“Why do casinos cling to old ways to gather customer feedback in an increasingly complex and competitive world?” asks Martin R. Baird, chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, a guest service consulting firm to the global gaming industry. “Why do they rely so heavily on that dinosaur of feedback methods, the comment card? After decades of using it, why do casinos think this relic will help them compete and grow?
“If casinos would just kick the habit and embrace emerging real-time feedback technologies, I’m convinced they could generate valuable, actionable data that would help them better understand their customers and improve their business practices.”
Baird announced the following reasons for why comment cards are so old school they do more harm than good.
Comment Cards Are A Hassle. The key to getting feedback from customers is to make the process as easy as possible and comment cards are not easy, Baird says. “There is a perception among casino guests that the cards require an annoying amount of work,” Baird notes. “First, the customer must find a pen or pencil. Then they have to hand write their remarks. People are accustomed to emailing or texting. Writing comments by hand is a laborious task.
“Next, the customer must find a comment card box to drop the card into. Casino guests are used to communicating by clicking a send key on a smartphone or computer. Wandering around looking for a box is so inconvenient it may not be worth the effort.”
Lack of Closure. There’s a lack of closure customers feel from filling out cards, according to Baird. “Does anyone with the casino even look at the cards?” Baird asks. “If comment cards are read, what’s done with the information? Does the data work its way up the chain of command or does it collect dust somewhere?”
Lack of Service Recovery. The customer who uses a comment card to complain about a poor service experience drops it in a box and goes home, Baird says. “It’s too late for the casino to achieve service recovery with that customer,” Baird says. “Perhaps this customer will be pleased to see the problem eliminated the next time he visits the casino, but what if he has soured on that particular property and now plays somewhere else? According to research by Harris Interactive, 86 percent of consumers will stop doing business with a company because of a bad experience, up from 59 percent four years ago.”
The Wrong Guests Fill Out the Cards. “Who are these folks?” Baird asks. “I’ve read that only 30 percent of people fill out comment cards and they generally are lovers or haters. They think your casino is either the most wonderful place on the planet or the worst. I would not want to run my business getting direction only from those two groups. If the statistics are correct, you are ignoring at least 70 percent of your guests. And I would argue that this silent majority is likely to provide the most straightforward, useful information.”
Comment Cards Are Expensive. Casinos that rely on comment cards must have money to burn, Baird says. “Comment cards are expensive to print and if you mail them to guests, you’re paying for postage,” Baird says. “Don’t want to offend customers by expecting them to buy stamps to mail them back? Then you foot the bill for that postage, too. If you take the cards seriously and actually tabulate the data, someone has to be paid to do that. With the economy still in the doldrums, casinos are watching their expenses with an eagle eye. They shouldn’t spend precious resources on something that doesn’t pay off.”
Casinos simply cannot afford to react sluggishly to situations involving their customers and that is what they are doing with comment cards, Baird says.
“Timely customer feedback and quick service recovery are critical to the success of every casino, Baird says. “This is a common need within the industry because people’s lives move too quickly for gaming to operate any other way.
“I will go so far as to say that casinos need customer feedback in real time while guests are still on the property. And they can have instant feedback because the technology exists today to provide it.”
Ellis Communications, Inc.