Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• Literature Review• Customer experience and service quality• Service experience is the service encounter and/or serviceprocess that creates the patrons’ cognitive, emotional andbehavioural responses, which in turn result in a memory(Johnston and Clark, 2001)• Customers’ negative emotions have a stronger effect onsatisfaction than do positive emotions (Wong, 2004)• Patrons with positive experiences at one service location tend todevelop loyalty (Sierra, Heiser and McQuitty, 2009)• Managing customer emotions in the era of customersovereignty• Customer is king
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• Task performance involving fluency and skills;• Understanding of colleagues and contexts;• Personal development such as handling emotions and sustainingrelationships;• Teamwork including collaborative work and problem-solving;• Role performance including supervisory role and delegation;• Academic knowledge and skills such as research-based practice;• Decision-making and problem-solving;• Judgement including quality of performance and priorities
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• Learning strategies of informal learning include:• Observation (Hara, 2001);• Working in teams (MacNeil, 2001);• Reflection (Doyle and Young, 1999; Hara, 2001);• Action learning (Miller, 2003);• Mentoring (Coyle and Ellinger, 2001);• Seeking information from co-workers (Lohman, Wang andWoolf, 1996);• Application of past learning and experience (Coyle and Ellinger,2001);• Reading (Fenwick and Hutton, 2000);• Field trips (Cseh, 1999)
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• Research question• How did FEs’ informal learning influence their customerrelationship skills in dealing with patrons at gaming tablesin Macao?• Methods• In-depth interviews with employees from 6 casinos out of 33casinos• Male: 40.8% Female: 59.2%• Positions held by study sample• Dealer 34.7%• Dealer-inspector 12.2%• Supervisor 38.8%• Pit manager 14.3%
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• Data Collection• Semi-structured off-gaming floor in-depth interviews• Interview arrangements took, on average, about three months tohave the FEs of one casino interviewed• Data Analysis• Miles and Huberman (1994) framework
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• Findings:• 1) Politeness and caring attitude• When I was new, I primarily focused on my gaming skills without payingmuch attention to customers’ feelings. Of course, I got blamed for a number ofinstances and I’ve learned that I need to always say sorry for my inadvertence,impoliteness or mistake. When I take a break, I need to wish them good luckbefore I leave. If they show signs of impatience at my pace, I have toapologize and say that I am a novice dealer and will try my best to do better, orI’m slow because I’m inexperienced and afraid to make mistakes. Try to wishgamblers good luck. Remember to smile and be friendly to them. (24)• When I was new, I mechanically answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when asked bycustomers. Later I learned from experienced staff that we could show them duerespect and caring attitude. This not only creates good impression oncustomers, it also helps when troubles arise. Of course, I need to adjust a bit tosuit different situations. (9)
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• In a casino world of customer sovereignty, polite attitude andpleasing words could be powerful tools since giving significant“face” to casino patrons not only can help patrons to observe thehouse rules, but can also create an amiable environment forproblem-solving if arguments arise.• Most customers know about the house rules. They do not observe the rulesbecause they want to show you that they have ‘faces’ in casinos. We should bepolite and gentle in speech. Even if customers are wrong, we need to talk tothem in a very gentle and polite way asking them to help us achieve something.According to my experience, very few customers won’t observe our rules if werepeatedly ask them to be cooperative as we have already given much ‘face’ tothem. (36)
Informal learning and customerrelationship skills in casinos in Macao• 2) Detecting the emotional status of patrons• We can get some ideas about their personality from the short chats. We can tryto obtain a response by asking them one or two questions. Some patrons ask toclose the door and switch off the TV and you’ll know that the patrons do notlike to be disturbed. If a customer asks you for tea, or tells you that there arenot many customers around, you’ll know that he likes to chat a bit. (21)• It’s important to note their movements and eyes. However, you need to ensurethat they do not know that you’re watching them, otherwise they’ll feel thatthey’re targets and will raise complaints against you. (14)• Considerable experience is needed to master the skills tointerpret various elements of patrons’ body language and facialdisplays
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• 3) Managing patrons’ emotions at gaming tables• Gamblers often request a specific card and may cry, “My 12 needs a 9!” If thecard drawn is a 6 or 8, I can say, “Sorry, I was out of 9s, but that should getyou close enough to win.” (12)• If the gambler loses, I would show a facial display pretending to get surprisedat the gaming outcome. I think this practice works, and gamblers won’t easilyget their temper out of control. (34)• In baccarat, when I turn over my card which is 8, I would try to stand on thepatron’s side, calling out 9 in the hope of getting th e card he wants. If mine is9, I try to call out 9 for him in the hope of getting a draw. What I can do is tosay such nice words in the hope of appeasing th ecold atmosphere. (44)•• FEs’ responses need to be purposeful and situationally appropriate.They need to make sound judgement on particular contexts.
