Edited by Margery Weinstein
Last year, Caesars Entertainment Corporation was facing stagnant customer service scores on weekly and quarterly surveys, the metric that determines success of customer loyalty and satisfaction. Each quarter and annually the organization strives for a 3 percent shift of non-A to A scores on customer service surveys year-over-year. Ingrained customer service behaviors helped keep the scores near the same level as the previous year, yet improvement to meet the goal of continuous improvement was becoming a challenge.
Competitive pressures and the company’s commitment to customer loyalty required a deeper dive into the current state. Caesars already had long instituted service behaviors that its employees knew were tied to customer satisfaction. But the organization needed a service culture, a “way of life” for all employees enabling a less scripted approach to service that allowed for certain attributes to be a part of who the company is and what it does every day. The company set out to design a set of “timeless service lessons” as the foundation of its service culture.
Own It! was born from a survey of Caesars’ leadership audience. Leaders were asked to describe: “What sets your role model performers apart from average guest service providers?” Overwhelmingly, the characteristics mentioned most often were about “ownership” and “responsibility.” From there, the central theme of taking ownership and the five lessons of Own IT! were born:
- Initiate: It’s always better to offer first than wait to be asked.
- Know: Guests expect everyone to be familiar with the business.
- Delight: “Every Moment of Truth” (every interaction with the customer) is the employee’s opportunity to delight the guest.
- Deliver: Speed and quality are basic expectations.
- Own: Role models treat guests, co-workers, and their work areas like they own the business.
Own It! was introduced companywide over an eight-month structured learning period. The first month was a contextual introduction to middle and senior management. The second month prepared supervisors and employees to participate in the structured learning activities ahead. Months three through seven created an extended learning period for each lesson. The teaching method was entirely on the job (with links to the lessons throughout other brand programs), utilizing one-on-one sessions between supervisors and all employees to disseminate the information. The decision to utilize the supervisor was strategic in two ways. First, the supervisor is the most important person in each employee’s working life. The one-on-one lessons were designed to sharpen that relationship and establish the most important tenants of great performance at a basic level. Second, the repetition created by each supervisor conducting each lesson multiple times ensured that the supervisor population represents the best-trained service employees in the company. This is important as they are positioned to exert the greatest influence on the company’s ability to deliver excellent customer service.
During the eighth and final month of the rollout, all employees participated in a required Web-based certification. OWN IT! continues with monthly communications in the departments and during one-on-one sessions, and is tied to relevant property events and scores to drive the impact of the lessons. New employees are taught one lesson per month during one-on-ones with their supervisors.
The impact on Caesars’ service scores has been significant. Organizationally, the company surpassed its goal of a 3 percent increase, with a 3.8 percent shift. “We hit an all-time service score high of 58.1 percent in customer satisfaction,” Caesars reports. “Some 89 percent of our properties have positive growth in service scores. And eight properties doubled their annual target with a 6 percent shift.”
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