The Green Bay Press-Gazzete has a interesting article about the use of stimulus money to improve customer service in a Wisconsin Casino. (“Casino puts grant to work nurturing customer service“).
We usually tend to talk about customer response to poor (or good service), but one should not disregard the role front-line service providers have in that interaction. The article describes a two-day customer service-training program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College this summer for Oneida Casino employees.
“When a dozen employees of the Oneida Bingo & Casino were asked to act out a scenario of diffusing a tense situation with an angry customer at a recent training session, it was clear this was something most of them had dealt with before.”
The employees have gone through several exercises (both role-plays and group drawings) with the goal of teaching them a more effective way of dealing with unhappy customers, fairly and calmly. This is somewhat related to an interesting research done by Anat Rafaeli from the Technion about strategies supermarket cashiers in Israel to diffuse customer anger and manage the entire customer experience (“When cashiers meet customers: An analysis of the role of the supermarket cashier“). The research was done by primarily through unstructured observation, and categorizing the responses. Here are a few gems:
Reacting: the customer was angry that cashier had to “waste” time looking for a code, started yelling. Cashier tried to calm him down by saying, “Why do you have to yell? Why do you have to talk like this”
Engaging: Cashier to customer: “Now if you smile, everything will be OK.” Cashiers ask customer to put produce on the scale”
Another interesting fact is that the program was funded by a grant from the stimulus plan. Apparently, if you read the responses to the article – people were quite annoyed by this. If one thing that comes out of the stimulus plan is better customer service – we have done something. (Whether we need good customer service in casinos is entirely a different question).