With such vast geographical responsibilities for Comarch’s loyalty clients, Wojciech joins the show to explain some of the fascinating cultural similarities and differences between these global markets.
Listen to hear his fascinating insights on loyalty programs in Saudi Arabia – one of the most exciting markets for Comarch in 2023.
We also talk about card-linked loyalty and other innovative propositions that Comarch clients have built in other markets.
This episode is sponsored by Comarch.
Paula: 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 was brought to you by Comarch, a global provider of powerful loyalty management tools, to increase customer lifetime value and improve your return on investment. Recognized as one of the top loyalty technology solutions providers in The Forrester Wave, Loyalty Technology Solutions Report Quarter 1, 2023, Comarch is responsible for over 120 loyalty initiatives in 50 countries around the world. Comarch technologies help companies design, build, and manage highly immersive loyalty programs that bring results. For more information, please visit comarch.com.
Hello and welcome to episode 356 of Let’s Talk Loyalty. Today I’m delighted to be joined by a truly global voice of loyalty. Wojciech Kempny is the consulting director for Comarch covering Africa, Asia Pacific, and the GCC markets here in the Middle East region. With such vast geographical responsibilities for Comarch’s loyalty clients, Wojciech is perfectly placed to highlight some of the fascinating cultural similarities and differences between these global markets.
My favorite topics in this conversation include, firstly, some insights on loyalty programs in Saudi Arabia. One of the most exciting markets for Comarch in 2023. We also talk about card link loyalty. One of my favorite features as a consumer that I wish every loyalty program had in place. As well as some of the other innovative propositions that Comarch clients have built in other markets.
I hope you enjoy my conversation with Wojciech Kempny from Comarch.
Paula: So Wojciech, welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty.
Wojciech: Thank you very much. Great to be here.
Paula: Wonderful. It’s great to have you. Uh, we met in person a couple of times so far, first time, uh, having a conversation, all about the deep insights that you have about loyalty across actually a huge part of the world Wojciech. So, I’m very excited to get into the conversation, but before we do, as you know, I always love to ask our guests what is their personal favorite loyalty program so I can get a sense of what you admire and respect as a loyalty professional.
Wojciech: Yes. Yeah. Thank you for that question. Actually, I was, um, I was expecting it. I know the format of the program. Um, so, um, my, uh, favorite loyalty program, I, I thought, I think a minute or two, not longer about it. Um, it’s a very practical one, you know, with all the, uh, things that are happening. A lot of work that is happening every single day.
With the two kids at home. Um, and never enough time. It’s Just Eat, Just Eat is the, um, food delivery application. It has a loyalty element to it. And, you know, just the, the, the, the very simple way of ordering, getting the rewards, uh, uh, easy to use, uh, location based as well. So wherever I am, uh, I, I will still get the offers that are, um, I would say relevant to my, my favorite cuisines and, and previous orders.
So that is the one I think that, um, stands out for me.
Paula: Wonderful. I was a big customer of Just Eat back in Ireland, actually Wojciech, um, here in Dubai, I don’t believe they operate. We have lots of other competitors of course.
Wojciech: Right there, there are a lot. Yes.
Paula: There are a lot. Absolutely. And, and here again, I don’t believe they actually have rewards programs the way it sounds like Just Eat has something super structured.
So definitely one I’m going to put on my wishlist of course now for a potential guest o on the show. But I like its practicality in terms of, you know, as you said, you’re a busy man traveling around a lot.
Paula: And yeah, getting food delivered at home and being rewarded for that. I mean, what’s not to love.
Wojciech: Yeah. Yeah. I think the, the bit of a surprise element that is there, you know, because I, I don’t usually use it, um, very regularly, I would say.
Wojciech: Sometimes it’s very often, sometimes it’s not, but, If I need to order and there is a, you know, a voucher or any kind of points that I can redeem, that bit of a surprise element is always nice.
Paula: Ah, good. Okay. So it sounds like they do a good job of making sure you are aware of your awards before you place your next order. Do they?
Wojciech: Yes. Yes. Yeah.
Wojciech: That’s actually, yeah, well that’s actually one of the, I would say, most important topics we always discuss with our clients, which is, uh, you know, there can be a great loyalty program there, but if it’s not communicated correctly, people will simply not know, right? And they will not benefit. So that’s…
Wojciech: And that’s a, that’s a pillar of loyalty.
Paula: It totally is. And actually, would you believe even, again, I consider myself, you know, pretty sophisticated in, in understanding when I have something available like that. But I did just, um, you know, buy some software.
It’s a database actually. We used to run the podcast, and again, I had totally missed that there were coupons and vouchers, uh, sitting in a, in a wallet somewhere. And of course I paid full price and then I was upset. So…
Wojciech: Right, right. Yes, yes. That happens.
Paula: Yeah, the anti loyalty. So, um, so good that you’re clear and good that you’re advising your clients to make sure that that is overtly offered because
Wojciech: Yeah, most definitely.
Paula: Yeah. I think something we’ve learned along the way is that it’s not until you close that loop and actually do the rewarding itself, that specifically you can say that customer can then be seen to be more loyal or have a reason to be more loyal because they’ve had the full journey before that it’s just points in a bank that they haven’t actually got to experience or enjoy.
