#294: East v West - Fascinating Loyalty Program Insights from Asia - Courtesy of Comarch

Loyalty programs share some incredible similarities but also some noticeable differences in western markets, compared with Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and The Philippines.

Today, Let’s Talk Loyalty meets Jaroslaw (Jarek) Wludyka, who is currently Comarch’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, who shares his fascinating career creating huge loyalty programs for enterprise clients in South East Asia.

Jarek explains some of the fascinating comparisons and contrasts, showcasing what works for loyalty programs in different cultures and for different industries such as utility brands, airlines and coalition programs.

Please enjoy Jarek’s insights and perspective on how loyalty programs are helping brands to connect with their members in such different ways across these fascinating countries, courtesy of Comarch.

Show Notes:

1) Comarch

2) Jaroslaw (Jarek) Wludyka

Audio Transcript

Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.

This show is sponsored by Comarch, a global provider of innovative software products and business services. Comarch’s platform is used by leading brands across all industries to drive their customer loyalty. Powered by AI and machine learning, Comarch technologies allow you to build, run, and manage personalized loyalty programs and product offers with ease.

For more information, please visit comarch.com.

Hello and welcome to episode 294 of Let’s Talk Loyalty. Today we’re chatting with our friends in Comarch, specifically Jarek Wludyka, who is currently Comarch’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand. Jarek has a fascinating career creating huge loyalty programs, particularly for enterprise clients in Southeast Asia.

In today’s discussion, he shares with us some of the incredible similarities and differences in how loyalty programs are run by utility brands, airlines and coalition programs in Western countries and mature loyalty markets, compared with some of those that he set up in Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

It’s a fascinating comparison and contrast showcasing what works for loyalty programs in different cultures and for different industries. I hope you enjoy hearing Jarek’s insights and perspective on how loyalty programs are helping brands to connect with our members in such different ways across these fascinating countries.

Paula: So Jarek, first and foremost, welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty.

Jarek: Hey Paula, it’s really a pleasure to be on your podcast. I’ve been a fan for a while. Looking forward to it.

Paula: Excellent. Excellent. Thank you for being a fan. It always, uh, makes my day when somebody says that. So glad to be, uh, useful, I guess, and interesting because we have such a small niche industry, so I think we have a lot to learn from each other.

And today we’re here to learn a lot from you. So to start the conversation, Jarek, as you know, we always begin by asking about our favorite loyalty programs. So please do tell me what is your favorite loyalty program.

Jarek: Yeah, thanks for the question. Yeah, I, I, um, did expect it as I listened to your to show quite a lot, and I, uh, was thinking about what the answer should be.

I have to be a little bit careful how I answered this question because there’s a lot of people who might be my potential clients. I don’t want to, don’t want anybody to feel offended, but I think, uh, when I, when I thought about the question, I, I think I thought it. I thought about it from a perspective of, uh, the sophistication of programs, the complexity and, and the value that they, they bring to, to their, to their members.

And I, I would like to say that my favorite category of programs are the frequent flyer programs. They’re, I mean, The, the, um, the holds that they have on, um, on, on, on customers and, you know, them wanting to constantly go up the tiers, you know, just amazes me. I’m, you know, I’m a traveler myself. Yeah. I travel, well not daily, but, but at least, at least in a weekly or biweekly.

Yeah. And for me, having that, that status with an airline is, is, is just something I can’t live without . So I’m really, I’m really impressed how these frequent flyer programs, you know, uh, how they position themselves and how clients see them, how indispensable they are to some people. Yeah. Um, and, and yeah, I’m really amazed by, by the category itself.

And of course there’s a few, you know, in the business there, uh, and they’re, they’re all sort of similar. Some are better than, than the others, but they are usually, one of the biggest assets that that airlines have. So yeah, I’m really impressed by, by those kind of programs.

Paula: Absolutely. And I know Comarch has a lot of wonderful airline clients, so I’m sure we’ll be getting, getting into talking a little bit about all of that.

And you’ve reminded me, Jarek, even back to my own, um, days, I suppose, early in my career, long before I really got into loyalty. Um, I did work with Emirates, as you might know, and I loved that. Mm-hmm. , I was working on the e-commerce side, but I remember getting my first, um, credit card that was giving Skyward Miles.

And I remember using the words that I feel like a points junkie, and I know that’s actually a very, uh, unpleasant word of course because of its association, but that’s actually how I felt like I honestly would never use any other form of payment. So you’re absolutely right and the airline industry has the combined benefit of, you know, relatively high spend for most of us in terms of our everyday life, the aspirational side of travel, again, particularly leisure travel. I would say you, you sound like you’ve got more business travel. Um, and of course the airlines, I suppose, really invented the industry. I know there was stamp card programs before it as well, but I think, uh, the airlines have nailed it. And I know we talked before as well, that the valuations on airline loyalty programs is sometimes more than the airline itself.

So incredible stuff.

