By Jason Gillikin | September 18, 2011
I returned Saturday from a brief vacation at Wynn Las Vegas, to celebrate my birthday in style. The hotel/casino on the Strip comped me for three free nights in a luxury suite, provided $200/night in food and beverage credit and offered $1,000 in free slot play. Hard to turn down a deal like that.
So, a dear friend and I took advantage of the offer. During our trip, we encountered myriad customer service moments: The Transportation Security Administration officials at Detroit Metro, the flight attendants on Spirit Airlines, the hotel staff at the Flamingo, the hotel staff at Wynn, taxi drivers, waiters, cocktail servers, casino hosts — customer service is the name of the game in Sin City and the travel industry.
Having been to Las Vegas several times already on vacation, I was prepared for the “usual.” Good service, the occasional minor flub, but an appropriate recovery. No real bad experiences.
Color me pleasantly surprised, then, to experience the Wynn.
Every aspect of the trip, relative to Wynn/Encore, was flawless. The phone reservation agent was polite and prompt. The check-in person at the front desk helped us and didn’t even tell us that we should have checked into the Tower Suites reception area — she just took care of us with a smile. Our Red Card representative on the casino floor, Lori, put my $1,000 on the card quickly and without demanding nine kinds of identification and putting me through the ringer. The security attendants at the Tower Suites were quick with directions or a joke. Our bill was accurate and we didn’t need to do anything to take advantage of the comps we were offered. Service at the three steakhouses we visited — SW, Switch and Sinatra — was beyond reproach, with Robert at Sinatra providing exceptionally good service. You know: He’s transparent when refilling your water glass and doesn’t make a show when he needs your attention for something, but knows his menu and keeps an eye on the table to make sure nothing is going awry.
Even if you paid me to nit-pick, there’s nothing about the Wynn I could fault. One tiny glitch, for example – a line of convention attendees led to a brief wait for the Tower Suites elevators — brought out several Wynn attendees who were clearly hustling to adjust the programming on the elevators and keep the lines in and out of the elevators flowing at peak efficiency. Even our one request for assistance — we wanted a roll-away bed for my traveling companion — was flawless; it came up quickly, but because we had flagged the room as “do not disturb” the person who brought up the bed radioed down to the front desk, which then called us to alert us that the bed was outside the door. No one would have thought twice if the housekeeping attendant rang the bell, but nevertheless he didn’t — he called down, and the front desk announced his presence. That attention to detail is not insignificant.
In short: Everything was done perfectly the first time. And every single Wynn/Encore employee we encountered greeted us with a smile.
Hotel/casino operations offer onion-like complexity. Many layers of moving parts, and many opportunities for things to go awry. Housekeeping could be late. The chef could have a bad day. The registration clerk’s kids may be sick. Paperwork somewhere got messed up. Most places, you deal with minor challenges and move on, and really don’t think anything more about it.
It takes Wynn-level service to show you how powerful superior attention to detail can pay off. My trip was a net financial loss to Wynn, but this was truly a loss leader: I’ll absolutely return. On my own dime. Steve Wynn will see a healthy return on his investment in the long run, and he has his employees to thank for that.
My experience at Wynn sets a standard for businesses of every strip and size:
- Do it right the first time. The best service recovery is to not have to recover in the first place. Submit work on time. Get the paperwork right. Don’t make the customer have to call to fix something or get an update. Competence is its own selling point.
- Smile, damn it. Every single Wynn employee looked happy to be there and happy to help. I felt welcome. Having delivered flawless service, they upped the ante by delivering personal service with a genuine grin. No matter what kind of business you perform, a cheerful disposition keeps your customer feeling important and respected as a human being. Plus, smiles return goodwill dividends even though the cost to you is $0.
- Respect your customer. If you’re in the service industry, for example, don’t embarrass the customer in front of others. At Wynn, when I checked out, the registration clerk printed my outstanding charges and asked me to review it — she didn’t speak a word about the details or turn a screen with an itemized list toward me (and whoever may have been looking over my shoulder). I’ve seen supermarket clerks turn on their flashing light and yell that they need an “override” for customers — what a great way to alienate them. Don’t do things that put an unwelcome spotlight on your clients.
- Blend into the background. Make the service about the customer, not about the company. One of my favorite restaurants in Grand Rapids has a few flamboyant servers who make a show about themselves and the restaurant. While that experience has its place, the kind of money flowing through Wynn suggested that discretion was the better part of valor. I agree. The best service is the kind that doesn’t call attention to how good it is. Transparency trumps shameless self-promotion, every time.
Last week, Wynn Las Vegas demonstrated the kind of superior service that made them a new customer for life.
What can your company do to build more transparent and more perfect customer service practices?