Lessons from Las Vegas: Measuring the Customer Experience

Judson Mock (my best friend since childhood,) his wife Debbie, and Mr. Las Vegas himself.

Here’s something you might not know about me: years ago, I began my career in retail running a casino. This is where I learned customer service and the value of human traits such as empathy, excitement, and desire when it comes to how consumers choose to spend. I still have a home in Vegas and visit as often as I can.

In many ways, I still see casinos as the paragon of retail execution. They’re struggling these days with the same challenges faced by the rest of retail due to COVID-19 — but casinos have several unique strengths that can help them meet these challenges, from a deep emotional connection with their guests (based on endorphin-driving experiences) to the simple fact that nobody’s better at measuring the customer experience.

Every inch of the casino floor is measured, and customer value calculations are taking place every second. The casino knows exactly when you put your cards down and how much you’re spending (investing?) — and the next thing you know, the host is coming over with tickets to Penn and Teller to say thank you.

There isn’t a single thing that happens on the casino floor that they’re not knowledgeable about and making decisions about in real time — and they’ve given themselves the wherewithal and the budget to create deeply personalized experiences that are truly magical.

Retail in a casino is predicated entirely on knowing everything about every customer — and we in #Hi-Touch retail have got to start taking cues from this.

When you walk into a high-end clothing store, why doesn’t the system immediately know what you’ve spent there before, know what items you’ve bought before, know you’re of value, and greet you at the door to say thank you?

Instead, most retailers don’t gather much of that information about you until you’re at the cash register and about to leave.

Digital technology can transform that experience: an app set to broadcast can identify when repeat customers walk in, or you can simply give your customers a reason to engage and identify themselves at the beginning of the interaction.

The first thing the casinos figured out is how to get people to announce their presence — and there’s no reason you shouldn’t as well.

But it’s not just about identifying the customer and greeting her: casinos don’t squander the data they collect as a result. They’re constantly leveraging that data to make real time decisions about how to improve and personalize the experience for each of their guests.

That’s how casinos will come back from this — and that’s how the rest of retail can come back from this too.

Please feel free to reach out to me directly here with any questions or thoughts, or click here to download our white paper on responding to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.



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Andy Austin

A geek with a retail operations and customer experience background