How to Keep Players Happy During Acquisition of a Mobile Casino?
This is a special article for the mobile casinos in the UK who are gearing up to acquire some other mobile casino(s). In the midst of extremely complicated legal and financial transactions which are part and parcel of every acquisition, it is quite likely that players' concerns and choices are severely sidelined or compromised.
However, at no stage of the acquisition process can casinos afford to take their players for granted. If players don't experience due care during this process, they might build up negative opinions about the mobile casinos, ultimately affecting the brand name of the new casino. The objective of this article is to share a vital perspective about “how to keep players happy” while executing such tedious acquisitions.
A Typical Acquisition Scenario for Mobile Casinos
When a mobile casino (named 'Big') buys the entire business of another mobile casino (named 'Small'), it is a typical case of an acquisition of a mobile casino. In simple terms, we may say that 'Big' is acquiring 'Small'. Such acquisitions can take place for multiple reasons. There is speculation in UK's real money mobile gaming industry that the recently introduced POC Tax is likely to trigger a number of acquisitions in the coming months. Let's not, however, get into the details of the possible reasons for acquisition as it is not the topic of this article today. Let's simply assume that 'Big' is acquiring 'Small' for certain business reasons, probably the way GoWild recently got acquired by 32 Red. When such acquisitions takes place, both mobile casinos need to handle the critical aspects such as legal transactions, financial transactions, employee morale, player satisfaction, supplier relations, etc. carefully.
Tips to Ensuring Effective Player Satisfaction During Company Takeovers
I am going to suggest a number of dos' and don'ts which should be followed by both the parties involved in the acquisition activity. Let's understand them one-by-one.
1. Form a Joint Acquisition Team
A number of business gurus believe that the primary reasons behind most wrong decisions and ineffective communications are parallel decision-making and parallel communication set-ups. I completely agree with them. So, although two mobile casinos are involved in the acquisition activity, they should begin to think like 'One' and should form a joint acquisition team that would take the decisions and communicate the same with the players at both ends. This is the fundamental step in the acquisition process. If this goes wrong or haphazardly, there is hardly any chance of any of the other measures falling in place.
2. Inform the Players Directly and At Least One Month in Advance
Recently, we observed a situation in which player satisfaction went for a toss and lot of negativity got created about both the casinos involved in the acquisition activity. The primary reason behind this was the lack of timely communication. GoWild intimated their players about the move just two days prior to the actual acquisition, which gave them absolutely no time to react. In my opinion, at least one month's advance intimation about the acquisition should be given to the players, so they have ample time to withdraw their funds or play with any non-cashable bonuses should they decide to not play at the new casino.
Secondly, 'Big' and 'Small' should ensure that they inform their players directly, ideally by sending an email / SMS to them or through a direct telephone call. One of these two communication methods (which are the direct ones) should be adopted by the mobile casinos before spreading the message through other communication channels (such as social media, casino websites, newsletters, etc.) which are accessible to the outsiders too. It's extremely frustrating for the players to know through social media or through any other communication channel that their favourite mobile casino is getting acquired by a biggie; a personal note is always nice even if the message may be bad news.
In short, both casinos should ensure that their players are among the first set of stakeholders to be informed about the acquisition activity, and the flow of communication is direct, i.e between the casinos and the players.
3. Provide an 'Account Closure' option to the Players
A grave mistake that casinos might end-up committing during an acquisition activity is to directly move all the player accounts from 'Small' to 'Big' without giving any prior intimation to the players. Though such activities are not technically 'illegal', they are definitely unethical if performed without the players' consent, and are definitely objectionable from a player point of view. From an information security perspective, it is critical to let the players (who have accounts at 'Small') know in advance that the movement of existing player accounts from 'Small' to 'Big' is scheduled to take place on a specific date, so if they don't want their accounts to be shipped automatically, they could close the same before the specified date. We would recommend casinos to provide at least three weeks' ‘account closure window’ to the players.
