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 Comark a global provider of innovative software products and business services. Comox platform is used by leading brands across all industries to drive their customer loyalty powered by AI and machine learning. Comark technologies allow you to build, run and manage personalized loyalty programs and product offers. With ease for more information, please visit comark.com.
57s
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Hello, and welcome to episode 94 of let’s talk loyalty. Welcome to and welcome to quarter two in today’s show. I’m chatting with the chief executive officer of a world famous loyalty coalition program known as payback headquartered in Germany. Bernard Bruger otherwise known as Bernie is the chief executive officer and in today’s discussion, we discuss firstly, the incredible redemption rate that paper points are seeing in its global markets. We also talked through the trends in retail that payback are seeing throughout COVID-19 from its unique perspective with 80 million members worldwide.
1m 41s
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We also talk about the idea of employee diversity as a key competitive advantage. So Bernie, first of all, tell me, what is your favorite loyalty statistic?
1m 56s
1

There are a lot of statistics, especially in the loyalty field and as a data driven company, we are of course, heavily focused on facts and figures. Maybe I would like to start with our 80 million active payback customers worldwide because that’s an impressive number. And we have only in Germany over 31 million payment customers in the German market, which relates to two thirds of all households in certain regions. It’s quite a broad coverage as well. So we are quite proud of that. Not a powerful and awesome figures, 5 million. These are the payback transactions in Germany each day, only a day, 5 million, but I have a favorite and it’s our redemption quota because 95% of the collected points are indeed redeemed.
2m 45s
1

And this is a number which is unique across the world in standalone schemes, more departments, schemes, whatever teams you are looking at, nobody has a 95% redemption rate. And this is on one hand side, very important for us because it shows how engaged our customers are and how important the points are for them. Because if you don’t use it, it’s not important. And on the other hand side, it shows clearly our focus because we never earned money by, by having a breakage. And so we earn money by having engaged customers. And so that’s my favorite loyalty statistics.
3m 23s
2

Well, I think it’s my new favorite loyalty statistic as well, birdie. That’s incredible. And I’m glad you mentioned actually the global nature and all of payback Bernie, because when I first, you know, realize how important it would be to, to bring payback on the show. And even before we met, I was just coming from the importance in the German market. So I had really only really been thinking about payback and your 31 million active customers, as you said. And, but I know you’re actually in India, in Poland and Mexico, Italy and Austria as full coalition programs, if I’m right.
4m 2s
1

Wow.
4m 3s
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Yeah. Amazing. And 95%. I just think that is incredible. And what I often find actually, Bernie is, you know, there are so many statistics and things that we talk about, but there’s very rarely a company that is so proud to be able to share a number, actually, because, you know, I think that is the important one. And people talk about the principle, but to really put a powerful number like that, there I’m just super impressed with you. Wonderful. So tell us about the payback journey. Bernie, it’s been going a long time and I think you’ve been involved with most of it. So maybe you’ll, you’ll talk, talk us through the history of the company.
4m 41s
1

Yeah. Paula did the questions. It’s only one hour. I could speak here for four hours about that, as you just said. So I’m the payment Zuora. So I’m within the company over 20 years, I started my career at payback before we launched. During those days, we have been 20 people. Now we are over 1,300 people, so the baby has grown. So I love to speak about the journey. And I think the journey spite specialist, it’s a journey from a typical startup, as I just said that to an international tech and product company with a fantastic expertise for data driven marketing, that’s in fact what we are doing.
5m 23s
1

And it wasn’t, it was a very exciting journey, fast one. And it was continuously marked by innovation. And I think that’s one of the important things which, which we will see across the whole discussion, which we will have. In fact, we are quite proud of that as well. So we have just been named as one of the most innovative companies in Germany by one of the country’s most remote business magazine. So people are seeing what we are doing, and we are quite happy about that, even if I sometimes feel like the launch took place yesterday and not 21 years, it’s unbelievable how the world has changed in the past two decades and how retail, which is core of our business.
6m 5s
1

Achieving our business has changed and how we have to change over those 20 years. And maybe I started and I tried to not to be as long as I would love to. So in March, 2000 that we had the first status, so payback the bonus program with a plastic card. So during those days, digitization was not the topic that the big topic during those days was how I can identify my customers and how I can learn more about my customers. And this was quite new because there were some multi-partner things like the airline industries with miles and more, or some other programs, but no program, which was a multi-part or designed as a multi partner program, one card, many partners out of the retail space.
6m 50s
1