Jarek: That, I mean, that’s mind blowing. I, I’ve been in the industry for about seven, eight years. Uh, and it just doesn’t stop to amaze me that some of these programs are more, more valuable than the airline itself. I think if somebody’s outside of the industry, They just wouldn’t believe if they heard it.

So you have to look it up to some research. Yeah. And see if it’s really true. You know, it’s one of those things you really doubt when you hear about them, but It’s true. Yeah,

Paula: it is absolutely true. So, so seven or eight years, you said in loyalty then Jarek, so tell us a bit about your career, I guess, uh, maybe before, but certainly since mm-hmm.

.And how did you get into the loyalty industry?

Jarek: Sure. I mean, of course the most interesting bit is the, is is the loyalty bit. But, but I, I think generally, um, what I can say about myself is that I’ve been the solution delivery side on the vendor side for, for all of my career. I started, um, with, with IBM, uh, I worked with them in three different countries.

We were delivering technologies to, to their big clients. Uh, I, I’ve done that for a while, So I was on the delivery side and I’m, I, I’m still when even in, in Comarch. Even though delivery is not my responsibility, I still kind of feel responsible for the delivery piece of, you know, of every project. And I always am very closely.

Um, Involved. So, so with IBM, I, I sort of left IBM when I was based in, uh, Kuala Lumpur, and that’s when Comarch approached me. Yeah. Uh, they wanted to expand into the region. Uh, um, you know, Comarch is, it’s actually a global company these days, but when I joined, um, which is um, sort of seven years ago, They were still growing in the, in, in, in Asia, and, and they’ve only expanded to, or we’ve only expanded to, to ANZ just three, four years ago.

So, um, but we feel like we’ve kind of completed that expansion now and we’re just growing in those regions where we, where we already are. So my, my job with Comarch from the beginning was, uh, expansion of our, our business in a specific region for, for a few years I was based in Kuala Lumpur. I was looking after Southeast Asia, and we’ve managed to win a few really interesting, um, uh, deals there with clients mainly in telecom, but also airline and retail.

Mm-hmm. , um, And then about three years ago, you know, just before Covid , that’s another interesting story. I moved to Australia and um, uh, since then I’m really focusing on Australia and New Zealand markets, um, on growing our, our presence here.

Paula: Wonderful. Yeah, I mean, super exciting. Australian, New Zealand, I’ve still never been to, so, you know, I’ve, wow you have to come.

I definitely have to come. Uh, but as a loyalty market, I suppose it’s one that I really pay an awful lot of attention to, I feel it’s one of the most mature markets in the world. Um, so I’m full of admiration for particularly what happens where you are now. So I know you’re the managing director, certainly for, um, for the Australia business.

I guess that covers, uh, New Zealand as well. Am I right? Yeah.

Jarek: It does. Yes, correct.

Paula: Yeah. So what was it like getting started in, in Kuala Lumpur and setting up the Malaysia office? I’m fascinated because actually, even also Southeast Asia, I haven’t done certainly any loyalty work in at all. So tell us a bit about your, your role in the work you did in, uh, in Malaysia.

Jarek: Yeah. So, um, you know, a as you, as you know, as we all know, um, for a number of years, uh, Asia has really been been the growth engine, you know, of the world. A lot of things are really happening there these days, and in some ways Asia has, uh, even taken a lead in, in certain aspects of, you know, digital, uh, customer experience.

Um, and, and you know. Yeah, aspects like, like, like that. So, so for me, uh, uh, there were a couple of reasons why being in that region was exciting. So, one, uh, of course is the reason I just mentioned, which is the, the, the grove and just the size and the number of opportunities in that region, but also from another, another perspective, you know, the cultural perspective is just such a, such a variety there of cultures and religions and, you know, ways to approach things that I, I mean, to me that was always, yeah. Something that excited me whenever I was jumping on a plane, you know, somewhere. It was always somewhere, somewhere different. Uh, and I, and I always had to kind of switch something in my head Yeah. To, to, to remind myself where I’m going, and, and what kind of culture I’ll be, I’ll, I’ll be dealing with.

But it was, it. You know, it was one of those positive things. I was never worried about it. It’s something that was, you know, driving me. So yeah, I really loved that. Um, and, and yeah, just, just the number of, of clients there and what they’re trying to, to do for their own, let’s say clients, um, create an enormous number of, uh, opportunities.

So, so, so that, that was really, um, really exciting.

Paula: Yeah, and I think you’re right, Jar. I think we, you know, we all know Asia as a place of, you know, digital first, digital transformation and I guess scale. You know, China’s still the most populous country in the world as far as I know, although I think India is about to take over and, yes, I think so, yeah. Malaysia.

Yes, exactly. Super interesting. Malaysia, I know nothing about, but. What I did learn from you last time we spoke Jarek, was the sheer scale of the loyalty or membership, let’s say, of the particular projects that you were working on. So, and, and you, you told me a little bit about why as well. So we’ll definitely be getting into the approach to becoming, you know, part of these programs with these big customer basis. So give us a sense of what we’re talking about Jarek. What kind of clients were you working on and what kind of membership did these guys have?

