Casino Competition Will Become More Complex
by Martin Baird

Casino Competition Will Become More Complex
in 2013 Because of ‘Age of the Customer’

Forrester, a global research and advisory firm, sees a new age dawning – the “age of the customer” – and there are five ways the company’s research will have a significant impact on the gaming industry in 2013.

In 2013, casinos will face intense challenges from competitors and Internet gaming that is only a click away on a smartphone. The Forrester research is spot-on for yet another challenge, the “age of the customer,” that will result in major disruption for casinos at the same time they are trying to compete. Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester outlined the coming challenges for the business world in a report titled “Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer.”

Here are five important lessons for casinos from the report.

The Empowered Customer. The source of these challenges is the empowered customer, according to the report. Forrester makes it clear that in order to succeed in 2013 and beyond, businesses must be hyper focused on customers, even obsessed with them. The report states that customers expect more from the companies they patronize because consumers have a wealth of information at their fingertips.
Social Media Sites Are Game Changers. Twitter, Facebook and Yelp are examples of why casino customers are empowered with information. Customers can read about a casino at any of these social media sites before they visit the property and they also feel emboldened to share their opinions about the casino on Twitter, Facebook and Yelp for the entire world to see.

Online Comments Upend Customer Feedback Model. Opinions people post at social media sites remain online forever. Thus, customers not only have an opinion about a casino before they arrive, they are changing the way casinos receive customer feedback. These are powerful capabilities that truly signal the dawn of a new age.
Contenders Are the Ones to Watch. Forrester identified three well-known companies that are contenders to participate in the age of the customer. Zappos, Southwest Airlines and Apple all succeed in highly competitive markets that have been commoditized by technology. The shoe, airline and computer markets have always been competitive and now they must deal with the empowered customer. For example, consumers don’t need a travel agent to find them the best deal on airline tickets. They can find that information for themselves online. Gaming is just as competitive as these markets and the Forrester research shows that the time has come for casinos to face the age of the customer.

There will only be one sustainable competitive advantage in the age of the customer and that is amazing service. For casinos, that means focusing, even obsessing, on improving their guest service which, in turn, significantly contributes to an outstanding gaming experience. Quality service and a stellar experience will keep guests coming back to play. Zappos representatives are known for letting customers take as much time on the phone as they want to make a purchase. That’s good service. That’s an outstanding customer experience.
Not that long ago, all casinos had to do to succeed was build a beautiful facility and open the doors. People were excited to have casinos only a state or two away. Now they often have them across town or just down the road. Or they’re as close as the smartphone in the customer’s pocket. So which casinos will be the destination of choice? Informed and empowered customers will always vote for service and experience and they will vote with their wallets.

Date Posted: 23-Feb-2013

Martin R. Baird is chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a Boise, Idaho-based consulting firm to the global gaming industry that is dedicated to helping casinos improve their guest service so they can compete and generate future growth and profitability. Robinson & Associates is the world leader in casino guest experience measurement, management and improvement. For more information, visit the company’s Web sites at www.casinocustomerservice.com and www.advocatedevelopmentsystem.com or contact the company at 208-991-2037. Robinson & Associates is a member of the Casino Management Association and an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.

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