Tricks or Treasure? An inside look at the Casino Experience

by Colin Shaw on October 5, 2011

Who are the extreme players in the field of Customer Experience? Casinos.

Even though we all know the odds favor of the house, people still flock to casinos. After losing a big wad of cash at the blackjack table you may be inclined to think that they tricked you, but really the casino has mastered the art of catering to your subconscious. After all there are no bars on the doors keeping you inside spending money; there’s only that rush from winning, the warm atmosphere and the free drinks – all things that are meticulously planned by the casino.

The methods casinos use to entice customers are so effective because they have to be. Unlike other products and services, casinos must overcome our culture’s aversion to the many vices they offer. Here’s a rundown of the top ten subconscious cues casinos’ use to overcome the iron grip you have on your wallet and your morals.

The casino is not evil, it’s disarming. The low lights and often red walls give you a sense of comfort while all the flashing lights and ringing bells get you amped up to spend more money. They lay out their services very strategically: they keep the restrooms, food, and cashier way in the back and the floor seems to have no plan at all. These deliberate layout cues keep patrons inside, making it more likely they’ll get caught up in another game or slot instead of leaving.

Casinos are utilizing every tool they can to maximize profit, which is essentially the same thing every company seeks. Case in point: the casino knows that a patron’s chance of winning big is almost non-existent, but they keep them baited with small or near wins. After all you just got $100 from the $5 slot machine; you must be close to the jackpot! The design is to redirect a customer’s attention so that they do not focus on “not winning.”

There are lessons to be learned when looking at casinos. First, cultivating a specific customer experience can produce dramatic results. Second, focusing on the subtle things can enhance the customer’s behavior. The subconscious cues the casinos use are not vicious tricks, and they are not exclusive. Any company can use some of the casinos’ tactics with minor modifications:

Get rid of your clocks. If your customer gets caught up in shopping for a new phone, you do not want them to dash out when they realize they’ve spent the past half hour playing games on every model.
Turn down the lights. Lots of modern stores are all light and shining chrome, but has that ever left you feeling overwhelmed or alienated? Make your business cozy with ambiance.
Offer near-wins. This technique is applicable beyond the nickel slots. Coupons or discounts on certain products, freebies with purchases or free upgraded shipping will thrill your customers.

Think about it: casinos provide a Customer Experience so wonderful that they not only overcome patrons’ innate desire not to spend money, but they create incredible loyalty.

Colin ShawTricks or Treasure? An inside look at the Casino Experience