And the program was always based on the idea that customers should get much more advantages and save much more money from the loyalty program with lots of parts that then from a so-called standalone program with only one partner. And so we started in March, 2000 with nine partners, and it became clear that customers love collecting payback points by shopping. And we were a very young company and nobody had a clue what will happen at the lounge state. So we were very curious and maybe a funny story so that we launched on the Friday and during those days, the whole company, because upfront we worked quite hard. The whole company went for a skiing event and we only had two tech guys in the office and we thought, okay, let’s see what will happen.
7m 34s
1

And we, we saw tremendous inflow from customers and we said, what the hell is that? And we had a, we had a very happy party during that day. And you can see that one month after the lounge, we already had 1 million customers, some Stripe, because this was very, very exciting for us. As we already discussed, more than 31 million are collecting today, pay big points. There were 35 retail companies and more than 650 online partners and still is funding. So this was the phase one. If you like to the phase two in our journey is that we, we saw that it was clear.
8m 14s
1

We had to provide customers with the offers they wanted through all channels. And so we set, we’d have to develop a multi-channel marketing platform. It would say that today is key. Everyone has omni-channel, everyone has multichannel, but during those days it was a 2003, four. It was not common then. So we started to provide an offer platform at the very beginning, just offline, but we entered the digital space quite fast after that. And so for us, the key positioning was no matter where our customers are shopping, no matter which channel they’re using nowhere at which time at which place they are, they need exactly the partner coupons and promotions that are relevant to them.
8m 56s
1

That’s the idea common today. But those days it was a true new experience for us and for our customers. One of our biggest milestones to develop this product. And we, we have to perfect the combine of the platforms reach and personalization. So we are seeing, or during those days we said, we are a TV channel because we have so many customers, it’s a one-to-one relationship. And this, this is the power of our marketing platform. And then everything based on big data or smart data, however you like to call that during this phase. So we started the internalization internationalization of the program.
9m 38s
1

So as you, as you said before, was our first market followed by India. And then 10 years ago we became part of the American express company. So this wasn’t a strong boost to our internationalization topic because they were interested that we enter some different markets. So together with Amex, we ended up the Mexican, the Italian and the Austrian market, and people can collect their points as well. Payback. So we have the six multi-department systems around the world. Step three, after that is payback has to be B or to become the expert in building bridges and connecting all shopping worlds and partners ecosystems, because in the last 10 decades, it became clear that every especially retail part about from all other industries, same thing, that everyone is looking at connecting with their customers.
10m 31s
1

And everyone saw the power of digitization because together with the digitization, you can easily connect with customers and you build on your own ecosystem in your own app. And for us, it was very important that we always provide value. Not only for our customers provide value as well in the B2B area of our retail or other partnerships. And so for us, one of the most important thing you in those days, and today is by digitization and bringing together customers and retailers bring it together. Yeah. Ecosystems of payback. So having lot of datas, having a huge reach, having good possibility to, and bringing on the other ends together this with the ecosystem, Oh, for all the retail partners.
11m 18s
1

So that everyone says, and that’s, that’s one of the biggest things which we always do. It’s not that you are part of payback, so is your own loyalty scheme. And this is a, is this a complete different angle and very important for our, for our customers. So we have to, yeah. Modular, we have to be innovative and we have to offer for every partner, not the same one size fits all. So really tailor-made what is needed for their special business. And I think that’s, that’s one of the success factors, which we add in the yeah.
11m 55s
2

And, and yeah, but what, what I would guess as well, Bernie, I’m sorry, I’m interrupting you, but it, you know, to launch into countries as, as varied as, as Mexico, I mean, Poland may be culturally quite similar to Germany. I don’t know. And what’s, you know, to go to such dramatically different markets, I guess you had to be very flexible again and, and do a lot of localization for all of those countries.
12m 18s
1

You, you have to take in consideration the specialties of every country or every region. But on the other hand, I saw that there is a commonality and all customers across the globe. They love to have value, to love, to have relevant offers. They love to have it simple and a good user experience. This is common across all markets. Sure. You have, you have to deal with, with the speciality, is that what is important in those markets? But all of our, of our partnerships are always the high-frequency part, but they are relevant everywhere. So gas stations, drug stores, they are that they’re important wherever you are.
13m 2s
1

