Customers are at the heart of what we do. All our customers are treated in an equal, fair and open manner by making clear rules available and applying them consistently.
At William Hill we strive to deliver a high standard of customer service and to be fair and open in our dealings with customers. We operate dedicated customer services teams and regularly measure the quality of our service performance through mystery shopping programmes.
Three important principles are at the heart of our business – keeping crime and disorder out of gambling, protecting children and the vulnerable, and keeping gambling fair.
William Hill is committed to adhere to these principles and to invest in applying industry-leading processes which are both ground-breaking and practicable. We are constantly seeking ways to improve how and what we do.
All of our employees receive training giving them an overall awareness of our commitment to these principles and the detailed procedural knowledge appropriate to their specific business role.
Protecting the vulnerable
Gambling in the UK – except for the National Lottery – is restricted to people aged over 18. We have a responsibility to ensure underage people do not gamble with us. We are also responsible for ensuring we do not target the young and vulnerable, and that we help vulnerable people, such as problem gamblers, to manage their gambling safely.
Think 21: preventing underage gambling
We also focus heavily on ensuring that under 18s do not gamble with William Hill. In Retail, we apply a ‘Think 21’ approach and use an independent third party to test the effectiveness of our approach. Having changed our testing methodology in 2012, we have been measuring colleagues’ challenging of customers at different stages of their customer journey, from entering the door to approaching the counter or attempting to use a gaming machine. We delivered another year of very strong results in 2014, with successful challenges occurring in 85% of cases and 71% of challenges occurring upon entry. This places us among the very highest performing age verification industries, including those selling alcohol on the high street.
When a new Online or Telephone customer opens and deposits into an account, we go through a series of age verification procedures, including using external agencies.
The levels of problem gambling across the UK are stable or may even be slightly declining. These levels are also low by international standards. However, we are not complacent and, as outlined above, have undertaken a number of important changes to help customers gamble responsibly.
For many years we have provided self-exclusion systems in the betting shops and for Online and Telephone customers. We have continually improved these measures, including requiring Retail customers to self-exclude for 12 months at a time, with the ability to renew for a further year by phone, and to provide a recent photograph when they renew so that we can more effectively recognise them when they come into our shops. Now, we are working closely with the rest of the industry to identify ways to increase the effectiveness of self-exclusion even further.
Fair and open gambling
Encouraging sports betting integrity
Integrity in sport is as vital to the betting industry as it is to the sports themselves and we have in place robust systems to help us identify and act upon unusual or suspicious activities very quickly.
In the UK we have a statutory responsibility to report any suspicious betting activity to the Gambling Commission. This information can be shared with sports governing bodies and regulators in other territories. Similar arrangements exist in online jurisdictions in which we operate.
We are an active member of the tripartite group, involving the sports governing bodies, betting operators and the regulator, which was set up as part of the 2010 Parry Report recommendations, which we helped to formulate. The Panel meets regularly and shares best practice, encouraging clear rules and robust investigation processes, along with a substantial emphasis on education. In 2013, as part of our education efforts, we met with a number of sports governing bodies to demonstrate our early warning and reporting systems.
Improving customer service
The fair and open treatment of our customers is very important to us. We make available a comprehensive set of rules that detail the terms and conditions under which all transactions placed with William Hill are accepted.
We strive to ensure our rules and terms and conditions are easily available and understandable to customers, and have specialist customer service teams dedicated to shop, Telephone and Online customers. We look to resolve all betting disputes in a fair and consistent manner wherever customers gamble with us and customers can refer complaints to the Independent Betting Adjudication Services (IBAS). In 2014, 494 complaints were referred relating to William Hill, of which 0.6% were upheld by IBAS.
We monitor and regularly measure our customer service levels to ensure that we are delivering a good quality service to customers. We measure our performance through a mystery shopping programme and, in 2011, introduced the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to benchmark against our peers and other industries. In 2014, Retail’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) improved again to 53% (2013: 47%).
In Online, we focused on training and coaching to improve how we communicate, focusing on empathy, communication and use of discretion across our various Online customer services teams. Online introduced an NPS monitoring system during the year and identified key customer journeys on which to focus to deliver further improvements.
Over the last several years, William Hill’s comprehensive approach to security has led us consistently to reduce the level of crime in our business, giving us an industry-leading track record. We have a dedicated Security function and have continuously invested in our systems and training to instil the right security-conscious culture in our shops, to protect both our staff and our customers. We continue to share best practices across the industry through organisations such as the Safe Bet Alliance and co-operate with crime-prevention bodies, including Crimestoppers. Our efforts have also been recognised with Group and individual awards from the security industry’s Security Excellence Awards. We recognise the threat posed by cyber crime and continue to focus on this area of potential risk.
Continuing to reduce crime
Through initiatives such as Counter Plan, investment in safe havens for staff and CCTV, and use of systems such as StaffSafe, in the last seven years we have seen a 63% fall in robberies, an 81% fall in burglaries and a 35% fall in cash-in-transit incidents. In addition, the proportion of these classed as attempts (i.e., the criminals were unsuccessful, usually as a result of our prevention measures) has increased to 37% for robberies, 29% for burglaries and 41% for cash-in-transit. The cost to the business of these crimes has reduced by 82% from £662,000 in 2008 to £120,000 in 2014. We are rolling out StaffSafe, a two-way audio communication system connecting shop teams to a 24-hour monitoring station. This system is highly effective at combating anti-social behaviour as the incident is managed over the audio system by the remote team, taking the focus away from the shop team. In total, 1,340 systems have now been installed and by the end of 2015 we aim to have covered three-quarters of our LBO estate. The Control Room will also be linked into our CCTV systems.
During the last year there has been significant attention focused on money laundering as the EU has progressed its 4th Money Laundering Directive, which may bring retail bookmakers under its auspices for the first time.
The number of suspicious incidents reported to the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the UK involving proceeds of crime or money laundering in betting shops remains very low, at less than 1% of reported NCA cases, the majority of which come from the banking sector.
We have dedicated risk management teams that monitor and investigate suspicious activities in Online and Retail. Over 100 dedicated staff work around the clock to conduct real-time transactional monitoring of Online deposits and withdrawals, and game play. Our teams are regularly trained on what we need to identify and report. As a cash business in Retail, there will always be a risk but we take that very seriously and have a dedicated Money Laundering Reporting Officer, comprehensive training, clear systems for escalation and fraud alert software on the gaming machines. The anti-money laundering risk matrix used in Retail was extended in 2014 to encompass the gaming machine reward card. Specific gameplay monitoring was also introduced in relation to self-service betting terminals.
In Online, we monitor customer accounts for fraud management and anti-money laundering purposes. We conduct ‘Know Your Customer’ checks against customers depositing more than €2,000 in a 24-hour period and run checks to validate their identity. Enhanced due diligence processes, including customer profile checks, were further enhanced in 2014 across both Retail and Online and a consistent approach to monitoring and reporting once suspicious activity has been detected is in operation.
In 2014, we submitted 325 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) to either the NCA or the Gibraltar Financial Intelligence Unit (2013: 154 cases). Ten of the SARs were consent-related and all ten were granted by the NCA. There were 411 law enforcement or financial institution enquiries were received that required investigation. As a result of encouraging improved internal reporting and adopting a more comprehensive approach across Retail and Online, we saw a 125% increase in the number of internal reports made, with the high quality of this reporting demonstrated by 75% of these resulting in an external disclosure.