It’s the ICE gaming show in London this week and for whatever reason the classic Foreigner anthem got stuck in my head. I thought I’d have a look at the lyrics and there’s a couple of lines in there that really contrasts pubs and other high street competitors, namely LBO’s and FOBT’s.
“Closing the door, you leave the world behind”
LBO’s are probably on the cusp of a new stakes and prize regime which is looking more and more like a £2 stake. What’s going to happen?
Well a £2 stake does mean that the typical FOBT will change and there will no doubt be a demand for more CAT C content. In fact, I’m sure that this has already been considered by the LBO’s.
Whilst there’s some crossover in player between the LBO and the pub there’s absolutely no guarantee that there will be any mass migration, particularly if the FOBT has the best of the best CAT C content on it!
The great thing about the LBO fraternity is that they outwardly act in unison. They take the best of content and innovation and market it well. The LBO, whoever the operator is, present to the public as a single market place delivering reliable product, expertly connected and well marketed and they invest in knowing their customer base so they can not only re-act but they can present new products and test new ideas, bringing them to market quickly.
Their approach to problem solving is clinical. No door is closed because they don’t want to leave any opportunity behind. They invest in what they believe in and more importantly they do it.
Can the same be said of the pub supply chain? Not really. There’s a different approach between managed and tenanted operators for a start. Too many slightly different agendas. Then there’s the different agendas of the machine operators. The complexity of which games they “choose” to use for example. Even though the market has moved forward digitally, it is not as unified nor as technically able as the LBO sector. The fact is that it could be if more doors were opened.
There’s a potential opportunity to grow some market share for pubs if the outcome of the consultation is a £2 stake, but it can only stick if the player feels at home with the pub digital environment.
Creating the perception of a single pub market place for gaming is becoming a necessity otherwise it may be that “Someday you’ll pay the price”.
Just back from the EAG show. I’m buzzing! Lots of great discussion, listening and engagement; and digital innovation has taken further steps forward for poor old category C machines.
Category C has taken a bashing over the years but I think there is a will to continue the progress we have witnessed in the pub digital offer over the last 12 months, led by entrepreneurs who have put their cash on the line. Bravo and thanks to them! This is buoyed by some exciting innovation on cashless payments and an understanding the benefits that CITO can crystallise for each party in the supply chain and lest we forget, the player aswell.
For years, I used to visit the show with rose tinted glasses looking at ideas from operators and manufacturers held together with blutack and string, suggestions of what might be and never really seeing many of them fulfil their potential or come to market. They were often tactical , sometimes they were thwarted by politics, or ambushed by naysayers and a lack of budget necessity at the time, and yes, belligerently, a feeling of historic invincibility in the sector never generated enough desire. Of course, we were subsequently well and truly whacked by casinos, LBO’s, pub closures and the inexorable march of online gambling.
This time it feels different, There’s a willingness. Dare I say it, a unity of vision?
We are actively progressing the goal of a single, cost effective comms platform for gaming in pubs and thanks to everyone who has offered their support in the form of gaming terminal hardware to test. If there are interested retailers who would like to know more about this please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
It’s hearts and minds next. The short sighted glasses wearers who have never seen a pair of rose tinted glasses in their lives need to consider changing their prescription. Cashless and CITO need bringing to market and everyone needs 20/20 vision to get them over the line. Just because things may have seemed blurred in the past and we have not had clear, unequivocal adoption of CITO, the world, the player and technology have all moved on and with new focus we can bring these ideas to fruition as an industry.
It’s also going to need a combination of education and attrition, probably in equal measure, for all of us to collectively deliver a new way of working and change the long standing, ritual pub gaming procedures, and it will be a new experience for many in the supply chain as the roles and responsibilities of individuals in the supply chain will inevitably change. As long as it is win:win:win:win for everybody and not a compromise for anyone, cashless and CITO will happen.
I’ve taken off my rose tinted glasses and swapped them for an ordinary pair. It’s helpful that my affliction is long sightedness, not that I can see into the future, but I can see the next corner in the distance and I am sure that around it is a solid comms platform, cashless transactions and CITO for the pub sector.
Invigorated by a new feeling of confidence, I think I might even give my sunglasses a clean. There’s not been much use for them over recent years in the UK category C gaming market and the sunny climate has certainly not been in our favour, but if we grasp these opportunities we might just get caught in the glare of success!
Russell Wood, Director, Waypoint Leisure Limited
Please follow this link to see the review published in Edge Magazine from the Institute of leadership and Management
So, you are committed to discovering your own Customer Focused Mission (CFM). The collection of words, crafted by your organization, that expresses your beliefs about your organization and the vanguard for development and progress that everyone is going to stand behind to deliver their actions to enhance the reputation of your organization.