Jarek: Sure. So, you know, with, with, um, um, the, I guess the, the interesting thing about Coamrch and that the loyalty, uh, clients that we have is that they’re from all over the place.

So we have, you know, we’re starting with with airline clients, you know, going through telco, retail, you know, oil and gas clients, and also other industries. So my job was really, um, you know, talking to clients from all of these industry. So the, the variety of, you know, the types of clients and the ch and the challenges they’re facing was, was just really, really high for us.

Mm. We’re not just specializing in, in one, but, but if I had to, um, select the ones that we were mostly, let’s say, en engaged with, I would say it’s definitely telco, um, uh, and, and airlines and, you know, because, uh, the population in, in, in the Southeast Asian countries is, uh, you know, maybe with a few exceptions like Singapore, which is, which is not not that big.

Um, yeah, sure it is really, it is really just, just very, very high. So, um, you know, everybody knows how big China is, but you know, not many people know that Indonesia is, you know, over 300 million people. So, Wow. So, um, so that, you know that, that is, You know, something to be mindful of. And, you know, when you work with clients in, in that part of the world, you, you have to be able to, you know, as a vendor, you have to be able to support these really large volumes.

Um, um, and yeah, so, so Indonesia is one, but you know, Philippines, I think they’re nearly a hundred or over a hundred million now. Thailand, I think about 60, 70 million. Wow. Um, and, and Vietnam, I think also near, nearly a hundred. I may not be a hundred percent, uh, correct on all these figures, but, but we know we’re talking about nearly, nearly a hundred million, uh, or, or over, like in, in case, in case of, um, uh, Indonesia.

So, so yeah. So that, that was the exciting bit because not only the clients are very digitally savvy there, and they expect a lot from the program that they will not be happy with just, you know, one or two things that they can do with the program. They really expect the loyalty program to be, to be, you know, a kind of a one place to go to for, for almost all their, you know, kind of daily needs.

Yeah. So they wanna be able to order food, they wanna be able to, you know, ride a, a, you know, a taxi. So that’s Grab, which is the, the, the kind of popular, uh, Yeah, sure. Uh, Mm. Ride sharing app, um, in that part of the world. Mm-hmm. . So, so all these programs, they, they have to cover all, you know, all these bases and not only have the, the variety of, um, of, of, of rewards or, or partners.

Mm. But also be able to handle the volumes because, you know, with all, with that high, with such a high number of, uh, of members, you get volumes that are really, really challenging. And, and, you know, the technology has to be there you know, to support it. If clients are not able to redeem or they’re not able to earn, that’s when you know, your clients or the members get really bad experience and, and, you know, it’s, it’s never good.

Mm-hmm. so, so, you know, one of the key aspects for us in, in, um, in Southeast Asia was always the performance. Mm-hmm. and the ability to, uh, to, to, to integrate and to just make all these various offers work seamlessly.

Paula: Absolutely. So, so incredible populations, as we said, and I think you said to me last time as well, Jarek, that in many cases, and I think it was in a, in a telco context, and I do want to explore, um, Telco a little bit with you because I know you’ve done some extraordinary stuff.

The, the default, um, approach, um, seems to be that they’re automatically enrolled into the loyalty programs for these particular, I’d say certainly utilities, because as you said, it’s one thing to have like a super app, and Grab is, is you know, just an astronomical business, of course, um, when you combine those kind of everyday things into one big super app for the whole country, But I think what you have also done extremely well is build for telcos or build coalition programs.

So I wanted to kind of, I suppose, get into, first of all that approach about auto enrolling. How did that go down? Both from a privacy perspective and I guess from an engagement perspective? Because you know, I think part of our psychology, and I say our being, let’s say the European mindset that I come from. We would tend to expect that the customer should make the decision to join in order to really feel that they, they want to get a value out of it and it’s something they, they want to give their attention to.

So tell us a bit about the experience in, uh, in South East Asia.

Jarek: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, I, I know what you’re referring to. I know privacy is, is, um, is, is really a, uh, an area of an increasing concern and customers are more and more, you know, cautious about, uh, the, the consents that they’re giving out.

And, and that especially, I think, applies to, let’s say, western economies or the, um, advanced ones. Yeah. Um, I, I would. However, say that probably in Southeast Asia, my observation was that, that it’s not a concern yet. I mean, clients are very happy to be, you know, offered all these opportunities to earn points or, or redeem points for, for, for various aspects that, that, um, it doesn’t seem like they mind being enrolled automatically to programs.

Uh, um, And, and in, in, with our telco clients, that that’s, I think, uh, in a hundred percent of cases that that’s how it is that, um, um, the clients of at Telco would be automatically, uh, a part of the program. Uh, I, I guess the challenge is, is, is there for the telcos, it’s not, just whether the client is a member, but whether the client actively engages with, with the program.