Wojciech: Of course, of course. I mean, if, if, if we don’t achieve that level of redemption, that level of engagement, and actually I would say, uh, uh, conscious engagement of the, of the, uh, members of a loyalty program, then it will just be, you know, um, putting in more costs and then not really being happy with the results. So that communication, that simplicity of communication…
Wojciech: And that reach is, is crucial definitely.
Paula: Yeah, I like that word actually. And I always like when I, when I find new terminology that I can pick up on. So conscious engagement is one that I’m gonna make, sure.
Wojciech: Yes. Oh, yes.
Paula: To… to be thinking about. That’s a good, a good idea.
Wojciech: This is something that, um, I always also highlight because, uh, we can either, um, we can either communicate with offers that will simply be displayed for our members. Um, but the other one is actually triggering some behavior from the customer. Let the member choose the types of rewards they want, right.
Wojciech: This will, this is, I would say self personal, personalization of an offer, right? So we can have various, um, uh, offers, various types of categories, for example. But if the customer actually chooses it, we do not need even to, um, I would say monitor the, the behavior post factum, right? But we can actually ask for a conscious decision and selection.
Wojciech: If it goes in parallel with all the other offers that are there, it’s, it’s always a great idea.
Paula: Super, and you’ve reminded me of something that we used to do actually on a program I worked on in Ireland. And one of our very simple rewards, uh, I always say I gave away more chocolate in Ireland than anybody else, which, um, I was actually quite proud of because everybody loved it.
But I liked that idea of self personalization. Because certainly what we did was we identified the product and the range and the, the size of course. Uh, but then it was like, well, do you prefer the orange flavor or the mint flavor? Or like, I actually think there’s, uh, an element of respect that a lot of loyalty programs forget to include when they’re designing the strategy to give that member a sense that they’re actually getting to choose what they’re going to be rewarded by.
Wojciech: Yes, definitely. I mean, uh, you know, one of the reasons, uh, that we, uh, you know, support in creating loyalty programs is to give the opportunity to, um, get that information, get that preference in various different ways, right? We, we can monitor the behavior, transactional, non transactional, we can get insights from that.
Mm-hmm. , but, you know, ma, many members will simply be happy to, to, I would say, give up that information, uh, just simply by having a choice, right? So anything from surveys to, to selections of product categories, um, uh, that can, I would say it’s a win-win situation, right? Because, um, we, we do not need to force anyone to give that information up.
But if they’re okay with it and they see the benefits of it, then definitely. That’s… why not?
Paula: Oh, absolutely. I love it. So listen, I actually wanted to start with your role, uh, because you have taken on this extraordinary region, which includes where I’m based of course, here in the GCC. I know you also have South Africa, which is a market I’m very passionate about, uh, for reasons I’m sure we’ll talk about today, but also all of Asia Pacific. So tell us Wojciech about…
Paula: Um, the overall responsibilities that you have for co, Comarch across all of these areas.
Wojciech: Yes. So, um, as you mentioned, I’m a consulting director for quite a vast, I would say, geographical region.
Um, what my, my main responsibilities are, um, I usually describe it in a, I would say, non-standard way, which is, uh, being a liaison or translator between business and tech, right.
Wojciech: So, um, we have, yes, we have, uh, lots of clients in Africa, not only South Africa, but also other, other, uh, countries as well. Uh, we are expanding, uh, uh, in that continent.
Uh, GCC, definitely one of our key, um, one of our key markets and Asia Pacific. So, um, what, uh, myself, me, and my team, uh, do is, um, I would say advise uh, potential customers and existing customers, um, on how to leverage our technology, um, in order to either create a new loyalty program. This depends on the market that we are in.
Mm-hmm. Um, either create a new loyalty program or revamp an existing one. Um, of course both these, um, , uh, both these scenarios are a bit different. Mm-hmm. and, um, they usually involve a different type of, I would say, um, uh, knowledge and maturity when it comes to, um, actually running a program. And many of our clients, for example, in the Middle East, have not had a loyalty program, uh, before.
Um, and, uh, you know, uh, a very mature market, which is, um, which is, uh, very public of South Africa, um, uh, is usually discussions about how we can go a step further, uh, enhance an already existing program that has been in the market for say, 15 years. That’s a very different discussion, I would say. Mm-hmm. , we are ready, uh, we are ready to have both these types of discussions and we, we have them regularly.
Um, yes, so, um, I would say the main role here is to understand the business in various, um, industries like banking, uh, retail, uh, oil and gas, for example.
Wojciech: Um, as well as the technology that we have, also the technology trends that are out there.
Wojciech: And try to, um, advise, um, um, answer all the relevant questions.
Um, and, uh, Help the business and tech teams understand each other and be effective.
Paula: It’s a very important role, I think Wojciech.
Paula: I always said translating was my single favorite task. If I could find somebody who could do that, because I always consider myself, uh, to be the the passionate customer advocate.
And, you know, I know my skill set would be very much on the operations and the, perhaps the strategy, but then talking technology, like I’ve never, thankfully even had to write an RFP. Um, so I, I really, you know, admire the kind of skillset and the support that you offer when people are at this, I suppose, business critical decision making phase.
