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 one 20 of let’s talk loyalty.

Today’s episode is a great discussion with Dharmesh Bhanna – the loyalty and rewards executive at Nedbank, which is one of south Africa’s largest banks, and is publicly traded on the Johannesburg stock market with seven and a half million customers.

Nedbank operates in a highly competitive marketplace with South Africa, considered one of the most advanced in the world in terms of both banking and loyalty innovations. Their Greenbacks loyalty program was initially started in 2005. And from its initial simple card swiping concept, it has now become a powerful business lever that drives emotional loyalty, behavioural loyalty, and also brand loyalty across the entire banking relationship.

I really enjoyed some fascinating insights from my conversation, so I hope you all enjoy listening and learning from Dharmesh Bhanna from Nedbank South Africa. Okay.

So Dharmesh, I’m super happy to be talking to you today, today in a I think it’s a chili Johannesburg from what you’ve told me.

Yeah, it is indeed. Paula, thank you for having me on the call.
2m 15s
1

And as I was just saying to you, there you are the very first bank that I’ve had on the, the a show. So super excited to hear all about net bank. It’s not one I was familiar with at all, and, but yes, super exciting to hear all about your green box program. But before we get into learning about you learning about the company and of course your loyalty learnings, tell me, first of all, what is your favorite loyalty statistic?
2m 42s
2

It’s got to be my earn to burn ratio and that I’ve looked at over the years for our NetBank greenbacks loyalty program. It’s just such a good, good view of how customers are engaging with the program. Really.
2m 55s
1

Ah, I love it. Okay. So you’re focused on driving engagement.
2m 59s
2

Absolutely. You know, I mean when, yeah, when we, when we started the program, you know, we had many customers with what’s a fair amount of points, but we noticed that, you know, they weren’t necessarily redeeming the points. So using the points and through the evolution of the program, we’ve, you know, we’ve created new mechanisms by which customers can redeem the points. We’ve literally just seen that, that ratio, you know, sort of grow exponentially. Yeah. Wow.
3m 29s
1

Well done. And you know, it may seem, you know, maybe to, to newer programs that, you know, it seems like the obvious thing to be doing, but you and I have both been around for a while. I think in business Dharmesh where, you know, there was plenty of, of programs, certainly that I worked on where, you know, the CFO’s intention was to minimize the cost, minimize redemption and to keep, you know, whatever breakage was available. So really happy to hear that you’re, you’re driving that intentionally.
3m 56s
2

Yeah. Yeah. I think times have changed and there’s most certainly a focus on ensuring our customers stay with us and stay engaged with the brand, I think is probably one of our more important metrics at the moment. And as we know, you know, over time, it also showing positive profitability. So, so it may not help in the short term, but you know, over a longer period of time, it’s most certainly one of the best, you know, measures and things that we can look at, you know, as, as, as, as a, as a bank. You’re
4m 25s
1

Right. Yeah. And that’s a good distinction Dharmesh as well, I suppose the, the short term perspective, and I’m sure COVID focuses the mind as well for lots of people listening, but you’re right. It is a, it’s a long-term game, especially in financial services. So, so that’s super exciting. So because again, as I said, I’m not even familiar with the company Dharmesh, I’d love you just to give me maybe just an overview and an introduction to net bank and a bit about your own kind of career with them.
4m 54s
2

Sure. So Nate banks, you know, bearing in mind, it’s an international audience as well for that. I’m going to say a bank in South Africa and, you know, it’s one of the big five banks within the south African context. And we’ve been around for many, many years and we, you know, we’ve got a corporate investment banking division. We’ve got a wealth management division as well as a retail division. And we have in excess of, you know, we have an excess of around seven and a half million retail banking customers. And that’s the part of the bank that I sit in, which is, which is the retail arm.
5m 34s
2

And my career at Nedbank has been a very privileged one. I’ve really enjoyed my time at the bank. Having started as an executive assistant and learning the ropes within banking, which was pretty much, you know, which is pretty much what I needed to sort of understand and then moved into sort of customer value proposition, which is very different to the background and what I’d studied around finance and, you know, financial accounting and that type of thing. But I’ve got this real passion for understanding customer behavior, customer psychology, behavioral economics, et cetera, and then looked after the youth segment. And we looked to develop value propositions within that segment and grow market share.
6m 18s
2

In that segment thereafter, I moved into a funding role where we looked after the retail deposits, which is a very technical role, you know, at the bank. And from that point on, it was, you know, moving back into the consumer side of things and, and into the loyalty role. And I’ve been in this role since I think it’s about 2015 or 2016, and it’s been a very fruitful, you know, six years almost in this specific role.
6m 48s
1

Okay. Okay. And amazing. You said you started as an executive assistant, do you mean like literally in an admin type role?
6m 55s
2

Well, there’s two roles that that’s sort of define that the bank, the PA role was more the personal assistant, which looked after the admin. The executive assistant was more of a business role that linked up with quite a senior with a senior executive. And my role was really to learn. So, you know, take a look after the businesses, understand how businesses are run within the financial industry. You know, there was so much learning that happened in that space and it’s really a springboard then for getting into another role within the bank. So it, it, you know, it’s, it’s an absolutely fantastic opportunity for anyone, you know, within the south African context looking to get into banking and then of course, further their career.
7m 39s
1

