Changing the mindset: a how to guide

Spend 5 minutes in the company of a ClearStake employee and chances are you’ll hear the phrase ‘change the mindset’, specifically around the approach in most gambling operators to financial risk checks.

We use it a lot, and we are not ashamed.

But whilst changing the mindset sounds great, how does an organisation actually go about doing it? That is more complicated, and the subject of this blog. We won’t pretend that changing the mindset of an organisation is easy (and indeed, it probably shouldn’t be). But what follows are three core ways in which you can make it happen.

Before getting into that, however, let’s very briefly remind ourselves why we might want to do this in the first place.

Why the existing mindset needs to change

What follows isn’t true of every gambling business. But it is true of an awful, awful lot of them. 

When it comes to the matter of financial risk checks, by which we’re talking about affordability and AML checks that require looking at financial documents, the following attitudes are not uncommon:

  • There’s not much we can do about the number of people who refuse to engage with financial checks
  • Customers just won’t do them. Haven’t you read the Racing Post?
  • Our compliance team are doing everything they can in difficult circumstances
  • We’re waiting for the outcome of the recent Consultations

And so on. These are all, at heart, attitudes of defeat. A sort of fatalistic acceptance of something that we all wish wasn’t true, but unfortunately is.

These attitudes are also largely the reason why these same gambling operators are seeing 80% or even 90% of their best customers leaving as soon as they hit the thresholds for these checks. Which in turn, is why these attitudes, and this culture, needs to change.

Let’s find out how

Three steps to changing your mindset

One thing is certainly true: you don’t change a mindset simply by telling people to think differently. You need to DO things that then inevitably impact the way people think about their world, and the way an organisation operates: it’s culture, if you like.

‘Culture’ is hard to define. It tends to emerge organically. So it can be difficult to track how it changes, or separate out the different elements and influences upon it. Indeed the three steps below are all related. Even so, we believe they will make a difference.

1. Change the conversation from cost to retention

Compliance teams tend to understand that player checks are a necessary job they need to get done, and view success as doing that job well whilst expending as few resources as possible. That might be something of a simplification (there are many passionate and innovative people working in compliance after all), but it is nevertheless broadly true. And whilst it is true, you can be sure that new ways of doing things are judged primarily based on cost.

We believe this is wrong-headed, and that the first step in changing a culture is to start caring a little more about retention. The number that matters is how many customers are lost during compliance checks. When you calculate what is at stake, it will dwarf any operational cost. So any alternative way of doing things should be measured against this metric. 

The question to ask is no longer “will this save us time and money”, but “will this help us retain more valuable customers?”

Which leads us to…

2. Start measuring and reporting retention during financial risk checks

OK, it’s a cliche at this stage, but like most cliches there’s an awful lot of truth in it:

What gets measured gets managed.

If you aren’t looking at the percentage of customers who complete financial risk checks every week, and looking at trends in that number over time, you need to start doing both of those things right now.

The moment you do, moving that number is going to become incredibly important. All sorts of attitudes are going to change. All sorts of ideas are going to be generated. What was once seen as something of an act of God will be seen as within the control of the organisation.

To put that into real terms, it is very difficult to be happy sitting around and waiting for direction from the Government or the Gambling Commission, when you are confronted with the reality of losing 85% of your customers every week, and being forced to confront it. Few people will shrug their shoulders and announce that there is ‘nothing we can do’ in that situation.

Trust me, the sinking feeling of typing “85%” into a churn cell in a spreadsheet isn’t something anyone wants to experience more than a couple of times…

3. Get others involved

Significant challenges require input and expertise from across the organisation. In this particular case, if the problem remains within compliance, and more broadly operations, that is the lens through which everything will be viewed. And that in turn will tend to reinforce some of the existing perceptions we mentioned above.

At the very least, ensure that your teams responsible for P&L have some oversight and contribution. They will add a sense of impetus and momentum to the project, and will almost certainly be dissatisfied with the numbers as they are. You can be sure that their fresh eyes will help.

In the same vein, your marketing team will provide valuable expertise, and a different perspective, when it comes to maximising the opt-in for financial checks. Ultimately, you are trying to get a customer to do something. To click a link and complete a process. This is what marketers are good at. Use their skills and ensure you are giving yourself every chance to succeed. 

The three steps above will get you well on the way to a new culture when it comes to compliance. One that can in turn deliver a huge competitive advantage. And as a special treat, I’ll throw in a free bonus tip: 

Read the Racing Post just for the tips and racing reporting.