Because what I feel like is you guys are willing to jump in at any point and in whatever way in order to shine a light on what you, you’ve done globally, which is extraordinary, but also really help people navigate the things that, what I believe is they don’t even know to put it in the RFP sometimes. Would that be fair to say?
Wojciech: Yes, definitely. So, um, as I mentioned, uh, we have uh, uh, we have engagements with, um, many different clients. I would say when it comes to. I would put it, for lack of a, of a better word, readiness to launch a loyalty program. Right. So, um, now depending on, um, who has created an RFP for loyalty, for example, uh, how much actual input there is from the actual company that will later on be running that program.
Is it a revamp or of a program, or is it creating a totally new one from scratch? Um, uh, uh, uh, in, in this particular country that, that, that we are, uh, that we are in this, all this has its challenges. We are ready because we’ve seen so many of these, um, of these, uh, requirements across many, uh, continents.
We are ready, we’re always ready to advise, right? So, um, there, there may be many requirements that are over the top. And, uh, from my experience, they have never been used in any loyalty program that I’ve been a part of, you know, everyday discussions. However, there might be some things that are missing. And then during the discussions that we have with, uh, with our clients, um, I can already start, um, I would say advising, highlighting that something, uh, would be very important, especially for the start of the program when obviously, um, the, the, the word of mouth, the, the acquisition, uh, okay.
And, and the education, I would say about the program is crucial, right? So there might be some functionalities, there might be some elements of the RFP that are missing. Uh, they might be great for a mature phase of a loyalty program.
Wojciech: But are missing definitely for kickstarting, that loyalty program. So already in those discussions, um, I might, um, and I’m happy to do so. I might, uh, advise and highlight that. Yeah. And that is simply a part of that. You know, advisory and translation, uh, uh, uh, services or, or, you know, duties that I have. Right.
Wojciech: So using that experience from other, um, from other, um, uh, regions and, uh, industries as well.
Wojciech: Um, to advise and to simply become a partner both from the technology, um, uh, uh, side and from business as well.
Paula: Yeah. And, and I can certainly hear that that builds an extraordinary amount of trust because I think what every loyalty program owner needs is a true partner. And, you know, I’ve talked about this on the show before.
I certainly didn’t experience it in most of the, the programs that I worked on in the past. And to your point about, you know, if something is missing, one program I worked on, which will remain nameless, but a huge utility brand in Ireland, like a nationwide brand. And I was coming in of course to, to bring some partnerships or wasn’t involved at all at the beginning, but the whole platform had been built without the content management system that they needed in order to publish their offers.
And it was so shocking that, you know, a very lengthy process had been conducted and nobody had pointed out that actually running this program would require that they needed that capability, so. So I love to hear that you’re open, willing and flexible, especially when it’s either under developed or OTT.
I think you’ve had a few shocking examples as well where, you know, whether it’s the latest buzzword being featured in there.
Wojciech: Yes. Um, yes, yes.
Paula: Is that something that you find as a problem?
Wojciech: Um, yes. Well, I, I, I would say, um, you know, if, if, um, the first time I browse any, uh, list of requirements, um, it’s, uh, I I can usually tell, um, which department or who was the, I would say who played the dominant role in creating it.
Yes. As you mentioned, the, uh, an idea of maybe the, the, the technology piece of the RFP was, uh, very, um, uh, uh, uh, very robust, right? But maybe along the way, some of the practical day-to-day business operations, uh, elements, uh, were left out of it. This is something definitely that I would highlight during discussions.
Wojciech: Even though that apparently that was not in the requirements, but it would definitely need to be highlighted as in, you know, for, for, for us, if we are to, uh, implement, uh, loyalty management system, it’s, it’s important for us to have a win-win situation, right?
Wojciech: If, if, uh, for me, if I do not mention the gaps that I’ve already noticed, um, I, I know that even though if we are selected, it’ll be a difficult situation for both sides.
This is, this is definitely not something that, uh, that we want. And, uh, as you mentioned, especially in the GCC, the highlight of being a partner and not a vendor is very, very important. Right. Uh, the, the business, uh, uh, in the GCC in the Middle East overall is a very personal type of business.
Wojciech: So, um, having that partnership, having that, uh, that long-term relationship, that patience in creating a new concept is crucial.
Um, so , I would say not giving in to the buzzwords, just, you know, just to give in and just to go along with the flow.
Wojciech: Is important. Um, and I would say, uh, you know, some of them like gamification, um, or artificial intelligence, they are very often used as buzzwords. They have, of course, they have their, they’re pros. They’re huge pros.
Wojciech: But they need to be, I would say, implemented at the right time and, um, and, uh, uh, cautiously, right? Because, um, if there, for example, if there is no, um, huge database of at least a year of, of activities of customers, then I will be frank by saying we will not go with, um, uh, artificial intelligence based, uh, uh, auto segmentation, next bests offers or, or any kind of enhancements to, to the marketing offer because that would simply be a buzzword and nothing more.
