The use of mobiles has changed the name of the game for loyalty programmes, especially when it comes to creating more RoI (return on investment). Brand loyalty among customers is on the decline due to intense competition.

While loyalty programmes are a great way to increase brand loyalty, most brands still treat their rewards schemes as an excuse to get an email address instead of adding value to the customer.

But when a business gets their mobile loyalty programme right, they get a 13.3 million-user success story like Starbucks.

We’re sure you would have heard the adage — “It’s is easier to get an old customer to come back than to ask a new customer to transact with you”. This is a retention strategy that every marketer knows.

This high acquisition cost is the primary factor why brands need to build relationships with existing customers and reward them.

Here are a few benefits of inclining a loyalty strategy to be mobile-centred:

* Convenience — Anytime and anywhere access and with real-time updates on offers and discounts.

* Staying ahead of the competition — Having the leverage of being able to communicate via mobiles keeps things instant. Say your customer was looking up a product that your competitor sold as well, but your message with the discount reached him on time and that turned things in your favour.

* Reduced operational costs — Offers can be changed instantaneously and sent to all users within seconds. The time spent is less and it works out to be economical than paper-based loyalty programmes.

Customers are increasingly demanding to be seen and heard as individuals with specific needs. Using AI in loyalty programs can solve a lot of issues that plague the existing system.

It is the best way to capture an individual’s need, intentions or preferences, in real time. Each individual’s data is captured, thereby putting together a collective database that delivers information that go far beyond numbers.

Speech recognition, dialogue management and natural language processing are used to create intelligent assistants. These intelligent assistants can interact naturally with human beings and help them with accessing information and completing tasks.

For example, AI can help power Virtual Assistants who can monitor specific customer behaviour and reward them for it. All this can be done without the intervention of human beings.

Another good feature of the integration of AI is that it offers security against cybercrimes, fraud, and theft. AI systems can also augment employee performances, which frees them from mundane tasks so that they can focus on important areas that maximise customer experience.

Below is a loyalty checklist developed by a top Ogilvy & Mather strategist, Michael Szego. Do note that there is nothing called a perfect brand loyalty programme, even if you follow the below list to the T. You need to keep evolving and changing with the market and your customer. In fact, you need to be a few steps ahead of them, to make your loyalty programme management a success.

* Simplicity — Make my life simple, don’t confuse me with too much information;

* Benevolence — Understand my issue and take my side in finding a resolution;

* Trust — Doing what’s right, honouring promises and protecting customers privacy; and

* Transparency — Rates and fees are crystal clear and comparisons are available.

Saurabh Arora is Director — Business Development, Capillary Technologies.