Improve Casino Customer Service With Effective Collaboration

It’s amazing how far afield from gaming one can find lessons that would help casinos improve their guest service.

This time I found words of wisdom in a Newsweek article about Bill Bratton,  chairman of the Kroll private investigative and security firm.  Bratton also is the former commissioner of the Boston and New York police departments.  Now that’s about as far from gaming as you can get.

Bratton teamed up with Harvard public policy administrator Zachary Tumin to author a book titled “Collaborate Or Perish!  Reaching Across Boundaries in A Networked World.”  Something in the book caught the eye of Newsweek writer Lloyd Grove and what Grove wrote grabbed my attention.  In his Newsweek article, Grove says Bratton and Tumin wrote that successful outcomes rely on a number of practical rules of effective collaboration, including having a vision, right sizing the goal, sharing credit and fostering the necessary political support.

Casino Customer Service Can Be Improved With the Right Collaboration

Casino Customer Service Can Be Improved With the Right Collaboration

A light went off in my head.  Collaboration is a critical element of successfully improving casino customer service.  No single person can make it happen.  Everyone at the casino must work together, pull their own weight and strive as a team to reach the goal.  The word “perish” in the book title also struck home.  Perhaps that word is a tad harsh within the context of improving service, but it’s no stretch to say that successful casinos are the ones that create a service culture.  Those that don’t focus on service tend to struggle.  Will they perish in a competitive market?

Let’s take a look at the rules of effective collaboration that Grove included in his article.

Having A Vision.  I couldn’t have said it better.  Any effort to ramp up customer service at a casino will fail if it doesn’t first start with a vision at the very top of management.  Perhaps improvement is the general manager’s idea.  Perhaps someone else suggests it to the GM.  Doesn’t matter.  What’s important is that the GM buys into the vision and demonstrates his or her commitment to it.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – good service rolls downhill.  In other words, it starts at the top and spreads out from there.  The GM and the entire management team must have a vision of service improvement.  Then they must stick to that vision and demonstrate it as they go about their jobs.  If floor employees see the GM or the head of human resources picking up trash and greeting guests, that sends a powerful message.  And the message is even more powerful when management demonstrates good service day after day, week after week, month after month.  Employees quickly realize that stellar guest service is the backbone of the casino’s culture.  They understand that the guest service bus is permanently parked at their property.  And it all starts with a vision.

Right Sizing the Goal.  That’s just common sense.  To realize the vision of improved service, you must set goals for people to reach and they must be attainable goals, goals that are the right size, so to speak.  Nothing is more discouraging than to be expected to do something that seems impossible.

Goals are like mile markers in a 10-kilometer foot race.  As you pass the one-mile marker, you know you are on your way.  As you pass the three-mile marker, you are more confident you can reach the five-mile marker.  As you pass the five-mile marker, you know you will finish the race.  I have a friend who has participated in more 10Ks than he can member.  Early in his running career, he had a vision of setting a new personal best finish time with each race.  He finished his first race in 49 minutes and 20 seconds.  He had a vision of finishing his second race in 48 minutes and on so on.  In each race, he planned his pace for the first two miles, the next two miles and the next mile.  If he was running a certain pace at the two-mile marker and felt good, he could ramp it up a notch and reach a certain pace at the four-mile marker.  Then he would assess his situation at four miles and set his pace accordingly.  Each of those mile markers was a goal he felt he had a reasonable chance of achieving.  The end result was an overall pace that gave him his envisioned finish time.

Sharing Credit.  This is so important because it goes to the heart of collaboration and teamwork.  Casino employees must understand that they are in it together as they strive to polish their property’s guest service.  When an employee who is particularly good at providing outstanding service sees another employee do the right thing for a guest, he should stop what he’s doing and give that employee a pat on the back right then and there.  He should also give a shout-out for that employee at the next staff meeting.  This is giving credit where credit is due.  And people love being recognized.  The GM shouldn’t take all the credit for a successful program.  It couldn’t have succeeded without dedicated employees.  The GM should share the credit with everyone for a job well done.

Fostering Political Support.  This one is a little tougher to pinpoint within the context of this column.  From my point of view, if someone within management thinks it would be a good idea to roll out a guest service improvement program, he will need to play office politics and get the full support of other senior executives before approaching the GM.  Or he will need the GM’s full support before bringing other executives onboard.  Either way, management must get employees to buy in or nothing will happen.  Change is in the air when you place an emphasis on service and change makes people uncomfortable.  They will be expected to do their jobs in a different way and that will always be met with a degree if resistance.  If the casino wants to succeed, it must indulge in some politics.

Marty Baird

Lydia Baird