John Vandenkieboom: "...we put great emphasis on training and building the people skills..."

Eric Pearson, director of slot operations, Luxor Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nev.:

We’ve come a long way from the days when the main job of slot floor personnel was to make sure players had enough coins or tokens to play the machines. Today’s floor personnel function as Slot Ambassadors whose job is to provide customer service, help players find what they want, and to promote other products or services within the casino.

To assure that our floor personnel perform these tasks with perfection, we put them in a retail training course where they learn the best ways to interact with customers. One of our Slot Ambassadors’ tasks is to promote our Players Club card program. The course trains them in the proper ways to break the ice with customers, such as first asking them where they are from, comment about something nice from that part of the country, all in a casual and personable lead-up to getting customers to sign up for the Players Club card. In doing so, these people solicit additional information from customers – including their e-mail addresses – that can be used to promote future visits to the casino.

These same techniques from the course also can be used by floor personnel to function as walking information stations. Many customers are visiting the casino for the first time, so personnel help them find what they want or need on premises. Eating is always a big need, so personnel suggest restaurants and cafes. They also will promote shows and other entertainment, even walking customers to the box office if necessary.

We spur floor personnel to do their best with a recognition program that offers small rewards, but also provides praise among their fellow employees and customers through public postings of their name and photo as an Employee of the Week or Month.

John Vandenkieboom, director of slot operations, Caesars Windsor Hotel & Casino, Windsor, Ontario, Canada:

Providing customer service that exceeds expectations is the goal at Caesars Windsor. As a result, we put great emphasis on training and building the people skills of our slot floor personnel. New employees undergo initial training in not only performing their tasks but to make customers feel appreciated in a personal manner as they go about helping customers find their favorite machines, pay jackpots, maintain machines and inform guests of upcoming events and other casino promotions. Current events information is imparted at pre-shift meeting in an update and fun manner to loosen up staffers to do their best on the slot floor that day.

We keep tabs on employee performance and reward those who do exceptional work with recognition before their peers (including in the casino’s newspaper, The Chronicle) and other rewards, including being taken out to lunch.

But slot floor customer service is a two-way street. We encourage employees to look around to see what can be improved to provide even better customer service, and report their observations and ideas to management. For instance, one recent employee idea we implemented enabled us to respond faster to customer requests by having off-floor personnel contact on-floor personnel directly through a new service request system instead of using telephones that have to go through a switchboard. Usable ideas also get staffers peer recognition and other rewards.

Frank Kennedy, vice president of slot operations, Four Winds Casino Resort, New Buffalo, Mich.:

Our slot floor personnel still perform traditional on-floor tasks like paying jackpots and fixing machines. But about 70 percent of the time, they function as marketing ambassadors, which includes answering guest questions, noting special events such as a slots tournament, and promoting our players card.

To enable our staffers to excel in their tasks, we have created the ACES Program, which stands for Appreciate guests, Consistent service, Exceed expectations, and Strive to build loyalty. This training begins with an orientation when a new staffer is hired and continues in regular pre-shift meetings where ACES standards are stressed, and personnel even engage in role playing to see how they would handle specific situations they might run into on the floor. Staffers also are briefed at these meetings on ongoing events and special programs, information on which they will impart to guests.

Supervisors score employees on how well they are meeting ACES standards in providing the exceptional customer service our customers deserve and expect. Those achieving a 100 percent rating get to attend the ACES luncheon for that month and can receive a monetary reward. Those who achieve 100 percent ratings in successive months also are invited to attend the ACES ball and will get their photos posted on recognition posters (with the number of stars around the photo indicating how often they were top ACES-rated).