Well, you obviously loved it if you’ve managed to stay engaged, stay happy, and stay loving it. And for as long as you have. So, so that’s extraordinary. And I know the green box is the name of your loyalty program. So we’re definitely going to talk a lot about that. And, but even before that as well, Dharmesh, what I’ve always loved about the south African naughty market is really that it’s actually quite sophisticated. And most of the work I’ve done, at least in terms of writing articles about loyalty in your country has been in other sectors, let’s say an insurance with obviously the famous vitality program. And I know there’s lots happening in grocery retail as well from a loyalty perspective.
8m 19s
1

So it’s the same thing true in terms of the banking sector from a loyalty perspective,
8m 26s
2

It’s, it’s a fascinating question. And I’m assuming that you may even know better than me, but, but my perspective of the south African market, the general, you know, generally in terms of loyalty is one that I think is absolutely very sophisticated. And in fact, I didn’t even go to spice. It might even be one of the most sophisticated ones in the world when it comes to financial services, be that be that insurance or banking. I mean, the banking sectors insurance, I mean the loyalty programs within the sector, incredibly strong within the south African context. And I don’t, you know, I’m not doing to sort of talk to the other programs, but just to go south African customers, banking customers expect their banks to have a program that is really competitive and makes it worthwhile for them to be at that specific bank.
9m 17s
2

So, so yeah, I mean, that’s my perspective on it.
9m 19s
1

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I was looking obviously at the net bank website as well, obviously Dharmesh ahead of our conversation today. And I do agree with you. So I think it’s the first time I’ve actually seen any company. And particularly as long as this has been in place, this is one of the key statistics, the first African bank to go carbon neutral. So I know it’s off topic from a loyalty perspective, but I think from a, you know, consumer understanding perspective and positioning that’s extraordinary. So I was amazed to see carbon neutral operations in 2021. And then I looked back on the history to see that came about 11 years ago. So that’s amazing. Well done.
10m 1s
2

Thank you very much. I think it’s Netflix and their banks very proud of our creed sort of credentials and, and, you know, believe it or not our logo and everything is green. And so we literally, we literally are seen as the, as the green bank within the south African context and it’s something we are exceptionally proud of. Yeah.
10m 17s
1

Well, it comes through, I can tell you, as I said, I was literally doing my research and that really came through. So, so that was amazing. And, and from a pure, I’ll say let’s, you know, regional perspective here in the middle east, we do, we’ve a big dependency, for example, on things like checks. So I was also very impressed to see that you’ve discontinued in fact as a country. So, so yes, again, lots of innovation. So people listening all over the world. Brilliant. So loyalty wise, then I know greenbacks actually started before you, I think yeah, 2005.
10m 53s
2

That’s correct. Yeah. Started in 2005 and was predominantly a predominantly a card swipe program. And what we mean by that is you swipe your card and you’re going to get points. And because, you know, we have, we have a good association with American express. We would give you further points if you swiped your American express card. But I mean, that was, that was in essence as simple as the program got and had been for many, many years.
11m 21s
1

Okay. And is that debit and credit card star measure purely focused on the credit card sector?
11m 27s
2

Look, it’s got more of a focus on our credit cards, but we do include what we call check cards at the moment. So, so no longer the debit cards, but check and cards.
11m 37s
1

Okay. Okay. And how was it performing then when you came in?
11m 42s
2

I think the program was to, for me, well enough from a card swipe perspective and we haven’t done away with, with the card swipe. If you look at our program, what we’ve done is constructed it into packages, which are linked to products and the more packages you’ve got or the more products you’ve got, the higher your sort of level within the program. And we’ve decided to call it levels instead of tiers, just to sort of link up to this whole world, to the whole gamified aspect of, of the program. You know, so that’s what we’ve tried, we’ve tried to do. And of course we’ve incorporated, you know, we’ve incorporated more products. So, so we starting to reward for things like your home loan, Nuvia, classic finance, excuse me, your personal loan, as well as your savings and investment accounts as well.
12m 29s
2

So, so what we’re starting to reward for is, is more of our client relationship with the bank, as opposed to just people who have a credit card or check on with the bank.
12m 40s
1

Yeah. Yes. It’s a clever strategy actually, Dharmesh, because I’m sure with your understanding of behavioral economics, which I guarantee you is, it’s probably more than mine, but I’m sure there is a sweet spot where, you know, the retention is directly related, certainly in your business and to how many products I hold with the bank, because, you know, it’s all well and good to have a current account and then change a bank. But, you know, we all know how confusing and difficult it is if there is multiple products. So, so incentivizing that using, you know, just really, I suppose, positive reinforcing behaviors and packages is a, it’s a lovely idea.
13m 17s
2

Thank you. Yeah, absolutely. That remains our goal.
13m 21s
1

Okay. Okay. So how many levels then in total do you have?
13m 26s
2

So at the moment we’ve got full levels and, and as I said to you, no one package decides that. So the number of packages you’ve got tells you the level that you and we’ve got four packages at the moment. Right. Do you want me to maybe just talk, talk you through that a little bit, maybe expand a little bit, please do how that works. Yeah. Okay. So, so, so the card swipe a program is basically the old greenbacks and we’ve left that as is because we didn’t want to take that away from our customers, because as you mentioned from a behavioral perspective, taking stuff away from, from customers creates a big sort of loss aversion with intestinal head space. And so we’ve continued with cards.
14m 7s
2

