Loyalty programs in India – The missing piece.

As I complete another judging assignment, this time for the Loyalty awards in the UK, the difference between leading international programs and those in India come across as pretty stark. Besides the judging one has had the privilege on working on some of the largest and most successful Customer programs in India.

With this combined view from the ground level as well as the thirty thousand feet level, I am going to stick my neck out on what’s missing in the Indian loyalty industry today.

The challenge earlier was availability of data, which thankfully is gone, with the Mobile, internet and digital becoming all pervasive. However today programs seem to miss the use of this data, or are inundated with the volume of data. They focus on getting the operational details but miss the wood for the trees.

The purpose of a loyalty program is to enable the use of Customer data to improve insights and therefore increase relevance & influence behaviour resulting in increased value per customer.

Here are My 5 steps for this journey to make programs successful :

1. The leadership and endorsement from the top
All successful programs are led by the vision of the senior management and CEO, the vision of being Customer Centric and understanding of the value of Customer insight.

2. Defining the objectives
Successful programs have a clear roadmap of the objectives and metrics – No of enrolments or Customer data capture, % members vs total customers, Frequency/Value of transactions, Value per Customer, width/depth of engagement…

3. Imbibe a continuous learning culture
Successful programs realise that engagement & gamification models increase customer value and it is an iterative process. One that involves continuous testing and desire to improve the performance continuously. Cycling the learnings back into the system develops knowledge and breeds success.

4. Focus on the relationship and not only the transaction
Show concern that you have not seen a customer back on your site, or store for a while, recognise a milestone of relationship, acceptance of failure when it occurs shows a culture of wanting to retain the customer. Growing the relationship leads to growing profitability. Value of the relationship inevitably beats loss of customer.

5. Invest in communication, have fun
Gamify the relationship and communicate intensely, the debate is not about media alone but frequency and relevance. An opportunity to say hi and to share news and updates does not occur very often, use it when it comes.

The problem invariably is the response that all of the above is being done, so why are many programs struggling? The answer I believe is in the execution. Great strategy and poor execution results in greater failure than mediocre strategy and great execution.

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