Are Customers More Than Data Points? By Robert Brassia
Are Customers More Than Data Points?
In a recent article I was arguing that many casinos in the region (and worldwide I would say) do not make the best of the data at their disposal. In this one, I am taking a look at how some companies might rely too much on the data and forget the customer as a human being in the process.
Let’s take a look at two life like scenarios:
1. You’re in London for ICE and one of the parties you’re invited to happens to be in a chic club you would probably not go to, but this time of course the booze is for free, so you attend. The club draws a bottle of good scotch for people who leave their business cards at the door upon entering. You give them your contact details and even though you didn’t win that fabulous bottle of Glenlivet, until you unsubscribe you keep getting mailers from the club about their events, specials, etc. You don’t live in London, but next time you are back there, you might actually take the missus there for a night out, as you had a good time the first time around and with their mails they created top of mind. Thus, they achieved a repeat visit from you with very little effort and cost, relying on their product as a draw and data collection to enable communications and pass their message which positions, entices, and imprints in your brain. Marketing mission accomplished in a mass market setting.
2. Your local pub, where you are a regular with your friends and even your daddy used to visit with his mates back in the day, was recently sold to a well-known international pub chain. The old owner, who used to run the place as a hands-on manager, looking after all the clients, knowing them by name, knowing their kids’ birthdays and their wives’ whims all of a sudden is gone. The new owners lowered the price of some items, created promos to attract more customers and put in charge some young lad who spends most of his time in his office looking at sales stats and never shows his face to the customers. Yes, you keep going back to the place for a while and even get one more pint than before for the same budget. But somehow everything changed, and that old familiar magic is gone now. There is no one to talk to at the bar while you’re waiting for your mates to arrive, nobody to reserve your usual table for you, you don’t get your regular pint just by saying hello to the barman. You became just another customer in a bar that somehow seems familiar but lost all its appeal. Customers lost, mission failed.
I believe we all know stories like these. We have all seen casinos taken over by international corporations, given new management with completely new goals and ways of working, or complete teams replaced because they weren’t efficient enough. Some of these moves work out some don’t. It mostly depends on the profile of the casino. If they look after passing visitors, the numbers approach would be the right one. On the other hand if the customer composition is mainly local regular, the business would have to employ a mix of number based and human contact based models to be successful.
Big data is all the buzz these days and any business not harnessing the power of information in their data bases is doomed for sure. But any local businesses not cherishing the human relationship created during years between their patrons and their long time employees, is also going to lose out. Many of these old fashioned pit bosses and inspectors, who weren’t ambitious enough to go up the corporate ladder and whom the new bosses might deem untrainable and a dead weight for the business, are actually the best ambassadors of the casino and the best sources of information on your customers. You will have to win them over, teach them your new ways of running the business to create continuity and most importantly continued good service to your bread and butter ToD players.
Human behavior is highly predictable. This fact is used by all companies nowadays to ore efficiently sell their goods and services through advertisement, promotions, through tingling your brain into doing something you wouldn’t do otherwise. But all that tingling, powerful as it might be is just a weak impulse compared to recognition. And for proper recognition you need one human to recognize the needs and yearnings of another. You need your people on the casino floor to deliver this most important of services. Nobody else can.
Robert Brassai, consultant, strategist and gaming expert. Robert is the founding principal of the gaming consulting firm “Sense4gaming.” The firm takes on projects from casino concept and management to marketing and operations. Robert brings to the casino industry a wide range of experience and expertise. Robert, a leading casino executive has used his wealth of experience to establish and transform many casino businesses. In the past 25 years he has opened and managed properties for some of the industry’s leading companies like Sun International, Queenco and Kerzner International.
Originally published Casino Life Magazine February 2020