Personal Touch For VIPs - InformationWeek

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11/4/2003
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Personal Touch For VIPs

Client-tracking system helps Harrah's tailor sales efforts for frequent visitors.

Harrah's Entertainment Inc. has been a sophisticated user of customer-relationship-management software to help direct its visitor-loyalty program for several years. Recently it layered on new software to create an even more personalized program for its VIP customers.

The Player Contact System uses Blue Martini Software Inc.'s Clienteling application to let Harrah's 300 casino salespeople, called hosts, tailor their interactions with the top 100,000 frequent visitors.

"We have a small mountain of evidence that indicates that personal contact with our best customers drives more trips," says Jonathan Lowenhar, director of loyalty marketing for Harrah's. "We wanted a tool that allowed us to make quality contacts in a shorter period of time, while providing a one-stop-shop experience for our hosts where they can access all the information about these customers."

Harrah's has implemented a Total Rewards Loyalty Program that uses player cards and proprietary technology to help track how and how much visitors are spending, and an algorithm-based yield-management system to calculate a customer's gaming value and offer perks such as better rooms to more profitable customers.

Still, most of its relationship-management efforts tended to be "fairly anonymous," Lowenhar says. Generally, members would get a follow-up mailing reminding them to choose Harrah's. With the Clienteling system, interactions are personalized.

Customer information is in a central location where it's analyzed to provide a prioritized listing of customers a particular host should contact, such as those who haven't consistently visited Harrah's.

"We can now hold [hosts] accountable for making the right contacts, not just the sheer number of contacts made," he says. "The fundamental issue we faced is that our salespeople were spending too much time on customers who were already going to visit us."

Harrah's VIP hosts receive their prioritized listings of names via a personal home page. By clicking on a name, the host enters a research page that provides relevant customer information such as the customer's casino-activity history, along with background and contact information. In cases where the host is initiating his or her first contact with the VIP customer, the program provides a scripted interaction profile that can guide the telephone call or personal contact.

"The best way to create that personal bond is have at your fingertips the information about what makes each VIP unique," says Denis Pombriant, an analyst with The Aberdeen Group. "Business-intelligence tools like this deliver the functionality that enables the casino to meet or exceed customers' expectations."

Harrah's completed deploying Clienteling in September, and Low- enhar expects the deployment to be as successful as Harrah's overall relationship-management efforts. Lowenhar says that when Harrah's first began a relationship-management program five years ago, it estimated it was receiving about a 36% share of its customers' gaming budget. By last year that had grown to 43%. Initial data on the player contact program shows a significant increase in personalized communication with VIP customers. Harrah's expects to document revenue improvements during the first quarter of 2004.

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