The Big Picture for Future Innovation

A wet and humid spring day greeted attendees of Tabcorp Gaming Solutions’ ‘Big Picture Afternoon’ at Melbourne’s Docklands on Tuesday 22 November 2016.

The event was well attended, with gaming venue managers and owners eager to take advantage of networking opportunities and hear insights from internal and external experts into Tabcorp’s approach to customer loyalty, innovation, digital, staff reward and recognition, and the power of data.

Paul Carew, General Manager of Tabcorp Gaming Solutions, got proceedings underway by outlining what he hoped people would get out of the day:

“Our purpose is to optimise performance and the potential of clubs and hotels. We’re here to help you get better, raise your performance, and grow your revenues. We want to try to educate, and we want to challenge your thinking.”

Customer perspectives on growing loyalty

The first speaker was Tabcorp’s Head of Customer Insight, Kasia Witon-Wanstall.

Kasia admitted the Australian loyalty program market is crowded, and customers are spoiled for choice. With flybuys, Woolworth Rewards and Virgin’s Velocity Frequent Flyer currently performing so well, Tabcorp has learnt a lot as a business about the importance of loyalty and how to successfully tap into the market.

“We’ve done a lot of work on TAB Rewards. It’s a big program for us. It’s a big investment for our business,” said Kasia. “Customers are changing, the market is changing. We needed to take a really good look at what we’re doing in terms of loyalty, and how we could do it better.”

Statistics show that companies who invest in a loyalty program are a staggering 200% more likely to grow their business. This means the importance of developing an effective program has enormous potential for Tabcorp Gaming Solutions and the venues we work with.

Kasia shared a number of valuable insights from her team’s research into loyalty programs, including feedback from Tabcorp customers:

  • Keep the program simple: Successful programs are easy for their users to understand (“spend $1, earn 1 point… and here’s what you can get for your points”). Rewards and points accumulation must be available across a number of channels or platforms. This can be seen in the multiple channels across which flybuys customers, for example, can accumulate points: shopping, fuel purchases, health insurance, utilities and banking.
  • Make it personal: Customers will switch off fast if they don’t see anything for them in a program. Personalise your communications with your loyalty program members. Offer rewards truly relevant to who and where they are, to provide a feeling of individual service.
  • Provide customers with great value: It should be easy and quick for your customers to accumulate points and even share/transfer points to other family members. The rewards on offer should represent great value in their eyes. If it takes months for a regular member to earn a $20 food and beverage voucher, are you seriously motivating your customers to return to your business, and truly showing them you value their loyalty?

Steve Tighe sets his sights on future innovation

In his discussion on innovation, renowned futurist and business strategist Steve Tighe put forward some challenging concepts for future innovation, staying ahead of your competition and becoming industry leaders in anticipating the shape of things to come.

Steve argued that innovating for the future requires a flexible but disciplined approach; something he calls his ‘framework for thinking about the future’.

Make sure your organisation has a culture that anticipates and welcomes change. Have a thorough understanding of the public’s perception of you, and a crystal-clear understanding of the reasons your business exists. Establishing such a culture and way of thinking makes it easier for you to identify future opportunities and implement them ahead of your competition.

Steve used the Victorian Taxi Directorate’s ‘Your Taxis’ social media campaign in response to the rise of Uber as an example. He said this campaign highlighted how little the taxi industry understood about its business purpose, the public perception of its industry, and the reluctance within the taxi trade to adapt to customer needs and expectations. In the absence of these insights, the popularity of ridesharing services like Uber have experienced game-changing levels of popularity in a relatively short space of time.

According to Steve, “Understanding the shape of change and understanding your business’s identity go hand in hand. There’s no point in identifying future trends if you retain a very narrow sense of your organisation’s ‘self’; that will just restrict you to doing what you’ve always done and overlook opportunities to innovate.”

Become able to answer the truly important questions about your business with clarity: Who are we? What business are we in? Are we about gaming, entertainment, food and beverage or all three? Always be fearless in challenging industry ’norms’ to stay ahead of your competition.

Digital disruption: from big bangs to subtle shifts

When you consider that social media and smartphones weren’t widely used as little as 10 years ago, the speed at which progress occurs in the digital world is astounding. Indeed, even internet access and use in the past decade has grown at a jaw-dropping pace.