Either you are in Peru or you are in India. That’s the same story. We’re in Mexico where we are. And, and, and so I would, I would say based on the right DNA, you have to take in consideration the local speciality is, but as a matter of fact, customers are not so different across the globe in terms of what they like and what they are seeking. And that’s, if you look at the traditional companies like Amazon, one of their, their success factors, super experience for the users, for the customers service and provide the right products.
13m 42s
1

And that’s a product based company, but if you’re a service company it’s even more important and that’s, that’s common. Yeah.
13m 49s
2

Yeah. They’re great insights, Bernie, because I totally agree. And value is something that we all have an appetite for, for sure where human beings and it just makes logical sense. And I think the speeds to earn to your point about, you know, why it was originally launched in the first place. So even to launch with nine partners in the year 2000, I think is a huge achievement because it’s a complex thing to negotiate from a coalition perspective. So, but customers, I think, really do feel that benefit then that there is a value because they’ll, they’ll get the points so quickly and the value. And I love your point about simplicity because I think we’re all a bit overwhelmed with how busy the world is. Hey, yeah.
14m 28s
1

That then everyone’s seeking for direction and that’s
14m 36s
2

Absolutely, yeah. Make it useful to me, make it easy for me to do it, and then I’ll show up and I’ll be excited about you.
14m 42s
1

Yeah. And be innovative. So that’s the third point. So make it simple. Cool as well. If you’d like to say it that way. So it’s always be on top of innovation, but that’s basically coming back to your question. That’s the step of our journey. But today we’ll see ourselves as a tech product company, we would like to not to deliver much better to deliver loyalty alone, but innovations for retail industries connecting the point of sale and also the new markets to be able to scale the program. And at the same time, of course, to meet the huge demand from the customers, from the brick and mortar and the online partners.
15m 27s
1

So that’s where we are today. And we try to bundle all steps, which we have across the, across our way and our company into a much more product tech and innovative company. Because if you don’t do that, you will be stuck in the middle or you will be out of
15m 47s
2

Totally, totally. And clearly payback is one of the world’s leaders in coalition, Bernie. So I’m so well done on an incredible 20 years so far. And tell me, did you, were you ever tempted to leave? I mean, that’s an awful long time to spend with one company
16m 1s
1

Before we had our interview today or our podcast. I thought about that, that, and you’re completely right. I never would have expected to stay over 20 years within, within payback. This is still for me, incredible. I, for my friends, incredible, because let’s say normally I like to see new things. And this is on the other hand side. Exactly. The reason why I’m still there, because we always were on top of new ideas, new developments, not only in our loyalties than let’s say in a bubble or loyalty industry. So what’s happening outside. We always try to leave the three most important reasons for me, why I’m still here is eight, the colleagues to call colleagues, the colleagues.
16m 51s
1

So if we have a big team and it makes so much fun and there are still a lot of people which started with me or are the after and they’re still around. So it’s a, it’s, it’s like a, like a kind of family. And, and that’s something which, which I really value. On the other hand, I always found it very exciting to connect with customers, but to be on top of what customers are thinking, customer is not only the PTC customer on the other side, do you have to B2B customers so really to make the development together with the retailers and the how big partners and how it’s a customer focused company, not only payback as a customer focused company, being a customer focused company as partner of payback as partner company, and to educate and to have to have the journey together with them was very exciting.
17m 44s
1

And I still remember, 10 years ago, we already pushed for digitization. And a lot of retailers said, Oh, you know what? It’s just a joke. Let’s say the internet. It will disappear not to that extent, but this was kind of, let’s say the feeling during those days. And, and we really pushed hard. And we said, always, if we are not doing this right now in five years, guys, you will tell us you are not leading the market anymore. So we have to do it and believe us that the digitalization, it will change the whole retail landscape. And today everyone would agree. But five years ago, it was not the fact that a lot of the big retail partners, they didn’t have a good internet presence.
18m 32s
1

They hadn’t had no commerce. And the same for the next phase of the development, the mobility, the app, a couple of partners, they just started with their ad 2001. So it’s quite late looking at the competition. On the other hand side, if you look at the big tech companies from Silicon Valley, they will laugh about that and bringing everything together and always thinking about what’s next. And, and what’s, what’s important for customers for competence and for our company, because let’s say we like, we like to be successful today and tomorrow. And apart from the colleagues, this is the reason why I’m still here, because I had the chance to really make the next steps and nobody was hindering me.
19m 16s
1