Providing correct information about the process of movement of player accounts and offering sufficient time to the players to close their accounts are the key elements of executing this step in a seamless manner.
4. Effective Integration of the Accounts if a Player has Accounts with Both the Mobile Casinos
A tricky situation which is likely to occur is that the players might already have accounts at both 'Big' and 'Small'. Some players might choose to close one of the accounts before the movement of accounts takes place, however many won't really bother about it. Both 'Big' and 'Small' must ensure that a seamless account-integration-process is in place, by which a player's account at 'Small' automatically gets merged with their account at 'Big' and their points / bonuses / deposits / winnings are simply carried forward.
Several situations may arise when casinos decide to merge accounts:
- How would the casinos determine if players have accounts at both the places, given the fact that usernames, bank account details, phone numbers, email ids and verified residential addresses may or may not be the same for a player? I may own two or more houses in this country, and be able to verify both addresses via bank statements or utility bills.
- 'Small's' VIP / loyalty points or bonus systems might be completely mis-aligned to 'Big's' schemes, and 'Big' certainly doesn't want to disappoint its loyal players by offering extra benefits to the merging accounts. (See Point 6 below.)
- Identity crisis: Which user credentials would the merged account holders use -- the old ones or the new ones?
The above questions may be addressed differently according to the specific data integration problems involved, and these decisions could be taken by the Joint Acquisition Team mentioned under point 1. 'Keeping it simple' is extremely important here, and without any complicated processes or any tedious calculations, the integration should take place automatically.
Needless to mention, an advance intimation about the account integration process should be given to the players who have accounts at both the casinos.
5. Use Affiliate Relations Effectively
Now-a-days, most of the mobile casinos have affiliate programmes in place. Affiliates are normally the magazines and the review sites who objectively study the activities performed by the casinos and share relevant information / tips / news with the players.
If mobile casinos involve their respective affiliates in the acquisition activity and share with them the information that is relevant to the players on timely basis, affiliates can surely play the role of the communication partner. It is a shame that most affiliates often hear about the news from outside sources. Making optimum use of this effective communication channel is in the hands of the mobile casinos involved, and they should not underestimate the reach of their affiliates. For instance, Androidslots is currently followed by the players from over 125 countries across the globe. Involving an affiliate like Androidslots as a communication partner during such company-wide changes would definitely help both the mobile casinos involved in the activity.
However, both 'Big' and 'Small' need to realise that hiring an affiliate as a communication partner is not an alternative to their own primary responsibility of sending the first direct message (about the acquisition activity) to the players. Affiliates should come into the picture only after the first communication takes place between the casinos and the players.
6. Don't Flood the Newly Moved Players with Extravagant Bonuses and Offers
When the integration of player-accounts from 'Small' to 'Big' takes place, one of the biggest mistakes that 'Big' is likely to make is to shower extravagant offers and bonuses on the newly moved players. I would sincerely suggest to not take this path. It is important for 'Big' to understand that flooding the newly moved players with offers is an injustice (though unintentional) to 'Big's' own players who have been playing their games for quite some time. Once the movement of accounts takes place, 'Big' should ensure that players are not discriminated on the basis of their 'newly moved' or 'already there' status.
Secondly, after such movements the first thing players expect is clear communication and guidance for basic stuff like games and banking sections of the casino, and not flowery offers! Making available a comprehensive guide about playing at 'Big' to the newly moved players; having dedicated customer service that would cater to the smallest and the silliest queries of these players; and a genuine intent to make these players feel comfortable should be on 'Big's' priority list.
Satisfying players is not at all difficult if the mobile casinos involved in the acquisition activity operate as a team and keep the players well informed. Timely and direct communication, proactive and robust processes to close / integrate player-accounts, and effective guiding mechanisms to help newly moved players settle at the new casino are the key elements of achieving an ultimate player-satisfaction during the acquisition of a mobile casino.