According Dan Monheit, Director of Strategy/Owner at Hardhat Digital, if you feel like you’re struggling to keep up with the digital age, you’re not alone. The good news is you don’t need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to engaging your customers in the digital space. Just make things simple.

Dan explained that delivering a superior customer experience is now key to differentiation. For bricks-and-mortar venues like TGS outlets, it’s not only the experience within the four walls that counts – but how your website and other digital tools add value.

“Be really clear about the value you’re offering people,” said Dan. “Most of the time, it’s best to make ‘done behaviours’ easier for people. How easy is it for people to actually find us on the internet? How easy is it to access our menu or find out about the services we offer? Get in touch with us? Apply for a job?”

Think of how you can make your online interaction and engagement with your customers more fun, interesting, practical and fast. “For example, Facebook didn’t invent photo sharing online, they just made it easier for people to do it.”

The power of reward and recognition

Michelle Power, Organisational Development Manager at Tabcorp, revealed global studies show that only 13% of employees are ‘actively engaged’ in the businesses in which they work.

A reward and recognition program which your staff enthusiastically embraces is an important tool for helping reduce employee turnover – making it just that bit easier for your venue to achieve its business goals. A strong R&R program also plays a big role in delivering greater customer satisfaction: happier staff members are more productive and want to make a greater contribution to your success.

Similar to findings on successful customer loyalty programs, Michelle and her team learnt that a number of factors play a role in establishing an effective R&R system:

  • Make it tangible: Offer inducements/prizes/rewards that truly motivate your people to perform. Don’t offer things of no interest to them. Otherwise, what’s the point of striving to perform above expectation?
  • Make it timely: Opt for small incentive programs as a monthly competition as well as bigger-picture contributions (total sales, customer satisfaction ratings, etc) as a quarterly or annual incentive. Ensure your program underpins both your short- and long-term business goals. Regular recognition provides your staff with ongoing motivation to perform on a consistent basis and can help reduce turnover.
  • Focus on values, not just performance: It’s absolutely necessary to acknowledge high performance, but staff feedback typically illustrates that rewarding and recognising the people who act with integrity in all their interactions with your customers is more appreciated than simply looking at raw statistics.
  • Be completely transparent: Make the factors you take into consideration crystal clear: Attendance? Punctuality? Presentation? Customer feedback? All of the above? Arbitrary decisions can – and do – undermine the credibility of R&R programs. You mustn’t play favourites, and your people need to know how decisions have been made.
  • Build advocacy at all levels: From board level down, it’s important for your entire organisation to buy into your R&R program. Gravitas establishes the program’s credibility and, if the CEO cares about the program, that flows across all your people.
  • Make it fun: How can you expect people to get excited about performing above expectations if there’s no fun in it? Will it hurt your business to have frontline staff dress up for Halloween? Why not have a Best Halloween Costume contest? Or racing-themed fancy dress during the Easter or spring racing carnivals?
  • Measure and manage: Like transparency, an R&R program needs to have manageable and measurable performance benchmarks. This allows your staff to see how their performance contributes to your venue’s business goals and bottom line. It also gives you some valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your people, and some handy suggestions to use in their performance reviews.

Understanding data and using it to drive outcomes

The final presentation for the day came from Tabcorp’s Manager for Keno, Gaming and Wagering Distribution Analytics, Khang Nguyen.

Quality data has always been an important tool for driving business growth. Recently, effectively analysing that data – and using it to develop accurate insights into the people who visit TGS venues – has provided an innovative way of staying ahead of our competition.

Collating smarter data allows us to develop a powerful, more effective picture of our customers – going far beyond simply where and when they spend their money. Data relating to what they’re spending their money on – food and beverage, favourite machines, frequency of visits, and why they choose us for gaming and entertainment – enables TGS venues to develop a more ‘personal’ relationship with their customers.

By establishing a better understanding of the individual customer, as opposed to a complacent ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, we can develop effective and more relevant promotions, and create marketing strategies to drive higher levels of customer satisfaction. Combined, this helps us meet our organisational objectives and outperform our competitors.

While the major themes from the TGS ‘Big Picture Afternoon’ focused on innovating for the future, Paul Carew also gave attendees a timely challenge:

“Make sure you’re holding us to account. We are a service provider, so you need to be getting value for money, and I challenge you to ensure we’re delivering on what we say we will.”

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