Yeah. We’ve continued with card swiper as, as a package, you know, another, another criteria or issue that banks face, especially in the south African context. I can’t talk for the rest of the world, but, but what happens is you find customers, you know, potentially coming into a bank, opening up an account, and then the accounts that are going dormant or not using it for some other reason. And most customers, you know, within the south African context who bank with more than one bank. And, you know, the money manager account is, is looking to, to sort of, you know, ensure that we get our child on is actional, or I will check customers, you know, banking with Nedbank, but truly banking with Nedbank.
14m 48s
2

So we look to reward our customers in that instance, making a deposit into the account, as well as doing at least five debits in the month to ensure that we can see some activity. And we can ensure that customers are in fact using our money manager package and in using the package, we would sort of send communications to our customers, letting them know how they could potentially manage their money better. Now we’re not there yet in terms of the final solution, but it’s something that we are aspiring to, and that we will get to at a point in time, when we look at our home loans, vital asset finance and personal loans, we bundle those products into a package called responsible borrower.
15m 30s
2

And the way in which responsible borrower works is we just require, require our customers to stay up to date on their boundary payments, the car repayment, or the personal laundry payment in full and on time per quarter. And every quarter we enter our greenbacks members who have opted into that package into a competition where they can win their home loan, finance, and personal loan back. So one of those products, the customer could potentially win back. Yeah. So we’ve, in fact, we’ve just had a couple of customers when they, and home loans back. And it’s probably, it’s probably some of the proudest moments in my career where, you know, you can see that the work you’ve done is literally changed or not that I’ve done, that our team’s done has literally changed our customer’s lives.
16m 22s
2

You know, we had one customer who was actually retrenched at the back end of last year and won the home loan back this year. And so, you know, the relief relief that I could hear in the customer’s voice when we told them the news was just, it’s something that I just wish more people could experience. It’s an unbelievable feeling. So, you know, and that’s, that’s, that’s quite a nice way to reward customers other than points, which is the other thing that we’ve looked at. You know, we think that the utilitarian value of points is, is useful in some instances, you know, so for purchase behavior, you know, let’s, let’s get people to buy the coffee with us, et cetera, et cetera. So I think it works in that instance, but it doesn’t necessarily work for everything, you know?
17m 6s
2

So, so we’ve tried different mechanisms, which will be what our customers and the competition mechanism is quite a nice way of doing it because it, it, you get many people to, to change behavior and not everyone gets a chance to win, but the probability of customers winning this type of competition is a lot bigger than if it were any other kind of thing. So, so, so that works out quite well. And then of course, as a bank, we want customers to save and deposits are really, you know, what we save on as a bank. So, you know, we, we also rewarding customers for saving with us through our structured saver package, which again, just looks to, through a competition mechanism and customers could win up to 50,000 Rand a month just by saving into this theater’s perspective, saving product.
18m 2s
2

Now, you know, from a behavioral perspective, we know that saving is probably one of the most difficult things for, for people to do in general, you know, so, so how do we, you know, sort of employ techniques to make it easy for our customers to save and, you know, there’s a couple of things we working on and we haven’t included them in, in the program as yet because they’re still in development. But in essence, you know, it’s, it’s about how do you just make someone safe without them having to think about it? So, you know, for example, if you swiping your check, God, we would give you the functionality that says, look, you know, if for every swipe that you make, you’d like to save 10% in a savings program as an example. So every time you swipe in to pay for something you’re defaulted into, for example, saving as an example.
18m 45s
2

So, so the use of the default really, really helps customers save and, and is a really cool behavioral tool to get people saving and building up those balances. We haven’t implemented that yet, and it’s something we’re working towards, but, but you know, that’s the ethos of the program. And, you know, over and above that, what you mentioned earlier was, you know, the fact that we’ve gone carbon neutral and that we are the green bank. One of the things we promote as part of the program is what we call our affinities. And one of our affinities is called the green affinity, which is it’s, it’s a venture between NetBank and the WWF NetBank green trust.
19m 29s
2

And as customers manage their money better Nedbank will make a donation to the affinity of our customers choice at no cost to the customer. Right? So we would make a donation to the WWF Nedbank green trust. We would make that donation to the arts affinities that was chosen to the sports affinity or to the Nelson Mandela children’s fund. So the ethos of the program is really around, you know, as customers get better at managing their money society benefits as well. And, and, you know, the bank also benefits because you know, it, it has to be a triple win. You know, there’s a win for the bank, there’s a windfall of customers and there’s a win for society. And if we getting that right, then we’re heading in the right direction.
20m 12s
2

So something that’s very much cooler that ethos and what we sort of strive for every day within our team. Yeah. Hmm.
20m 20s
1

Wow. You know, what I really love is at that particular package, you just mentioned Dharmesh, you know, the whole concept of when they manage their money better, which comes back to, again, the principle of, of again, what I’ve seen so much in, in South Africa, this lovely idea of, you know, taking care of the customer in the put, you know, making sure that the customer’s interests are aligned with the business interests. So I think, I don’t know what it is about you guys. Would you have that integrity around, you know, rewarding them for something that’s good for them as well, like rather than necessarily, let’s say on, on borrowing, you know, so if I was spending more of my credit cards and then you were giving donations to charity of bikes, have the same positive spin, if you know what I mean?
21m 3s
1

