The turn of the new decade comes at a pivotal moment for the online gaming industry. But as gaming operators look to take advantage of new opportunities, the starting point has to be the customer.
Business leaders have to develop a thorough understanding of the changing attitudes, expectations and behaviours of the people that they are trying to attract, engage and protect. This means getting inside the mind of the 2020 online gamer, a topic explored in some detail in our recent Online Gaming & Account Opening Report.
Customer experience is key
The report examined two key markets for the online gaming industry — the U.K. and the U.S. While the U.K. online gaming market is firmly established and worth more than £18.7 billion per year, the U.S. is still in its infancy by comparison. Yet, despite the varying stages of both markets, there is a consistency around the understanding that operators need to protect online gamers against fraud and risk through identity verification and security checks.
Online gamers have firm ideas about what constitutes an optimal account creation experience, but feel that in many cases their expectations are currently not being met. Poor performance may have been forgiven in the past, but the number of alternative options now available to consumers, combined with the ease of switching services, means that people will no longer put up with a poor user experience. In fact, 80% of online gamers state that they are becoming increasingly intolerant of poor online account opening experiences and will switch to other sites when faced with a suboptimal experience.
Make-or-break — the importance of onboarding
Worryingly, the research reveals that customer satisfaction levels around account creation processes are lowest in the online gaming industry, behind retail, financial services and online marketplaces. The upshot of this is that significant numbers of people are abandoning before they are able to open a new account due to the following reasons: they feel the gaming operator is requesting too much personal information, they are unable to verify their identity despite multiple attempts, or there is a lack of transparency about why certain information is required.
When you consider the amount of time and money that goes into developing innovative new games and services to stand out in the market, and then rolling out expensive marketing campaigns to engage with consumers and entice them to a gaming site, it seems absurd that so many operators would then risk losing that customer at the final hurdle due to an inefficient account creation process.
Whatever reason consumers cite for abandoning the online creation process, it ultimately comes down to a desire for a secure, speedy and painless process. Excessive requests for personal information and failed attempts to verify an individual’s identity mean that it takes longer for the consumer to create an account and start playing. This presents a seriously challenging dynamic for operators; they need to meet consumer demands for a highly-secure account creation process but do so in an efficient and intuitive way.
The winning combination of speed and security
More than three-quarters (77%) of online gamers claim that the account opening process can ‘make-or-break’ their future relationship with a brand. Conversely, customers look favourably at service providers that offer a smooth onboarding process. They are more likely to trust the brand in question, to spend more time and money on the site, and to recommend it to others.
The research shows that real-time identity verification has a critical role to play here, with strong consumer appetite for such a real-time service. In fact, nearly 80% of online gamers say they would be willing to share more personal data with service providers that use real-time identity verification to further enhance the account opening experience.
Win the onboarding battle
The reality is consumers in both the U.K. and the U.S. are increasingly eager to take advantage of the new products and services available to them, both with existing and new service providers. Indeed, 59% of gamers expect to have a greater number of online gaming accounts in 12 months’ time. The scale of the opportunities for operators to grow market share and expand into new markets is unprecedented.
However, as well as focusing on innovation strategies and expansion plans, online gaming operators should not overlook the fundamental importance of being able to onboard customers in the most effective way.
They need to understand the expectations of the 2020 online gamer and recognize that first impressions are a must. Deliver a poor account creation process and the customer will disappear forever; provide a fast, secure and seamless process, and you might just have a valuable customer for life.
This article originally appeared on EGR Global.