…But it’s a good one. mobileStorm aims to help your casino communicate directly with patrons, and to assist with data dissemination to make that communication more efficient and profitable.
Casino International caught up with Christian Dwiggins, Vice President of Operations and Product Manager at mobileStorm, to find out how the company works, and what exactly they do that could benefit your casino.
Casino International: What is mobileStorm?
Christian Dwiggins: We provide a omni-channel digital communication and marketing platform. We bring all available communication channels into one place, solving any communication and marketing use case you can think of. In our current state, we’re nearly 100% focused on the casino space, both commercial and tribal.
CI: That’s heavily skewed toward casino customers…
CD: The Casino space is a fantastic proving ground for various verticals and once our CEO has focused on one, we tend to go all-in… no pun intended. As a company we did that in healthcare a few years back, and from that focus we spun out a sister company called Mpulse which has been extremely successful. That split prompted me to come on board as a lot of the executives and management went to Mpulse. mobileStorm needed to be rescaled and refocused on its casino clientele which is what I’ve been working on as we redefine our next vertical. We may spin something out again sometime in the future, maybe retail, maybe customer service, who knows. I will say this, Blockchain has been a very popular subject around the office for months now. I promise to let you know when we crack that nut.
CI: What’s the process for a new customer?
CD: The process is simple. Sign up with us, and you instantly have a communication and marketing technology partner that can scale to your organization’s needs. You want dedicated Account Management to help you every step of the way? Great, no problem. You want to be left alone and leverage our APIs so it’s all automated and integrated… Yup, we can be that for you as well.
The struggle for us has always been invoking real change at the casino level at the speed we like to move. Casino organizations generally move pretty slow, so for a fast-paced technology company like us you can imagine it can be a bit of a rub.
But change is at the core of who we are as a company, so we embrace it. One of our latest changes was shifting our pricing model from charging per message, to charging per database subscriber. We did this to really drive home the idea that each cell phone number or email address has a real person on the other end – and that we need to get to know who that person is if we are ever going to get them to trust your brand.
We like to make things simple, so we focus our clients on three phases – acquisition, engagement, and unification. Acquisition is obviously acquiring new patrons into our platform; engagement is how you make a compelling message to get them to change some sort of behaviours (come back, play here, try this, a gamification layer is sometimes used here for more interaction). As for unification, well that’s where I get really excited. Unification means so many things to us. We look to unify a brand’s message across multiple channels, we look at unifying various software systems running behind the scenes, and we look at unifying departments across the floor. We even look at unifying employees of a property through our back of house communication tools.
The most interesting discovery we’ve made lately, in the context of unification, has been what some of the tribal casinos have been doing. Tribal casinos tend to be, well, tribal. They inherently have a sense of community unlike that of commercial casinos. And in the context of unification they are expanding their community beyond the casino floor to include small businesses in the community owned by tribal members. It’s brilliant and fascinating to me, and mobileStorm wants to assist in those marketing and communication efforts. This unification thing is really growing and organically, we’ve even identified a cluster of separate tribes in Washington that have chosen to work together; sharing events, organising golf tournaments, that kind of thing. It’s quite inspiring.
CI: I think casino marketing has suffered because they have so much software acquiring information, but having the skills to disseminate that information is a different thing entirely.
CD: I completely agree, and would take it one step further and say, they’re also not collecting the right information. Casinos use Player Tracking Systems as their backbone, and casinos identify customers with that information system; a system that segments customers based on how much money they spend. That’s so one dimensional! What can you possibly know about someone with only that information? As a business or a brand how could you ever say you give excellent customer service when that level of service is based on the customer’s spend? That’s not “giving” anything, the customer bought it! It creates mistrust between the customer and the brand and quite honestly the gig is up. The older customer demographic is aging out and if casinos don’t start understanding the new generation and figure out how to get their attention there will be a huge reckoning. Attention is the newest commodity and if you don’t seek to understand your customer you will never win their attention or gain their trust. How do you learn about your customers? It’s simple really, you have a conversation with them and you listen. This is where mobileStorm fits in. By providing a communication platform between the Casino and its customers predicated on the idea that its only purpose is to provide free and immediate customer service at any time over any channel for any reason. I’m not in any way suggesting that gambling is going away, or the Player Tracking should either, all I’m saying is, the data points that define a customer need to be expanded. mobileStorm’s “Digital Concierge” is really the only platform in the market that leverages conversations to understand customers. Through conversations you can learn anything, what type of champagne does his or her spouse like, does he like golf, does she like spa, do they like couples’ massage, does she need something from a tribal owned vendor off the property, you get the idea. Let’s bring the human element back into the casino and let’s centre it around conversations.
CI: What about casino size, staff numbers – presumably all of that influences how you work and who you can work with?
CD: I’m literally working on refining those metrics right now. We have always profiled casinos to identify the right fit, the organisation has to be the right size for our work to make sense. Too small means they won’t find the ROI they’re looking for, and too large might mean they can’t innovate as fast as we need them to. Some organizations aren’t as comfortable with change as we are, but we’ve worked hard to find a comfortable cross section of clients and currently we hold a book of anywhere between 70 to 100 casinos of various sizes.
CI: What’s the threshold for ROI – at what size is it viable for a casino to use your service?
CD: Without getting too technical, the ideal match is based on a ratio between the number of slots and hotel rooms, but there are other huge factors for us. We look closely to at the company’s culture for two reasons. One, is the culture accepting of change? And two, how does the culture function so we can align ourselves to be of service to them. If either of those are out of alignment with us we will probably not match very well and misalignment always erodes efficiencies which in turn may erode ROI. This is really at the core of our business operation and values. I’ve even watched our CEO make a deal with a competitor of ours, on behalf of a customer that wasn’t a perfect fit for us. We really want everyone to win.
CI: So you give the casino the tools, do you plan to give continued support? And where does AI fit in that context?
CD: We go back and forth on what we want that future to look like. AI is coming, and we are working on our own versions to be released sometime around Q4. How that will affect our operations, or the operations of our clients still remains to be discovered. I will say this, our AI is going to be a tool used to reduce the mundane actions of an operation in an effort to empower the user to think more “high level”. We have always believed in the power of what’s between your ears. As to account management, currently we offer a dedicated account manager with every client, and I don’t see that ever changing. We enjoy getting our hands dirty too much to not be that directly involved with our clients.
CI: Do you have a ‘flagship’ client?
CD: Of course! All 100 of them! No but seriously, we work really, really hard to make sure all of our clients are succeeding in however they’re measuring success at the time. Every one of them are different, at different stages of evolution, and all of them are the same too. We all learn and grow together.