And that’s where Yeah. Um, I think telcos put a lot of focus on to, to make sure that their programs not only are big, but that at the large Yeah. Percentage of, of those members are actually actively engaged. And, and of course when you enroll everybody, you’re not going to get a hundred percent, uh, engagement, right? Yeah. But, but, um, you are getting into, into high figures and that, uh, engagement I think is generally higher than probably in, in, in similar programs, let’s say in the, in the West, so, yeah. Um, so I, I think these telcos still do a better job, privacy doesn’t seem to be a big concern, uh, at, at this stage.

Yeah. And, and you know, if you’re a client of a telco, you are giving your details to the telco anyway. Um, yeah, so it just seems like loyalty over there is just an additional feature of being a client, um, you know, with a telco. Yeah, and it’s not something that, that, that the telcos seem to be expecting a, um, a separate enrollment tool.

So, yeah. Uh, it, it could be with other businesses like with retail, uh, or airline, airline programs in Southeast Asia. You still enroll. Uh, but it, it seems like telcos kind of different in, in, in that aspect. Yeah. Um, yeah. But, but you know, in other cases you still enroll.

Paula: Yeah. You know, and, and it’s something that I often, um, wondered about, Let’s say I, I won’t say I ever took that, um, agenda, you know, in any project that I worked on, but I worked in telco loyalties in the very beginning.

That’s how I got in. I was with Telephonica, for example, and both on the legal perspective and on, the ethical and moral front to me, I would prefer to auto enroll. Yes, because I, I do have this belief that it is a benefit to the user and as long as the, you know, first of all, the awareness is there that, you know, any marketing perhaps might need to be opted into separately.

So communications might be a different decision, but I always felt that we were giving our members a lot of work to do to first of all, um, discover our program, join our program, you know, read all the terms and conditions, take all the right boxes. Definitely say they’re not a, you know, a, a robot or whatever.

Download an app. Like I, I genuinely feel. That there should be, um, an opportunity to do it, as I said, both legally and ethically, because we all know there’s no point, obviously ever upsetting a member at the end of the day. That would backfire very quickly. So I’m not saying we take risks with the data, but I do like the approach that they seem to be taking and as you said, with scale.

So give us a sense of some of the numbers of members that you had with some of those programs that you, uh, you set-up.

Jarek: Sure. Um, so, uh, probably an example that just comes to my mind, uh, the quickest is a client I’m, I still actively work with, and that’s a Globe in the Philippines. Mm-hmm. , um, uh, you know, they’re number one telco in, in that country in terms of their, their subscriber base.

And it’s around 90 million, nine zero. Wow. Uh, of, of subscribers to the telco and therefore automatically members to the program. Um, Um, and that, that was, uh, you know, something that, uh, we had to take very seriously when we were deploying, deploying the platform. It’s, um, uh, it’s not, you know, it’s, I, I don’t wanna say this is something that that comes easy, but, but we can definitely, we can definitely, knowing the challenge, we can definitely prepare for it and, and make sure we handle it.

And, you know, the, the cooperation with the, the client has, has really, really been you know, outstanding, uh, the platform has been extremely stable and there were no concerns on the, um, the performance. So we, we’ve been, you know, at, at peak times when, you know, maybe, maybe I’ll, I’ll, I’ll add one more story here.

Uh, you know, the client, um, uh, Globe, they, they org are organizing this annual, uh, sort of anniversary, uh, event, which is, which is the birthday of the Telco. Uh, okay. It’s called nine. It’s called. It’s called 917. Okay. Uh, and, and 917 is also the, the kind of prefix that this telco uses. Okay. Uh, and, and, and they do the birthday on the 17th, uh, of September.

Nice. So that’s the 917, yeah. Reference and actually the whole of September is like a, it’s like a big, uh, you know, festival. Uh, the, the Telco and the Globe Rewards Program, uh, takes very seriously and they, uh, just, just double down on offering clients extremely, you know, good deals, um, you know, extra points, uh, um, discounted redemptions.

Uh, they organized concerts and that’s a time of the year where the engagement. Um, uh, from the members with the program is just the highest, you know, in the year. So, Yeah. Uh, so, you know, we were told by the client to expect really high volumes and, and we had to prepare for, for transaction peaks of, of, uh, up to 4,000 transactions per second.

So you can, you can just imagine when, when I, when I, you know, share these numbers with clients in Australia, they, they just can’t believe that that, that that is actually possible. Yeah. But, that’s what I, you know, said earlier in the beginning of a conversation. That’s just a scale, when you’re, when you’re active in Asia, you have to be able to handle, you know, those scales and, and, uh, you know, to unable those great experiences that, that, um, telcos or, you know, other clients want to offer to their members.

And, you know, we’re really proud to be, to be working with Globe on their Yeah. You know, anniversary. I think it’s been already the second one that we’ve, we’ve just completed, with them. And of course everything went well. Great. You know, the client, the, you know, our client is happy, their clients are happy, so, Wow.

Um, yeah. So that, this is the kind of the kind of scale that, you know, that we have to deal with. Yeah. Um, you know, in Asia and it, that’s one of the things that excites me because as you can tell from my answers, I’m, I’m, I really, I’m really a technology guy. And, uh, yeah, I just love when, when technology unables, you know, these things.

