The word on the street these days is that mobile is a growing and thriving channel ripe with opportunities for financial institutions. I saw one of those opportunities brought to life in a presentation given by Visa at the 2012 Card Forum and Expo: A realtime customer loyalty program that bridges the gap between redemption, measurement and customer satisfaction.
This opportunity for loyalty programs was supported by stats from recent Forrester and Visa surveys. Forrester reported that the number of consumers who feel loyalty programs don’t offer any real value jumped by 50 percent from 2008 figures and Visa revealed that more than 70 percent of shoppers found more than half the deals they receive are irrelevant to their needs. How does Visa’s program address this? By taking the consumer trends of mobility and personalization and putting them to work.
Customers are on the go. They are plugged into their mobile devices and incorporating mobility into a loyalty program is a key strategy. In terms of personalization, special offers need to be relevant in order for customers to pay attention, get excited about them and actually redeem them. During the presentation it was stated that customers want to be served, not sold. Therefore the focus of a loyalty program needs to be on reaching them in the channel they prefer (email, text, etc.), offering a reward they are most likely to accept and making that offer at the right time.
Here’s how it works. A customer is shopping at their local mall. They use their Visa card to buy a coffee in that mall. Because this customer opted in to the Visa real-time messaging program their credit card swipe at the coffee shop is registered at Visa and identifies that there is a GAP store in the same mall. Based on the personal spending habits for this customer at the GAP, a special discount offer is sent via text message. The customer shops, shows the text at check out and redeems the offer. GAP stores have experienced tremendous success since the program started, driving both increased store visits and ticket size.
There are many advantages of this realtime messaging approach. It allows participating merchants to test and track offers to help make them more relevant, provides a wealth of data to ensure the most appropriate customer offers are made, works with existing loyalty programs and provides a seamless redemption process. As one of the participating merchants stated, it’s realtime for the enterprise but convenience time for the customer. There’s a big movement toward customer centricity in the financial world today. This is one example of a program designed around the customer that brings mutual benefit to all parties in the transaction while seizing opportunity.