Dealing with Difficult Customers: Part 1
Heather: On today's episode I am excited to share that we have a guest with us. William, how are you?
William: Hello Heather. How are you?
Heather: Doing good. Thank you so much for joining us. Please tell people a little bit about you.
William: Sure. Well thank you so much for the invitation. It is an honor to be here. My name is William. I have been in the casino industry for over 13 years. I started my career in Colombia, then I worked on cruise ships. Now I am located in Canada.
Heather: That is fantastic. You said you have been doing it for 16 years?
William: I have been doing it for 13 years.
Heather: That is still a long time. What games do you know?
William: I know most of the carnival games. UTH, 4 Card Poker, 3 Card Poker, Caribbean Stud. All of those minor games. Major games I know are baccarat, craps, Texas Holdem, and Roulette.
Heather: So you know a lot of them?
William: There is only one that I don’t know.
Heather: Which one?
William: The tiles. I know Pai Gow Poker but I don’t know the tiles.
Heather: Oh ok. I don’t see that in many casinos. It’s not a game that people are typically people are like, “Hey we really need tiles.”
William: I know. I actually saw it here in Canada. And there are some casinos that still have it.
Heather: Oh cool. Well for today's episode we are going to be talking about how to deal with difficult customers. I know that a lot of people want to know how best to deal with these people. It’s your job and it’s customer service and it’s really hard. But the thing is too – This is going to be more from the standpoint of a floor supervisor, is that correct?
William: Yes. So I do training for supervisors – table games supervisors. When they are recently promoted, and the tradition between dealer and table game supervisor. I kind of teach how to approach situations.
Heather: Okay cool. I am really looking forward to hearing what you have to say and the tips that you give people. I also know that being a floor supervisor can be extremely difficult. Not only do you have to handle difficult customers, but you are in charge of everything. You are literally supposed to be doing 15 jobs at once, and you are supposed to be doing them well.
Heather: It’s really incredible first to have you on here to talk about this and also to do it from that point of view. I really do appreciate that.
William: Well thank you. My pleasure.
Heather: Cool. Let’s get started. We are going to be doing three points in particular. We have a presentation here that you have brought with you. I think we are ready when you are.
William: Alright, well there is a key for when dealing with difficult customers. It is important to communicate to your manager in a situation that arises. Even if it is small, we need to address it right away, before it becomes a big big problem.
William: Right! So we are going to talk about first, know your customers. The second point will be the cultural differences or different beliefs. That influence is also in your decisions on how you run the floor and everything.
Heather: Well I don’t know there is so much information in that section we could have our own video for that.
William: Oh for sure.
Heather: But definitely know your customers, that is a big one.
William: That’s a big one.
Heather: So William, please tell me what are some of the things that floor supervisors can do with dealing with difficult customers?
William: Well first, that is something that the supervisor needs to know. One it’s that every single player is different. And every single situation should be handled differently. As a floor supervisor there are three difficult situations. I will identify three different equations that you will face. One is the conflict between team members, dispute between guests, and a conflict between guest and a casino.
It is important that all the problems with players get addressed correctly. For example, there are problems with the high rollers, right? When a situation with them escalates, most of the time, about 98% of the time, the guest is requested to talk to a manager. The guest will not talk to a supervisor. Why? Because, you know, there are different approaches.
The second one that I would say, if there is anything suspicious, you as a supervisor are incharge of the table game security and game protection. So you should make the necessary calls. Like I said before, it is very important and essential that the floor manager or the pit boss or the casino shift manager gets informed immediately. If the supervisor gets communication with surveillance for example, that should be addressed and try to be specific. I have so many problems when this kind of situation happens in the current casino that I work at, they don’t give enough information. You should be able to inform the date, the time, and what happened. That is very important.
Heather: Sometimes they give too much information. They are like saying all these details that you don’t need to know. They are going into all the history and specifics and you're like, “I really don’t need to know this.”
William: Exactly. Like 15 minutes on the phone saying, I don’t know. These kinds of details I don’t even need.
Heather: Yeah. It could have been shortened down to five minutes dude.
William: Exactly. And the other one it’s a conflict between the casino and the guest. So this one could be a player being rude to the staff members, to the dealer. That is super common. The player gets angry because he is losing too much. And for some reason players believe the dealer has a lot to do with that. Also, a player that made the wrong decision playing at the blackjack table and players get rude to them, to the player that made the wrong decisions and also with the staff members. There are certain keys that the supervisor should be aware of when dealing with this kind of situation. In terms of body language, the facial expressions are important. Supervisors please don’t roll your eyes. Don’t raise your eyebrows. You need to be very professional, when you are addressing difficult situations. Respect the personal space. Never, never point out. Don’t point at the players face or —
Heather: Yeah. Pointing is so very rude.