I think it’s amazing.
21m 5s
2

Thank you, Paula. And I think, I think most businesses in South Africa to worry about the context and the societal context, you know, I think, I think South Africa and most people will know it’s true. You know, it comes from a really dark history and, you know, I think we all work within the economy at the moment to, to make things better, not just for us, but for everyone, you know? So, and I think that remains that you thoughts of corporate South Africa for some reason or the other. And I think it’s a great piece for us that we should continue maintaining, you know, and
21m 35s
1

Again, and I’m super happy that we’re able to share it on this show, because again, I don’t think the world is gets, you know, the, the, the understanding of how powerful and the ethos, the corporate ethos, as you said, is in South Africa.
21m 48s
2

Yeah. You know, I think the world is moving towards a place where, you know, if you look at the young, the younger generation, the millennials, you know, I think society is society is starting to worry more and more about like, are you, are you really being real? You know, are you true to what you’re talking about? You know, are you really making a difference? You know, in South Africa, what we’ve learned as an example is, is, you know, when we talk about loyalty, you know, loyalty is not about giving people a whole bunch of points. Right? I think it, it, it helps to a certain extent if your business, but loyalty is very much an emotional thing. And, and, you know, that’s what we’ve been trying to build towards in this sort of program is how do we get to this sort of emotional loyalty where a customer truly believes in the brand?
22m 37s
2

You know, so, so you get someone that’s comes through and they say, look, you know, we love NetBank because they greet them. That’s where I’m going to bank with them. And they don’t bank with you because, you know, not because your products are better or because you’ve given them a better rate on the home loan essentially, but they bank with you because of your cause. You know, what do you stand for? Does it resonate with the customer? Cause, and, and I think more and more, that’s becoming the norm for corporates, not just, not just in South Africa, but globally.
23m 9s
1

Yeah. And, and to be honest, I mean, I really wasn’t expecting, again, a conversation about, about banking too, to have the words, emotion attached to it. You know, it’s one of those things that comes up in retail, or let’s say in, in general lifestyle, but you know, again, my perception from the outside is that banking is much more commercial, much more transactional to your point about the card swiping, but it feels like, you know, there is that much more holistic sense of, of what you’re trying to do.
23m 39s
2

Absolutely Paula and I mean, we definitely view money as being an emotional aspect. You know, money is not, you know, as we, I think we, we think of it as being very transactional and we use it as being transactional, but when we get deeper into sort of the psychology of money and how people think about money, you know, you, you very quickly realize that money in itself is just a completely psychological thing. You know, why do, why do people buy a Ferrari as an example, or a Porsche, as opposed as opposed to, you know, something else it’s completely psychological and, and understanding that is the key to unlocking better financial management for our customers.
24m 22s
2

And, you know, if people are managing their money better in South Africa, not just with NetBank, but across the sphere, you know, again, just, just, you know, it just works out better for South Africa as a country, right. So it’s absolutely, you know, interest to ensure that customers are, you know, managing their money well and understand what’s happening with their banking. You know, you mentioned earlier about the credit cards, I mean, card swipe. It does, it does reward you for swiping your card, right? Yeah. But, but what we’re trying, I mean, as you know, as part of that package is that in South Africa is a huge cash market. So cash is still a predominant mechanism within the economy. Right. And we’ve got, we’ve got quite a big informal economy, which is completely cash based, but you know, we also have a high amount of cysts and, you know, people losing their money through sift.
25m 11s
2

So, so the narrative of the package is really around you swipe your card, but it’s not about swiping your card. You know, it’s about, you know, swipe your card instead of using cash guys, because it’s safer. So, so it’s, you know, it’s, it’s about tying into the narrative that our customers are experiencing daily and it’s not, I mean, we don’t always get it. Right. So I’ll be the first to admit it. I mean, we’ve tried and failed on many things. And if you want me to talk, if you want me to talk this out, well, I think we have to. Yeah. So, I mean, you know, in developing, I think in developing the new program, there were things that we, you know, we worked with some really, really smart people who suggested we do this and we try that then lots of sciences and lots of psychology that we looked at as well.
25m 59s
2

And I’ll give you an example. You know, one of the things we thought would be quite easy is having a separate greenbacks app for our customers. Okay. And we tested that with customers as well and, and customers in the testing loved it. And we went to market and it’s been a complete failure. As an example, I had exactly
26m 18s
1

The same experience, Dharmesh I’m, I’m feeling reassured. I wasn’t the only one,
26m 24s
2

Our customers absolutely disliked and were quite vocal about it. And, you know, for me, listening to what our customers say to us and the let’s call it, the criticism we get for the work we’ve done, I think is probably one of the best things we can experience right. In our jobs, because it says to you, listen, you’ve got a drum, you need to fix this. And so, you know, as much as you sort of think about stuff and you think you’ve been really smart and you’ve tested it with customers, by the way, and they’ve, and they’ve said to you that they love it when you go live and people really experience it, it, you know, it may just not work hard. And then it’s being able to actually turn it around really quickly and fix it. Right. So I think that’s the phase we’re in on the app is at a point in time, does continue that, but then make sure that the functionality is on our main banking app, which, which believe it or not people do visit all the time.
27m 17s
2