Um, Yeah. That’s what drives me and you know, makes me. You know, get, get out of bed and, you know, find another customer who has a similar challenge and, and whom we can help.

Paula: Amazing, amazing. And that 4,000 transactions a second, Jarek, that’s nothing got to do with the telco and the phone calls and the, the, you know, the telecommunications.

Jarek: No, it’s the redemptions, the, the, the, the accruals, uh, you know, that all the types of transactions that can, you know, hit our system. Yeah. At a specific moment in time. Of course, it’s not a, it’s not for the whole day. Of course. Yeah. But there will be, you know, times in the day where, yeah. You know, 4,000 out of those 90 million, you know, decides to click a, you know, a button on their app.

Yeah. And that’s, that’s where this comes from. So it, no, it’s nothing to do with the, like telephone calls or SMSs. It’s, it’s the activity with the program that can reach. Yes. Uh, these sort of levels. Wow. Yeah, it’s quite, it’s quite amazing.

Paula: Okay. So we officially need to get Globe as a, you know, guest on Let’s Talk Loyalty.

I think that’s super important and I’m working on that. Okay. Fabulous. Again, I know very little about the Philippines, but tell us about a couple of the other programs then that you, uh, that you started in Asia.

Jarek: So, um, Globe will probably be the, the example of the highest, uh, uh, number of, of members. But we’ve also worked with a few other, other telcos, um, in the region.

Um, and, and in, I just wanna maybe say something about why Telcos and I, because that’s actually not a, a, not a typical kind of client globally, but, but I think in Asia, telcos, really seem to be kind of doing the role of, uh, of what, let’s say big coalition like grocery kind of, um, programs do in Australia or New Zealand.

Okay. Uh, in Australia and New Zealand, you don’t see telcos playing a bit big part in those, in, in, in creating these, these, let’s say ecosystems of loyalty where you can, you know, earn, uh, earn and, you know, and redeem points, um, with various partners. Um, which, which is what actually airlines do, you know, do a lot more in Australia.

Yeah. Um, In Asia, it’s not so much the airlines that do it. Of course they do it, but they’re not that. I think it’s actually the telcos who tend to be those, you know, number one players in terms of how big this, you know, coalitions and those loyalty offerings are. So, yeah, so we’ve been fortunate to, uh, to, to, to cooperate with a number of, of clients in the telco space.

Um, and you know, the other, the other examples would be, True Corporation, uh, in, in Thailand, and that’s actually True, are a part of a, a larger conglomerate. And within that group, they, you know, they have other businesses, you know, like 7-Eleven, um, like cool. Um, some, yeah. You know, grocery, you know, shopping malls.

Um, they’ve got, uh, also like online en entertainment systems. So there’s a lot of, uh, various types of businesses, uh, that are part of, you know, part of the group. Mm-hmm. . And therefore the, the, the program that the telco runs, of course automatically covers those other businesses. So for, so for a telco that’s part of a, a larger, you know, group.

Group or a larger Yeah. Conglomerate, they really become the vehicle for that group to, you know, to cross sell, upsell, Nice, to, to make sure that the client kind of stays within, within their, uh, their ecosystem. So, so True is is one of those examples and, um mm-hmm. , I was also responsible for, um, you know, lending that deal with True, I was actually there when, when it was implemented and, um, Cool. Yeah, I was involved and I just remember, you know, a lot of, a lot of, um, you know, meetings or we were trying to work out how do we do this? Because the, the complexity of those, you know, various business rules that you, that, that you have to set up with the number of partners with, the way that recognition works, you know, various criteria that we have to take into account.

They’re, they’re not your everyday, you know, kind of standard, uh, rules of a program in, in Asia generally, I would say that the programs tend to be quite complex from that perspective, there’s, there’s a lot of rules on how you can earn status, earn, you know, earn points. Yeah. And that puts a lot of pressure on the technology to, to be able to, to deliver, you know, to all those, uh, expectations that the telcos or other, you know, big, uh, clients have. So, so, yeah. So that’s, that, that’s probably, you know, another thing, uh, that, that that’s worth saying about, uh, how loyalty looks like in that part of the world. Yeah. And the other, uh, client that I, if, if I may, may mention is, is, uh, XL Axiata, uh, in Indonesia.

Um, and they, they’ve sort of, um, um, maybe not gone as as much in, in, in this direction of having, you know, hundreds of partners. Yeah. Uh, they’ve really tried, tried to keep their program, you know, more simple, more streamlined. Mm-hmm. . But I think what’s interesting about them is, is that they not only target the end users of their services, but they also offer, uh, uh, kinda a B2B program for their distributors. Um, so that that’s another way that, you know, we help, nice, clients use our, our technologies. You know, don’t, you don’t, you don’t have to limit yourself to just offering a, like a program to the, to the clients, but it can also involve your, your business partners, your distributors.