Right? We, we need, we need some, um, I would say prerequisites in order for AI to stop being a buzzword, but actually being a driver of business. Um, so. Um, uh, the same for gamification. Uh, usually that would require also some, uh, knowledge of the customer base, right? If we have a, uh, from, from, from even examples from our clients, if we have, uh, huge telecommunication company in Indonesia and the RPU
is really low. The average revenue per per user…
Wojciech: Is really low. Mm-hmm. , um, and the smartphone penetration, uh, in, in Indonesia by the latest count that I saw was about 80%, and this was a, and this was an estimate for this year. Mm-hmm. this, even though this, the discussion would be about gamification, this is not th right time or perhaps also the market to start with a fully fledged gamification program on top of a loyalty program. Mm-hmm. However, if, if we have, um, the Saudi market, for example, where 66% of, um, the population is under 34, the smartphone penetration is 94 end rising, I believe there is over two phones per person average.
Wojciech: Um, Uh, uh, and, and you have those smartphones, and you have that, uh, that technology that is there that might be, uh, uh, a, a young population, uh, with, um, uh, you know, um, with smartphones, with access to internet, practically everywhere, then that is a different discussion. Um, and, and that can be, that can be, you know, um, considered, considered and introduced into a program.
Paula: Yeah, I love that actually. Um, because yeah, Saudi is one I definitely wanted to get your perspective on both because you have such a long personal history in this region, which is quite remarkable and I would love you to share, but also I think, you know, we have this global audience listening to us today, and what Saudi is doing is, is nothing short of remarkable.
Like there’s still a lot of people I think, that don’t realize in the last three years how much progress has been made in this country, how much ambition there is, how much great intentions. Even yesterday somebody was telling me about a loyalty program that’s gonna be the biggest and best in the world. So of course the ambition is, is second to none.
Uh, but I just like that idea. I suppose if preaching patience to somebody who is, you know, designing a loyalty program, particularly if it is for the first time, and again, collecting requirements internally is very often the first stage they will go through. And I’m pretty sure that nearly always this idea of it needs to be gamified and it needs to be AI will come from somebody who has maybe a basic understanding of those technologies, but doesn’t have your practical expertise to say, we need a year of customer data and transactions.
Paula: In order to make it work. So that’s incredibly useful.
Wojciech: Yes, definitely. Uh, the Saudi market, uh, has been huge for us. Uh, I’ve been traveling to KSA, um, in my current and previous role for the past, uh, six or seven years. So I, even across that time span, I can see the difference there. I mean, the, the ambitions, as you mentioned are huge, but also, uh, what I’ve seen is is change in the mindset, the change in actually, uh, getting the word work done right now at a, at a much faster pace.
Wojciech: Uh, so, um, having, again, uh, having, uh, uh, a large market because we’ve got about 36 million people in, in, in Saudi Arabia. If you compare that to the other GCC countries like Bahrain, UAE, that is a lot.
Wojciech: Uh, so, so for, for having, uh, for creating from scratch a loyalty program, that already gives a huge database, um, and, and possibilities that might not be there, uh, in a smaller country like, like Bahrain, which is under 1.5 million people. So, um, that, that spending power and that, uh, um, uh, uh, that population gives the, I would say a good, uh, uh, background for creating, uh, quite large loyalty programs.
And because of the fact that many of these programs are created from scratch, this is where we, um, this is where we can come in, not only from the technology side, but also from the, I would say, um, uh, uh, business advisory side. Um, so, uh, having already clients in Saudi Arabia, uh, having that long-term, uh, presence.
Um, uh, and, and adapt patience in building, in creating, uh, a loyalty program that will then, uh, be ready for expansion, for, uh, for, uh, attracting external, uh, uh, external partners as well. All this has a great, uh, I would say, um, uh, uh, possibility in KSA because of the size, uh, because of the, um, uh, population size as well, because of the spec of the spending power and because of the also, you know, vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia, which is pushing, uh, all those innovations, uh, technology, um, uh, um, for us it’s, it’s really a great market and, and we are happy to, to expand in KSA constantly.
Paula: For sure. For sure. And tell us a bit about your, I know you speak Arabic and spent a lot of time in the region.
Paula: Which I said to you before we came on air. I think that, first of all, from a trust perspective, you know absolutely the culture, um, in this part of the world is very much based on trust. So I think you’ve spent an awful lot of your life living, um, in Arab country. So just tell us a bit about that.
Wojciech: Yes, yes. Yeah. So, um, well, when I was five um, my family, um, traveled to Libya. Uh, we were supposed to spend there a year. We spent seven, um, later on. Um, I, I studied in Syria as well. Uh, came back to work, uh, to Libya as a 23 or 24 year old. So now that was the, the start of my, I would say, connection to the Middle East. Later on, all my, practically all my career was connected to the Middle Eastern region.
Wojciech: Um, with Comarch right now, um, nearly 10 years. Uh, so, um, Comarch, Middle East definitely is, is my, um, I would say starting point and then got expanded to Africa and, and, and Asia Pacific. Um, but yes, um, that trust element, that long-term relationship and what’s the most important thing is the, the personal element to business in the Middle East.
This is, this is the cornerstone of each and every activity and, and engagement that we have with our customers. So, um, uh, the fact that I spent over I think 13 or 14 years of my life in, uh, in, uh, the Middle East, uh, that gives me that additional, I would say, understanding and, you know, comfort of, of, of doing business in the Middle East as well.
Paula: Incredible. I love it. So fluent in English, fluent in Polish, and fluent in Arabic. My goodness.
Wojciech: Yes. Yeah.