And, and, you know, it’s understanding these, these really small nuances in the customer Headspace, you know, so when asked, well, why don’t you want this app? Well, you know, because first about, you know, I’ve got to use data to download this app, which is not, you know, it’s not cheap. So, so I don’t like that. I also don’t have a phone that has lots of space. So again, I don’t want to download an app. That’s going to take up space. Okay. Then it requires me to log in, but you want me to put in a password and I don’t remember what their password is, why can’t I use my fingerprint? So the client experience, the user experience in the current day and age is absolutely critical.
27m 57s
2

You know, if that customers are used to using an apple phone or used to watching Netflix where the user experience is just so beautiful that any, any sort of standard below that, which customers are experiencing daily creates a huge creates, huge amounts for, for customers. And so that forces us to become really good at things like CX and UX design, as an example, which are things that I had no idea about and had to learn it’s part of the role. So I think that that’s one of the learnings that’s most certainly come out of, out of this experience.
28m 36s
1

Yeah. It’s a great one. And, and I’m curious to know Dharmesh because, you know, and again, actually it wasn’t me personally. I was actually the agency delivering and the proposition, but, you know, it was in the telecoms industry in Ireland. And the view was, and this, you know, admittedly was 10 years ago, but the view was that the main app needed to be very light to download. And if we added in too much functionality, like the whole loyalty program, that actually it would detract from the user experience of the core business. So therefore they, they thought, and they probably being, you know, let’s say generally it people, and they thought that actually made more sense to have a couple of light apps.
29m 17s
1

So have you had any concern about, you know, integrating the loyalty and almost back-filling it into the main app? Or is that something that is a good experience? I don’t know where you are in the development phase.
29m 28s
2

Yeah. So we were busy scoping that, that sort of journey out at the moment all out. We will probably look to do that in the next six months in terms of what it, what it looks like, but, but you know, we’re very much going to prototype test again, how that plays out. I think the key thing is not having, as you mentioned, we, we’re not going to have the whole loyalty experience on the main mine yet. I think it becomes a secondary experience, but I think as it should be within the banking, sort of the context, you know, and you know, what we’re also seeing is, is, is this drive, you know, so we can do it, but I think a key thing is around how do you make sure that you personalize? You know, so, so if someone’s buying coop baked beans, don’t send them Heinz as an example.
30m 13s
2

And so, you know, it’s getting really good at that. Now personalization is obviously stunning that everyone’s talking about it and, you know, I don’t think any of us have gotten there, right? Because you know, the data work required to get to a point where we know that Paula likes to bake beans, as opposed to Heinz takes, takes quite some D you know, it takes a lot of doing, but were we able to run the offers that are specific to Paula when she logs into money? I think that’s where we’ll start seeing. And again, I say, I think exactly, I don’t know that just yet. You know, I think that’s where it will play out in our customer’s favor where, where the journey sort of was a lot more seamless and customers have said to us, as well, as, you know, don’t give us things that, that we don’t really care about.
30m 58s
2

You know, your, your rewards have got to be relevant to my life and to what I’m doing and add value to my life. And
31m 6s
1

For example, then does that apply to things like birthday, you know, rewards D do you have concepts around that? Or is that something that, that you don’t do?
31m 16s
2

We we’ve, we’ve thought about it, Paula, we haven’t done it yet. And one of the reasons we haven’t done it is because everyone’s sending you a birthday message at the moment, then you get lost in all the messages at the moment. So we found that, you know, I think it’s something that we’ve still got to do and, and we’ll work out how we do that best, but it’s not something we’re doing at the moment. It’s very much part of our strategy and the design and all the rest of it. But, you know, as we’ve learned and the execution, the execution of these strategies is what counts. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
31m 50s
1

Well, and, and, you know, sometimes it is frustrating Dharmesh, I don’t know about you, but the fact that you did test your, you know, greenbacks app directly with customers, you know, you went to the full effort and expense and time to, to ask real customers what they thought. And then, you know, they contradicted themselves when it went to Marcus. I mean, that, that is quite frustrating because, you know, we, we all do everything, you know, best intentioned and you, you put all of that work in and to try and get a realistic view on whether something’s, you know, exactly what customers want. It really is hard to tell until you actually go live.
32m 25s
2

So, so, so right now, it’s, you know, I’ve just learned that you learn through experience, you know, you’ve got to do to learn, and, and I think that’s, that’s it, you know, take the plunge and if you need to fail, then do that very quickly turn along. Yeah.
32m 41s
1

And I actually, and I do think customers are very forgiving, but on the topic of, of the birthday, one, just our measures, as you’re thinking about us. And I, you know, have often talked on this show about my relative frustrations about that, because it seems like the most obvious data points that, you know, if you’re going to personalize, you know, that should be something where the opportunity is there. And, and, you know, I do get lots of messages. So I definitely take your, your concern about just sending another happy birthday, but I had a lovely one here and the program, it’s a, it’s a, essentially like a coalition program. It’s a group of brands here called blue rewards, but they do have a cafe chain within the, the program.
33m 24s
1

