Recently, I had the pleasure of listening to Brad Hirsch from Caesars Entertainment discuss the measures and methodologies employed by Caesars to gauge and create the customer experience at their casinos and hotels. While I was pretty disappointed with Mr. Hirsch’s decision to present an entire keynote without recollecting one mafia-related anecdote, I was struck by the story he told about how Caesars defines the ideal customer experience and the ways in which it is implemented.
Back in the day, only high-rollers and important people (mob members and chorus girls, natch) received the “comp and coddle” treatment (my words, not Mr. Hirsch’s). These people were known by name to casino managers and were well taken care of. The treatment they received was tailored to their needs and desires. Casino employees knew where they were from, what they liked to drink, and smiled at them when they walked in. The customer experience was designed, for big spenders at least, to make the casino and hotel felt a bit like a ultra-haute Cheers / hyper-lounge hybrid. Everyone knew their name and how much they were spending.
Then Caesars started crunching some numbers and realized there were a lot of other people dropping loads of cash at their casinos and hotels who did not fit into the category of “high-rollers”. Ceasars understood that they make more money if they improved the overall experience of every customer, regardless of net income, as the casino market is competitive and customer loyalty is the key to success. But how to keep customers coming back? What did the ideal customer experience look like for these normal folk? How should they be treated?
To answer these questions, Caesars started collecting data from customers related to the customer experience at their hotels using surveys, focus groups, observations, and customer loyalty cards to track behavior. However, rather than focus on one or two touch points, Ceasars holistically looked at the entire experience, including booking rooms, checking in and walking to the room, sitting down at a casino table and playing, and checking out.
After the data was analyzed, Ceasars realized that the “normals” also want to be treated (at least to some degree) like the rich people, Mafioso, and chorus line performers. (Again, my words, not Mr. Hirsch’s) Research showed that customers would like personal treatment from smiling casino workers who know them by name and drink. In other words, the customer experience for thriftier customers should mirror that of the upper-echelon spenders. Failure to accomplish this risks losing the loyalty of this consumer population and their vacation budgets.
The challenge for Ceasars was how to provide that experience within the entire casino population. To do this, Ceasers came up with an inventive way to use customer loyalty cards along with other casino technologies to not only to gather data but to facilitate and enhance the customer experience. When customers insert their loyalty card into a slot machine, casino workers see customer names and use them during interactions, the casino knows if customers are having a ‘good day’ or ‘bad day’ financially, and servers suggest drinks based on what the customer typically orders. In short, customer loyalty cards help transform the experience of the ‘normal’ gambler into that of a high-roller.
It turns out, in the end, we all want to be treated like rich people, but companies often need a lot of customer experience data and a little bit of technology to make it happen.