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• Two customers with an average bet of (US$500 to US$700) had played forthree to four minutes. They asked the public relations staff for a comp room.The staff replied their points were not enough and asked them to play longer.The guests argued that they were regulars. I apologized and said that was thehouse rule. They retorted, “What kind of rules?” I advised them to play longerto win more as a comp room cost just US$125. I said, “Boss, play a bit longerand you can earn more points. With your big bets, it’ll take you just a fewmoments. Besides, there’s no reason to lose these benefits to the casino. I’llask the PR staff to help you join our membership. If you’re really short ofsome points, I’ll ask the manager to give you the room as you’re our regulars.”They felt okay and played for some time. After a few moments, I gave themfree coupons for meals and they were surprised. They played for about twohours and I asked the PR to check their points which were more than required.In front of the guests, the PR said that the guests still needed some points, andI asked the PR to give them a favour. The PR gave them a comp room at last.(42)
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• FE’s creativity, judgement and situationally appropriate actions werecrucial to managing patrons’ emotions in the desired direction.• If patrons lose, we’ll try to make them win by asking the dealer to stand a bitleft or a bit right, or to turn over the cards with left hand or right hand. (30)• I was dealing to a table full of gamblers. The player at third base decided tostay on her 16 when I had a 7. Before moving on to my own hand, I asked thegambler, “Madam, no card, are you sure?” She repeated her request to stay andI proceeded to hit my own hand with a 4 and then a 10. As I collected the bets,I shook my head and rolled my eyes at third base, in an attempt to shift theresponsibility to her. (12)•• 4) FE’s regulation of their own emotions• My superior, who accompanies several patrons in, reminded me that they werefriends of the boss and told me to let them play their own way. It seemed to methat we sometimes had no rules and I just followed what he said. Sometimes Ifelt being like a machine, doing what they had “inputted” me to do. (27)
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• While keeping quiet and showing no emotion is one approach toemotion regulation, some other tactics include surface acting(e.g., concealing felt emotions), or deep acting (e.g., reallyfeeling the way one is trying to express). Since customers candetect feigned sincerity with their increasing understanding ofthe gaming situation, deep acting appears necessary.• If customers have lost a number of rounds, I would advise them to thinkcarefully before they bet because the pattern of the outcome does not seem tosuit them. We need to talk to them in a sincere way because gamblers can tellwhether you really mean what you say. So, it’s better for you to be sincere inwords otherwise you’re going to add fuel to the fire. (44)• FEs need to adapt their own emotional state to what is requiredin a particular situation, and to really feel the way they aretrying to express. On the other hand, if a FE shows symptoms ofemotional distress when patrons direct obscenities at them, acommon tactic is switching the dealer.
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• It happened that a dealer retorted to the guests and the supervisor was afraid ofgetting involved, so the manager came and consoled the dealer and moved thedealer to another table. With this change, it’s easier to resolve the situation.(48)• Although the acquisition of such customer relationship skills cantake considerable effort, they have long-term advantages for FEs.• If FEs have the heart to offer good customer service, they will get an extralevel of security and also are unlikely to be on the firing list. By doing so,they’ll have greater chance of getting praise and promotion in this competitiveenvironment. (42)
Informal learning and customer relationshipskills in casinos in Macao• FEs’ four strategies at gaming tables• 1) to be polite and give respect to patrons;• 2) to understand patrons’ emotional status from theirbody language;• 3) to manage patrons’ emotions; and• 4) to self-regulate emotions to reflect the demands of aservice encounter
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