Thursday, August 27, 2015

Enterprise Loyalty for Banks and Financial Services - Part 1

When we speak of loyalty and loyalty points, most of us today would know what I mean. Not only that, one is quickly reminded of a credit card and a POS machine J Traditionally for banks, loyalty was synonymous with credit cards and vice-versa. As end consumers of credit card facilities, we always associated a credit card with the loyalty points and benefits that it would bring. And we were or even today happy using such loyalty points against some gifts or merchandise or voucher, etc.
Keeping the omnipresence of credit cards and their loyalty points away for moment, let’s understand what loyalty is and why one needs it.

Literally speaking, “Loyalty” would mean, “being loyal to someone” and hence, continuing the relationship. Well, banking relationships are all monetary and not so much by conscience. And with the ever growing competition, how does one make sure, their customers are loyal to them and stick to them and continue to do and bring in business day in and day out for long-long years? Well, that is where you need a holistic rewards solution which can help you meet your objectives. You give a monetary or a non-monetary benefit as a reward for being loyal and drive desirable customer behaviour in tandem.

Not only this, with growing financial literacy among customers and ability of customers to consummate easy and real-time information over social media, they also think holistically across their banking relationships. They also think that they should be rewarded appropriately for the overall relationship and not just credit cards.

All such market and customer driven behaviour dictate a need for a holistic loyalty program for a bank. Such a program should definitely cut across all the banking products and services (including credit cards) and help the bank achieve their key broad objectives from their loyalty program.
Using a loyalty program, typically, one would want to “Reduce churn” by retaining the existing customer base and help wade through the competition. One would also want to “Increase revenue” by increased use of products and services and increase share of wallet and support cross-selling. And overall, one would surely want to “Attract new customers” by an attractive referral program and incentivised marketing program to aid direct walk-ins.

A loyalty program would have 3 basic tenets around which it will revolve – Transact – Transact and capture all the transactions that a customer would do; Earn – Earn loyalty benefits or loyalty points based on the nature of the transaction; and Transaction more & Redeem – Transact more and increase your earnings and then use these earnings or burn these earnings or redeem your earnings against certain set of benefits, both financial and non-financial.

A loyalty program would also give you a chance to drive a desirable customer behaviour and test and create opportunities. Let’s take simple customer behaviour, say, “purchase of a new product”, to understand this. A typical “call to action” could be – “Buy Product X and receive Y points”. By such a call to action, you are driving your customers to buy that product. You are enticing them to gain those loyalty benefits by purchasing the product. This not only gives a chance to generate more revenue by sale of a new product, but, also gives a chance to deepen the relationship and increase share of the wallet. Let’s look at similar such scenarios.

Another key desirable customer behaviour is “increase in spending” and you may ask your customers – “Spend X with us within this week and receive Y rewards”. This is a very common strategy to increase spending. At times, banks use it to increase credit card transaction volumes over a short period of time. This gives an opportunity to increase average spending and have a psychological edge, where the customer feels related to the bank. On the similar lines, if you use such a strategy over a longer period of time, it has a potential to change the customer behaviour and further deepen the relationships. It also helps reward long-term relationships, which in turn creates more brand value.

Such a holistic loyalty program can also help banks drive their customers towards low cost channels like internet or mobile banking or ATMs. All that banks need to do is add channel of transaction as a parameter to drive rewards or even disincentive undesirable behaviour. Banks adopting such a strategy have been fairly successful in achieving their objective to move away customers from costly channels and allow them to self serve.

To increase volumes and create recurring sales, banks usually would entice their customers to transact a specific number of times in a specific time period. They would usually say – “Do A of X in Y time to get Z rewards”.  Such strategies can help drive products like bill payments or fund transfers. There are many such strategies which can be adopted to drive desirable customer behaviour and achieve other objectives from a loyalty program.
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