William: You can’t imagine how many times I have seen that.
Heather: That is just so incredibly rude.
William: I know. But posture and body language is really important. Don’t cross your arms. That is a big one. Just pay close attention to what the guest is saying. Like you said, communication is key. Inform your casino shift manager or your floor manager.
William: I am also going to talk about the voice and speaking. It is very important when you are dealing with this equations to show empathy. Be sincere. Also you need to show interest on enthusiasm.
Heather: When you show empathy and interest it’s basically words like, “I hear you say this, or I see that you feel this way, or I understand how you came to that.” Its that type of wording that you want to hold space for them. Don’t discount what they are feeling or what they are going through or anything like that. Hold space and listen. A lot of times people just want to bitch, honestly. Sometimes you just gotta listen and be like okay.
William: I am going to say something that I always say on my training, when I am training supervisors. You need to be empathetic and you know that the player is losing money, or is frustrated. The customer had a really bad day and now the player is here for the experience and entertainment for the end of the day. They are trying to forget those problems during the day. Now you need to understand that and also leave your judgment outside. Sometimes supervisors might a mistake. Because it's a player, they want something, they don’t pay attention and they don’t realize that we are here and we work at the casino for them as well. It is customer service and it is basic.
Heather: It’s one of those things where a player is expected to have an outward appearance at their workplace, at certain events, and at family gatherings. But the casino is one of those places where they can take off that mask and kind of be rude and an ass and not have to worry about offending coworkers or family or anything else. And a lot of people use that as an opportunity to get some steam out.
William: Yes. Exactly! So it’s just listen, listen and understand what they are trying to say. If you cannot handle always – if you are going to handle the situation always call your manager. We are there for you. We are going to support you. At the same time we are there to make sure there is a positive outcome. Or at least a fair one. That is important.
William: So also the supervisor they need to watch or adjust their vocabulary. It is very important that part. One word you said, it can trigger something from that player.
Heather: Yeah don’t use the words that I use and say they bitch at you. I am pretty sure they are going to have a problem with that.
William: Yeah. But no, it is important. Those things what you don’t do when speaking is like – let their frustrations show. For example, you are getting a lot of complaints from a customer and it’s really important that you are not there to be a punching bag, but you need to understand their frustration. When you speak too quickly or in a condescending tone of voice. That is what you – they are the don'ts.
Heather: Yah. And don’t take things personally.
William: Oh yea. That is a big one. Don’t take things personally because of your job – as soon as you leave the casino, the problem is forgotten and nothing else would happen.
Heather: Well hopefully. Fingers crossed. Some of us –
William: No, I am sure there are crazy stories about after your shift.
Heather: Which if there are put in the comments, we want to hear about them.
William: Yes please. Also I made a list of saying phrases or trigger phrases when talking to a customer when dealing this equation. So the common phrases would be, can please, thank you, I can find out, I totally understand, let me see what I can do, here is what we can do, I can see why.
Heather: Yes mam. No Sir. I like, “I can see why.” Because then it’s the whole empathy thing. I can see why you are feeling that way.
William: Yes. Or saying, “I understand your frustration. This is what we are going to do.” OR, “I can see why.” Yes, that one is a very useful one.
The trigger phrases are:
No I cannot do that
Our policy…. Sometimes you need to find a way to… when saying our policies and procedures state that… You need to be very tactful.
Not my job. A definitely no.
I don’t know.
Why don’t you…, or
You shouldn’t have done this …
In conclusion, it is very important that all supervisors communicate in a effective manner, and also remain calm. Be empathetic. Show interest. Do you have any questions for me Heather?
Heather: Is it basically like you are playing a therapist with the customer in a way?
William: That is our job.
William: They should say that in the job description.
Heather: Yeah. It would be helpful to have a degree or two for a physiology behind ya…
Heather: Yeah – to do this.