So they sent me a, basically a voucher for a free coffee and a cake within a week of my birthday. And I pulled that was lovely and probably funded by the partner. So again, I think you have partners on the program, you might be able to execute something like that, that it feels like a gift.
33m 39s
2

Absolutely. I mean, that, that is obviously the concern is, is how do we look at, how do we manage the cost of sending, of sending out a reward for, you know, circle north of seven, seven and a half a million customers, right. So you’ve got to manage that. And I think you’re spot on if we were to do it with most that they look at a partner funded way in which we do that. And I think to add to it, you know, I absolutely agree with you. I think a birthday is most certainly an aspect of personalization that, that really does work. You know, the other piece that, that we do have sight of as, as a bank is, you know, we also know where customers live or the first house that they bought, or, you know, when they’re taking out a personal loan for the engagement ring, when they’ve got their first car and, you know, it’s potentially looking at these other sort of, if you want to call them moments of sort of celebration or truth that we could really link into to celebrate our customers and, and thank them for, and appreciate them and congratulate them for the lifestyle or the moment that they sort of going through, but then also sort of in genders and genders, you know, true loyalty, you know, I know for a fact that customers that get a home loan irrespective of the bank, they get, it remain very loyal to that bank because, you know, it’s literally, it’s literally changed their lives.
34m 57s
2

And it is a significant moment of truth in many customers’ lives that, that time where you, you know, you’ve bought your first home or your apartment or whatever that may be, it’s a really big moment in people’s lives. And it’s one that we could potentially leverage a lot better from a, from a loyalty perspective. You’re right.
35m 15s
1

Yeah. It’s a very special time in life. You know, it doesn’t matter how many times you move home or move house, you know, later on. But that first one is a very special and actually very expensive as well, clearly, you know, getting on the property ladder, you know, whatever you can do will certainly drive incredible loyalty. So I think that’s a very good insight.
35m 37s
2

Thanks, Paula. I was just going to add, it depends on where in the world, I guess it’s probably a lot more expensive in New York city than it is in downtown Janice, but yeah, but
35m 47s
1

It’s all relative, you know, the customer who’s going to buy in downtown Johannesburg, I’m pretty sure is also struggling to get, you know, the deposit together or whatever. And, you know, certainly from an Irish perspective, I can tell you, you know, it’s an extraordinarily difficult thing to do because, you know, we, the, the markets went through and all, you know, I suppose almost the opposite where if one point at pre 2008, I’m going to say so early two thousands where the banks had decided to give out like mortgages for 110% of the property value. And so you can imagine the disaster that followed when everybody was totally over leveraged and then 2008 happened. And all of a sudden your house is valued at half as well.
36m 27s
1

So I don’t need to tell you the risks involved, but I think you’re right about the insight. If you can, as a bank, have an insight on the key moments of, you know, your customers as human beings in their lives and, and find a way to celebrate that with them. I think that would, that would bring extraordinary loyalty.
36m 46s
2

Yeah. We just got to do it now.
36m 48s
1

Well, it sounds like you’re doing loads and you send me stuff in advance as well, which I really liked as well, Dharmesh and I can see there’s a real fan of you are a fan for example, of simplicity. And I’d love to explore that with you. Why did that come through so strongly as something that you wanted to focus on?
37m 8s
2

You know, so, I mean, I’d sent you a one pager that sort of put our whole program onto one page, right. And I’ve got to tell you that it probably took me and my team seven to eight months to get to that point, because it was taking all the complexity of the program and, and, you know, you were very clever internally, you know, it’s like, okay, we’re going to do this. And there’s loss of version, and we’ve got to use the heuristics and all this behavioral talk and there’s all the data talk. And it becomes very technical. And as bankers, we love all that, all the technicalities and the numbers and, you know, so the problem with all that is that customers don’t care or actually understand that.
37m 50s
2

Right. So, and actually don’t, maybe they do understand it, but maybe they, maybe they don’t want to care too much about it because they’ve got enough on their, on the sort of minds. And the trick about that is, is how do you communicate what your value proposition is really simply, right? So that everyone can get it. And it is probably one of the most difficult things to do just by suspect, trying to get it all onto one page was the, our first learning. And then, and then our second learning is of course, you know, as part of the program, there’s just too many places where it’s not working out because we’ve, if we’ve made it too complex, you know? So, so I think, you know, through the, through the role, you know, one of the, sort of, if you want to call it values that I’m not sort of living by is one of how do we just simplify guys take all the complexity that we’ve got, but really simplify that for our customers.
38m 40s
2

So that, so that they understand it’s simplified for our bankers who are, you know, talking to our customers, day-to-day selling or a program to our customers that they understand and advocates of it, because, you know, you could have the best, you could probably have the best rewards program ever, but if it’s badly, badly communicated and it’s too complex, it just as everyone. And so that’s, that’s most certainly Paula journey that, that we run, we by no means masters at that yet. But I think we’re getting there. We’re getting there slowly but surely. Yeah,
39m 9s
1

Well, well done Dharmesh, because again, awareness is half the battle and of all of the shows I have done on I’m up over a hundred, as you know, at this stage. And my number one most listened to episode, the topic is simplicity. So this is definitely an issue and it’s not just within banking. I think everyone, you know, again, is trying to build cover propositions and to make them super exciting and appealing. And, you know, I know fresh content and have consistent content. And all of a sudden you’re kinda your head’s spinning a little bit, you know?
39m 42s
2

