Wind Creek Hospitality is a Native American gaming operation run by the Poarch band of the Creek Indian tribe. The company, which is headquartered in Atmore, Ala., manages the tribe’s gaming facilities in Atmore, Wetumpka, and Montgomery, all in Alabama, as well as several racetracks in Alabama and the Florida panhandle.
Wind Creek Hospitality for years operated a single contact center in Atmore, but when it converted its simple gaming rooms into more sophisticated resorts with hotels, dining, and other amenities, it needed to expand to a second facility in Montgomery to meet increasing customer demand. It completed the project—which included a $2 million capital outlay, a $1.5 million increase in its operating budget, and a staffing surge from 25 agents to 120—in a little more than a year.
To say that ramping up operations so quickly is a challenge would be an understatement. It took a lot of planning, budgeting, hiring, training, and negotiating. To help put the process in perspective, CRM’s editor, Leonard Klie, spoke with Jonathan Nall, director of guest services at Wind Creek Hospitality who oversees the company’s contact center operations and the service quality control teams for its casino operations.
CRM: Can you talk about Wind Creek Hospitality and its guest service needs and goals?
Jonathan Nall: Wind Creek Hospitality is an organization focused on human caring and individuality. We are driven to transform what could be an ordinary experience for guests into a real escape from all the hustle and bustle. We want each guest experience to be fun, exciting, and as effortless as possible. We want our guests to feel a sense of belonging and appreciation while at one of our properties or while engaging with one of our team members.
To enable great service, we’ve tried to simplify the worker experience. Less is more. As with many organizations, at one point we had many procedures and standards related to delivering service, but we’ve taken a conscious effort to reduce unnecessary processes or procedures that would make it difficult for team members to deliver genuine service. To keep it simple, there are three items we focus on: We want our team members to greet, engage, and thank every guest during every interaction. It’s that simple.
When it comes to guest service, what do you believe in most strongly?
Giving people self-confidence and a positive work environment is by far the most important thing I can do. My job is to create a work environment where my team can be successful. I want to open doors for them to seek their true potential. Whether it’s within our contact centers, other departments, or in life, my job is to prepare others to capitalize on opportunities when they present themselves.
Creating value is also key. A memorable experience can be priceless. In the casino and hospitality industry, no matter how much a guest spends, he should feel appreciated and a sense of fulfillment.
What do you consider to be the hallmarks of an outstanding guest service experience?
An outstanding service experience is about two things: making a personal connection and exceeding expectations. It’s about small things that make it memorable and special, anything from remembering a name to asking about the family. It really isn’t hard to provide great service if team members are truly focused and present in the moment.
Whenever a person makes a reservation for a resort, the reservation agents set the expectation for the resort experience. They become a true extension of the brand. We want conversations with our guests to be positive, genuine, and engaging. We want their reservation experiences to be enjoyable and an escape from life’s hectic situations. We want our guests to go away feeling that they made the right choice. We want them to have positive stories to tell their friends and family about Wind Creek Hospitality.
Can you give me some of the operational details of the contact center (i.e., number of facilities, number of agents, call volume, hours of operation, etc.)?
We have two contact centers with 120 agents, 10 supervisors, and two managers. We are open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week. Between the two centers, we handle 60,000 to 70,000 contacts by phone, 1,000 to 2,000 by chat, and 4,000 to 5,000 by email each month. We average 20,000 to 30,000 hotel reservations each month.
What types of calls do the agents typically handle? What are the types of issues that prompt guests to call into the contact centers?
Most of the calls or contacts that we receive are from guests who want to make reservations or need additional information about properties or promotions. On average, agents handle 30,000 hotel room inquiries, 20,000 promotion or account inquiries, 10,000 general gaming or property inquiries, 2,000 spa and kitchen inquiries, and 1,000 hotel room requests per month.