Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Hotel Administration

First Committee Member

John T. Bowen

Number of Pages



During the service encounter or "moment of truth" the customer judges the quality of the service organization. Not all guest-employee service encounters, however, are equally important. For every organization there are probably particular. service encounters that are critical to customer satisfaction. Before they can initiate efforts to service their customers, service firms must first identify and manage critical service encounters. Using the environment of the gaming industry, this exploratory research investigated the concept of identifying and evaluating critical service encounters from the perspectives of both guests and customer-contact employees and measured the level of congruence/incongruence between the two parties involved in the service interaction. The study also examined the applicability of the critical incident classification scheme of Bitner, Booms, and Tetreault (1990) to the gaming industry the critical incident technique, slot customers and slot department employees of a major Las Vegas strip hotel/casino were interviewed using the same set of open-ended questions. Slot customers and employees were asked to recall both particularly satisfactory and dissatisfactory service events that had transpired at the study hotel/casino or another hotel/casino. Employees were asked to recall incidents in the manner in which they felt their customers perceived the incidents. The model and decision tree of Bitner, Booms, and Tetreault (1990) was used to code the recalled incidents. Two judges completed the initial round of coding, and then a third judge independently coded the incidents in order to obtain a measurement of inter-rater reliability; All of the customer and employee reported incidents were classified into major groups, categories, and subcategories. All of the major groups agreed with the classification of the Bitner, Booms and Tetreault (1990). However, two new categories and two subcategories that differed from Bitner, Booms and Tetreault emerged in this study. These new categories and subcategories appeared to be more specific to the gaming industry and were designated as response to customer requests, response to customer requests for comps, and comp service. The subcategories were related to requests for non-smoking rooms. Systems and service encounter problems identified included the unavailability of non-smoking rooms, slot machine fill, change service, and booth cashier service; The results showed that as a whole, customer-contact employees in this study demonstrated a genuine service orientation and did identify with and understand customer needs in the gaining environment. This was particularly true in the perception of dissatisfactory incidents reported by both customers and employees. The majority of satisfactory incidents customer and employee reported incidents concerned unprompted and unsolicited actions, in particular, attention paid to the customer. This finding highlights the importance of hiring service-oriented staff as well as directing training and other organizational resources towards cultivating a close customer-frontline employee relationship. The distributions of customer and employee critical incidents as compared to respective distributions found by Bitner, Booms, and Tetreault (1990) and Bitner, Booms, and Mohr (1994) suggest the need to continue to their model in terms of incident distribution in other industries.


Critical; Critical Incidents; Customer Service; Employee; Gaming; Gaming Industry; Guests; Incidents; Industry; Perception

Controlled Subject

Marketing; Recreation

File Format


File Size

5826.56 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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