Posted on 2017-11-06 08:54 by Joakim Thörn

Here is another video from the Customer Experience Summit and the CX Talks gathering in Atlanta October 2, 2017. Sterling Jackson from MGM Resort International speaks about how to drive Customer-Centric Culture and why we need to empower the people. What can you learn from this? Type your comments and thoughts below and share if you like it. <3



Here is a full transcript of this 10-minute video and presentation.

Today I'm pretty heartbroken. It's hard to make sense of something that makes no sense at all given the tragic shooting that occurred last night in Las Vegas. It's something that weighs heavy on my heart. So I extend my deepest condolences to all of the families. And the friends who were affected by those victims who lost their lives or who were shot.

You know Las Vegas is one of the most iconic cities in the world and it's always been a welcoming place. And I pray that it will continue to be a welcoming place.

You know most people recognize that there are a lot of hotel rooms on the strip, but they often don't realize that there are over 150000 rooms on that four-mile stretch of road called the strip which makes it you know more densely populated. Regarding hotel rooms than any other city in the world more than New York. But the reality was it wasn't always this way. And in fact, in 1930 there were only 5000 people that lived in Las Vegas. And then in 1931 during the Great Depression President Hoover signed a bill to construct what is now the Hoover Dam. And then within three months, 20000 men moved to Las Vegas to help build that massive project, but they quickly realized that when their shifts were over, there wasn't a lot for these men to do regarding entertainment other than the speakeasies. So eventually Las Vegas or the city of Nevada or the state of Nevada legalized gambling both as a way to keep the men occupied as well as increased revenue.

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But it wasn't until the 1950s and 60s when Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and The Rat Pack established the reputation of Las Vegas as an entertainment destination. So fast forward to the 90s, the mega resort era was born starting with the Mirage in 1989 in the Excalibur Treasure Island, Luxor, MGM Grand, Money Karlo, New York New York, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay the Venetian and Paris. Everything in Vegas during the 90s was about massive scale. Some of these hotel rooms have more than 6000 rooms each. They're just ginormous, and everything was over the top, in fact, this Bellagio fountain is the fifth most photographed thing in the world on Instagram. This growth continued into the 2000s causing Nevada to become the fastest growing state in the country for several years.


The bankruptcy papers ready to sign

And during that time MGM Resorts acquired the Mirage the Bellagio Treasure Island Excalibur circus Luxor and Monte Carlo. But a lot of people don't recognize or realize that all these resorts are just part of one company MGM Resorts. Vegas became such a hot spot for entertainment and gaming that some of the wealthiest people in the world started coming here to play.


And these high rollers as many as we call them were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes millions per trip sometimes per hand. And so we wanted to make sure that they kept coming back and so we bought six Gulfstream jets so that we can pick them up anywhere in the world and fly them to and from our resorts. We also bought an entire fleet of limousines including five Bentleys. And so we can shuttle them around town. And when they come of course they want to stay in exclusive places. So we have certain areas in some of our resorts that aren't visible or to the public and people don't even know they exist. This here is the MGM villas The mansions. And we like to call them some of these. There's only about 30 of them at the MGM Grand. They're up to 15000 square feet apiece to have their own swimming pools butlers and all kinds of crazy stuff. Pretty incredible. But then in 2008 and 2009 the financial crisis hit and our fortunes turned, and spending came to a screeching halt. We laid off 9000 people in our stock plummeted.

And because MGM Resorts is the largest employer in the state of Nevada it was also catastrophic to the state as well. And in the midst of all this, we were halfway through building a$9 billion projects called City Center which included the Mandarin Oriental The Aria, The Dhara and the famous Crystal shopping center which includes Prada Gucci Louis Vuitton and others. But the banks stopped lending to us, and so we were stuck. And I remember my CEO telling the story of him sitting in his office with the bankruptcy papers ready to sign. And there were news helicopters flying above overhead circling the property waiting for the story to break that Las Vegas had gone bankrupt.


