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30 March 2013
By Martin R Baird
Casino marketing will be disrupted by Facebook’s new Graph Search for five important reasons and casinos need to take countermeasures now by improving their customer service.
Graph Search is a search tool that sifts through people’s Facebook profiles and allows users to conduct complex queries related to their friends.
Twenty years ago when my company started helping casinos measure, manage and improve their customer service, I said that a guest can leave the casino and tell family, friends and co-workers about their gaming experience, good or bad. Next came Yelp, TripAdvisor and Twitter and people could share their thoughts with hundreds, even thousands, of people in a few clicks.
The Jan. 16 announcement of Facebook’s Graph Search is a game changer and casino marketing executives should be very concerned.
Credibility Now Plays A Key Role
Until Jan. 16, a person could read casino reviews on Yelp and decide whether they valued those opinions. With Graph Search, they can see what their friends on Facebook are saying about a casino. The opinions of the people they know and are connected to have extremely high credibility, much higher than comments on Yelp.
According to AllTwitter, the average Facebook user has 130 friends. This means someone on Facebook can search all 130 friends and see what they have to say about a casino.
Reputation management is quickly slipping out of the hands of the casino and into the control of guests with access to technology and social media. Trying to track down all the tweets, yelps and Facebook comments is a little like trying to put rain back into a cloud.
The Bottom Line Impact
Research by Business2Community found that in 2012, 77 percent of business-to-consumer companies acquired customers from Facebook. That customer pipeline could be negatively affected if consumers can easily see what their friends are saying about a company – and that includes a casino. It will only take a few negative comments to get a person to consider other entertainment choices.
CNN reported that Yelp stock fell 8 percent after the Graph Search announcement. The impact could be even more significant on casinos’ bottom line. When friends’ thoughts and feeling about a casino are connected online and can be easily searched, choices will be made.
The effect this Facebook tool will have on casinos is an unintended consequence. Facebook launched its new service to push into Google’s turf. But casinos have not moved quickly enough to engage technology that allows guests to easily share their gaming experience feedback directly with the property. Now casinos are caught in the crossfire.
The number of casinos still using antiquated comment cards is shocking. Customers want to use their smartphone and share their feelings now, not a few weeks or months later on a card. Casino guests use online tools because they are fast, easy and in real time. If casinos want to stem the tide of Facebook’s new capabilities, they need to make it easier for guests to share feedback directly with them.
Service Becomes Even More Important.
Graph Search ups the ante for stellar casino customer service. Casinos that are committed to succeeding and see that guest service is the only real competitive advantage need to use an index that proactively measures how guests feel about them and shows how many customer advocates they have.
Advocates are people who will risk their reputation and recommend a casino to family and friends. Facebook’s new search tool uses the same principle – if a person will risk their reputation and post a positive comment about a business on their Facebook page, that’s a good thing.
There will only be a short time for casinos to take the countermeasure of improving their guest service. There is a short window of opportunity for casinos to improve service and generate positive comments that people can find when they search Facebook for the best casino restaurant or the best gaming establishment to play. Unfortunately, negative comments last forever.
Martin R. Baird is chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a Boise, Idaho-based consulting firm to the global gaming industry. Visit the company’s Web sites at www.casinocustomerservice.com and www.advocatedevelopmentsystem.com.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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