As the leading online gaming operator in Greece, Stoiximan is well-versed in the art of using customer service as a key brand differentiator in the wider European and international iGaming markets. Stathis Loverdos, Director of Services at Stoiximan/Betano opens up about the crucial role customer service plays in live sports betting and why his company’s current focus on self-service capabilities with Zendesk is only the beginning…
What’s the key to your success and how did you approach expanding into new territories such as Germany?
In the gaming industry, every touchpoint with the player is an opportunity to deliver an exceptional customer experience, to stand out from the crowd, create brand loyalty and increase a player’s lifetime-value. Stoiximan/Betano’s user-centered philosophy means providing exceptional customer support and that has always been an important part of our growth strategy. In the gaming industry there are lots of products that offer similar value, so customer service can be a decisive factor in customer loyalty. As well as continuously upgrading our internal customer service systems, both in software and process innovation, at Stoiximan/Betano we have heavily invested over the years in creating our own technology thanks to our talented personnel. With more than 650 employees the company has evolved to become the largest GameTech company in Greece and one of the fastest growing in Europe, producing technologically advanced products and delivering an immersive gaming experience. Based on our successful modus operandi in Greece, we are now present in six markets using the name Stoiximan in Cyprus and the Betano brand in Germany, Austria, Romania and Portugal.
What is unique about working in the Greek betting market and how do any specific challenges differ from those across other European markets?
Each market has to be treated differently and we strategically enter regulated, or soon to be regulated, markets with uniquely identifiable characteristics. We localise offering a special, tailor-made gaming experience to the countries we operate, custom features to assist our members and catapult their experience while always tending to their needs. Therefore, Greece was actually born out of that need. Stoiximan/Betano Group is a 100per cent Greek company marketed as a platform offered by players for players and grasping that need of the Greek market at the time to deliver unique personalised experiences to its members, with top-notch CRM & Marketing communications and distinct customer support. At the same time, Stoiximan created a big portfolio of a wide range of affiliates trusting the brand and its dynamics, promoting to the world and helping them throughout the brand building process. Furthermore, the Greek market has experienced players that need to feel respected and appreciated as they understand the product deeply. Greece is a more Sportsbook-oriented market that loves seasonal Casino endeavours, while its online users want to be assisted in a very fast pace. Therefore, besides product, we created an impressive in-house Customer Support team, without outsourcing any form of communication, ready and dedicated to their cause. To make our users feel like Stoiximan members.
In terms of appealing towards the growing millennial market through social media, what trends have you seen in recent months and where do you see the future of social media evolving for players?
Providing quick and accurate responses is very important for our customers. We are now using apps such as Viber and WhatsApp to provide immediate feedback and resolve any issues quickly and efficiently. We believe that these are the channels of the future, particularly for the gaming industry. As our millennial customers are increasingly embracing social apps for customer support, we decided to use Zendesk, a software application which provides us with the flexibility to add new channels as our customers’ needs evolve. Currently 55% of Stoiximan and Betano’s customer communication comes through live chat and 18% via email, while Viber and other social apps are responsible for 12% of the customer enquiries. The remaining 15% of customer interactions are allocated to voice channels.
You’re developing self-service capabilities; do you feel there’s a reluctance from traditional gaming brands to embrace this technology and why is it important to work with companies like Zendesk to push technological advances forward?
We are planning to introduce self-service capabilities to provide structured guidance that addresses the most common customer enquiries via an online FAQ content hub. The company is also planning to use Zendesk’s dynamic content feature, which offers automated translation, to make this content available into multiple languages. Zendesk offers great flexibility and rich product capabilities that allow us to continuously improve our customer service operations.
Zendesk provides a variety of data about the nature of the customer enquiries and the way our customer support team is handling them. We can track a number of metrics, including first contact resolution, reply times vs wait times, number of tickets resolved and many others. Moreover, the platform allows us to combine data from different business apps and create easy to understand visual dashboards, graphs and charts. Zendesk is smooth for agents and smooth for our customers. It also offers a lot of great features that help us improve efficiency. For instance, triggers and automations is a very powerful feature as it helps us to prioritize urgent issues, so that we can address them effectively. This also allows us to classify the customer requests in different categories and allocate the tickets to the right agents to ensure each customer request is dealt with quickly. We also use macros to automate simple tasks, which helps us improve efficiency.
