By Danny Nixon-Smith | Principal Consultant
Although the gaming industry has changed in the last two decades and has identified profitable new revenue streams including food and beverage, functions, entertainment, and the like, gaming still remains the biggest revenue generator in most gaming venues.
Despite implementing controls in our business that has increased profitability over recent years, gaming continues to be the most profitable part of our business.
Yet over the last few decades, gaming venues, for a variety of reasons (stagnation, increasing costs, competition, investor demands, etc.), have been squeezing value from the core gaming customers’ gambling experience.
New technologies have been implemented for efficiencies of our staff (and patrons), however these have also lessened the entertainment experience for most. TITO (Ticket In Ticket Out) and card based (Cashless) technologies has meant customers have lost the same sense of a ‘win’ they used to receive, now receiving a ticket instead of instant money or collecting on the card – and who doesn’t love the sound of money when you hit the collect button! We have also ensured staff are very active in cancelling the wins on machines to reduce wait times, which again reduces that all exciting winning feeling for customers.
An immediate impact on the customer has been the “removal of idle play”– I am sure you have heard the patron saying “your machines don’t pay out anymore” and quite often with a snigger we accept this as the player whining. But when you start thinking about this, maybe the player has a reasonable concern. With the removal of “idle play” from players not having to wait for payouts or get off their machine for drinks, the entertainment experience has been reduced. Now with the removal of idle play, it seems their money is not lasting as long!
The ever changing pace of technology has meant the need for venues to implement staff training on the psychology of service. It would be fair to say that the majority of patrons are simply looking for a reason to justify their loss even if it is simply a great entertainment experience. So at some point you must put yourself in your customers’ shoes and understand what effects these changes are having on their experience.
So we ask you, why mess with your most profitable part of your business? Your customers want to play, but they want to feel valued!
We are ultimately looking for ways to increase the share of our customers’ wallet. However, if the patron loses their money and leaves your venue not feeling satisfied, they may not return. The next step is where the real challenge lays. Restoring consumer value in a way that matters to players and that will have them coming back to your venue. So how do we address this?
- Start investing in quality training for your staff. Staff should be able to not only handle positive customer feedback but also complaints with ease. Let’s be honest, every venue no matter where you rate are going to have to complaints about machines not paying out. That much is clear. It’s how staff deal with these complaints that gets your customer motivated again. When a player complains about losing, staff should communicate stories about the winner they just served, the jackpot winner they saw recently and also explain the jackpot for the machine they are playing. Staff should have a response prepared. They need to be able to communicate with customers and ensure that each player is satisfied with their in-venue gaming experience.
- Take the data you already have and create a loyalty program that will entice new and existing members with promotions and player insight, keeping them engaged with your brand. Ensure that the promotions that you are running in relation to your loyalty program make sense and are something the customer will want or can relate to, not just what you want. The old days of broad based marketing have changed, so too has the old saying ‘treat them how you would like to be treated’, instead understanding players on a personal level and what they want.
- Impact of customer service – again there is no doubting that there are positives from the implementation of technology, however what has this meant for the new staff member? Unlike a staff member who may have been working at the venue for years, the new staff member hasn’t been able to forge a relationship with the many punters. And now that the player has become largely self-sufficient, it has become harder to engage or start a conversation. The ice breaker used to be the payment of cash at the machine, however this has been taken away. So how does and when does the staff member intervene for conversation?
- Ask your patrons – yes communicate with them! It’s as simple as sitting down with your customers and talking to them about how you might be able to engage them better, how you can value add, and what keeps them coming back time and time again. The use of focus groups and customer surveys are also a great way to get this started and a way to get honest feedback.
There are many ways to work toward improving the experience and increasing value for customers, but one thing is certain, technology isn’t going to stand still and change will need to be implemented. The key is knowing when and how to implement changes within your venue and specifically your gaming offering.
DWS have implemented training programs to assist gaming venues. If you are looking for help with your team and how to tackle value add, contact Danny Nixon-Smith on (07) 3878 9355 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have and discuss the training options for your venue.