So
19m 18s
2

I love it. Yeah. Yeah. And I’ll definitely be asking you about all of the innovations that you’ve been working on Bernie. And, but I guess just as you were saying that, like I was just thinking, I, I, in my experience, the view, I think with retailers and you have more experience that you can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that we all may be had the impression that we could, you know, digitize when we were ready on the, on the brand side or on the retail side. Whereas I think what Covid has told us is actually, well, first of all, by God, you were ahead of the curve, but secondly, if customers demand it and you just have to be ready for them, like, I think that this forced digital transformation and COVID has really just accelerated what clearly you knew.
20m 1s
2

I hope I knew for the last 10 years needed to be done.
20m 4s
1

Definitely. And if we put the lens on the, COVID a thing, digitization is one of the things that after COVID same for working at total working from anywhere. So this is the other big piece that was brought up by COVID. They didn’t want disappear. And everyone saw, if you are not ready to interact and connect with your customer, all channels and the digital channels, they were the only ones that in a lockdown phase, which were possible, you’re out of the market. And, and we saw that a couple of companies, they are struggling, they struggle. And unfortunately they will struggle in the next one to three years because it’s not important yet.
20m 45s
1

And if you miss the train, it’s hard to be as fast as you have to be in a crisis or in a pandemic, which we just saw because to implement all the systems in the new way, if, if everyone is not in the office, it’s very hard or nearly impossible because the other guys in the market, they are much faster and they are much more connected to the customers. And if you lose the customer, then it’s quite hard to begin. I think what we’ve definitely learned that reach and communication has never been more important than in a pandemic. So connecting with customers, interacting, sending them personalized offers, tailored to their needs.
21m 28s
1

That’s even more important in times like these. And I think for, for the teams and for having still a motivated and going forward team in place, you need to increase your communication frequency dramatically. And that’s what we did. So I’m much more in touch than they used to be before the pandemic. So everyone was flying around and having some calls. But today we are connecting everyday with our teams. We have a lot of counters, much more information, much more transparency, because that’s what people need. If they’re alone in, in their home office. I think that’s, that’s international because that’s the same for the guys in India then.
22m 11s
1

And the same for the guys in Mexico, and everyone is seeking for direction. Everyone is seeking for future visions ideas and everyone seeking for stability. We are a team, even if we don’t see each other. And I think that was one of the major success factors, at least in our company.
22m 29s
2

Amazing. And can I ask you just about communications Bernie? Because I often think actually for loyalty programs, it’s probably the next big opportunity. And as you know, clearly I’m very passionate about, you know, voice and audio, because I feel this, you know, is a really nice way to connect with people that you would never communicate with before. So, so it’s different in obviously in my industry, but you’re still doing, as I understand printed mailers, as well as your digital communication. Am I right?
22m 58s
1

You’re completely right. It’s a very good question, Paula, because that if you would have asked me whatever six years ago, I would have said, yeah, maybe in two years, maybe one year, maybe three years, we won’t have any paper. Maybe that will disappear on the other hand side, what we saw. And so we are not here to educate customers. So we had that democratic system and we said, whatever our customers ask for, they should have the possibility. And today we see not every one is a digital native. And so our customer base is very, very broad. It would be wrong to say, okay, people who are whatever, 50 plus 60 plus they only like paper because they know that.
23m 43s
1

And the younger guys, they only the additional communication stuff, that’s that’s wrong. So I’m not into those into those. Let’s say packets there, a lot of people which really valued that haptics, they really valued to have a paper mailing there and they use it. And we see people who are using digital coupons and paper coupons. They have much more interaction with us than any other guys. And so that’s the reason we asked our customers and they said, at least the groups which are saying, Oh, I go away with this paper staff. It’s not environmental friendly.
24m 25s
1

I don’t need it. It’s not easy. So I’m completely digital clear. They should have only the digital communications, but there are, there are others. They say, I like it. And I value. And as long as we have those customers, we set, we provide paper communication or paper group because that’s, that’s very important as same for our redemption channels. So we said, we have to have a broad set of redemption to redeem your points. You should do it. You can donate, you can collect miles with it. You can pay it in the point of sale. You can use the rewards store, whatever you like to, but I don’t tell you what to do. Customers should tell us what they like.
25m 5s
1

