A staple of many businesses since time immemorial and a vital cog in the machine for providers to the online casino industry – but how has it changed over the years to become what we recognize today ? How to develop good practices? Kalamba’s Andrew Crosby reviews.
Account management teams – everyone has them, but what does it mean to be an account manager in the i-gaming industry? It’s obviously a critical role, but where do you think it fits in the hierarchy of an organization?
For me it is at the top of the tree. The company’s AM team is the vehicle for information, advertising, game presentations, promotional purchases and, fundamentally, the business relationship with the customer. Customer relationships can last for many years within the iGaming industry, so it’s a very good idea to retain quality staff who have built those relationships over the years. I have seen many times that where staff have moved, the business ultimately suffers due to the new relationship that is being put in place. Obviously, this isn’t always the case, but it’s definitely a risk to watch out for.
Do you think there is something about account management in the online casino industry that you believe can only be found there?
As the industry has matured, account management teams have become more corporate and in line with AM practices in various industries. It used to be that there was a big learning curve for everyone in the industry, but now there’s a more standard practice between operators and vendors in general I would say. I also think our industry has more entertainment than any other now with the sheer volume of vendors available compared to 10 years ago, but it’s still a critical part of building relationships within our industry.
We all know the impact Covid-19 has had on our working lives, but many of its changes have been embraced and fostered since lockdowns were lifted – is this a positive development?
Working from home and flexible working hours have changed the landscape and allow people a better work-life balance. Customers and suppliers had to adapt to online meetings and convey information differently than the norm of face-to-face meetings, it was difficult but if you were creative some meetings could be very informative and entertaining. 9am to 5pm working hours are now more flexible and I think suppliers understand that an AM’s job can span many hours and weekends. Flexibility was therefore widely accepted. For example, not having to rush out of the gym to get to work at 9 a.m., having those work-life balances really helps with employee happiness. It’s also been a breath of fresh air to get back to face-to-face meetings, conferences and work events and in my opinion, face-to-face meetings have always been the best way to do business and build strong, long-term relationships.
What is expected of an account manager in 2022 than ten years ago?
Account management is driven by relationships over long periods of time and those relationships stay with this AM throughout their career. Ten years ago, there were only a handful of players in the market Playtech, Microgaming, Cryptologic, NetEnt and a few smaller studios. Now, the competition is immense and with that, the competition to get your games highlighted on operator sites, release day and promoted is getting tougher and tougher. Account management has now become one of the keys if not the key industry department to achieve this now. When I applied for the AM position at NetEnt it was the first such vacancy I had seen after living in Malta for two years and at that time NetEnt had four AMs, two to Malta and two in Sweden – they gave me sixty-five accounts on the first day! Today, the landscape has changed dramatically and AMs can move frequently if they are not a good fit for the company or are looking for higher salaries. This presents a new challenge trying to keep valued members of the team. Work-life balance, good relationships with colleagues and always being there to support and mentor the Account Manager’s career will go a long way in retaining valuable staff members.
What are your most important messages to any person or business looking to improve their account management skills?
Response times for me are the most important thing and will always go a long way in building relationships. Being honest with your accounts is key, as is setting realistic goals. Always giving the correct information to your accounts builds trust in the relationship. With the development of regulated markets and increased competition, it has become extremely important for PAs to develop their knowledge in many different areas. It is very different today compared to the era of .com which now seems so far away! I still remember trading and signing the first regulated market client for NetEnt, who was also very likely to be the first in the industry, while on a train to Salzburg from Vienna. I think Quickspin co-founder Joachim Timmermans might still remember it! 🙂
To sum it up, being knowledgeable and timely in your responses is essential, because of course things can change at any time, but I believe that if you strive to achieve these goals, you will eventually build successful relationships. and an excellent account management function within any company.