Paula: Incredible. So tell us some of the projects in in Saudi then as well, if you don’t mind Wojciech. Because again, it’s um, it’s such a, you know, a new market for so many people. Um, the other piece that I thought as you were talking about, the, I suppose the principles of success that are very quickly emerging there. I think what’s also very important to mention is the level of education, particularly for that age group that you mentioned, of 66% of, of the population being under the age of 34.
Paula: Like there is a huge amount of, you know, pent up ambition to do things globally. And again, I think most of them do speak very good English.
So yeah, give us a sense of some of the projects that, that you’re working on there?
Wojciech: Um, yes, definitely. Um, in KSA, I would say the first, the first one that comes to mind, which was a, a pretty, um, um, interesting situation because, uh, we, um, uh, started the discussions. It was during Covid. Um, we finalized the discussions during Covid as well, and then we implemented in Covid as well, fully, remotely, um, on time.
So it was a huge success for us, um, with, uh, Um, in, uh, Al Rajhi Bank in KSA , which is one of the largest banks, uh, in KSA and definitely in the region. Um, so the Mokafaa program, uh, which, uh, is, uh, going very, very strongly right now, expanding practically every day. Um, and based on the, I would say now idea, strategic idea of unbanking the bank.
Which is, uh, to say that not only clients of the bank can become a part of the Mokafaa loyalty program, um, this gives, uh, and if, if you put that together with a constantly growing, uh, portfolio of, um, of redemption partners that are over a hundred right now, um, in, in KSA again, that, uh, that size and that reach in KSA alone, which is a huge differentiator in the Middle East.
It gives the possibility of the Mokafaa program to become a part, I would say, um, of, uh, everyday lives of the residents of Saudi Arabia constantly, I would say, um, expanding the portfolio. So, uh, uh, uh, even the different types of, of, uh, uh, redemption options that are there, um, and, and different categories.
That is, that is crucial. Um, we are supporting, we are supporting, um, uh, Al Rajhi Bank, uh, with our, uh, software. we are, we have it linked as well with Saudi Airlines, with the Alfursan program, which is also, um, based on our, um, our software. Mm-hmm. . Again, creating that partnership, uh, a long-term partnership, um, um, expanding the program constantly.
Um, and, and not only looking at the bank products mm-hmm. , which obviously was a basis for creating the loyalty program.
Wojciech: But then, you know, being a part of that expansion, uh, unbanking the bank, going outside of the financial products is a really exciting thing because, um, um, you know, a couple of years ago, I, I thought, I mean, those were my observations at the time, um, was that, uh, multi-partner and coalition loyalty was on the decline. Right now, I would say it’s, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s huge.
Paula: So it’s the opposite. Yeah.
Wojciech: It is. It is the opposite. So, uh, it’s incredible the shift that came, uh, and not only for, um, Uh, uh, uh, for, uh, uh, our clients like Al Rajhi, for example, but, uh, Enoc as well in, in, in the UAE that will also at some point expand into KSA, um, for sure.
Um, uh, which is, you know, um, uh, creating a, I would say internal coalition program internally. With all the brands that Enoc has, like, uh, you know, the F&B brands, uh, the um, uh, uh, uh, Tasjeel Auto Pro, Zoom C stores. And then actually attracting partners, uh, from the outside not needing to, uh, to, to approach them, uh uh, but just having them come because of the fact that the critical mass has been achieved by the Yes Rewards Program. Um, uh, a Commercial Bank of Dubai right now has a co-branded card with the Yes Rewards Program. So that, um, coalition internal and external as well that is, that is, uh, uh, uh, the huge thing that is happening right now.
Wojciech: So time to be, you know, relevant every day to our members, um mm-hmm and, and just expanding that portfolio. Um, so, uh, these are, these are the ideas in the Middle East, the, the, some examples in the Middle East. But there are others, you know, and these are totally, um, I would say, um, different, uh, types of loyalty programs and on a different scale. We’ve got Globe Telecom in the Philippines, for example, that, uh, is proud of, uh, their ways of, uh, uh, uplifting the daily lives of customers.
So there are gamification elements there with surprise elements of, you know, raffle draws um, surprise, uh, uh, rewards being, being announced on social media. Um, but this is even an, you know, a different type of loyalty program where you’ve got over 80 million members, right? Uh, so this is a, this is, this is, yes, this is a different, uh, I would say level of engagement and, and level of business and technology, uh, readiness, uh, and, and, and performance that needs to be there.
Paula: Amazing. And, and I know we’re both very good friends with, uh, with the global voice of loyalty, uh, Mr. Bill Hanen and The Wise Marketer.
Paula: And as you talk through all these examples, Wojciech, that’s exactly what I’m hearing. And it’s exactly an ambition of mine, is to get these kind of global insights. Because when I was sitting in Ireland, you know, with my little telecoms, uh, client, which, you know, had maybe, I think it was half a million, uh, customers overall, we could never have imagined, you know, what might happen in a country the size of the Philippines and as you said, to have 80 million members.
Wojciech: 80 million members. Yes.
Paula: 80 million members. Even to, to host them and clearly acquiring them as one thing and engaging them of course is something that’s, uh, a separate job. But even just the idea of getting 80 million into a database, like to me is, is just unthinkable. So super exciting. And the other piece as well, Wojciech I was thinking is we have never as yet managed to get a Saudi loyalty program onto Let’s Talk Loyalty.
