By Emiliano Sanchez, iGaming consultant*
With the diversification of offers for players and the growing demand for automated contact and gamification systems, one must ask: what happened to the classic ways of doing business? Are they still relevant? And, of course, is the personalized contact necessary for the future of any operation?
After years of experience in the industry and working with different communication and gamification systems to manage large databases in real time (e.g., Solitics), there is a constant in all businesses and it is loyalty. There is no business that escapes from this, as its benefits are not only given in the form of profits, but it is also much more than that. It is a symbiotic relationship (and the latter is quite a topic I will not delve into today).
Loyalty examples are seen on a day-to-day basis: airline miles, credit card points, grocery deals, free coffee after 10 coffees. They are all automatic, everywhere the same. When everyone is VIP, no one is really VIP and that’s what we live in the present. The biggest problem with loyalty systems is that we advertise them to attract more customers, but, at the same time, we make known the importance of each customer according to their level. The low-level client knows that is low-level and is not important for the operation. The high-level client knows its value so he/she can push for greater benefits in his/her favor. Keep in mind it is necessary to promote them as it is one of the points by which some players will choose one place over another. What I recommend is to have real contact.
KEY ASPECTS OF LOYALTY
Every time I explain what loyalty really is, I do so with the most basic example: if there are two restaurants, but your friend works in one of them and you know he will recommend you the best dish of the day, and he will probably give you a discount or even a free dessert, which one will you choose to eat frequently?
This basic example illustrates the two real keys of loyalty:
a. Trust (illustrated by the friend)
b. Unannounced benefits (everything the friend can offer without being announced or expected)
These two keys are highly intertwined. Trust is based on communication, honesty and being able to go further when not asked. Knowing that person will be there and you can count on them. This transcends the operator’s brand, because we are talking about human relationships between the VIP operator and the customer. It’s a never-ending process. The unannounced benefits, the exceptions to the rule, are the strongest weapons with which trust is strengthened. The basics are always the same: the channels of communication and interaction in both ways. The idea behind retention and loyalty is to form a hybrid team between sales, support, and marketing. A team that not only has the technical foundations to solve any problem in the instant, but also the necessary charisma to quickly foster a relationship of trust with a customer. It should have the ability to discern when it is time to grant or deny these unannounced benefits with complete clarity and honesty to the customer.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
Now, going back to the original questions:
a. What happened to classic ways of doing business? Are they still relevant?
They are still used, but to a lesser extent by increasing automation. It is a clear milestone for business, but human contact is sacrificed, which remains a key to customer retention and loyalty. While you can segment as much as you want (and I will talk about this on another time), not all the player’s qualities will fall into segmentation models. In the end, players are human, with difficulties and successes, facing problems in their daily lives. These are intimate details that only one VIP account manager knows and, in many cases, share with the customer. Therefore, it is still relevant. It is no coincidence that VIP services still exist in large hotel chains, casinos and so on; where their customers are given a different and personalized human touch.
b. Is the personalized contact necessary for the future of any operation?
So it is, now more than ever. We have talked about trust and unannounced benefits for a simple reason: the constant communication reinforced with these benefits increases the trust in the VIP account manager by the customer, thus generating greater confidence in the brand. The increase in customer satisfaction will directly impact revenue and customer’s loyalty to the brand. Two-way communication, where there is account follow up along with personalized attention at any time, deepens customers’ connection to the brand, enhancing the image of the brand and its long-term business. It is a never-ending process, where a low-level VIP customer will feel the value and appreciation the operation has for his business increasing in the long term his LVT. In turn, high-level customers will also be encouraged to do this interaction and know where to go when they need something without having to go through robots, emails or basic support overwhelmed with their own operations.
The best VIP system is one where everyone feels VIP, but let none knows or cares about the other VIPs. It’s a system where everyone feels the added value of being part of the brand by the ongoing contact and customization that VIP account managers can give them. It’s a strategy where the two-way communication enables people to connect with the brand, strengthened by these unannounced benefits as each situation warrants with honest and clear communication. At the end of the day, the best operator for the player is where his/her “friends” work.
*Emiliano Sanchez is a seasoned iGaming professional with vast experience in B2B and B2C operations. He is currently working as CCO at Mancala Gaming, and is a Business Development Consultant at Mobius Interactive Ltd.