Wow! The IRS Has Great Service!
It’s rare that I use the federal government as an example of outstanding customer service. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever used Uncle Sam as an example of anything. But the time has come to let people know that the Internal Revenue Service blows me away with truly superior service – service better than that provided by some casinos.
I’m telling you this story because there is much to learn from it.
Normally, I keep myself at arm’s length from the IRS, but I received a statement in the mail and had to call and ask some questions. There was no way to avoid it, so I reluctantly grabbed the phone and dialed. The pleasant surprises started as soon as the IRS picked up on the other end.
A lady with a soothing, calm voice answered and identified herself as Mrs. Smith. She gave me her employee number and asked how she could help. I told her about the correspondence I had received, and she asked for my phone number. I gave it to her but wanted to know why she needed it. Let me ask you something right now. How many times have you called customer service at a company and were 10 minutes into trying to get your problem resolved when you lost the phone connection? It is beyond discouraging when that happens.
Mrs. Smith explained that, at times, calls can be 20 minutes or longer and she would hate to make me go through it again with a new person. Immediately, I gave her a gold star for thinking of the customer first. From the very first moment with the IRS, I did not feel like I was a number instead of a human being.
I was already comfortable with this nice lady when she proved herself yet again. She explained that, for security purposes and to look up my records, she needed to ask me a few rather sensitive questions about marital status, date of birth, etc. I gave her the information and then pulled a fast one. I asked, “So can I ask your date of birth?” I wanted to try a little humor on someone you would think is usually lacking in such. She immediately shot back, “Today is my birthday.”
This little exchange brings up two important points for your casino. First, please tell callers or people that you are talking with why you need the information you are asking for. If the lady at the IRS had not told me that the questions were for security purposes and to prevent other people from obtaining my private information, I might have been concerned about it. Second, your employees need to be prepared for the unexpected. When I asked Mrs. Smith for her date of birth, she handled me with great style. Your employees need to have answers for the tough questions guests often ask. They need to be ready.
As I continued talking with Mrs. Smith, I realized we were having a real conversation between two people. How often have you been on the phone with a customer service representative and you could tell they were trying to get you off the line as quickly as possible, that there was no way you could describe the interaction as a conversation? Much to Uncle Sam’s credit, Mrs. Smith was a person, not a machine. She didn’t pepper me with rapid-fire questions. She didn’t hide behind policies, procedures or rules. I thought I was in a tough situation, but she made it easy for me by being human.
Go figure! The IRS provides great service! To this day, I can’t believe the IRS – or at least this one person – understands that it is in the service business as much as it is in the tax-collection business. Every employee at every casino in the world is in the service business, too. You’re not just in the business of raking in people’s money. Guests know they will lose money, but they visit your casino anyway because they expect to be treated with courtesy and to have a bit of fun. Guess who’s responsible for providing the human touch and the entertainment? You are.
Mrs. Smith didn’t have to treat me with respect because her employer gets my money no matter what. But she did, and I now actually have positive feelings about the IRS. Casino employees don’t have such a choice. You can’t simply be money handlers and expect guests to return to your property. But I guarantee they will feel good about your casino if you learn from Mrs. Smith and provide nothing less than the best in service. They will become advocates for your property and they will return. Again and again.
To read other articles by Martin Baird, go to www.casinocustomerservice.com/post.htm