Howard McAuliffe’s Now Trending – August 2017


“CX” And Your Business

Don’t Know What That Is? You Actually Do & Here’s What’s Important


Howard McAuliffe

by Howard McAuliffe, Partner, Pinnacle Entertainment Group

What is “CX?” That’s what I wondered when I started reading an article about consumer trends. It turns out “CX” is simply a new way to say “customer experience.” I was struck by the fact that much like the term “CX,” the consumer trends that were outlined were basically a new way of explaining an old standard.

“Truthful Consumerism” was the trend outlined in the piece specifically as: “transparency, aspiration, positive impact, tolerance, and empowerment.” All of these things have been important to consumers for as long as I can remember, and probably for all of history. That being said, the trend is still important because the way customer experience can be broadcast broadly and rapidly to the world today is unprecedented. This is extremely important to our industry for a variety of reasons.

The aspects of “Truthful Consumerism” have been part of American culture for a long time. Everyone wants to be treated honestly (“transparency”), do better (“aspiration”), and help others at least in their own circle (“positive impact”). The United States Constitution was designed to provide “tolerance” and “empowerment” although we’ve certainly fallen short of these ideals throughout history. So while these current “trends” aren’t really new, they are more important than ever. When a person or organization excels or falls short, this can be amplified at rate unique to our time.

For example, Yelp took 2.5 years to reach 1 million reviews, then 1.25 years, or half that time, to go from 1 million to 10 million reviews. Consumers expect to be able to gather information quickly, and in most cases, instantly. If I’m in a new city and looking for a restaurant, I will not go to a place without reading reviews first. Information is abundant and readily available. Furthermore, advertising on TV, radio and billboards has been augmented by marketing messages in email inboxes, in social media ads and friends’ suggestions, in online articles, etc.

A natural reaction to all this information is that people seek filters. We look for brands, companies, and sources of information that we trust. If a company, individual, or industry violates our sense of what is right, we’ll simply eliminate them from considera

As an example, Uber is a fast-growing, successful technology start-up, but they quickly fired their CEO once claims of sexual harassment were made public and substantiated. They know that their brand could quickly collapse despite all its success, because their customers reject this individual’s behavior. The CEO had performed well by most business metrics of a start-up, but he violated the moral standards many of their customers expect.

Most of our industry’s businesses are community-based, and rely on repeat business from local customers. Their trust in our facilities to provide a safe, fun, and fair environment is essential to their experience and our profitability. If we do a good job, our success will be broadcast quickly, but the same is true if we fall short.

Compounding the situation is that shared information is processed faster and so naturally, must be condensed. Instead of saying “that is hilarious” we say “LOL.” In order to post anything on Twitter it must be expressed in 140 characters or less. In the case of the article I read that inspired this column, the writer chose “CX” instead of writing “customer experience.” Similarly, the customer experience can be filtered to a few words.

Here are two phrases I’ve heard about our games:

“Those machines are fun for the whole family.”

“Those machines are rigged and a rip off.”

Either statement can be easily transmitted, and if it’s the negative one, it can quickly have a real impact on our entire industry. It could become the way it is thought of in society, and if so, we’ll be filtered out as an out-of-home entertainment option for many.

This is exactly why I’m very proud of AAMA’s Fair Play Pledge. As our industry has become widely accepted and enjoyed as mainstream entertainment, our ability to self regulate is increasingly important. If we don’t, and our image is compromised by bad actors, it hurts all of us. On the flip side, when we do regulate and provide assurance of fair play, we all benefit.

Chris Felix laid this out perfectly in his RePlay column last month as he recounted the less-than-flattering piece the Today Show did on our industry in 2016. Conversely, this year they did a very positive piece after the announcement of the Fair Play Pledge. An important part of this story is that AAMA didn’t pitch the story to the Today Show –– they found it on their own.

Again, what we do is amplified quickly either positively or negatively. The more our businesses and associations practice and promote positive ideals and great “CX,” the more our industry will continue to thrive.


Howard McAuliffe loves to imagine and implement new products, business models, and ideas, and is a partner in Pinnacle Entertainment Group Inc. He’s an industry veteran who got his start in the business when he was just 16 and has 20 years of expertise in product development, as well as FEC and route operations. Howard’s wife Reem and young son Sami are the center of life outside of work. When he’s not working, Howard can be found enjoying the outdoors, hiking, fishing and mountaineering. Traveling anywhere new or to old favorites like the American West is a passion. Readers can visit for more information or contact Howard at [email protected], he welcomes positive as well as constructive feedback and counterpoints.




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