We are in the holy sh*t business

Miraculously we were able to secure financing at the last minute and finish the city center project. Here's what it looks like today and it's stunningly beautiful, and it has some of the top-rated hotels in the city and even the world. But once we got through that financial crisis we took a step back and acknowledged that the world had changed. We needed to start acting with more business discipline and to figure out who we wanted to be as a brand. We decided that our mission would be to entertain the human race. You know we're pretty ambitious.

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So we researched what entertainment means to people, and we learned that people deal with a whole lot of stress in their lives. Hard uncomfortable and painful stress. And they use entertainment as a reward to cope with stress. But why is entertainment such a powerful carrot? Well, neuroscience tells us that our brains are wired to minimize pain and to maximize pleasure. And so when people come to Vegas they're subconsciously expecting their entertainment activities to do just that. They want to get rid of those feelings of loneliness and exhaustion and hunger and boredom, and they want to replace those with excitement and connection, and relaxation and those insights are the basis for what is now our new first-ever national advertising campaign that I'm very excited to show to you right now. Have a look.


To empower the people

Thank you, that's exactly the reaction I was hoping for. But as you can imagine when you you know show it up a hotel you know creating great experiences that inspire joy and excitement and thrill don't just happen by accident. We had a monumental task to set the foundation for a cultural transformation across all of these different properties. So that we had to define consistent service standards across 27 different resorts each of which had you know different brands different positionings, we had to train 77000 employees we had to get the endorsement and support from our senior leadership. And we had to empower our employees to be able to wow our guests without having to ask for permission to do so and not punish them when they actually spend money to fix things that go wrong but actually celebrate them and treat them like heroes when they do.

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So we made it easy for our employees to remember how they can create defining moments for our guests using the acronyms show which stands for smiling greet. Hear their story own the experience. And while the guests and we made sure that everyone has an action plan based on show for their specific role. As you can see here so that they can actually figure out what that means for them. And we even put posters in employee areas to make them feel like the stars of their show like these posters that say this is my stage we are the show. So I'm sure that you've all heard the quote from Peter Drucker that says culture eats strategy for breakfast.


Achieving a customer-centric culture

Let me bring that to life with a story a couple of weeks ago one of our security officers noted that I guessed it accidentally left a winning ticket in a casino and had walked away. And you know we had no idea where they were. And so the security guard went to our surveillance cameras which cover 99 percent of the casinos by the way, and was able to identify when exactly the ticket was left what the individual looked like and where she was which was a totally different part of the resort, and just hundreds of other people and was able to return that ticket to her. And this was her reaction when that ticket was returned that security officer got a great big hug. From that Individual. And so this is what happens when everybody in the company believes that they can do something special to create a better experience for the guests whether it's part of the job description or not.


Another example in the aria resort there was a couple who arrived at 3:00 AM without a reservation on a sold out night. And they were distraught because they had driven all night to get there in time to say goodbye to a family member who had you know fallen ill and they explain that this might be the last time that they have to say you have to say goodbye before she passed away. So the manager spent the next 30 minutes calling resorts all over the city and actually ended up finding a room at a computer that was the last available one in the city. But it happened to be a really large and expensive suite. So he negotiated a cheaper rate I arranged for a limo to take them over to that competitor property and Mitch with excuse me they had a place to stay.


Creating customers for life

That kindness of treating somebody like you would want to be treated is something that creates loyalty. And so a couple of weeks later that manager got a letter from those guests that was heartfelt filled with gratitude, and to this day they are loyal present to the Aria brand.

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So for us at MGM Resorts achieving a customer-centric culture requires continual focus in six areas: 

Guest feedback, employee feedback rewards, and recognition training, communications and performance management. I believe that as more companies understand how to transform their cultures to become more customer-centric, there will be a ripple effect that compounds a ripple effect that improves life for all of us in small ways that compounds in profound ways as we treat others as we would want to be treated and strive to make experiences a little less painful and a little more joyful. Thank you.


Topics: Customer Expeience operations, Customer Experience framework, Customer Experience disciplines, Employee Experience, Customer Centric Culture

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About the Author

Joakim Thörn
Joakim Thörn
Customer Engagement Transformist. Father of two, husband, speaker, Helping companies grow through amazing Customer Experience. #CX,#EX,#EEM, #CXM read more