How The Managers At Caesars Palace Teach Employees To Have A Great Attitude
Caesars Palace hotel and casino, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Go to any relevant review site, type in Caesars Palace, and you'll bring up a stream of reviews like these:
"The staff in all parts of the casino were attentive and over the top helpful. I will be returning to Caesars again and again!"
"From the moment you arrive and the valet and bellman greet you the excellent service welcomes you and you know you are on vacation and will have a wonderful experience."
You'll find bad reviews, too, but the good far exceed the bad. Caesars Palace continues to reach new customer satisfaction benchmarks for a reason: they are dedicated to teaching attitude.
My last article introduced word pictures as a way to teach attitude. Now, here's how Caesars Palace uses word pictures to train employees, create cultural change, and to deliver customer service far better than their competitors.
The first step was identifying the attitudes they wanted to teach. High performers, across the Caesars properties, take ownership for delighting customers (and anticipating their preferences and needs), knowing the answers to the most important guest questions (e.g. where everything is and what's going on), initiating interactions, delivering service with quality, accuracy and speed, and much more. We distilled that down to the following five attitudes:
Then, for each of the five characteristics, a word picture was created. I can't share all of them with you-- what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas--but I can show you some examples.
Working from two performance categories, "never acceptable" and "role model," here are a few word picture examples from the "know" and "own" categories:
Role Models: When you don't know, thank your guest for their patience and maintain ownership until someone can help.
Never Acceptable: Guess or give out information of doubtful accuracy. Send the customer away without ensuring a suitable answer.
Role Models: Report new or difficult questions to your supervisor so they can investigate and get back to you.
Never Acceptable: Fail to report new or difficult questions.
Role Models: Make it easy for your guests to get the answer by knowing the hours, prices, times and locations of key property features and events.
Never Acceptable: Start your shift unprepared to answer the most common and important guest questions.
Role Models: Are optimistic and speak positively about guests, co-workers, management and the company. Offer helpful suggestions.
Never Acceptable: Complain, or speak negatively without offering legitimate suggestions for improvement.
Now, having word pictures is great, but we do have to actually use them. It was determined at Caesars that these lessons in high performance would be taught via monthly learning activities. Basically, each month, supervisors were trained in a short buzz session--five minutes dedicated to building an awareness of the word pictures that reflected that month's chosen topic (for example, know or own).
Supervisors were then sent out into the field with the directions to find appropriate real-life learning opportunities that addressed that month's topic and to deliver an individual 12-minute coaching session to each employee using those word pictures. Terry Byrnes, VP of Customer Satisfaction, didn't sit his employees in a class and pound initiate, know, delight, deliver and own into their heads for eight hours. Nope, Caesars took their word pictures out of the classroom and onto the floor, and used them as real live coaching tools.
This only works because of word pictures' behavioral specificity and positive/negative example learning design. Abstract teaching or only using positive examples, like most traditional workplace training programs, just doesn't work for this type of on-the-floor training.
Another wrinkle made possible by the design of word pictures was an employee self-evaluation. You see, this isn't just about managers teaching employees; it's about employees actually learning. So every month, coupled with the one-on-one coaching sessions, employees use word pictures to assess their own performance. This develops employees' critical self-awareness and, because of the Behavioral Specificity and learning design of word pictures, they immediately see where they should focus their personal improvement efforts.
Now, this is Caesars. So there are some sophisticated incentives tied to this. There's a tracking system for accountability, there are chips awarded to reinforce behaviors, and more. But fundamentally, Terry will tell you this whole program is about changing what, where and how employees learn about delivering excellent service.
Terry's not just a remarkably innovative service expert; he's also a training innovator. This cultural change does not require trainers, space, or formal scheduling. Simply put, there are no additional labor costs. And in a truly radical paradigm shift, employee development will eventually be owned by operations, not HR.
For 22 minutes per employee per month, for six months, Caesars will get...
• Team members known as the most willing to serve found anywhere.
• In response to customer questions, the first employee asked provides a compelling answer.
• The skill and attitude of employees becomes the most compelling reason to visit.
• Maximized fulfillment, quality and efficiency through individual performance.
• Guests are served extremely well because team members love their work.
Caesars has sophisticated and proprietary models that show exactly how much more customers spend when they're delighted. According to Caesars' CEO, in their regional markets, a spending increase of only $5 per guest (that's about as much as a fancy coffee) would add nearly $50 million to their bottom line. (Those regional markets do not include Las Vegas or Atlantic City, so this is just a fraction of the total possible opportunity).
Again, I'm not allowed to divulge the total payoff, but I can say that a few word pictures, along with an innovative training approach will earn Caesars way more cash than the typical marketing campaign or cost-cutting effort. And that's no gamble. (Ba-dum-dum).
Caesars Palace proves every day that it's possible to teach attitude, and you can too.
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