Small touches can make some very big impressions
By John Grochowski
A couple of years ago at Global Gaming Expo — the gaming industry’s big fall trade show in Las Vegas — a casino marketer was talking about a little customer service touch that had impressed her customers.
It seems a pregnant woman was hot, tired, and caught up in a long line while trying to check into the hotel. She posted on Facebook about her discomfort, and tagged the casino. An employee monitoring social media was alerted to the post, and someone was sent to the check-in line with a bottle of water for the mom-to-be, and to ask what else they could do to make her comfortable.
Frustration turned to elation. The expectant mother was impressed that someone was looking out for her. So were the other customers in line, and so were the woman’s Facebook friends when she posted the story.
It was a small customer service touch, but one that made big impression. We all want a shot to win when we go to the casino. We’re also all realistic enough to know that more often than not, we’re going to pay for a day’s entertainment. When the big payoffs aren’t coming, little customer service touches such as the following stories relayed by readers keep us coming back.
I was in a casino that was practically empty. That seems to happen a lot lately. Crowds seem smaller than they used to be.
Anyway, I practically had my choice of slot machines. There were probably a few hundred people scattered around the casino, but in any one area there were only a few, and I could play what I want. I started looking for a machine, and a slot attendant caught my eye. “You should start with that one over there, she said, “It still has money on it.”
I smiled and thanked her, and went to check it out. It was an older quarter three-reel game, and I usually don’t play those very much. But sure enough, there were 31 credits on the game. I guess the player must have left, because there was no club card in the machine and the attendant wouldn’t have told me to play if there was still someone there.
So I played the 31 credits. To be honest, I felt a little funny about it, and I put in $10 of my own, too, so I started with 71 credits. I wish I could tell you I won a big jackpot or something, but nothing like that happened. I hit the single bars a few times, and a few cherries, and played for a while, but in the end, I lost the 71 credits. Then I went and played the video slots I usually play.
Still, it was really a nice, unexpected bonus to start with “their” money. I’d never had that happen before, and I’ve never had it happen since. I always figured the casino just kept the money when someone left credits.
This was pretty cool. My husband and I drove a couple of hours to a casino I’d never played in before. He’d been there a few times, but I hadn’t. When we got there, I spotted a sign that said they were giving a free case of soda to new club members after some minimum amount of play. It was a kind I liked, so I asked my husband about how much I’d have to play. It would be a nice bonus, since I buy it anyway.
He said I probably wasn’t eligible, that he thought I already was a member of the club. There’s another casino we go to that’s owned by the same company, and he said they have the same club.
I didn’t think to bring my card from the other club. He did. He had his card in his wallet. So, I went to the booth to get a new card, and I asked them about the soda. They said yes, I was already a member, but that I’d never redeemed a new member bonus, so if I played, I could get the soda.
It only took me about a half an hour, and I was playing penny slots. We played a couple of hours more than that, had a nice time, and went to the steak house for a nice dinner. Then on the way out I picked up my soda. I teased my husband that he should have left his card at home. Maybe we could have gotten two cases. They were so nice about it.
I usually play quarter video poker, but this casino had some pretty good dollar games. I decided to splurge. I had a pretty good run, and drew four of a kind a few times, so I was ahead a couple of hundred dollars. Hooray! I kept playing, figuring that if I dropped to $100 to the good, I’d cash out and take my profit, but I’d give myself a chance at a big win.
I’d been playing for about an hour, and a guy in a suit with a casino name badge came up and introduced himself. He said he was an executive host, and he just wanted to get to know me, and if there was anything he could do for me to let him know. I said my wife and I were planning to break for lunch in about an hour, and he wrote me a comp for two on the spot!
He didn’t deduct points from my account or anything. It was just a buffet comp, but still. It made me feel special. I’d never been “handled;’ or anything like it in a casino before. I talked to friends who are bigger players, and they said the host must have felt like I was worth developing as a regular customer, sitting there playing dollars. They also said that doesn’t happen much anymore, that the casinos don’t go outside their club formulas for extra comps as much as they used to.
Whatever. It made me feel good. I won a little money, and we had a free lunch. Who can complain?
You know how it is when you leave your club card at home, and I do it all the time. You have to wait in line to get a new card, and I’m picky. My friend sometimes will play without a card if the line is long, but I won’t. If I’m going to play, I want my comps, even if it’s only a free buffet once in a while.
One day, I thought I had my card with me, but I looked in my wallet and dug through my purse, and there was no card. I went to the booth, and the line was MILES long. It was going to take 15 minutes just to get a card.
Then I saw a machine next to the booth, with a sign saying something about getting replacement cards there.
All I had to do was put my driver’s license in, and it scanned it, and out popped a new card. I didn’t have to wait out that line after all.
Sometimes I miss playing with coins and some of the talk with the change girls. I don’t think everything about the new machines and new way of playing is good. But that machine, I liked. If it saves me 15 minutes that I can be at the slots instead of standing in line, to me, that’s customer service.
I feel a little guilty about this, but the customer service touch I really like is those pop machines where you can get your own drinks. I feel bad that it means they hire fewer waitresses and some people are without jobs, but at the same time I like being able just to get a drink when I’m walking to the games, without a wait and without having to give a tip. I guess I’m a little cheap.
I once did a really dumb thing in a casino. I went to cash out, and pushed the button to print out a ticket. While it was printing, I changed glasses. I wear bifocals for normal wear, but looking at the screen for a long time gives me headaches. So, I change to a pair of reading glasses while I play, then change back when it’s time to walk around.
I put my reading glasses into their case in my purse and put on my regular glasses, and started to walk away. A slot attendant saw what was happening, and shouted after me, “Wait, honey! You’ve forgotten something,” and she stood by my machine.
I’d forgotten something all right. A ticket with $283 on it. “It’s a good thing I caught you,” she said. “If we don’t notice, there’s always somebody ready to pick off those tickets.”
I thanked her, and thanked her again, and slipped her a $10 tip.
It was worth it.