Introduction to Competitive Advantage in Information Systems

As you read, think about how using, protecting, and managing information and data could support an organization's competitive advantage. Conversely, failure to protect data, particularly personal information, could reduce or destroy any competitive advantage within a business. How does understanding customer information and data support current operations? How might it impact future operations?

Data Asset in Action: Caesars' Solid Gold CRM for the Service Sector

Data-Driven Service: Get Close (but Not Too Close) to Your Customers

The names for reward levels on the Total Rewards card convey increasing customer value - Gold, Diamond, and Platinum. Spend more money at Caesars and you'll enjoy shorter lines, discounts, free items, and more. And if Caesars' systems determine you're a high-value customer, expect white-glove treatment. The firm will lavish you with attention, using technology to try to anticipate your every need. Customers notice the extra treatment that top-tier Total Rewards members receive and actively work to improve their status.

To illustrate this, Loveman points to the obituary of an Ashville, North Carolina, woman who frequented a casino his firm operates on a nearby Cherokee reservation. "Her obituary was published in the Asheville paper and indicated that at the time of her death, she had several grandchildren, she sang in the Baptist choir and she was a holder of the [the firm's] Diamond Total Rewards card". Quipped Loveman, "When your loyalty card is listed in someone's obituary, I would maintain you have traction".

The degree of customer service pushed through the system is astonishing. Upon check-in, a Caesars customer who enjoys fine dining may find his or her table is reserved, along with tickets for a show afterward. Others may get suggestions or special offers throughout their stay, pushed via text message to their mobile device. The firm even tracks gamblers to see if they're suffering unusual losses, and Caesars will dispatch service people to intervene with a feel-good offer: "Having a bad day? Here's a free buffet coupon".

The firm's CRM effort monitors any customer behavior changes. If a customer who usually spends a few hundred a month hasn't shown up in a while, the firm's systems trigger follow-up contact methods such as sending a letter with a promotion offer, or having a rep make a phone call inviting them back.

Customers come back to Caesars because they feel that those casinos treat them better than the competition. And Caesars' laser-like focus on service quality and customer satisfaction are embedded into its information systems and operational procedures. Employees are measured on metrics that include speed and friendliness and are compensated based on guest satisfaction ratings. Hourly workers are notoriously difficult to motivate: they tend to be high-turnover, low-wage earners. But at Caesars, incentive bonuses depend on an entire location's ratings. That encourages strong performers to share tips to bring the new guy up to speed. The process effectively changed the corporate culture at Caesars from an every-property-for-itself mentality to a collaborative, customer-focused enterprise.

While Caesars is committed to learning how to make your customer experience better, the firm is also keenly sensitive to respecting consumer data. The firm has never sold or given away any of its bits to third parties. And the firm admits that some of its efforts to track customers have misfired, requiring special attention to find the sometimes subtitle line between helpful and "too helpful". For example, the firm's CIO has mentioned that customers found it "creepy and Big Brother-ish" when employees tried to greet them by name and talk with them about their past business history with the firm, so it backed off.