Complex event processing (CEP) and analysis applications take customer experience management—and repeat business—to new heights at Caesars Entertainment. Here, RT Insights contributor Chris Taylor discusses how.
One industry that exemplifies the potential of advanced customer experience management technologies such as CEP is in the gaming industry. Casinos struggle to achieve healthy profitability while keeping the customers happy, despite the fact that the majority lose more often than they win at the slot machines, roulette wheels and blackjack tables. To maintain this delicate balance, gaming companies such as Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas have invested in sophisticated, real-time customer behavior tracking and analysis applications that aim to provide gifts and bonuses tailored to each customer’s preferences.
Caesars Entertainment keeps track of thousands of customers at over 50 casinos and hotels, collecting data on each customer’s purchases, losses at the tables, and any discounts or freebies they’ve received. It leverages this data to personalize the customer experience and reward customers that spend a lot and come back often. The company employs an enterprise service bus to integrate its various customer-related applications such as loyalty applications, billing systems and hotel information systems. It also relies on a complex CEP engine to analyze and respond to customer behaviors in real-time.
The customer’s experience starts when he or she swipes a Caesars loyalty card through a slot machine which then displays a drink menu so that the customer can order a drink right away. The card also carries the customer’s profile which is updated as the person plays more games or orders meals and drinks.
An analysis application looks at all of the customer activities, both current and past, to predict what any individual person might do next. At critical moments, such as when a customer has several losses at the slot machines and reaches a threshold after which he or she would normally leave, this combined system (of loyalty application integration via the enterprise service bus and CEP engine on the backend) triggers a complimentary offer aimed at making the customer happier and more likely to play again. For example, a customer who typically leaves the floor when he or she loses up to $500 might start getting offers of an extra hotel night free or a ticket to a show in the casino’s attempt to get the customer to stay longer.
The underpinning technology that makes all of this possible is CEP with real-time data caching. The data on current customers can be kept in memory for faster access and then constantly watched for changes or temporal events such as how often something occurs in given time frames. Writing database queries or complex rules can’t create the level of sensitivity or timing that CEP offers, making the event engine the logic centerpiece of the system.
Each customer has a calculated “loss threshold” or the amount of losses that person is willing to accept, after which he or she will stop gambling. By combining that customer information with perishable inventory, such as empty seats at a show or perfectly aged but unsold steaks at the restaurant, Caesars is able to make offers to customers at a moment that’s likely to be well-received and acted upon.
This turns a losing moment into just part of the Las Vegas experience, which includes much more than just wins and loses at the tables. It also provides Caesars with a competitive edge in a highly competitive industry.
Complex event processing has broad applications
The gaming industry is in the lead in leveraging CEP to create advanced customer experience management capabilities. But CEP can be used in a wide range of other industries including retail, transport/logistics and travel and leisure.
CEP is becoming a core component customer experience platforms. This platform gets data from outside sources, such as weather forecast channels on the Internet, GPS information or online real estate valuations and demographic data. These outside data sources can be leveraged to augment existing customer data. For example, in the transport/logistics industry, this information allows SLAs to be met regardless of unexpected obstacles. In travel and leisure businesses, complex events drive offers and cross sell/up sell pitches to customers.
Highly scalable technologies like cloud based applications and in-memory databases allow a brand or retailer to electronically sense every one of their loyal customers who have engaged with their brand through their platform whether checking into Caesars or shopping in the local mall on any one of several geo-location apps. Loyalty reward programs give the customer the incentive to connect, allowing marketers access to identify customers at an individual level in what can best be defined as a data for-reward transaction.
The number of separate data streams across social and mobile applications and the sheer volume of historical and contextual data makes in-memory application service the only storage and computing method that can respond in the time frames that have impact. CEP automates identification/respond capabilities and allows all of this real-time data to be finally used at the individual level as fast as it happens – the moment a customer enters the store, stands before the shelf, reaches the register or shops online. Retailers and brands know that there are only seconds to join a customer’s experience with relevant information, risk mitigation and interaction to move toward a closed sale.
While many think of customer engagement management as a front-end solution, it is the back-end integration with other data sources and event processing that makes it all work. CEP is the crucial piece in the center of this system that enables it to “know” customer history, predict customer responses and act on opportunities to engage the customer in real-time.