Adding the personal touch

When it comes to customisation and personalisation in the online betting and gaming industry, there’s no doubt more can be done when it comes to offering players a unique user experience. Whilst things are changing and some brands are doing more to tweak opportunities to individuals or groups of like- minded punters, there is still a tendency to offer what we have, rather than what they want.
Clearly much of this is deliberate, in an effort to cross-sell customers new opportunities they might not have considered previously, preferably on higher margin products.

But much of the promotion of these products remains a blunt tool that lacks the sophistication of other online industries, where a customer’s visit is carefully scrutinised to provide similar choices when they next log-on. The online phenomena which has this down to a tee, of course, is social media, where almost everything can be uniquely personalised to the individual account holder. Bringing that level of personalisation to the online gambling world is something we’ve been working on for some time at Onionsack through the use of chatbots.

To the uninitiated, these are computer programs that simulate conversations with end users by harnessing artificial intelligence. In the case of well-known Irish sportsbook Paddy Power, with whom we’ve just launched, this has been through Facebook, allowing players to place their bets directly via the service’s Messenger app. The concept has been developed to enable customers to log on and interact with a chatbot by sending them the bet they’d like to put on, whatever the event or market.

They then receive an update containing the latest odds, before asking the bot to put the bet on for them with funds already deposited in their account. On top of speedy bet placement, the technology makes it a lot easier for customers to access niche markets or discover ones that might otherwise be harder to find on a brand’s app when accessed from their mobile device. Essentially, Paddy Power has been able to tap into their audience by creating an extension of an app with which it is very familiar – Facebook messenger. Most punters are on Facebook and use it regularly. They are comfortable using the technology, so it makes sense, now we’re allowed, to utilise a tool that is as part of many people’s daily lives as eating and sleeping.

Chatbots aren’t restricted to Facebook Messenger, however, and we expect the technology to be used within other social media apps soon. WhatsApp has already gone on record about opening its doors to third-party content providers and we anticipate developments in this space soon. The list of sportsbook providers in the industry grows every year. What will split the wheat from the chaff is how they keep their customers happy and coming back for more; a concept that would have been alien to the adversarial approach of yesteryear. Paddy Power has been able to use the app and tailor messaging in a way that suits them and remains ‘on brand’. That includes the use of their trademark content, humorous videos and cheeky responses, thus providing far more than a simple bet execution. Their unique approach makes the chatbot the prefect tool for their brand, but the concept would work for any operator, in any vertical, who values dialogue with its customers. And in a congested industry in which retention is the new acquisition the timing couldn’t be better. Or should that be botter?