Rabih Farhat, Founder and Managing Partner at Related Inc. has said that loyalty and incentive-based programs are key drivers to generate additional revenues for organizations while increasing customer engagement and satisfaction. Telecom Review managed to secure an exclusive interview with Rabih at a recent IMA summit (Incentive Marketing Association) which was held in Dubai.
“We have been helping flagships brands in the region to better utilize customer Loyalty initiatives through a win-win value creation with their business objectives in mind and their customer happiness at heart”, he said.
In a brilliant interview, the Founder and Managing Partner of Related Inc. gave us a comprehensive overview of how customer loyalty has evolved over time and outlined in details different techniques and methodologies to build powerful customer relationship programs.
How does Related help organizations and enterprises to build loyalty and retention programs?
Related Inc. is a marketing agency specialized in building and managing creative customer relationships program. It is a one-stop-shop that offers customer loyalty programs from strategy and design to implementation and management using cutting-edge technologies and the latest customer engagement techniques.
The company has established itself as a major player in the loyalty industry in the Middle East and has a proven track record of helping organizations and brands transform the way they engage with their customers.
How brands can move away from building relationship with their customers only on the basis of customer spending and the actual value that the customer brings to the organization?
The key is to get closer than ever to your customers, so close, that you know what they need before they know it themselves.
Today, enterprises have access to oceans of data however they’re still facing challenges in building a proper customer view based on needs and preferences. While segmentation by value remains a quick win for marketers, understanding customer preferences can unlock many untapped opportunities for additional purchases and interactions.
We follow 3 guiding principles to build insightful and value generating loyalty programs:
1. Understand your customer: 65% of Middle East consumers expect brands to know them personally and treat them individually. In this digital age where massive amounts of valuable customer data are generated every second from countless sources, Related has invested heavily in AI tools and resources to offer our clients useful business intelligence. We collect data from different sources and transform it to actionable insights such as predicting and recommending personalized rewards and communication based on customer behavior and lifestyle interest.
2. Build an incentive scheme: Our clients’ loyalty programs are designed to reward customers on every transaction and interaction done with the brand throughout their journey while keeping our clients’ business success in mind. In order to offer customers a unique experience and reach past their wallet and straight for their heart, we have built a worldwide merchant network with more than 2,000 brands offering appealing and personalized deals and experiential treats. These partnerships guarantee a win-win to both client and merchant by attracting new customers, increasing the share of wallet and extending customer lifetime value.
3. Keep engaging: 80% of consumers consider instant and fun as a key loyalty driver; we have introduced the first AR loyalty game in the Middle East bridging the virtual world with real benefits and rewards from merchants in their surroundings. With this initiative, we were able to enhance our client’s customer engagement by 7 times and to increase program enrollment by 12%.
What are the challenges that organizations are facing in the region today that prevent them from bringing to market powerful customer loyalty program?
The strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown. Throughout our experience in the region, there are three main challenges that organizations face when planning for a loyalty program:
1. The investment: Marketers tends to lose sight of the financial drivers behind loyalty programs initiatives and get distracted by things like likes on Social Media, sharing posts and increase of fan base. Drifting away from PNL will make it very challenging to get buy-in of senior management and stakeholders. We overcome this by offering to our clients the right loyalty topology and an accurate business model that will help them navigate through the uncertainties of building and launching a loyalty program.
2. The technology: The biggest challenge is finding the right technology that is customizable, scalable and agile to integrate with internal legacy and external third party systems such as merchants, e-commerce, travel catalogs etc. Because data and insight are key to enhance and innovate around the program capabilities, advanced real time reporting and dashboards are now a key requirement for any chosen technology.
3. The resource: Having the right skill set is another challenge to ensure the successful delivery and on-going management of the program while keeping track of performance and enhancement opportunity. Today, managed services models have shown efficiency in driving value and continuous innovation around customer loyalty programs.
Telecommunication operators have seen their traditional business models decimated by the emergence of OTTs. Can you tell us how Related is helping operators to generate new revenue opportunities outside of their core offering?
Today, telco operators across the region are struggling with market saturation, increased churn rates and declining customer ARPUs. Operators are on an ongoing quest to change this zero-sum game and find new measures to better engage with their customers and maximize their lifetime value with the service providers.
We help mobile operators across the region to transform their loyalty initiatives to revenue generation streams through profitable tie-ups we build within our merchant network.
In addition to the indirect revenue impact from acquisition increase, churn decrease and spend uplift, our smart programs were able to generate up to 5% on topline through monetization of merchant rewards and gamification.
Can you tell me why you’re in attendance at the IMA Summit, and what is the value in being a partner in this association?
In the US, loyalty programs are part of the fundamentals of every successful business, and they’ve already moved from traditional to incentive-based loyalty programs. However, here in the Middle East, loyalty is still considered as a nice to have add on offering.
Our role as a member of the IMA is to create the awareness at a market and executive level around the importance of loyalty program for businesses to drive more customer insights, increase customer satisfaction, boost customer engagement and drive more revenues. IMA is the right platform for experts to discuss loyalty matters, best practices and the latest innovations and perks.
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