At some point, I am sure we have all had something like the flu or the horrible symptoms of it. Cold, shivering, runny nose, coughing and spluttering, no energy and really hot, a fever.
It stopped us doing anything apart from feeling sorry for ourselves. Maybe it became an excuse for not getting things done or avoiding something we just did not feel we had the energy to commit to.
If you are going to discover your CFM then be prepared for similar symptoms if you are going to do it justice. It is not achievable without effort, commitment and engagement. You need to continually ask your team “ What are we trying to achieve here?”
Discovering your CFM can be thought of as a FEV(V)ER! I recommend you approach it on that basis for the best outcomes. It’s a bug that needs to affect everyone in your organization.
There are cures for this FEV(V)ER, and they are simple, but each one is equally important. In discovering your CFM (note: discovering, not developing) there’s only six simple things to consider:
FOCUS – on delivering your Customer experience, not sales.
EMPOWER – your people so that their actions are based on the CFM they have developed.
VISION – think through your vision of the organization
VALUES – the foundations you are putting in place
EVERYONE – it’s a shared responsibility both internal and external
REAL – keep it clear, short and simple. Make it easy to understand and measurable.
We deal with these “cures” in our book in more detail and consider how the CFM is interwoven with the other key steps to building your reputation.
Just picking up on the “Everyone” statement. It takes effort to get everyone involved, explain it to them and gain their engagement. To do that, you must be genuine and honest in discovering your CFM with both internal and external customers. Discovering a CFM is not something that can be communicated by email or developed on a shared drive and thought about on the commute to work. It needs face to face engagement ( Facetime or Skype permitted ) in groups across your organization. So long as you can look into people’s eyes and know they are engaged!
Please! Please! Remember that a Customer Focused Mission is not to be confused with a corporate mission statement. Mission statements are mostly short term platitudes, developed by the few and misunderstood by the many. A great CFM will be timeless!
We must have a Mission Statement! Our competitors have one and it sounds really good. In reality, it is just corporate peer pressure.
Many of the old-fashioned Mission Statements were forged out of the corporate need to satisfy investors or to sound good in the corporate world amongst competitors. I am not saying that they were all bad but many were not, and are not fit for purpose because;
- They may have been forged during a corporate junket on the 19th green
- They may have been delivered at great expense by a detached third party
- They sounded great but had no substance in practice, process or performance
- You had to do it because our customers expected one, it’s a box ticker!
- They are too inward looking and doesn’t understand the Customers Real Needs
In the Social Revolution world, the world of instant judgement, your mission must be customer focused. We call it the Customer Focused Mission (CFM). What’s the difference?
Firstly, the CFM is yours. You develop it and you own it. It expresses Your beliefs about Your organization.
You need to discover your CFM by continually asking your team “ What are we trying to achieve here”?
If you are going to genuinely think about this and you want to build the reputation of your organization then the best advice I can give is to do it yourself and engage with your own internal and external customers. By starting with this approach, you are demonstrating that your people and customers are important; you want to understand their real needs and you want to imbue great pride in what you do.
After all, why hire people if you are not prepared to listen to them? Everyone in your organization must be important. You are paying them a wage. You chose them, and I assume that you are content with your recruitment process.
So, most folk want to add value, or at least do a good job. Most folk like to feel like they belong and most folk take pride in what they do. Therefore, everyone has a view about the organization. Whether listening is formal or informal, it’s worth just putting the kettle on and asking your employees what they think.
It’s no different with customers and your feedback systems need to provide simple opportunities to understand the Customers Real Needs and listen to what they are saying effectively.
People are BEAR’s so invest time in understanding your customers Beliefs, Actions, Emotions and what Results they expect and you have the foundation of a fantastic, relevant CFM that your organization can genuinely believe in and not just buy into as part of a personal induction process and tick yet another box.
In this Social Revolution world having the bedrock of a relevant CFM reinforced by genuine feedback and managed by your team is more powerful that any tweet or post. It is much easier to engage in social media, it is just the click of a button to the sender, than it is to actually speak to someone and truly understand what they are saying to you. That takes a little bit of organization, a lot more confidence and you just cannot hide behind your screen.
Of course, it will be deemed to be more efficient and easier to score if feedback is done electronically. You will always be able to justify the fact that 8 out of 10 is good, or at least better than most! It’s much more revealing when someone tells you personally that the service you provided was either “Great” or “Poor”. There’s no hiding place there! Be honest, isn’t that what you really want in 2018? To be effective, to plan your next development inches with your team and to use your resources efficiently at the lowest cost?
Yes, you can get a feeling about how well you are doing from social media interaction but most responses are fully considered, particularly if you are asked to rate 1-5 stars. I am beginning to find those surveys inconvenient, if not intrusive.
