It’s Audit Time! Wait, This Is An Audit That’s Good for Your Casino

It’s time for your audit!

Talk about striking fear into people’s hearts.  Most of us would lose sleep for weeks if we knew there was going to be an audit of our taxes or accounting books.  But
for casinos looking for a way to pinpoint customer service problems and move forward with improvements, an audit is very much in order.

Let’s start with a definition I found on the Internet.

au•dit  n.  (1) An examination of records or financial accounts to check their accuracy (2) an adjustment or correction of accounts (3) an examined and verified account.  This definition points to the area of financial accounts but it starts with “records.”  Look at your guest service records and see what has worked and what has not.  In very simple terms, that is your audit.

When you do your audit – or have it done for you – don’t fall into a trap common at many companies and say “it looks good to me” and then move on.  You should tear your guest service records apart so you know every detail.  This will help you determine your investment in service and the return on that investment.  If you or the auditors who are doing your audit are not using a very critical eye, it’s a waste of time and money.

Look at your marketing records for clues to service problems.  If your marketing isn’t doing a good job of getting guests to come back, you may have a service issue.  I heard from a fellow who was directed by a casino employee to the wrong parking lot.  His car was towed.  When he talked with the casino, they refused to help or offer some comps to ease the pain of the $130 fee the man paid to retrieve his car.  The casino argued over a measly $130 and lost that man’s business forever.  That’s poor service that undermines marketing.

During your audit, challenge your way of thinking by proving everything to your auditor.  No sacred cows allowed.  We are in a very challenging economic time and if you aren’t digging in to find out what’s working with your customer service, you are missing opportunities!

What can you do today so you are prepared?  Let’s say a client asks me to do a service audit for them.  Here is what I will ask for and what I will look at.

First – What are all the guest service materials you used or created the past year?  These would include your customer service plan, your training materials and rewards and incentives.  I would want to see records that show who among your staff was targeted for customer service training.

Second – What was invested to improve service?  How much did you invest in training, rewards and incentives, etc.?

Third – What else do you include in customer service expenses that may not really be related to service?  What about comps, player parties, community relations?  Are those really service expenses or are they marketing expenses?.

Fourth – What is your return on investment by item?  This will take some time and many people will skip this step.  Don’t make that mistake.  It’s critical that you go through this exercise to know what’s going on in your service-related efforts.  Do it right.  If you aren’t willing to invest the time to do the research, you will get the best answers only if you are very lucky.

After I have those four groups of data, I will look it all over.  Then comes prove-it time.  I will ask question after question to find out what worked and why.  And why is a very important question.  Why do you do training the way you do it?  Why have you taken a particular approach to incentives?  For example, if you decide to give your employees a five percent across-the-board raise this year, why not tie raises to customer service to get your employees more interested in giving guests a great experience at your property?

When the stream of questions start, people squirm.  They’re being pushed to prove whether their investment in guest service did or didn’t work and that can be a very challenging situation.  No one likes to be proved wrong.

Once you have the results of your audit in hand, take a look at the results.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of your customer service efforts were complete flops.  Before you throw these ideas out, you should first look at why they didn’t work.  You can often learn more from things that didn’t work than you can from things that did.

First, what about the critical element of timing?  A guest service program may have failed if you kicked it off when something happened in your community, your region or even the country that got in the way.  Did your program come up against something that diverted people’s attention?

Next, take a look at the offer.  Were the rewards and incentives strong enough to get employees to change old habits and start focusing on service?

Did you target the right people for training?  Staff members who have direct contact with guests are an obvious target.  But what about other noncontact employees?  If a cook in the restaurant didn’t prepare a guest’s plate to their satisfaction, that guest had a poor service experience and the cook never had contact with them.

An audit may sound like an exercise that you don’t need to do.  You could be very wrong.  Great service happens from doing it.  Your audit could very well uncover some mistakes, but it could also reveal efforts that work – efforts that you want to keep doing.

To read other articles by Martin Baird, go to

Martin R. Baird
Robinson & Associates, Inc.

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