There’s a lot of money flooding into the ASEAN gambling market, but nothing is forever and the industry will need to find ways to optimize the tools it has. To help explore how that could be done, GamePlan Consultants founder Sudhir Kalé spoke to the crowd about an emphasis on customer experience (CX).
With $65 billion expected to be invested in the market in the next few years, Kalé noted that marketing is no longer cutting it amongst the top businesses of the world. McDonalds recent killed its Chief Marketing Officer role entirely, opting to make marketing a bigger concern with the rest of its departments.
Kalés’s solution goes by the acronym S.M.I.L.E.S, and it has CX at its heart.
The first part of that acronym is segmentation, and it’s one the gambling industry needs to pay heed to. Not all customers are made alike, and the industry needs to focus its energies on those that benefit them most, rather than trying to win everybody over and displease them all. He stressed though that this is very different from studying demographics, as that’s really just an average from a data set. Instead, operators need to really understand what makes their customers special.
The Philippines, Kalé noted, still has such growth in its industry that segmentation hasn’t been a focus yet, noting the IRs he’s visited are largely the same. But as competition grows, the IR that figures out its segment first will pull ahead.
To win over that segment will take market orientation, the M in the acronym. Figure out what gamblers prioritize, and give them that.
But to offer the best customer service will take Internal Marketing, the I. Business leaders need to know how to keep their employees happy, and get their buy-in on the strategy going forward. Kalé noted that companies that focus on the happiness of the employee, rather than the customer, end up getting both. He stressed that a 10% increase in employee engagement, even if it increases costs, has proven to bring in 37% more revenue overall.
The L stands for linkage analysis. Companies need to do a better job of linking all of the data at their disposal to how it can be applied to a customer’s journey. He noted that Macau single day gamblers reduce their expenses to gamble more, even taking slower modes of transportation. An entrepreneurial operator could find ways to deliver faster transit at low cost or for free to expand their time at the tables.
Emotional competence again emphasizes keeping employees happy, so they can better service customers. Here, he gave the example of GAP, which ended its practice of having employees on call to see if it increased service. It did, and trial stores saw huge increases in sales as a result. Happy employees simply do a better job.
Finally there is Service blueprinting, or the practice of mapping out all of the touchpoints a customer has with the business and emphasizing the ones that have the most impact. The customer may need to have a great experience walking in the door to keep them coming, but not care so much about others, like in the case of the Macau single day travelers. Where the customer expects great service though, they better have it.
Following this formula, Kalé noted that companies have proven to perform better and bring in higher revenue. When asked if this is something only high end products or brands can achieve, Kalé noted that even budget options, like Southwest Airlines, have shown that a focus on S.M.I.L.E.S. ensures happier and loyal customers, and that results in profit.