Do You Need A Casino Customer Service Training CAT Scan?

A few years ago, I spent more time than I would have liked in hospitals, rubbing elbows with doctors.  I wasn’t the one being treated, but the more I’m around physicians, the more I believe they have a test for everything.  A common one today is a CAT scan, or Computerized Axial Tomography.  The scan takes an image of a slice of the patient.  This could be any part of the person from head to toe.  Doctors then look at a series of slices to see if they can find what’s wrong.

It dawned on me one day that I think casino human resources departments and training departments need CAT scan capabilities.  They need the ability to look inside a person and see if they have what it takes to work at a property.  You may not want to know about most of your employees’ internal organs, but I think two are critical.  They are the heart and brain.

I’m not suggesting you need doctors or radiologists on staff to read scans in the HR department.  It should be far less complex than that.

The CAT scan I’m talking about stands for “Caring And Thinking.”  If casinos want to excel in these highly competitive times, then ALL of the people who work at the property must demonstrate or be trained to have these two traits.  I laugh when I think about the idea of scanning people to see if they “care” and have the ability to “think” because, to me, these attributes should come as naturally as breathing or having a pulse.

But I see a huge challenge as I visit casinos across the country.  I’m exposed to people who do not care.  I can see it in the way they stand at a dead table.  I can hear a lack of caring when I ask for directions to the restroom and get a shrug of the shoulders and a grunt with a finger pointing to the right.

I’m not saying that these people are incapable of caring.  They may know how but either don’t think it’s necessary or haven’t reached the point where they care about their job or the guest.  For some of these people, education is needed so they see how caring not only helps the casino and its guests but them as well.  Unfortunately, this is often overlooked in training.  Unless they’re told they should care, some casino employees focus on WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?  They care more about themselves than almost anyone else.

Now we come to that very important skill that is so often underused and that is good old-fashioned thinking.  I’m saddened by the number of times I deal with casino employees who simply don’t think.  They don’t burn one calorie trying to figure out a guest’s problem so they can find a solution.

There’s a saying that’s very true:  “Common sense isn’t as common as it use to be.”  I believe that thinking could soon be on the same endangered species list.  It’s a little discouraging to say this, but I’m actually surprised now when someone looks for a solution to one of my problems before I ask for help.

I was flying to a gaming conference in Tacoma one summer and when we got to the airport, the airline employee at the ticket counter looked at me, my wife and our two children and immediately began typing on his computer.  I didn’t know it at the time, but our connecting city was having big troubles and he was thinking enough to say to himself, “A couple with two kids traveling across the country don’t need to get stuck at an airport.”  He asked me a few questions and when it was all done, he had re-routed us away from the challenged airport and scheduled us on more direct flights.  Now that’s thinking!  Perhaps caring also had something to do with it.

He could have been one of the hordes of brain-dead robots that would no more consider thinking then sticking a fork in their eye.  It’s easier to do nothing – i.e., not think – than it is to solve problems.

I realize there’s no such thing as a Caring And Thinking scanner that you can buy for your casino.  And I know you can’t just wave a wand over your employees and know if they have the skills to make the grade and that they will use them on the casino floor.  So what are you to do?  The answer to this problem may sound simple but it’s not as easy as many people would hope.  You need two things – training and a reward-and-recognition program.

In order for employees to perform desired behaviors, they first must know what they’re expected to do.  If they’re not given training, they will either guess at what to do or  follow the crowd.  That will lead to disaster if the crowd doesn’t do things the way you want them to.

After training, you must give your employees a reason to care and think.  It would be nice if casinos could hire only people who already know the real value of caring and thinking.  They probably do hire someone like that from time to time.  But most people need incentives.   It could be something as simple as pins they can wear with pride.  Or the incentives could be cash or cars.  The most important thing is not the size of the reward, but that it’s available and that it’s consistent.

CAT scans are well known and quite useful in the medical field.  But in my world, no matter how you slice it, caring and thinking are the keys to great casino experiences.

To read other articles by Martin Baird, go to

Martin R. Baird
Robinson & Associates, Inc.

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