William: Yeah I know. Just remain professional. That is basically everything. But you know what Heather, it is really important that as a floor supervisor you know your customers. When you know your customers – there are some customers that come on a daily basis. They come very often. You should observe. Sometimes I see the supervisors spending a lot of time at the terminals. It doesn’t matter the system that any casino has, but they are choosing their tablets. They spend so much time, when they get their player's card, which is very important, they just spend a lot of time there. That shouldn't happen. I can not stress myself enough telling my supervisors that. You need to observe your customers. You need to get to know them. There is a lot of things that can make your job easier if you remember a lot of patterns. For example, if you remember their name. What do they like? What they don’t like. Is the player a regular player? It comes two, three or once a month. Also, that is for our next video the cultural different beliefs. A lot of people come with a lot of superstitions.
Heather: Going back to what you were saying before. I used to know an old school floor supervisor where he was around in the mob days. That is how long he has been in the business. He would carry around a black book just like the dating black book you would have for women or whatever. It was a book of all his customers, his players. He would have their name, he would have their players number, he would have written down that they like these kinds of cigarettes. So when he’s going to comp them, he knows exactly what cigarettes to comp him. It had the likes and dislikes, if there were problems. Hey watch out for this dude, that type of a thing. Everything was in the black book. He was religious in upkeeping that thing. He said it helped so much.
William: It does. The reason why it is important to know this is because if a player has a pattern or has a past. For example, being rude to the staff members, we will know what to expect and we will take the necessary measures for that. Just in case, if the player is rude once again, we team member, right? So there is a lot that needs to be addressed. But supervisors please, please do what I am saying. It is really important. Their behavior is so – there are players that are super nice and they are extremely professional. They come in suits, you know. But once they get drunk, it’s like a transformation. It is important that you would identify all of this.
What else is important? The types of games they play. You need to know that. It is important that if you know that this player likes baccarat, but unfortunately all the baccarat tables are busy and are full. It is important – No he likes to play UTH instead. So let’s do the extra work. Let’s call – if you are not in the same pit, just call the other supervisor, hold one spot and say, “Unfortunately I don’t have any spots available, but I got you one at the UTH.” So if customers have these, but at the same time it is important to know this.
Heather: Is’nt there something that the floor supervisors could do if they have an intoxicated player? For example, I know one of my floor supervisors, he would pull over the cocktail waitress and say, “Hey let’s give them every other drink.” Or instead of the next drink being alcohol let’s give them a coffee, or coffee and water. So they try to make the person less intoxicated. Does that sound right?
William: Yeah. So here in Canada – I am going to talk about Canada.
Heather: Oh yeah please do.
William: Here is the casinos we actually – we need to do one assessment that involves security. If a player is intoxicated, if he is heavily intoxicated, we do the assessment with security. It would be like the floor manager, casino manager, casino shift manager and security that do this. We asked a couple questions. If we determine if the player or the guest is intoxicated, we need to escort them out. We need to make sure they get home safely, so we can call a cab, or any reliable transportation and make sure they are safe. If something happens and they do the investigation, police and all those authorities get involved, we have a license that they can actually just take it away from us.
Heather: Yeah. I know in Las Vegas it is not as strict as that. Definitely not as strict as that. I don’t know if I should tell the stories that I know.
William: Sure! Why don’t you share one?
Heather: Oh this was from the early 2000. We had a regular. This was not right. What the floor supervisor did, do not do this. This is an example of what not to do.
Heather: The guy was intoxicated and he was passed out and my floor supervisor was like, “Oh, he is a regular, just play his hand for him.” Like what??
Heather: Right! You don’t do that! That is not okay.
William: NO! Definitely NO! I actually, I know one person that did exactly the same and he actually played their hand and got fired.
Heather: Yeah! As you should.
William: Yes. Don’t get involved. So yes. I don’t know if you have any questions?
Heather: No. I think I asked the questions while you were speaking.
William: Yes basically just know your customers, get to know them, that way sometimes it will be easier for us to understand if they are complaining or if they tell you something. By knowing your customers you will understand how to handle this equation. How to approach them and how the equation will be solved, if it is necessary to escalate or if you can handle that.
Heather: That is all very great advice. I am really looking forward to getting into – I hope you are ok coming back and doing one or two more videos with us because I am really looking forward to what you have to say.
William: For sure. I am really glad that I can share with you and all the Vegas Aces fans, a little bit of my daily routines. This is what I do. I am so happy to share with you.
Heather: Thanks so much for sharing. Is there a way for people to find you? Facebook, or Twitter, anything like that?
William: It’s LinkedIn. WillimaRojas. Thank you for the invitation. I really admire you.
Heather: Thank you so much! See you next time.