It seems as if social media has failed if you cannot connect with everyone, or have thousands of followers, but a good feedback system doesn’t need to talk to every customer because the value and depth of each personal interaction is more likely to lead to a greater number of genuine referrals than relying on the number of “likes”.
2018 is the Chinese year of the Earth Dog. “Dogs” are loyal and honest, but cautious and prudent and according to my research “Dogs” will do everything for the person who they think is most important. There’s no more important person than your customer. 2018 should be the year to make sure you create or review your CFM honestly and collectively with your team and one of the best actions you can take is to talk first and tweet later, the responses will be more insightful and have greater value.
For better or worse we are wedded to the web!
Each of us has our own skills personality and appearance, we all have a different blend of these attributes. It’s what makes us what we are and how people perceive us.
We are in the Social Revolution generation where the web and our individual personas challenge each other. By that I mean that our lives are so interwoven by the web and social media that they are becoming part of our personality. How do we interact with them? How are we expected to interact with them? Should I feel guilty if I am not doing what my peer group do?
There’s huge expectation in the Social Revolution world. One of celebrity culture, instant fame or notoriety and instant access to a global audience which only a couple of generations ago was limited to our family, friends and co-workers and news travelled more slowly and was more personal.
Being yourself is more of a challenge now than it ever has been. So, understanding customers could be seen to be an impossibility, certainly more difficult than it ever was, and more and more customers hide behind their mouse, on line, not face to face. Fewer physical one to one transactions and certainly more limited opportunities to get to really know customers in the SR world.
However, there are four common traits in every customer that you can rely on.
People are BEARs. In our book we explore each of these attributes and how they relate to customers and their relationship with your organization and importantly vice-versa.
Think about yourself. In a relationship with any organization what are your beliefs about them? Do their products or services satisfy your emotions; do they care about you? Do their actions satisfy your emotions? Is the result of their actions what you expect?
Do you refer, or talk to others positively about those organizations which satisfy your BEAR needs? Conversely, do you criticize or complain to others about those that don’t? When you do either of those things, you’ll probably do it instantly on social media more than word of mouth.
As an organization, and accepting that customers are BEARs, you can understand the Customers Real Needs by investing in Feedback. Not 5 star on-line box ticking, short, interactive, verbal Feedback based on a simple system and process to validate whether you are achieving you Customer Focuses Mission, and if not how you can improve.
So, quality Feedback that you really understand, is meaningful, and allows you to plan your next development inches, only comes from really understanding the common traits of people. You don’t need to second guess their personalities.
People are BEARs, go hunt the ones that like what you do and have the potential to refer you and ultimately have a partnership relationship with you. It’s the best investment you can make.
Beautiful things symphonies, visualized and written by geniuses and captured on paper forever. Some rousing, some melancholic, some you really must concentrate on to understand the meaning of each movement. Some you cannot understand at all without a good interpreter!
I’m no Andrew Preview (classic Morecambe and Wise, look it up on line!) but isn’t every organization an orchestra? Teams and departments interact, their actions are interwoven. Every individual is an instrument and together, and in harmony, their orchestration can deliver a harmonious output, a glorious symphony with an outstanding result which may receive a standing ovation.
Without Feedback your organization is exposed. Exposed to the inaccuracy of hearsay or organizations not understanding what their customers WANT to hear. Often, organizations can be deaf to real opinion and blind to the Customers Real Needs.
Organizations want Feedback to be GREAT music to their ears and not a POOR cacophony of complaints. The problem is that not enough time and energy is invested in obtaining that quality Feedback.
There’s no rehearsal time. The Feedback systems and processes are not set up and worked on relentlessly. Rarely, did any composer create a masterpiece first putting pen to paper. They all needed an eraser to fine tune their work. Gathering Feedback IS quality rehearsal time!
Great symphonies are also interpreted by their audience. Individuals will hear different nuances in the work and the work itself will be played differently depending on the conductor and the orchestra. The interpretation of what your products or services offer is no different. You cannot assume that what you do is fully understood, by everyone, all the time. You must obtain regular feedback to check your performance and that your Customer Focused Mission is being delivered and that you are are still meeting the Customers Real Needs.
Interpretation is about moving forward. A new twist on a well-established musical work. Fit for a new generation in the Social Revolution world. In the same way, interpreting your Feedback will create more customer loyalty, increased customer engagement and ultimately more value. More importantly, the interpretation of your Feedback will help you to understand where to make improvements inch by inch and which inches to focus on next.
Your organization, just like a symphony will be more attractive to customers if it feels contemporary and your customers can relate to it, and if your reputation for meeting the Customers Real Needs is upheld.
Every business, whatever size and whatever it does can be a” Tour de Force” in its own marketplace. If you get your Feedback right, you will know it because your customers will be the first to say “Bravo!”