Moving forward, we are planning to integrate Zendesk more closely with our business applications and expand the use of the company’s product functionalities to get a more comprehensive view of customer interactions across all channels. As a customer-focused business, we are fully committed to providing exceptional service to our customers and working with Zendesk has helped us to deliver on this promise.
With the future of European iGaming in flux as the possibility of tighter compliance and AML requirements loom, how is Stoiximan using data and social media to ensure a successful future?
First of all, we must say that for Stoiximan / Betano, Responsible Gaming is not a contractual obligation as it is also stipulated in the regulation that all trusted providers must comply with. As a company, we invest in partnerships and initiatives that protect the player from excessive betting and ensure a credible environment where everyone can enjoy the game responsibly. Furthermore, we have adopted an approach developed around the Responsible Gaming policy and the AML (Anti-Money Laundering) prevention policy. In this context, we have developed mechanisms for the self-protection of players. These mechanisms include the ability to set financial thresholds up to and including self-exclusion, and maintaining informed decision-making policies in order to provide us with insight into the quality of player activity. We have also hired a team of specially trained agents who are able to identify instances of problematic betting behavior, to ensure responsible play. Data analytics tools are also key to helping Stoiximan/Betano manage its customer support team more effectively. We receive weekly reports which provide a detailed breakdown of activity by hour and day, so that we are able to use this data to assess the value of our customers` activity. We are also a member of the International Betting Integrity Association (formerly known as ESSA) thus further enhancing the worldwide effort to safeguard integrity and prevent corruption in the context of betting. At this level and taking into account Anti-money laundering cases that concern the betting market internationally, at Stoiximan/Betano we implement mechanisms with the support of Artificial Intelligence and especially Machine Learning, so that we can recognize suspicious transactions and notify National Financial Authorities and regulators immediately.
How do you measure the impact of the customer experience with players? Are you predominantly focused on retention and spend or is there more to it?
Retention is obviously a critical indicator when measuring the overall engagement of players towards your product & services as it shows a general trend towards returning customers. Of course, retention rate cannot be the sole criterion when assessing CX as these may lead to certain fallacies that you cannot foresee from Retention figures. At Stoiximan/Βetano, we not only look at the retention and spend capability of our users but evaluate quality indicators, as we want to develop a stronger and more engaged relationship between our agents and our clients. To ensure the best possible experience, Stoiximan/Betano has invested in one of the best customer relationship management system internationally. The goal was to integrate all channels so that the Customer Support team can share customer information and history at the same time and gain the capacity to evaluate the efficiency of our agents in relation to user requests and activity. As Stoiximan/Betano was growing, it was necessary to ensure and expand customer service operations across different markets. We chose Zendesk because it offered great scalability and allowed us to centralize all customer interactions into a single platform. Since the introduction of Zendesk in 2018, our customer satisfaction score has increased by 8% and the efficiency of resolving customer enquiries has improved dramatically. For instance, our one touch resolution rate is 97%, which means that the majority of the roughly 95,000 customer enquiries that the support team receives every month are resolved with a single agent response. Moreover, 77% of the emails adhere to the service level agreements (SLA) set for each customer segment. Most importantly, Stoiximan/Betano has been able to consolidate all interactions with the customer into a single platform and scale support to match the company`s growth. Understanding the key customer experience metrics and applying them at appropriate stages with the most important customers is paramount. Customer journey analytics can play a key role in this endeavor by providing a journey-driven perspective and improving your return on your investment in customer experience measurement.
Zendesk is expanding its reach within the online gaming industry working with operators and partners in new territories across the globe. To learn more about how the company is working with customers like Stoiximan/Betano, visit the Zendesk team at this year’s SiGMA at Stand S40.