So if any of your clients would love to come and share what they’ve achieved, uh, we would really love to, to shine a light on the incredible progress that they’re making. So yeah, just thought I’d extend that invitation while it was on my mind.
Wojciech: Sure, definitely, definitely.
Wojciech: Um, you know, for us, um, as I mentioned, uh, KSA is a very important market. Um, so, so definitely we, we can have those discussions.
Wojciech: Um, right now when it comes to, um, you know, the, our, our GCC presence, um, KSA is one of our main markets, as I mentioned, and it’ll, it’ll keep on growing definitely, uh, from the amounts of, of discussions that we have.
Wojciech: And, and, uh, RFPs that are coming and even personal discussions because it doesn’t need to be a formal, uh, tender process. Um, very excited to be a part of KSA.
Paula: For sure, for sure. And I remember when we met the last time, actually, you were saying that sometimes the ideal scenario is that an RFP might not be issued if you do have the relationship in place already. And the capabilities are not going to be in question anyway.
Um, it may actually save a lot of time and effort actually to, uh, to go straight to appointing a partner if, uh, if you’re lucky enough to get it.
Wojciech: Yeah, that is, that is, of course, this also depends because we have that view globally. Um, uh, it depends of course on some, I would say formal requirements. There are companies that even though we have a long relationship, there still needs to be an RFP.
It needs to be open or invitation based, that that depends. Um, but, but there are of course, uh, regions where, um, if it is not, for example, government or semi-government company, and then there is an internal green light for simply keeping the discussion open, uh, without an RFP. Mm-hmm. , uh, then that long-term relationship is, is also something that, um, um, yeah, that we have now that this depends on the type of client, the region.
Paula: So many things. Of course, absolutely. And the maturity as well to the point that we, we talked through earlier. So if it is a case of a revamp, for example, uh, they may feel that they’ve got all the knowledge and expertise that they need in-house and that they know the capabilities that you guys might be able to offer, and they might immediately say that only Comarch can deliver.
So I can absolutely imagine some of the, the more experienced loyalty marketers being able to, to get that decision. As you said, green lighted internally, whereas, you know, if you’re starting from scratch, you probably want to meet a lot of vendors and see what the options are just to see what you can learn.
So, um, so super interesting. So talk to me a bit then about South Africa as well, Wojciech. I know. Um, The last time I saw you in Paris, actually, sorry, the first time I saw you in Paris…
Paula: You were heading down to, to join, um, I believe it was the loyalty summit, um, in Cape Town, uh, to do some work down there. So how’s it going down the South African market?
Wojciech: Uh, well actually I’m flying to South Africa in a n two weeks. Yeah. In, in two weeks or so. Um, so yes, um, we are, we are constantly expanding in South Africa as well. Uh, as you mentioned, uh, this is a different type of, uh, market, uh, uh, than, for example, the GCC or, or, or even Asia. Um, there are loyalty programs in, in South Africa that have been there for, you know, 15, 20 plus years and they are going really strongly, right?
So, whether it’s an external, I would say, uh, tech vendor or internal in-house development as well, that again, that creates its own, um, you know, possibilities and challenges. Um, so those discussions with, uh, companies that have a loyal, that have had a loyalty program for the past decade or two decades is different, right?
This is, this is where we need to actually identify. Alright? We know that you, you have all the maybe basic is not the, the, the, the right word, but the standard stuff that needs to definitely be there.
Wojciech: But now the question is what do we build on top of that? Where do we have that wow effect? Um, uh, uh, we will maybe jump in with AI, right?
If you have data that has been there and, and you can expose it to us from the past decade. This is actually where, you know, the. Uh, uh, the, the, uh, the solution can start looking for patterns that, uh, we might not see, um, even if we, if we have the best segmentation, uh, module in the system. So, um, those discussions, uh, again, bridging the business requirements, the gaps, identifying the gaps, and then later on translating that into tech.
Um, uh, you know, which modules to implement. Where are the integrations, where are the touchpoints? Um, uh, this is, is starting a discussion on a, I would say, uh, a much higher level when it comes to immediate details. Um, and that is the biggest difference because if, if we start creating something from scratch, we need to have the strategy, we need to have the overall discussion.
Uh, what are the ideas? What are, what is the strategy? What is the brand promise? What are the rewarding capabilities? But if the program has been there for 15 years.
Paula: Yeah, that’s done.
Wojciech: We skip that’s, and we, and we, we cannot just draw a, you know, thick red line and say, okay, the past 15 year has not happened.
Wojciech: And we’ll create a new loyalty program that, that, that can’t work. Uh, there needs to be continuity there. Yeah. Uh, but, but it needs to be, I would say seamless, right. So the customers will not feel that they’ve just shifted a loyalty, a loyalty program, right?
Wojciech: Cause they, if they’re in that program and there is that emotional connection, we need that continuation. We need the enhancement, but we need to keep it, keep it, um, consistent as well.
Paula: Absolutely. Yeah. And again, that comes with its own, um, specific set of, um, I suppose management skills in terms of making sure, again, the technical transition is something, again, as a non-technical person, I would be terrified of.
