm and caring manner will go a long way when dealing with a stressful situation. Developing relationships with guests is critical, in order for your hosts to approach each situation and come to a successful resolution. Every guest is different, and not every complaining guest needs a resolution. Sometimes they are just venting (and it may not even be about an experience in the casino), or maybe they are just naturally grumpy. Remember, it isn’t personal. Compassion and empathy are great ways to calm a stressed guest. Sometimes, just having someone listen and offer a helping hand is the very thing that is needed.
Once the mechanics looked everything over, they took pictures of each problem that they found, uploaded them to a computer (circling the exact issues), then emailed them to us and followed up with a phone call. Each photo was discussed, and options were explained. We didn’t have to be stuck waiting at the garage, and had we needed it, a car would have been made available for our use. Now remember, this is a small business in a small town in Montana!
I had two big takeaways from this:
1) They clearly explained the problems and how the repair would work. The majority of us don’t have much mechanical knowledge or experience. That is why dealing with an auto mechanic can be intimidating, and almost feel like they are speaking a foreign language.
Many of our casino guests feel the same way! We often forget this point. Taking the time to thoroughly explain the hows and whys of what is going on will assist in not only helping to resolve an unfortunate circumstance, but by being honest and transparent, trust and loyalty are built and strengthened. Don’t use weak or untrue excuses (“it’s a gaming regulation” is one that I hear quite often, and even though it’s usually not true); offer alternative solutions instead. Then follow through.
- Explain the repair being made on their favorite slot machine.
- Explain how rooms are assigned for big events.
- Explain why the room they reserved online isn’t available when they check in (was it taken out of inventory because of a problem?).
- Explain that there was a bad crab season and the crab needed to be taken off the buffet line temporarily, but it will be brought back as soon as possible.
2) They were considerate of OUR time! They understood the time constraints we faced, and the fact that we didn’t have to spend all day at the garage was huge.
How can hosts do a better job of being more considerate of our guests’ time? Below are a few suggestions:
- Ask what time your guest is expecting to arrive. Make sure that the room is ready upon their arrival. Coordinate with the hotel to ensure that everything is ready.
- If your guest is arriving on an early morning flight, reserve the room the night before so that it is ready when they get in (make sure to communicate with the hotel so that it isn’t canceled for a no-show), or offer some spa services upon arrival. A massage is a great way to relax from a long flight!
- If the guest just hit a major jackpot on a wide-area progressive machine, send them to dinner, or offer a spa service or a room while they wait for all the processes and testing to be completed.
An agreement was made concerning car repairs and costs, and because of the time constraints, they explained what repairs were needed now and what could wait. They also offered a payment plan. They went to work, promising to be finished by the end of business so that my sister could get on the road.
When the phone rang three hours earlier than expected, we worried that another issue had been found, but no! They said that they were way ahead of schedule and could complete all repairs with no additional cost from the original quote, and they even threw in some discounts.
When we arrived to pick up the car, they went through all the repairs and told us about their liberal warranty program. Included with all the paperwork was a packet of wildflower seeds as a thank you.
Exceeding expectations should be a mantra for every PD department. Find out what is important to your guest (it might not be what you think), and take the time to show them that they matter! Even something as small and inexpensive as a packet of wildflower seeds will leave an impression.
Be creative, and most importantly – TAKE THE TIME!