How Much are you in?
by Dennis Conrad
How Much are you In?
Strong customer service lessons can be learned from these widely varying table games experiences
Dennis Conrad is the president and chief strategist of Raving Consulting Company, a full service marketing company specializing in assisting gaming organizations. He can be reached at (775) 329-7864 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Raving’s Web site at www.ravingconsulting.com.
This is the story of the power of creating value in a casino experience. It will give you insight into the Harrah’s organization as well as two casinos decidedly not Harrah’s. And hopefully, it will convince you to confront every situation where you fail to treat your customers as a welcome guest, and instead process them as an amount of game buy-in or theoretical win.
The city where this occurred is not important, nor are the names of the offending casinos (although they could certainly stand to benefit from the feedback—but they tend to shoot the messenger and it is hard enough attracting consulting clients without taking “pot shots” at named offenders). Suffice it to say that this story takes place in a city with a good number of casinos, each with a different value proposition. But for me, as a gambler, what I most care about is the game of craps and how liberal the craps “odds” are (e.g. 10x odds is better than 5x odds, which is better than 3/4/5x odds, which is better than 2x odds).
This story involves the visiting of these three casinos one gambling day to play craps. Casino A is normally one of my favorites because of 10x odds on craps, as well as fairly friendly dealers (although I discount some of that impression because I am a good tipper when winning), preferred parking and that subjective thing called a “nice playing atmosphere.” But on this day, Casino A’s crap table was closed. “Not enough crap dealers scheduled,” I was told. “We’ll open at 10 a.m.” (It was 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning).
Well, I’ve noticed recently that Casino A’s crap table has been increasingly, if intermittently, closed, that several of the friendlier dealers are no longer there and that some crap game procedures have been changed, maybe for the better in “game security,” but for the worse in “customer experience.” Although Casino A has been my preferred casino for several years, upon seeing a closed crap game again, I could feel my loyalty slipping.
Well, okay, then, on to Casino B, which also has good craps value with 10x odds on dice, and the crap game is certainly always open. But on this Saturday morning visit, it quickly occurred to me why I don’t play craps at Casino B more often. I bought into the game for a few hundred bucks and settled into my betting routine. The welcome from the dealers was lukewarm, although one dealer who knew me from past visits, injected some genuine friendliness into the game when he arrived from break. The dice floor person arrived at the table (there was no dice box person present) and started a pointed discussion with the dealers about how much money I had, to that point, exchanged at the table for chips (how much “I was in”).
Having bought into hundreds of crap games in my 30+ year gambling career, I knew the routine—the dice floor person is responsible for knowing (either exactly or approximately) how much money a players brings to the table and how much they have won or lost when they leave the game, if the amount is a few hundred bucks or more. This time though at Casino B, there was slight disagreement about the amount of my buy-in among the dealers, and finally the exasperated dice floor person asked me pointedly and directly, “How much are you in?” No words of welcome, no “let me know if I can do anything for you while you are here,” just “how much are you in?”
As happens too seldom, I started winning while playing craps at Casino B on this Saturday morning. The nervous dice floor person fretted and muttered while pacing back and forth from his podium work station. He clearly looked displeased at the dealers. And when one particularly long (and lucky) roll for the players ended, he quickly and summarily changed the dice on the table, no doubt to attempt to “break” this run of luck for the players (it certainly was not the “normal” changing of the dice, which usually occurs with each new shift).
A different approach
I quickly left Casino B, remembering all too well why I seldom play craps there any more. They “sweat the game” and treat the dice players like potential felons.
On this particular Saturday, I made one more stop on my craps-playing foray in this unnamed town. It was at Harrah’s. The dealers were freshly coiffed with well pressed uniforms, and I knew this was a result of their “Personal Best” appearance standard. I was welcomed into the craps game and upon giving the dealer my Total Rewards players card, the dealer and the floor person thereafter called me by name.
The dice game moved at a nice pace, not too fast (running over the bettors) and not too slow (waiting constantly for a roll of the dice and an outcome to the made bets). The dice floor person made friendly conversation with me and asked me where I was from. All of the dealer interactions with the crap players were gracious (even with one somewhat snarly guest) and when dealers were relieved from their working post at the table, they bid players adieu and introduced the arriving dealer. One could not help but feel welcome at this Harrah’s gaming table.
And you know what? I lost at this Harrah’s casino. And even though I don’t usually play there because they do not have the 10x odds of Casino A and Casino B, I told myself that I would definitely be back.
Because Harrah’s “gets it.” And so should you, if you want this dice player’s action.