So I would want to have, again, a strong partner who can take responsibility for that. If it is a case where something is being transitioned and you do need to retain, of course, all of that data, and as you said, the emotional success that’s been achieved over whatever the length of time is. And I’m guessing what that would allow you to do is, I suppose, look to loyalty trends maybe around the world in that client’s, uh, sector, for example.
See what is a wow factor and what is getting people excited, maybe another market. So again, I think that’s something you guys do amazing work on, whether it’s coalition programs in South America or you know, specializing in certain verticals. So, when it comes to thinking about the trends that, that you think clients need to be thinking about.
Um, what are you, I suppose, personally excited about Wojciech in terms of where loyalty’s going?
Wojciech: Mm-hmm? Well, um, yes, we are constantly monitoring the, the, the trends, the change in behavior actually when it comes to, I would say, connecting, uh, trends and something that’s exciting. And South Africa, uh, is, uh, the recently turned four years old, old mutual rewards program.
Wojciech: Um, and nearly 2 million members right now. That element is, uh, that, that the element of education in that program is something that many, um, many companies or many loyalty programs strive for, but actually Old Mutual is really good at doing it.
Wojciech: So, um, I would say the financial, um, uh, education on budgeting, spending, saving, and, um, merging it with the, the offer of the loyalty program that is something, um, that many, uh, companies aspire to. Mm-hmm. and, and, and try to have. But when it comes to, um, when it comes to the global trends that I’m seeing across, uh, even if I take a bird’s eye view, you know, over the, the, the continents that I work with, um, it’s definitely card linking. Uh, so we, we are going into, uh, I don’t know how, how more, you know, how much more seamless we can get, right?
When it comes to actually becoming a part of a loyalty program. Uh, and maybe even forgetting that we are a part of it, right? That is something that of course, uh, we need to constantly remember about, right? So, um, card linking is a, is a great, uh, I would say option of, uh, making it very easy of becoming and, and, and, uh, yeah, continu… continuously being a, a part of a loyalty, uh, program.
However, that does not mean that we cannot or shouldn’t communicate clearly something that we, we touched upon in the beginning of our discussion.
Wojciech: Um, uh, uh, uh, because that information about what’s in the loyalty program is crucial, right? So that card linking is a, is a huge benefit that mm-hmm. that I see, um, is, is gaining, uh, traction across the world.
Um, uh, it of course needs to be, uh, coupled with, uh, clear communication and of benefits and incentives. Uh, because of the fact that, uh, you know, times are tough. Uh, and there have been many, uh, layoffs, uh, in the recent times. I see, uh, um, I would say reemergence of understanding the importance of B2E loyalty programs.
Paula: Ah, um, yes.
Wojciech: So, um, this is actually a trend that I feel will be, um, uh, uh, accelerating. Mm-hmm. , uh, Because of the rotation, because of the fact that companies are looking, especially for the, for the employees that are, that are actually doing the work, that are active, that are, um, that, uh, we would like them to have, uh, an emotional bond with our company.
Wojciech: Giving, uh, uh, a subprogram or a, or a loyalty scheme as part of the bigger, um, uh, loyalty program. , um, uh, uh, should be a focus for companies, uh, in the coming months and years, um, because that gives the additional, I would say, um, uh, a message that we are a part of a, of a community, of a family. Yeah. Um, uh, and this can be a strong message to, uh, to employees that it’s not only about the work, but it’s also about giving back.
And, you know, that, uh, I would. Yeah. Um, two-way benefit, right?
Paula: Absolutely. Yeah. I love that. Yeah.
Wojciech: Yeah. And also I would say, uh, strategic partnerships of what we mentioned earlier is that I, I felt like coalition programs and big, I would say, multi-partner programs are on the decline. They are not, uh, they have come back with, you know, with huge force.
Wojciech: Um, and uh, yeah, once you build that, uh, I would say critical mass of a loyalty program mm-hmm. , um, and you are able to attract partners to you that you don’t even need to acquire them yourself. That is when you know that, uh, you have built the, the, the foundation of a good loyalty program and you’re ready to expand them.
Um, that is definitely, uh, uh, maybe, maybe it’s not a new trend, I would say in loyalty, but it is, uh, it is a really necessary one to keep on expanding because the, the programs that we create of. , um, we, uh, we need a, a foundation there mm-hmm. to build on. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. . But loyalty programs need to constantly expand and become, um, and keep on being relevant to customers so that that engagement doesn’t follow and expanding to, to external partners to, yeah, to, to widening the portfolio is a key, key part.
Paula: Yeah, my goodness. There’s like so many things I wanna pick up on in what you’ve said Wojciech. Um, the first one that I’ve always loved, and again, I would absolutely agree with you, it’s not something that a lot of programs have developed is the B2E, the business to employee loyalty.
Because what I think that can achieve as well, retaining the employees first and foremost, and making them feel valued. I also think when it comes to that employee then explaining the program to a consumer, then they can have firsthand experience of a mini version. So it’s almost like that self-education piece of, you know, use it, get your employee benefits, and then tell the customer about what’s in it for them.
Paula: In a way that’s actually believable.
Wojciech: Yes, they are. Definitely, definitely. I mean, that’s, that’s why it’s a win-win situation, right? Yes. We have a, uh, uh, um, again, we can have a wonderful loyalty program, uh, concept, right?
Wojciech: If it is not communicated to the customers, that is problem number one.
