Casino Consultant Martin R. Baird Urges Use of S.M.A.R.T. Customer Service Standards and Explains How to Use Them
Casinos that want to make it through these challenging economic times need to be smart. More precisely, they need to have customer service standards that are S.M.A.R.T., Martin R. Baird, CEO of Robinson & Associates, Inc., and CasinoCustomerService.com., has announced.
“Stellar customer service is the linchpin of casino success now when times are tough and in the future when the economy finds its legs again,” Baird said. “The foundation of good service is the establishment of service standards. In other words, management must put in writing exactly what kind of service employees are expected to provide and what that service looks like as staff members interact with guests.
“But there’s one more thing that’s needed. Those standards must be S.M.A.R.T., as in Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. Let’s take a look at each of those components.”
Specific. Many casinos lack specificity when it comes to service, Baird said.
“Employees need to know the specific behaviors they are expected to demonstrate during service delivery,” Baird explained. “How can they provide great service if management doesn’t tell them exactly what that means? Telling employees they should be nice to guests isn’t specific enough. Employees should know they are expected to smile, say hello, greet repeat customers by name, etc. Telling employees they should be helpful also doesn’t cut it. They need to understand that they are expected to be observant to the point that they can anticipate guests’ needs before they ask for something.”
Measurable. Service delivery must be continually managed and that is nearly impossible if it can’t be measured, according to Baird.
“Standards and behaviors that can be measured are critical,” Baird said. “This helps employees stay on track and experience the exhilaration of achievement. Ultimately, it helps the casino stay on the path to success.”
But casinos often go off the rails when it comes to measurable service standards, Baird noted.
“What is the difference between an ‘excellent’ and a ‘good’ smile?” Baird asked. “Is there supposed to be a difference if the smile occurs in the restaurant or at a black jack table where a player has just lost $20,000? Is the quality of the smile a cosmetic thing based on better dentists?
“If the standard is simply stated that employees should smile at guests, that can be easily measured. And if it can be measured, it can be managed. And if it can be managed, it can be improved when the standard is not met. That’s actionable measurement.”
Attainable and Realistic. When setting service standards, casinos should not create situations in which employees are required to do the impossible, Baird said.
“I’m a positive and optimistic person,” Baird said. “But I do not smile 100 percent of the time. Nobody does or should be expected to. Should employees constantly look like mannequins with painted-on grins to meet the standards?
“The key here is to establish standards that are neither out of reach nor below standard performance. Employees will not commit to standards they know they can’t achieve. But realistic standards will encourage them to find ways to make them happen. When employees review service standards and believe they can implement them, wonderful things happen. Service sparkles and the customers’ gaming experience improves.”
Time-bound. Correct implementation of standards must be reinforced and the timing of that reinforcement is crucial, according to Baird.
“As managers go about their jobs, they should watch employee-customer interaction,” Baird explained. “When they see employees demonstrating the desired service behavior, they should offer praise as quickly as possible. The positive impact of praise is lost if it comes a day or a week later. The employee just doesn’t get as strong a feeling of accomplishment. This is Behavior Modification 101. People really do respond to a pat on the back or a verbal ‘attaboy.’ In fact, research shows that employees crave positive attention more than they do money.”
Martin R. Baird is a casino consultant and chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc. For 20 years, Robinson & Associates has been dedicated to helping casinos improve their guest service so they can compete and generate future growth and profitability. A Boise, Idaho-based casino consulting firm to the global gaming industry, Robinson & Associates is the world leader in casino guest experience measurement, management and improvement. Recently, it announced Simply Share, a real-time customer feedback platform that makes it fast and easy for casino customers to share their experience directly with casinos instead of posting comments online at social media sites.
For more information, visit the company’s Web site at http://casinocustomerservice.com/casino_gap_analysis.htm
or contact Lydia Baird, director of business development, at 208-991-2037 or lbaird(at)raresults(dot)com. Read about a variety of topics at Martin Baird’s blog at http://casinocustomerservice.com/casino_news.htm/, including casino-related articles, casino customer service training, mystery shopping, casino reputation measurement, casino training, service gap analysis and more. Robinson & Associates is a member of the Casino Management Association and an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.
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