In the second episode of Infobip Africa’s BipGurus Podcast series, Isaac Akanni, account executive at Infobip Nigeria, is joined by Ijeoma Okeke, CXPA Lead Nigeria Network. They take you through the dos and don’ts when it comes to setting up a Customer Experience strategy in the betting and gaming space.
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We’ve seen reports that the gaming industry is expected to keep growing year on year. Some reports say about a 12% increase. What are your thoughts towards the growth generally or the projection for growth for the gaming industry in Africa?
I think it’s, it’s important, you know, the fact that people, using it as a leisure, to unwind, engage, and actually more like put their money where their mouth is. In terms of Africa and Nigeria, in particular, [the population] is very passionate about sports. And so this gives them an opportunity to be able to do betting with their friends, engage in discourse. It’s just a beautiful platform. An industry that is really emerging and getting stronger in Africa and Nigeria in particular. So the projections, I would say, I totally agree with.
Customer experience seems to be the deciding factor in the industry. And I’m sure you would agree with me on that one. What is the most important priority for customer experience in the gaming industry?
Like any other industry, we’re all here to make big profits based on what the customer wants. So for you to deliver on what the customer wants, you need to understand who your customer is. What do they like? What are their expectations, and how can you meet their expectations? Because to actually thrive in any business, you are meeting an expectation and getting value for it.
So what are the expectations of this customer, and what will differentiate your services from the services of all the other operators within your industry?
And that’s customer experience. It’s a common differentiator across all industries.
How easy is it to interact on your platform? How easy is it to execute the key processes? You know, placing the bets, making a withdrawal or making a deposit, enquiring about your services? How easy, how interactive are your platforms? And how do they meet the expectations of your customers? So for you to know the expectations of your customer, you need to know who your customer is. You need to be able to mine insights from the interactions with your customer. And at the same time, meet those kinds of expectations. I think that, for me, is key: Who are your customers? Do you know your customer?
I’ve also worked with many, many gaming businesses, and I know, at the backend, the core system itself is usually similar. The all odds engine and all that usually (is supplied) by the same provider, and a difference between bookie A and bookie B is usually that experience. There’s a book I read recently which speaks on … So the company said there were two options, they either promised their customers 24-hour same-day cash-out and deliver or promise the same 24-hour cash-out, or not deliver. Or promise them the transfers, cash out, and deliver to them. So it’s a case of over-promise and under-deliver on that promise, or not delivering at all? What do you say is more important for gaming businesses? Since that competition is around the experience, not the gaming engine itself. So do you think you over-promise, under-deliver, or just do your best?
I will take it from a different angle. So if you promised your customers 24 hours, I would deliver in five hours to you, and you’ve over-delivered because you promised them 24 while delivering on five.
But to understand, you need to do a bit of competition analysis.
If you’re delivering on five in your perspective, you exceeded your (own) and not the customer’s expectation. You don’t define your target and expect your customers to align with it.
You have to understand your customers, what your customers want, and then try to align the strategy, your institution, or what the customer expects.
But in terms of what your customer wants, a typical Nigerian …
… wants everything now!
Yes! It’s typically Nigerian when it comes (to wanting everything now)… I mean, it’s also me! If I need to make a transfer and transfer to you, I want the transfer to you to hit your account immediately.
If it has to do with money, we have zero patience threshold for it. We want it now, immediately. So that’s my expectation. If you want to meet that expectation, you need first off to understand what I want, and then you perform.
I know your experience in the industry is more towards enterprise. But if you scale it down to businesses just starting out with little funding: They don’t have so much money to throw around with marketing and customer experience. To an already large extent, we’ve established [the importance of] ‘know your customer’ and ‘know what they want’. But for new entrants, what do you think should be their focus in terms of building and getting their market share?
I would say you need to know what your target market is, depending on how big you are or the kinds of funds you have. You have to decide whether you want to operate regionally or whether you want to operate at a state level or a local government level. You look at what you have, you look at your purse, you look at how big you are, the funds you have, and then it will help you to define how you want to operate. And you don’t have to operate nationally when you don’t have the money for national.
