As a business, we are all trying to implement new ideas and technology to improve our efficiency and effectiveness in what we do. However, at some point we must stop and walk the shoes of our customer to see what effects these changes are having on their experience. Over the years we have seen many changes that have aided the efficiency of service, but sometimes at the detriment of the customer.
What becomes efficient for us is not necessarily what the consumer wants! One of the issues we are facing at present relates largely to the inception of card based gaming (cashless) and TITO (Ticket In Ticket Out). Whilst there is no doubt this has improved the experience for some, it has also decreased for others. For many years customers have been required to wait for staff to attend the machines to cancel credits (average wait time two minutes plus), collect coins from the coin tray after finding a bucket to put them in and move from their machine to order a drink.
With recent changes patrons can simply move from machine to machine without having to wait for a staff member and of course most venues are now offering tray service to machines. So how has this affected the player? You would be forgiven to say that this has improved the customers experience however there are a few issues venues are starting to face;
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. The player may have come to your venue over recent years where their $50 lasted for a lot longer, yes they may not have always been sitting at the machine playing however the perception was the length of time they were at the venue. Now with the removal of idle play it seems their money is not lasting as long!
Impact of service – Again there is no doubting 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 many 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?
Ultimately we are looking to increase the share of the wallet, however if the patron loses their money and leaves feeling dissatisfied they may not return. So how can we address this? Firstly, you need to walk the shoes of the customer to make sure their entertainment experience has not been lessened from the changes, but here are some other suggestions;
- The use of promotions is a great way of increasing the players’ experience. They don’t have to be large giveaways, however should aim towards involving the customer and not just simply running a virtual draw. Have a bit of fun, dare I say it but does this mean the old chocolate wheel should return!
- Implement a dedicated customer service program for staff to be able to communicate with patrons, but don’t forget about the emotional intelligence factor! Not all players wish to communicate with staff, therefore it is essential that the staff know how to engage and when not to.
- Ask the patron how you might be able to engage them further and what the changes mean for them, the use of focus groups or member surveys are a great way to get this started. Don’t forget while you are doing this try and implement some KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for staff so you can gage the success of the changes.
There are many other ways in which you can work towards improving the experience for customers and one thing is for sure, technology isn’t going to stand still and venues will need to implement change. Knowing when and how to do this becomes the hard part, however if you want to be the market leader you will only do this with the support of the patrons.