Leverage Critical Customer Data With Turnkey System, Best Practices

I’ve been writing recently there is no connection between a casino’s guest satisfaction and its future growth.  I’ve been recommending that casinos forget about guest satisfaction surveys and that they encourage employees to concentrate on creating more advocates — guests who are so amazingly happy with their gaming experience they would be willing to risk their reputation and act as advocates for a property by spreading positive word-of-mouth advertising of their own free will.

This is important because guest advocates are highly likely to return to play again (repeat business) and generate new business through the positive word they spread about the casino.  All casino employees from executives to blackjack dealers to restaurant chefs should work hard to make this happen.

Why should casino employees care if their customers are advocates?  I assure you, advocates will tip and that means more money in employees’ pockets.  Think job retention, too.  General Motors and Ford Motor Company announced in January that they will lay off tens of thousands of employees.  Those struggling auto manufacturers have no advocates for their vehicles!

I recently had the shock of my life when I learned that a major U.S.-based global corporation has created an index that shows the degree to which it has customer advocates but that it is doing nothing with the data.  It’s wonderful that the company has this index because it can be a tool for planning and managing the corporation’s future growth.  The higher the index, the more advocates the company has and the more successful it will be.  What’s appalling is that management is sitting on the data.

Lest you think this is no big deal, let’s put this corporation into perspective.  I won’t identify the company but I will note that one major business magazine has named this corporation the No. 1 most globally admired company and America’s second most admired company.  Another respected business magazine has named it the fourth most valuable brand worldwide.  This company is a household name that offers everything from consumer products to financial services.

The fact that such a successful company is aware of the importance of advocates is significant.  It is equally significant that one of its division managers told me in a telephone conversation that the company doesn’t have a system in place to leverage the advocate data – i.e., to use the information to create more growth.  That’s how the index can become a management tool.

Having brought guest advocacy to your attention, it’s now time to take things to the next level.  The key word here is “system.”   It’s not enough that a casino have advocates and a way to measure them.  It must put its measurement data into action with a turnkey system.

It all starts with management’s willingness to do this in the first place.  That is followed by measurement of the one thing that matters most — advocates.  But it’s not likely the casino will know how to use that advocate data to generate future growth.  Therefore, it must have a system in place to gather the data, put the data into action, make people accountable for leveraging it and keep the process rolling forward smoothly.

Successful companies implement best practices internally to make great things happen and casinos will need to do the same within this system: 

  • Management must act as leaders to create a culture that clearly demonstrates how important guest advocates are.
  • A formal program must be in place and it must be monitored.
  • Goals must be set and met.
  • Everyone must work together as a team.
  • Employees are critical to providing the kind of customer service that turns guests into advocates. Incentive, reward and recognition programs will be needed to spur them on.
  • Progress will occur only with action planning.
  • I guarantee internal improvements will be required to create more advocates. Those improvements must be identified and implemented.
  • Finally, employees will want to know how things are progressing, so give them closure by keeping them informed. As part of the system, guests should be asked how the casino can be a better place to play. Give guests closure, too, by letting them know how their input was used.

What I learned from that division manager shows that even the most successful enterprise can stumble.  Still, I simply can’t believe that such a highly regarded corporation would have a crucial piece of data in hand and let it gather dust on the shelf.  That’s a mistake – a mistake that serves as an example for casinos and their employees.

Martin R. Baird
Robinson & Associates, Inc.