The same will be the experience in terms of what’s your target market.
Who are the customers that you’re targeting? Where are they located? How do you channel that to maximize value? How to design your processes to be able to exceed the expectations and for you to be able to exceed expectations?
You have to sit back and understand who they are and what they want.
That will then be the bedrock for how you design your strategy, your experience strategy, and it has to be aligned with your business strategy, which at this point can be on the regional level, the local government level, or the rest of it.
So you’re saying we should spend more time on strategy before deploying the marketing solution or the platform itself?
Totally, Isaac. Because the truth is, what’s the strategy? What do you want? I want to make money. How do I make money? You know, how do I make money? What kind of funds do I have to be able to build what I want to build? Should I start small and scale up? Or can I do a big bang approach and just hit it there?
And then the second part is your customer experience strategy, which will be designed to be able to align with what your business strategy is. Do you know what your brand attributes are?
And then what’s your market strategy? Are you hitting at a local level? Are you going to play at a national level? Are you going to play on an African level or international level?
It just depends on how you want to be able to do this.
I have some startup experience myself, and we’ve seen the pressure of looking good and declaring big numbers on LinkedIn. I’ve seen businesses miss this important aspect of growth: getting the strategy right. So you’re saying get the strategy right first? And then focus on what your customers want. And then you are on the way to deploying a new world-class gaming experience?
Yes. And if I want to expand, I can scale up based on my successes, based on my knowledge based on the skills I’ve acquired, and the rest. I can decide to scale up now or not because I’m beginning to understand the market better. So that’s, that’s my approach to it.
So you say no pressure to scale. Attend to your customers, make them happy and grow from there.
They say the world is a global village. I would say a social network has made it not just a global, not a village, and it is almost at a street level. Your business is outside.
One little mistake, and you’re canceled. Having the right customer experience strategy is one of the most crucial things or one of the most crucial aspects that businesses need to focus on. I know you would say there is no silver bullet. I understand I need to focus on strategy and understand that I need to focus on what my customers want. But aside from that, do you think we’re missing anything else? What else would you say is important to creating that entire strategy?
I want to talk about the industry I know, which is in terms of customer experience. If you’ve designed your business strategy at a business level, you know this is what you want, your forecast, and the vision or level you want to play in. Then you now design your customer experience strategy to align with your business strategy.
How do you achieve whatever business strategy or goal? Customer experience is a differentiating factor. You need to understand who your customers are. When you understand your customers or what they want, you will be able to serve and understand what they want and how they want it.
You will then be able to now design an experience. That is not what you think they want, but what you believe in. So you can do observational research, where you’re just sitting down and observing them in their natural habitat, like, how and where they go and play. Why do they go to the place they go?
Soliciting feedback from those that are servicing them. It is also very key because we’ll get a lot of insights from this. You can then put all these things into designing an experience.
What customers want is, ‘I want to enjoy it’.
Because for me, I’m also going there to relax. I want to enjoy what I’m doing. So it has to be easy. It has to be easy. It has to be enjoyable. It has to be interactive. I need to be excited when I’m on the platform.
So when you fully understand your customers, you are able to design it.
If you know that the bulk of your customers is not well-read – are blue-collar – you cannot design something too sophisticated. That is only for someone who works in Silicon Valley.
You need to put customers into consideration by designing the basic things. And you need to keep measuring at every point in time.
You have to keep measuring because it’s not ‘I’ve done it, and that’s it’. It’s a continuous journey. You need to keep continuously improving. You need to make sure you have the funnel where you’re actually mining insights from the rest of the customers.
I always tell people to gather insights from the customers and frontline teams supporting those customers. That’s working for me.
I was going to add that, you know, there’s a sort of mindset that brings people into the gaming industry. They are looking for something, so it’s your job to figure out why they came around. I know I’ve asked you many things today. So any final thoughts?
The final words for me will be you cannot overemphasize the importance of knowing your customers. And one thing you need to understand is that customer experience is the main differentiating factor from your other competition. So you need to focus on that. And it’s not just paying lip service, but making it something that is on top of your mind for you at any point in time.
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