Martin Pullen, Head of Operations at GiG, speaks with iGB about the benefits of outsourcing operations to a managed services provider in the post-Covid era
Martin Pullen heads up all GIG’s managed services operational teams, including customer support, payments, risk & fraud and player safety. An industry veteran, he has been with the company for six years, with previous experience at some of igaming’s biggest operators, including William Hill and Ladbrokes.
The gambling sector may have been transformed by the tumultuous events of the past 18 months, but there are more reasons for businesses to shift from a pandemic mindset to an outbreak of optimism as we enter the latter stages of 2021.
The switch to digital has been accelerated by Covid-19, with some consumers moving from real-world casino tables and betting shops to their online equivalents. However, lockdowns, travel restrictions and health concerns have also had a huge impact on the behind-the-scenes operations of gambling companies of all sizes.
While the office watercooler has been replaced by teams operating remotely from makeshift home offices, a new working culture has presented new opportunities, as well as challenges. Alternative solutions, such as the outsourcing of some business operations to a managed service provider, are increasingly considered.
Leading the way in that sphere within the gaming sector is GiG, whose Head of Operations, Martin Pullen, believes operators are embracing changes that can both bolster teams and streamline costs.
“Management across the operations side of the industry have had to rethink their strategies in all areas, with fast-paced changes to working regulations constantly shifting the goalposts,” Pullen says.
“This has presented the perfect opportunity for operators to look towards adding additional support such as a managed service to their operation, reducing costs while allowing them to enhance operational efficiency without having to compromise on talent, resources and skills.”
The challenges of finding the right people with the right experience in the right location have been particularly pronounced for operators that have had to pivot swiftly to online.
Land-based entities whose doors were closed for months were forced to look at alternative income streams, and GiG’s knowledge and services have allowed them to make a success of this switch.
Choosing the correct partner in making this step is key, with online newcomers challenging established operators in mature markets. Pullen says that as well as supplying strong services and personnel, building strong relationships between provider and client is essential.
“GiG has a very successful record of bringing land-based brand equity online and our business operations have played a very important role in achieving this,” Pullen adds. “Land-based operations have a very different user journey compared to online operations, and experience and expertise when launching an online presence is essential to both the initial and ongoing success of the venture moving online for the first time.
“Our turnkey solutions offer the opportunity to hit the ground running, in terms of expertise, scalability and operational efficiency. This allows the operator to concentrate on their wider business strategy, whilst ensuring the customer experience is that of an established and experienced operation with a smooth user journey taking place immediately from launch.”
The traditional partnership between an operator and a third-party provider has also evolved into a closer working relationship, Pullen adds.
“A managed outsourced operation should be about more than just providing a service,” he says. “They should be very much a partner, sharing and celebrating the success of the brand, with a high degree of buy-in from third-party employees.
“Smooth and regular communication flows within the partnership are essential to ensure a joint appreciation of any gaps, development areas or potential opportunities which can be exploited.”
In addition to businesses that have newly embraced online, GiG’s managed services division also supports established entities, including tier-one clients. While they may already have millions of customers, these industry giants can take advantage of GiG’s experience in highly regulated markets such as the UK and Sweden, as well as new markets where the supplier has already established process flows.
“This allows them to scale operations at a reduced cost, whilst maintaining their core markets,” Pullen says.
While the benefits of these managed services might be appreciated behind the scenes within businesses, the advantages of tapping into the skills and resources of a partner such as GiG can also have an impact on customers.
From efficient manual and automated process flows through to cutting-edge technology tools and software – supported by highly trained and motivated staff – online expertise can greatly add to the user experience and end-to-end customer journey. Brand and site integrity, particularly on new launches, are an important acquisition tool, and experienced managed services in areas such as customer support, risk and fraud, payments and player safety can help to build trust.
Pullen gives one example of how operators can enhance their brand and corporate responsibility standards and develop stronger relationships with customers through the outsourcing of some services to external suppliers.
“At GiG, we have a highly experienced payments team who are always ready to process manual withdrawals quickly in conjunction with payment automation,” he explains.
“Our team of knowledgeable and empathetic customer service agents are a highly skilled team that has undergone GamCare-accredited training, ensuring that commitment to responsible gaming flows throughout all communication.
“Ultimately, answering customers speedily with an emphasis on first resolution, combined with a personalised and tailored customer service approach, is what creates a smooth customer journey and a high-performing operational customer experience.”