Yeah. Uh, you know, perhaps even, you know, vendors that provide services to you. So, so that’s, so that’s an interesting, example there. And, you know, these distributors, they actually earn points for every, let’s say, sim card or every top up, uh, that, nice, that, that they are able to sell and that motivates those distributors to prefer XL Axiata. Mm-hmm. , uh, services on, uh, rather than, you know, The other telco. So it, it’s, it’s a, it’s, it’s an interesting, uh, way to use, um, to use loyalty technology to drive, drive business outcomes. So, Totally. Yeah. So that’s, um, that, that’s the other telco telco example.

Paula: Super so True from Thailand. And then the one from Indonesia you just mentioned there, is XL Axiata. Yeah. Okay. So great reference stories, ones we can, uh, go and again, always welcome to to have them on the show. Um, the other piece, I guess just, you know, we’ve talked about scale Jarek, I suppose is probably one of the biggest differences. We’ve talked about the enrollment or lack of, as another big difference between, you know, loyalty programs in Southeast Asia, um, versus, you know, the rest of the world.

Um, and, and by that I mean the western world. So US and UK are actually our top two audiences. Are there any other kind of big differences that you would see in terms of the consumer proposition? I feel like I suppose you’ve, you’ve talked a lot there about the, the scale of partnerships, um, you know, and that they’re almost positioning themselves certainly as utilities, as coalition programs.

Is there any other kind of customer propositions that you would see in Southeast Asia that would be, do you think, interesting for the audience?

Jarek: Um, I think I can maybe flip this the other way around because as in, um, or as, as long as, uh, in Asia you’ve got this kind of richness and scale, um, and the variety of programs.

I think what, what, what maybe one of the differences is, uh, in favor of, the developed market is, I think the, the sophistication of, of, of personalization. So I, I would say, okay, uh, in, in, in, in Asia it’s probably not as personalized, uh, maybe it’s part due to just, just, uh, it’s that it’s difficult to personalize when you have such a rich, you know, offering.

Yeah. And it’s hard to really decide what do I really, personalized, you know, to, or, or with, Uh, so I think, you know, it, the, the programs that I’ve experienced in, um, in ANZ region are, are definitely more sophisticated there. So, you know, you, you would, you would see offers that really feel like they’re, they’re sort of based on your transactions, for example, so with, you know, one of the programs I use quite a lot in Australia are all those, uh, kind of retail programs with either, you know, companies like Flybuys or Everyday, uh, Rewards. Sure. And they really seem to be knowing, you know what I, you know, what I buy, uh, and they are, they’re targeting with offers of products that I actually want to buy.

Mm-hmm. . Um, and I frequently take advantage of those offers or, or somehow magically they know, you know, what my spend is and they always try to, you know, motivate me to, to spend this amount for, you know, maybe four consecutive weeks to get some bonus points. So, so I really feel like that part. Okay. Of the, of the puzzle is done really well in ANZ.

I think they, yeah. Um, they, they, they, there’s certainly, you know, that, that, that’s an aspect that in Southeast Asia could, could be improved and I’m sure it will be improved. It, it’s just maybe, you know, with the scale, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s not as easy. Totally. So, yeah. So that’s, um, that’s, that’s I think something that I would, um, uh, I would say is another differentiator. Nice. Maybe in favor of, um, of ANZ this time.

Paula: Okay. Yeah. And do you get the question, I used to get this a lot when I was consulting Jarek and actually it was my least favorite question, uh, because I never felt it was my responsibility. But you know, sometimes I’d be brought in to convince a brand that they needed a loyalty program.

Mm-hmm. . You know, it might be being driven, let’s say by, by somebody at a, at a mid senior level. Um, but the board or the, you know, the actual leadership team would be like going, so, so why do we need a loyalty program? And it’s one thing to have the internal perspective and somebody maybe who really understands the potential of what a loyalty program can do, but they always seem to want to wheel in somebody from the outside. So I’m just wondering if you get that kind of, um, question. Um, or is Australia-New Zealand, you know, so mature that actually that question’s already something that people kind of get and understand.

Jarek: Um, Yes. Uh, so, so it’s, it’s probably, it’s probably the latter as you, as you said earlier, Australia and New Zealand are, are really mature loyalty markets. You know, there’s a loyalty program, you know, left and right. Yeah. Um, and, um, I, I think they all, um, understand the value. Uh, and, and also the clients that I usually talk to are those kinds of clients that where loyalty is, you know, like, uh, one of the basic things that, you know, that the business has to have. But, but I think, um, I, I think this should be a really a no brainer, um, uh, and it that there may be some exceptions to this, but, but I think, uh, for most businesses, uh, having loyalty program is really, you know, just like having a really personal and direct channel to talk to your clients.

I think if you don’t have a program and there isn’t this kind of agreement or consent, you know that okay, from a client that, yes, you can talk to me. I really like you. I want to be a part of your program so that I, you know about, know more about your offers and I get maybe some special, special offers because I really like, you know, your brand.

Uh, and I want to engage. I mean, that’s just to me, it’s such a enormous, uh, uh, expression of trust from, from, from the client that they want to be a part of a program. So, um, I would say, uh, there is nothing comparable because if you don’t, if you don’t have a program and it’s, and you know, a client is just, um, Mm.

