Casinos and Casino Mystery Shoppers Make 5 Mistakes That Could Be Driving Customers Away, Executive Discloses

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Mystery shoppers are used by casino marketing departments and HR offices for a variety of reasons, but Martin R. Baird, CEO of, has disclosed that these shoppers, and the gaming properties themselves, make five mistakes that can be costly.

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Casinos use mystery shoppers for a variety of reasons, but the mistakes the shoppers and the properties make can result in lost customers.

Casinos use mystery shoppers for a variety of reasons but there are five mistakes made by these shoppers, and the properties themselves, that can be costly to the point of driving customers away,Martin R. Baird, chief executive officer of, has disclosed.

“Casino marketing departments often use mystery shoppers to gain insight into how guests feel about the property’s customer service,” says Baird, who also is chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a guest service consulting firm to the global gaming industry. “Casino human resources teams use mystery shoppers as part of an incentive program. Casinos use shoppers for all kinds of reasons, but the mistakes the shoppers and the properties make are often the same. There are five of these mistakes.”

Not Getting Paid. It’s not difficult to find complaints on the Internet from mystery shoppers who did the work but were not paid, Baird says. “Any casino should question the validity of the data generated by a shopper who doesn’t get paid for the work performed,” Baird says. “Just how good a job will shoppers do evaluating customer service if they aren’t paid? Why would a casino even use unpaid shoppers?”

Many casino shopping companies only provide shoppers with money for gambling and food, Baird notes. “Those shoppers are only having their expenses covered and the company thinks it is doing them a favor,” Baird says. “What kind of work would a mechanic do if he was paid for parts but not for his labor?”

No Casino Experience. Some gaming properties use shoppers who have little or no casino experience, according to Baird. “Unfortunately, there are mystery shopping companies that place advertisements near a casino, offering to give people money to gamble,” Baird says. “The casino could end up with shoppers who don’t know the difference between a full house and a straight. Those are not the people a casino should rely upon to provide data for future customer service and property management plans.”

No Service Standards. To provide maximum value to the casino, shoppers must have specific service standards that they can apply to the reality of the casino floor, Baird says. “Without instructions on what to observe, they are forced to share their opinions,” Baird points out. “For example, when a casino has a so-called standard for ‘big friendly smiles,’ the shopping results are subjective. That makes service almost impossible to measure and very difficult to improve. Casinos must have S.M.A.R.T. standards – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound.”

Using Data the Wrong Way. Shopping data is best used in conjunction with a system for observation and improvement, Baird says. “The mistake some casinos make is that they use the shopping results as an excuse to punish employees,” Baird says. “That creates anxiety, not improvement. Management should use the data as an indicator and then observe for themselves to see if there’s a troubling pattern that needs correction with training or better supervision.”

Pride Gets In the Way. There are times when casino executives let their pride get in the way of improvement, Baird says. “When managers insert their egos into the mix, they try to invalidate the data to make themselves feel better,” Baird explains. “Mystery shopping results are not right or wrong. Shops are not conducted to make people or a department look good or bad. They simply involve observation.”

About Robinson & Associates and

Martin R. Baird is a casino consultant and chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc. For 20 years, Robinson & Associates has been dedicated to helping casinos improve their guest service so they can compete and generate future growth and profitability. A Boise, Idaho-based consulting firm to the global gaming industry, Robinson & Associates is the world leader in casino guest experience measurement, management and improvement. Recently, it announced Simply Share, a real-time customer feedback platform that makes it fast and easy for casino customers to share their experience directly with casinos instead of posting comments online at social media sites.

For more information, visit the company’s Web site at or contact Lydia Baird, director of business development, at 208-991-2037 or lbaird(at)raresults(dot)com. Read about casino customer service improvement at Martin Baird’s blog at Robinson & Associates is a member of the Casino Management Association and an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.


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