Absolutely, absolutely. We found ourselves in that space so many times that, you know, and I think if you keep that simplicity as your true north and just keep keeps, you know, you keep sitting back from your, your sort of Excel spreadsheet or from the PowerPoint that you just put together, put your head back, put your hands behind your head and look at it and say, okay, does this make sense? You know, just ask yourself the question. Does this make sense? The answer to that is we’ve got to do that. Yeah. Thank you for that, Paula. Yeah.
40m 10s
1

Yeah. We used to have in one company, which I worked in, which was a technology company, we used to call it and the Johnny test and Johnny was just one of our, you know, investors who really didn’t really get what the tech was trying to do. So we would always test everything just with him. And if he looked confused and glazed over, I think you actually need to have that friendly face to kind of go, does this make sense to you? And he was like, no. So because it really is, it’s fun. You know, sometimes it’s the granddad test or whatever, you know, but anyway, I’m going off track and pause. And I want to ask you next Dharmesh about your, your rewards and the, the whole M incredible way that the greenbacks members can enjoy the rewards.
40m 57s
1

But just before, just to finish on that point, there’s a book I’ve often mentioned on this show and the contents are totally irrelevant to our conversation, but the, the title is perfectly relevant. And I have recommended it to so many people. It’s a 20 year old book. So when the internet essentially was first invented, let’s say to your point about CX and UX, the book is called, don’t make me think. And I think that is absolute genius because we’re all totally overwhelmed. We don’t care about your loyalty program or your whatever. And so if you can do something that doesn’t make me think it’s just an incredible,
41m 34s
2

And it’s so cool. I’m definitely going to read that, Paula. I think you’d
41m 37s
1

Love it, especially because you’re into the whole UX thing, as I said, it’s old, but genius. So, so the title got me, but anyway, the, the big other area that I think you’re doing extraordinary work Tomasz is the whole range of options that your members have in terms of what they can redeem and the channels and the, the, the just extraordinary ecosystems. So I’d love you just to explain that for listeners. Yeah,
42m 1s
2

Sure. So we, you know, we previously had what we had called the pin backs, and, and if you want to think of that was an e-commerce more customers could go into the mall and use their points to buy sort of goods. They could discount it for our greenbacks to members and, and we’ve sort of, you know, we’ve moved away from having a feedback’s mall and the bank has got a pepper proposition now called Evo, which is really an e-commerce store, not just for greenbacks members for, but for south Africans in general. Right? So it’s, it’s an e-commerce store that, that, you know, people can go onto and find really, really cool deals. And what we’ve done is, is, you know, we’ve created that we’ll be creating a page for greenbacks members on the Ebo mall.
42m 47s
2

So we just, we just ensure that all our sort of the kind of experience all happens in one place as opposed to, you know, jumping about between certain things. So, so we busy fixing that, but, but that’s some of the new developments that we’ve got in play. And that’s, that’s that ability we call that shopping on Evelyn. So you can use your points to shop whenever. One of the things that was introduced before my time in, in the business, but, but there has worked wonderfully well, is something called the shop card. Okay. Now all the shotgun does is it’s a normal, like a normal debit or check card. If you want to think of it that way, and all your points are basically converted into cash. So you could use that card at any merchant that accepts an American express card.
43m 31s
2

You could go to an ATM and draw it out as cash. And literally you could use those points as you wish, as long as, you know, as long as the merchants sort of accepting American express. So that, that actually started seeing redemptions really take off. And, and that remains probably one of our best redemption mechanisms today. It’s still one of the harder ones, but it’s starting to get eaten by some of the other stuff that we’ve put into play. You know? So w we’ve also allowed customers to take the greenbacks points and invested into bank products, right? So invested into a unit trust, invested into a savings or an investment product invested into my pocket, use your points to pay for your bank charges.
44m 15s
2

One of the other pieces we found is, you know, and so they, that people app probably global, it’s probably a global phenomenon as well, but, but it, time and data is, is like it’s ubiquitous and everyone needs it all the time. Right. So, so we’ve, we’ve allowed to use their points to buy things like ATM data and prepaid electricity, which has also really taken off really nicely. Yeah. And then, and then we have the ability of course, to donate your greenbacks points to the causes that I mentioned earlier, you know, and, you know, one of the, one of the other ones that we’ve just enabled was where we enabled it last year, it’s called the solidarity fund, which, which our president had set up as part of our COVID-19 relief efforts for businesses in South Africa.
45m 3s
2

So keen BEPS greenbacks members can donate to that fund. And by doing that as supporting, you know, keeping small businesses alive within the south African context as well. So, you know, there’s some really, those are the really cool sort of mechanisms. And we know, you know, having said to you that I look at the burn to earn ratio and seeing that increase, we know that what we’ve implemented has, has really customers have really seen value in it. So, so that’s been really, really cool to see. Yeah.
45m 33s
1

And just on a practical note, Dharmesh, the shop cards, or that you mentioned, is that a physical plastic charge card, or is it a digital form or, or what does that look like in, in,
45m 44s
2