I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s someone you don’t know. You can’t put a name to a client, you know, someone’s, you know, coming and buying. Maybe, you know, he’s using the, you know, the same credit card. Yeah. Uh, and, and you can kind of tell it’s, it’s the same person. But, you know, loyalty is where you, you really, you know, put a name to your client.

You start learning more about him or, or her, what the preferences are. Um, and you just get this amazing direct channel that, that you can use to communicate. So I like to me, um, loyalty is the best channel that, that most businesses can, can wish for, uh, to, to, you know, to talk to their clients. And I, I think, um, it’s the duty of those, those businesses who run those, those programs, uh, is just to make sure that they don’t disappoint those clients and, and that they, yeah.

Uh, you know, however hard it could be that they are providing, you know, a personal experience that they are providing value. Yeah. Um, and that is easy to use. Yeah. Because that’s, that’s also another thing, Yeah. Uh, that clients might not be encouraged to, to use, to use, to use loyalty if, if it’s not that simple to use and, you know, the Mm.

Um, Uh, the interesting thing about, about that is that, you know, having simple things, uh, or that look simple to the client usually means there’s a lot of effort that has to be put on the back end, on technology, on process, Yeah. Uh, to make this experience simple. So, you know, we just, or I’m really passionate about helping clients, you know, get it right.

Yeah. Um, and, um, and yeah so, yeah, to me, loyalty, you know, that’s the number one thing. Uh, I, I, I’m not sure, who wouldn’t wants to have a loyalty program, to be honest with you. Yeah, but maybe I’m a bit biased.

Paula: You’re definitely biased and so am I. Yeah, , I is everybody listening and, and, and I would say, you know, at the risk of being facetious, I think everybody does want a loyalty program.

It’s just whether they’re willing to invest in it. , you know, because, you know, there’s lots of different things obviously, that a business can decide to focus their time and energy resources on and loyalty is probably, you know, such a big decision for, for any of these. So, so I think, we’ll, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but, but what I like about what you said, Jarek is, you know, we would often just kind of say, you know, the purpose of a loyalty program is to drive profitable behavior change, and, and that for sure is the most, uh, logical, um, and hopefully most profitable. But I do agree that from my perspective, the opportunity to have that connection with your customer, a direct digital connection, as most of them are now, in the palm of their hand in terms of the mobile phone, to me, that’s, just totally a no brainer and especially I think coming out of, you know, whether it’s a, a pandemic or, you know, the, the, the end of cookies, for example, with digital marketing becoming so much more expensive.

You know, any brand I’ve spoken to has certainly said, you know, the cost of doing their digital is just multiplying. I think you’re absolutely right. The opportunity to actually build a relationship with people who have already self-identified in some way, whether it’s a transaction or whether it’s giving the data and actually, you know, enrolling, to go back to our point earlier, I absolutely think you’re right, you know that relationship building piece is something that just doesn’t get enough attention.

Jarek: Yeah. And it’s not, fortunately, not, usually not the first thing that, um, you know, Yeah. The decision makers think about, but I think, you know, perhaps it should be because if you, if you do the relationship bit right.

The other things come with it later. Yeah. But if you focus on your numbers, uh, and you know, not the relationship and having that client, you know, being happy with the program, you know, you will not get the numbers. So I, yeah, I, I, I’m really, um, uh, a supporter of looking at it as a, as a, you know, kind of a, a personal channel Yeah. With your client where you have the opportunity to build something more than just a transactional, um, relationship.

Paula: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. And I think we’ve all joined up with programs or given our email address. You know, and then, you know, had an offer, an offer, you know, by this, by that and whatever. And I think we all pretty much do unsubscribe, you know, very quickly.

And again, I think we see that in different markets sometimes. I’m just like, Whoa. You know? So the tolerance for, for the offers, can, uh, can be very different with different customers. But again, I think if there’s this intention to, to say, Thank you Jarek, for joining up and here’s a, you know, free cookie next time you’re in the store just to say thanks or whatever, you know, it just changes the dynamics and then, you know, the offers and everything can come later.

So definitely a different mindset. Brilliant. Yeah. So the final question I just wanted to touch on with you was, because you are a software guy, you said. Um, so, you know, I think this is the, the area that I have much less expertise. And as you know, we typically have kind of. You know, the marketing people, I suppose on the show, but give us a sense, you know, where is the, um, the capabilities going?

You’ve talked about the scale, um, and, and we know that, you know, obviously, um, a company like you guys, you know, Comarch to me, I wouldn’t even question that you can cope with the scale. I just, to me, that’s a given. But what other exciting things are coming in terms of functionality or, or the way that the software industry’s going that, uh, that is useful for commercial people like me to kind of understand, uh, what our platforms should be able to do.

Jarek: Yeah, sure. Um, uh, and yeah, that, that’s a good question. Um, I think, I think, I mean, from my perspective, and I mean, I’m not your typical, you know, technical guy. I am more on the, uh, the business development side, but, but I would say my observa, what my observations tell me is that, That loyalty is becoming more and more accessible to more and more businesses, you know, in the, let’s call it old days.

