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Lessons learnt from 2019 Leaders in Loyalty Summit

The 2019 Leaders in Loyalty Summit brought together executives from some of SA’s leading loyalty brands such as eBucks, TFG, MySchool, Pick n Pay Smart Shopper, Vodacom and Sanlam Reality. The audience emerged themselves in discussion with the panel and speakers about key loyalty innovation, and industry pain points or challenges.

One of the key themes that ran throughout the discussions was the role loyalty programmes play in creating true customer value. There is no one size fits all approach to meet the needs of different groups of customers in South Africa.

5 key learnings stood out for us about building a successful programme, focused on offering true customer value.


1. Be relevant

Often overstated, offering the right reward to the right customer has never been more important. We live in an age where customers expect you to offer the most relevant offer to them in exchange for being part of your programme. Mateboho Malope, Executive Head of Rewards & Loyalty at Vodacom referred to it as “understanding you as an individual customer”, saying “we (Vodacom) try to make sure that the what we assign to you (in rewards) is of value to YOU, so that it further enhances your experience and drives deeper engagement).”

This is particularly true in a multi-partner programme set up such as eBucks where members have access to an array of partners across different categories of goods and services; therefore, to maintain relevance to the customer is even more challenging.

“Customer value is built through a strong value ecosystem that is relevant to our customers and partners.”
Johan Moolman, CEO, eBucks


2. Offer convenience

Today’s consumer seeks and praises convenience sometimes far beyond the actual reward. Unanimously agreed amongst the speakers, simplicity and convenience is a sure-fire metric to increase/improve engagement. The value of rewards may be out of this world, however, is null in void if the experience of earning or redeeming those rewards requires too many hurdles or hidden rules.

Johan Moolman, CEO of eBucks, talking about the eBucks customer experience said: “Our members enjoy the convenience of being able to access multiple value-added benefits of a single platform. They have the ability to seamlessly and securely book flights at discounted rates for themselves and their families, shop a range of products at the eBucks shop as well as redeem their eBucks on the FNB App.”


3. Build trust

Trust is the cornerstone of loyalty. This was the main theme emerging from Pieter Twine’s presentation, sharing with us the fundamental principles by which MySchool My Village My Planet run by. To succeed in loyalty in the eyes of your customers, one must be transparent, share your impact and engage customers to see the benefits you bring to them as a programme. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to recoup trust once it is broken and once a promise is broken, no amount of points can fix it. This brings us to the 4th lesson about responsibility.


4. Be responsible

Many discussions were had regarding not only the effective use of data, but the responsible use of data. Jean Tranter, Head of TFG Group Analytics delved into the importance of understanding your customer data and the positive effects it can have on your business, far beyond marketing. “Loyalty at TFG is the cost of doing business and the data we collect is where our true value lies.” Jean further spoke about utilising data to give customers not only better or more relevant rewards but how data can drive better decision making about improved store assortments, pricing decisions and enhanced customer service.

Responsibility concerning data was also a hot topic. When asked by the audience whether or not customer data should be shared to 3rd parties / partners to improve their overall loyalty experience, the panelists shared their views:

“You need explicit permission or consent from your customers and you (the brand) should aim to be the custodian of your customers’ data.”
John Bradshaw, Head of Marketing, Pick n Pay

“I am very protective of our base. Don’t let your customers ever doubt what you are doing with their data. Do the right thing for the customer, always.”
Mateboho Malope, Executive Head: Rewards & Loyalty, Vodacom

“We (Sanlam) look after our members’ interests. We don’t use / sell our database to 3rd party marketing lists.”
Andre Larisma, MD, Sanlam Reality


5. Gain buy-in

A major challenge impacting the success of a loyalty programme, highlighted by the panel, was “buy-in from the top.” The panel discussed how challenging it can be to “convince” executives of the value of loyalty to a business and changing the company culture or DNA to adopt the ethos of loyalty.

“Changing the DNA of an organisation to believe that loyalty is worthwhile to change behaviour is challenging. Loyalty needs to be deeply integrated into the core of your business model. Everyone needs to own it.”
Mateboho Malope, Executive Head of Rewards & Loyalty, Vodacom

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