A staple of many businesses since time immemorial and a vital cog in the machine for suppliers across the online casino industry – but how has it changed over the years to what we recognise today? How can best practices be evolved further? Kalamba’s Andrew Crosby examines.
Account Management teams – everyone has them, but what does it mean to be an Account Manager within the i-gaming industry? It’s obviously a critical role, but where do you think it sits within an organisation’s hierarchy?
For me, it sits at the top of the tree. The company’s AM team is the conduit of information, commercials, game presentations, promotional buy-in, and fundamentally the business relationship with the customer. Relationships with the customer can last for many years within the iGaming sector so it is a very good idea to retain quality staff who’ve built up these relationships over the years. I’ve seen it many times that where staff have moved on, ultimately the business suffers due to the new relationship that’s put in place. Obviously, this is not always the case but it’s certainly a risk to look out for.
Do you think that there is anything within account management in the online casino industry that you think can only be found there?
As the industry has matured the Account Management teams have become more corporate and in line with AM practices across various industries. Earlier there was a large learning curve for everyone in the industry but now there is a more standard practice between operators and suppliers in general I would say. I also think our industry has more entertainment than any other now with the sheer volume of suppliers available compared to 10 years ago but is still a vital part of relationship building within our industry.
We all know of the impact that Covid-19 brought to our working lives but many of its changes have been adopted and fostered since lockdowns were lifted – is this a positive evolution?
Working from home and being more flexible with working hours has changed the landscape and allows people a better work-life balance. Customers and suppliers had to adapt to online meetings and convey information differently from the norm of face-to-face meetings, it was difficult but if you were creative some meetings could be very informative as well as entertaining. The 9-5 working hours are now more flexible and I feel suppliers understand that an AM’s job can be over many hours and weekends so the flexibility has been widely received. As an example not having to rush out of the gym to make it to work at 9am, having these work-life balances really help with employee happiness. It’s also been a breath of fresh air getting back to face-to-face meetings, conferences, and work events and in my opinion face- to face meetings have always been the best way of conducting business and building strong long-term relationships.
What is expected from an account manager in 2022 that wasn’t a decade ago?
Account Management is driven by relationships over long periods and those relationships stay with that AM during their career. A decade ago there were only a handful of players in the market Playtech, Microgaming, Cryptologic, NetEnt and a few small studios. Now the competition is immense and with that, the competition to get your games prominent on operator sites, on release day and promoted is becoming increasingly more difficult. Account Management has now become one of the key if not the key department in the industry to achieve this now. When I applied for the AM role at NetEnt it was the first vacancy of that type I had seen after living in Malta for two years and at that point, NetEnt had four AMs, two in Malta and two in Sweden – I was handed sixty-five accounts on day one! Now the landscape has changed dramatically, and AMs can move around frequently if they are not suited to the company or are looking for higher salaries. This presents a new challenge in 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 individual or business looking to improve their account handling skillset?
Response times for me are the most important thing, and will always go a long way in relationship building. Being honest with your accounts is key, as is setting realistic targets. Always giving the correct information to your accounts builds confidence and trust in the relationship. With the development of regulated markets and increased competition, it has become incredibly important for AMs to build their knowledge in many different areas. It’s very different now compared to the .com era which now seems so long ago! I still remember negotiating and signing the first regulated market customer for NetEnt, which was also highly likely to be the first one in the industry, while on a train to Salzburg from Vienna. I think that Quickspin Co-Founder, Joachim Timmermans may still remember that one! 🙂
To sum up, being knowledgeable and timely in your responses is key, because of course, things can change at any time but I think that if you strive for these things, ultimately you’ll build successful relationships and a great account management function within any business.