It, it, it usually just, it used to be the big guys. Yeah. Um, and, and it still will be, right. You will still get your big programs, the airline programs, the big coalition programs, uh, that will require, you know, a lot of capability and maybe sometimes individual approach to, to how their programs are set up from a technological perspective.

Sure. But, but I think the biggest trends these days, Is, is that loyalty can be offered these days pretty much as a, as a service, you know, as a, as a cloud based, um, uh, you know, offering that, that, that maybe won’t be as flexible as, as some of the more sophisticated enterprise solutions for the big companies that who, who need it and who can afford it. Yeah. But we’ll still offer these smaller businesses enough capability or maybe even more than they need. Yeah. To, to run a pretty, a pretty good loyalty program. You know? So I think, I think you will, you will see this becoming, just a more accessible, kind, kind of, uh, technology that yeah, smaller and smaller businesses will be able to use, you know, instead of their, uh, their punch cards, you know, it will be almost, well, almost as affordable to just basically do a, or use a one of the cloud, uh, providers and, and, and, you know, establish a loyalty program not within, you know, months or sometimes, uh, it could be closer to a year in some complex cases. Totally. But within weeks. Yeah. So within weeks you could, you could basically, you know, choose your, um, your vendor and, you know, be live with, uh, you know, a basic loyalty program in a matter of really weeks.

I mean, that’s, that’s doable these days. And I think, yeah, I think that’s the, um, the aspect of technology, that you know, excites me, you know, the most, um, in, in terms of feature, features, I think. What, what, what I’m observing is that, you know, with the, you know, advent of, you know, cloud services and all these different tools that are out there, you will see those services being more and more, uh, interoperable.

And that’s, you know, that’s one of the aspects, uh, that, that clients expect, these days is that when they select, uh, a solution, a vendor, that this solution vendor already has, you know, connections to other popular, uh, yeah, platforms, you know, whether it is, uh, you know, marketing, uh, automation or, or some kind of business intelligence tools.

Um, so, so this ecosystem will become more and more, uh, interoperable, um, and will therefore enable, smaller and smaller clients to, to gain benefits from, from, from an ecosystem, not just a, you know, a siloed, yeah. Uh, you know, system, which you see quite a lot, but you know, these things actually working with each other. Yeah. To provide, a larger, you know, benefit. Okay. Because, you know, as, as much as I, I, I love loyalty and I think loyalty can do a lot, i, I know that there are other systems there that we have to integrate with, that we have to work with to make this experience, you know, truly, um, you know, yeah, simple and beneficial and, and, and whole.

Yeah. So, yeah, so I think, I think these are the, uh, the kind of future I see, of course, you know, there will be, you know, I mean things, uh, uh, like, uh, um, availability of loyalty on mobile phones. I think, I think that’s something that we already had for a while. So it’s not, it’s not a new thing. Um, but it is going to become more and more sophisticated, it will become more and more personalized. Mm-hmm. . So, you know, the whole industry, including us is, is working on, on, on technology to be able to, to provide these things really in a, in a much simpler and, and easier way for, for our clients.

Paula: Mm. Music to my ears. As I said, you know, with my commercial marketing hat on, I wanted to be simple and easy and uh, and exciting and accessible.

So, yeah, I, I do like that. I had a listener, uh, reach out recently from a jewelry store in the UK and he did say, What about us? You know, what can we do with loyalty because we do talk to so many, I suppose, enterprise, uh, businesses on this show. So, um, so great to hear it is becoming so much more accessible regardless of the size of the business.

So, Jarek that is all of the questions I had for you from my side. Um, was there any other points that you wanted to mention before we wrap-up.

Jarek: Um, I mean, i, I think what I just wanted to say is, is thank you for, for doing these podcasts, they’re, they’re really awesome. I, I have to admit that sometimes I learn more about some of our clients from you than from within within my company, because, you know, being a global company, yeah. I don’t have that opportunity to work with our clients, for example, in, in Latin, uh, you know, America. So, so I actually enjoyed listening to the, the podcast you’ve done with Puntos. Um, And, um, and, um, yeah, the other, the other, the other big coallition program, and I, I actually learned a lot myself from it.

Yeah. Uh, because I don’t get that, you know, opportunity to actually actually talk to this guy. So I, I think you’re doing a great job and, and yeah, I really enjoyed being here. I hope that it was some, some value in the discussion for, for some of some of your listeners. Um, and yeah, I’m, I’m I’ll, I’ll look forward to, um, arranging some of our other clients from Southeast Asia and ANZ to be in your podcast and share their experience.

Paula: Oh, super. Super. Well, that’s a wonderful way to finish up. So with that said, Jarek Wludyka, I hope I pronounced it correctly, Jarek. Yes. Good, managing director. Oh, super. So yes, Managing Director for Comarch in Australia. Thank you so much, Jarek, from Let’s Talk Loyalty.

Jarek: Thank you, Paula.

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