Yeah, it’s a physical card at the moment, but you could use that card to make purchases online if you needed to as well. So yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s like a normal, it’s like your normal check in card, if you think of it that way.
45m 57s
1

Yeah. It makes it very real, very tangible, you know, that this is my rewards card. Like it’s here, the value is already here.
46m 6s
2

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s the reason why, why it had been created if it remains within the brand, you know, so it’s got the greenbacks branding on it and when customers buy something using the brand at Cod, you know, the psychology, the one that says I’ve got it for free or greenbacks has given it to me, you know, and I think that’s quite a nice narrative to sort of bold on from a consumer Headspace perspective.
46m 27s
1

And of course, I guess it can be gifted as well as you did want to, you know, give that off to somebody, you know, whether it’s a child or whatever, I think it’s, you know, again, it’s a physical thing. So I think that’s amazing.
46m 38s
2

Yeah. We’ve seen some, we’ve seen our customers using it in all sorts of ways. You know, in some instances I’ve got some colleagues who’ve given it to their mum and then mum uses the points or some people have given it to the children and they use the card stuff. So yes, it’s, it’s actually, it’s got many uses and it’s definitely, you know, it’s definitely something that’s worked and, you know, customers have said to us, well, why don’t you just put it into our check account? You know, because, you know, we can then just use our normal banking card. So yeah, we’ll be thinking about that, but we haven’t decided just yet. And
47m 10s
1

That’s a big decision, actually, I can see where logically, you know, for a customer, but I can also definitely see it would be lost and missed because I know I get cash back on a couple of bank products and I’d never even appreciates realize that they’ve come in. So, you know, I definitely think there is something about keeping it again at this probably no right answer, but yeah, it’s, it’s a very real and practical way that you’re doing it. So I I’m sure you’d be nervous. You don’t want to be changing something like that. If it’s one of your dominant redemption mechanisms, you know, people love it so much already.
47m 45s
2

Yeah, absolutely. And you’re so you’re so spot on. I mean, that is part of the thinking and, and then of course, you know, the points that there isn’t any breakage on that. Right. So you’d have to, you know, so, so there’s most certainly a financial sort of impact on that as well, which we have to consider because we, you know, we are running a business too, but so yeah. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s just very much the triple win, you know, it’s like, we’ve got to win as a business. Our customers have got to witness customers and society’s got to win and, and let us stick to that, you know? Yeah, yeah,
48m 17s
1

Yeah. And again, just to emphasize the shopping store, I think I saw a number of 140,000 outlets, you know, whoever’s American express is accepted. So just the, the usage and availability and flexibility, I guess, of that product. But also, I don’t think I’ve seen em, you know, a non telco let’s say offering things like airtime and data. So I don’t know if that’s been done in other parts of the world or electricity, in fact. So, but again, I think it’s a really nice, very practical and something that I would really feel, oh, my goodness Nedbank has pay my by phone credit this month. I mean, I just think that’s brilliant.
48m 54s
2

So we do that with in partnership with, you know, the Delco or the electricity service providers, and we would make a commission of offset to, to our customers, but yeah, absolutely polar to your point. So we don’t actually do it ourselves. It’s not, you know, it’s not like Nedbank time or mid-back data as an example. Yeah. So it’s Def it’s in partnership with a third-party provider or, or a telco and, and yeah, I mean, you know, it’s, it’s just such an, it’s such a cool mechanism for our customers and you know, some of our customers with smaller amounts of points, you know, can in fact buy things like data and electricity. I mean, you know, we have eight times sort of when you want to call it categorizations.
49m 40s
2

Yeah. Like packages of, of like 10 Rand. I mean the tin is not even a dollar and, you know, people, people buy that all the time as an example because, you know, there’s interchanging of some gods and the way our customers operate in South Africa is just, it’s incredible. And so trying to keep up with that is probably probably our biggest job. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
50m 2s
1

But you’re right. I mean, you don’t need to go into the, the, the telcos business to facilitate that. So your role as the, you know, the client, I suppose, essentially, is to facilitate the digital transfer, make it easy, make it seamless and make sure the customer gets to burn their points in a way that really, really matters to them. Wow. Wonderful. Well, Dharmesh, I think I’ve exhausted all of the questions. I was super excited to hear all about the program. Are there any other key things that you wanted to share before we wrap up?
50m 34s
2

No, not for me. I just, it’s been an absolute pleasure being on your show and thank you. Thank you so much for having me and thank you for everyone that would listen to it, I guess.
50m 42s
1

Absolutely. And on that point, actually, Dharmesh, are you happy for me to link, for example, to your LinkedIn profile, if people want to reach out to you directly? Yeah, sure, absolutely. Wonderful. You never know what kind of conversations come up? I always find it fascinating, you know, just to check back in with people who have been on the show. So I’m so that’s amazing. So listen, thank you very much for, for all of your insights, all of your work. I love the greenbacks program. Definitely think listeners are going to love it. So I just want to say Dharmesh Barna from everyone. Let’s talk loyalty. Thank you so much.
51m 13s
0

Thank you. This show is sponsored by “The Wise Marketer”, the world’s most popular source of loyalty marketing news, insights and research. The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty marketing training, both online and in workshops around the world through its Loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 150 executives in 18 countries as Certified Loyalty Marketing Professionals.
51m 53s
0

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