The customer journeys that consumers experience using smart phone applications in their daily interactions with businesses is something that they have come to expect and trust.
Kirk Olson, senior vice-president of sales for Sightline, specialists in developing mobile applications for the nation’s sports betting and casino gaming industries, believes that while the casino industry historically has not done a very good job keeping up with consumer preferences, the future is bright with possibilities.
“Consumers have become extremely picky when it comes to response time on their mobile devices,” Olson said. “The static information that was a component of mobile apps when they first came out was good, but it has gotten even better. That is why we at Sightline strive to provide utility in the app.
“Guests want to check into their hotel room before they arrive. They wish to have keyless entry into their room to avoid having to go to the hotel desk and wait for half an hour. They want to access their app to scan their valet ticket and have their car ready in minutes. These are just examples of utility in a mobile app.”
Olson said that the consequences for a property not having these and many more capabilities available through their app simply encourages customers to look elsewhere for accommodations where using their mobile device for services is super easy to do.
Previously, places of business were in control of relationships with consumers when all you could do on your cell phone was text and create emails. Olson observed that smart phones have “flipped everything around; now the consumer controls everything”.
Recognizing the power that consumers exercise with mobile apps on their smart phones is essential for casino operators to acknowledge. This is where Sightline plays a vital role.
From a personal perspective, Olson said that if he finds the customer journey on a company’s app to be inefficient or does not properly serve his needs the first time, he simply deletes it.
“I literally switched banks because of my experience on their mobile site. That’s how much it meant to me. I would not tolerate it. I know firsthand the customer journey is really critical. It has to be fast, it has to efficient, and it has to give the customer what they want when they need it.”
Brand loyalty is a quality that properties accentuate through the conveniences provided by a mobile app, but Olson believes that there is a higher calling that Sightline services can create.
“Loyalty is everything,” Olson said. “And, there is something much bigger than loyalty. It’s customer advocacy. At Sightline on the mobile side, we want app users to be advocates for the casino. We want them to tell everyone that they know how great the property is. It’s a powerful element. Loyalty is great, but advocacy makes the consumer a sales agent for the casino.
“The mobile app experience must be fast and it must be seamless. This is the focus of advocacy. In today’s world, customers expect sub-seconds response time on an app. By the time you get up to five seconds you have lost 90 percent of the crowd. They have already left because they think it is broken.”
Stressing the importance of utility on a property’s mobile app, Olson said that it is really an extension of the casino itself.
“Everything I want to do in a casino, pay for something, purchase tickets to a show, cashless play at the slots and table games, whatever it may be inside the walls of that casino, the customer can accomplish on their mobile app.
“It is the power of utility on the mobile side. I do not have to talk to somebody to get information. It is at my fingertips. I get the data quickly and efficiently. This is what we at Sightline are really striving to do. It is what we call BYOD: Bring Your Own Device. On that device is the app, and that app must be self-service at every step along the casino journey.”
Olson emphasizes that Sightline’s mobile platform is a powerful tool for the gaming industry with content that is all dynamic-driven in real time.
He said that Sightline builds apps that are highly customizable to any casino, explaining that when Sightline designs an app for a property, they do mock-ups with the marketing department to ensure the experience is customized at every single level of the app.
“It might take a little longer to do it that way, but the customer gets exactly what they want, and that makes the time investment worth it,” Olson said.
The true beauty of Sightline is that they integrate fully with any third-party system, leading to a cohesive approach in mobile applications revolving around gaming and non-gaming integrations, as opposed to an operator having multiple apps for what Sightline can accomplish in one single solution.
Olson also believes that AI is coming to mobile applications a lot faster than many within in the industry believe. Sightline is on the cutting edge of this technology as well.
“The mobile app is going to know what to present before the customer even gets there,” he explained. “For example, it will know if a customer has been playing for some time, they are probably ready to go home, factoring in they have been playing for over two hours when normally their playing time is under two hours.
“Digital payments and mobile go hand in hand with each other. With cashless wagering, the app knows you’re logged in and it knows your account balances. The app can present an offer in real time. It may session-out and pull up a valet ticket knowing you are probably heading for the door. There are many more things AI will make possible to drive the customer experience and make it much more efficient.”
Sightline’s suite of mobile solutions gives consumers a safe, secure, and responsible way to fund their online and in-person gaming activities while enabling properties to offer cashless wagering and personalized loyalty options across the entire property.
Olson said that there was a lot of interest from visitors to the Sightline booth at G2E about mobile applications. He said that there are still quite a few casinos that don’t have a mobile app, and that others are using an app from seven years ago that has gone stale.
“Everything today is driven by mobile,” Olson said. “Many advancements are coming. The world is changing very quickly and here at Sightline we are staying on top of it. It really is a never-ending pursuit.”