Wojciech: Problem number two, if we have customer facing employees and they are not passionate about the program or if you couple that with not knowing about the loyalty program, then you know, you are, you are missing out on a, on a, on a huge, I would say, acquisition channel, right? Because, um, o of course there might be, um, promotions or referral promotions that actually you can invite someone to a loyalty program, but those are usually turned on and off for a particular period of time.
But if you have employees that are out there constantly, I would say, you know, at, um, uh, uh, uh, talking about the program and, and actively acquiring, um, new members, that is a huge benefit.
Wojciech: Uh, and of course, in order to educate them mm-hmm for them to become a part of the loyalty program is the best way. Right? Yeah. So not only the training materials and all the, you know, strategic discussions of yes we need a loyalty program. But also their, I would say, intimate knowledge of the program because they’re a member of it. They might have a, of course, different reward scheme, different reward types, uh, points, whatever, whatever that is.
Paula: Of course. Yeah. Yeah.
Wojciech: But if they, if they know it, they can talk about it and they can become the brand ambassador of it.
Paula: Amazing, amazing. The other one, um, or one of the other ones I wanted to pick up on was the card linking. So I have often said on this show, Wojciech, that that is my favorite solution. So as a consumer, I love that idea completely removed the friction, you know, it’s linked to my payment card and that’s all I have to think about. But actually, I hadn’t thought about the risk that you might become forgotten. That people just then think, I’m just paying. And, and the loyalty program becomes, you know, less important. So I think that’s a good, uh, watch out for people listening.
Mm-hmm. . And the other piece that I’m really glad you mentioned is Old Mutual, because we’ve had Brett on the show, I definitely feel it’s time to have him back on again. But for anyone who hasn’t heard it, first of all, the idea of educating people who are not customers. So again, the unbanked population, um, there is an education, um, investment.
So it is both non-customers but also non-transactional in terms of what Old Mutual is, um, incentivizing all with very big, um, benefits, I would say. And that was one that I have never forgotten. In terms of the, um, the uniqueness I would say in terms of the strategy that they have invested in. So, yeah, definitely.
You know, back to South Africa has so many big ideas that the rest of the world sometimes doesn’t appreciate. But, um, yeah. Given that you have this, um, perspective over, you know, I, I think a third of the world is probably my guess in terms of the, the total reach that you’re looking after.
Paula: So, um, an incredible amount of perspective. Wojciech, I’m conscious that we’re, we’re probably running out of time. Um, I know we wanted to, uh, make sure that we mentioned the Comarch user group as one of the very important, um, events that’s coming up on your calendar. So will you tell us a bit about that now?
Wojciech: Yes, yes, definitely. Um, it’s coming up mid-May, um, and we will be inviting, uh, uh, all our, uh, customers to, to come and participate in two days of, of presentations, panels.
Um, a bit of a party as well. Of course, you know, that’s, that’s, uh, that element of personal relationships, you know, whether we are traveling to, uh, to the various, uh, countries all around the world, but then also hosting everyone, um, in Krakow, uh, in the city of our, of our, uh, company’s headquarters. It’s, it’s a really great way of, first of all, interacting with our customers, but also the customers interacting with themselves, right?
As, as I mentioned, we have, uh, the, the, our customers are all around the world, right? For, for, uh, loyalty clients from banks or from, uh, telecom, companies. From, uh, the Philippines, uh, Thailand, uh, KSA and South Africa to mingle, uh, during one event, uh, you know, that, that we’ve invited them to is a, is a great experience.
So, um, uh, yeah, we are, we, we will be inviting all our clients to, to come and take part in that, uh, um, uh, either, uh, to, to present also some case studies, uh, that have been a huge success. Or just to, to, to take part in the community and discuss and see the other, uh, trends in the other markets. You know, may some, um, some ideas may come up for, for the Asian market, uh, based on what Old Mutual is doing, for example.
Right? So, those discussions, one-on-one can happen. Um, and, and this is, uh, we, we are happy that we can again, come back to that format, you know, after Covid. We, we all know what that was like. Um, so yeah, this time again, we are um, we are inviting to, uh, to Krakow mid-May. Mm-hmm um, super excited for that.
Paula: Totally, and I have never been to Comarch’s headquarters Wojciech, so I am super excited that I’ve been invited. So I, I do…
Wojciech: See you soon in Krakow, definitely.
Paula: Totally, totally, and, and I know you’re super proud as well because it is your flagship event, and I know how much work goes in all year round to put this together, to really have a wow factor for your clients.
So, so huge. Congratulations. Can’t wait to see you there. Um, so listen, that’s everything I have for you today, Wojciech. Is there anything else that you wanted to mention before we wrap?
Wojciech: Um, no thanks. Thanks for having me. Is the hour over really?
Paula: It is.
Wojciech: That it? Yeah. Ok. Now thank you very much for having me. It was a real pleasure, you know, meeting you, uh, in, in, in Paris then in the UAE.
We will definitely see each other in, in Krakow and then we’ll see, you know, some other probably location around the world, right? That’s, that’s how it goes.
Paula: I certainly hope so. Listen, Wojciech Kempny, uh, Director of Consulting for Comarch for GCC, Africa and Asia Pacific. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty.
Wojciech: Thank you very much.
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