And that’s the difference. And by saying that, yes, we, I still having paper coupons. We try to reduce the environment footprint as good as it can be from that standpoint. I would say we don’t need it from the customer standpoint, as long as they are asking for it should have.
25m 24s
2

Yeah. But I do agree with you, Bernie, you know, sometimes it’s just really nice to get some personal mail. Actually. It’s not something in this part of the world that we really have too much. And, but certainly when I’m back in Ireland, it’s, you know, it’s lovely. It’s where things that are special come in. Whereas I think before, I think there was a phase where everything that came by post was maybe just the bills. Whereas now for me, all my bills are digital. So that’s probably less appealing, but if it is something aspirational and, and I know you cross all of the different verticals and, you know, in all of the countries that you’re operating. So, so I think that’s incredible because like you, if you’d have asked me 10 years ago, will we still be doing postal mailings? I would probably have guessed.
26m 4s
2

No. So I’m really impressed. You still have them.
26m 7s
1

Yeah. And as I said, I think we will have them next year as well. It’s interesting if you look at other developments, so you have 50% of, of, of your friends or off of people, you know, they would say, I love my Kindle. I only like to read books with my Kindles and the other 50%, they say, I need to have the book in my hand and why you should tell somebody on what, on the left, on the right-hand side, you have to do it the other way around if you like it. Why that’s not my way, how I see customers.
26m 43s
2

So, so during COVID then Bernie, what would you say? Like, what have you seen in terms of changing customer behaviors? Because you have so much access to all of your, your partners and you had obviously the merchants and then directly with customers. So, so what kind of changes have you seen emerging in the last year or so?
27m 1s
1

Time will tell us if the changes are sustainable or not, but let’s say people had to do or have to act as they did, because they haven’t had much possibilities. What we saw in bed. This was very helpful for us because this is the base of our program. On one hand side, our high frequency partner, because even in a lockdown food, retail was open. Sure. People were not driving too much around. So this was quite harmful for, or painful for our, for our gas stations. Italy, the drug stores were open and very important. As a supplier, there were curves at the very beginning of the lockdown.
27m 42s
1

They had sometimes 30 to 40% plus compared to the last year. Then it went down because if you bought a 20 packages of toilet paper,
27m 54s
2

Yeah.
27m 57s
1

Happy to do the winner at the point of sale industry is clear to pet suppliers. It’s a very important and big partner across all countries of us. And I have the feeling that everyone bought a dog or a cat securing those totally cause that they had, they had a phenomenal year that’s important digital cards. And I always said the lockdown is like a, like a advertisement campaign for Amazon. So the digital partnerships in areas where point of sales were closed, they were clearly the winner. On the other hand side, if you look at the travel industry where we have with booking and Expedia, for example, fantastic partners, sure.
28m 39s
1

With the 80 or 90%, less than 2019, this was, this was not a winner industry. Even having a distributor partnership there and fashion industry was affected quite hard as well, because let’s say his sitting at home, nobody had to have the news transit dress on that. Nobody going to know too many people let’s put it that way, that this is the second group where I would say that those were the winners. We are having a super bowl today. And zoom was a winner, a, a winner as well. And thirdly, and then you have the point of sales and the industries, which are high street and they are suffering badly, especially.
29m 20s
1

And that’s, that’s what we discussed before. If they haven’t had a strong digital presence, they weren’t ready. And 50% where we’re doing quite okay, for example, Telia apartment Germany. And they had better gross rates than Amazon, especially in the books, in the book area. So, so they did the, they did a fantastic job and others, they stepped out of their coalition because there are not too powerful in the market anymore. Let’s put it nicely.
29m 47s
2

Okay. But I know your own e-commerce marketplace also boomed as well in general, am I right?
29m 53s
1

Our e-commerce marketplace if we wouldn’t have done. So we will, we wouldn’t have been in trouble last year. And so I’m very happy that Reed prepared ourselves for that. And this was clearly part even 2019 of our strategy to have much more digital partnerships because that’s part of the future. Let’s say that definitely part because the other ones, as important as that and our part of our DNAs that we said, we’ll ask the most important innovation. It’s not innovation anymore, but let’s say a strategic instrument is how I had that. And it, by saying that our app is good to the point of sales.
30m 34s
1

So connecting the digital, the work and the point of sales. So the offline world there, you have everything together. And on the science side, it’s helped us dramatically to connect with our customers or better to connect our customers with our digital partnerships and our marketplace. But that’s, that’s our, because there’s the, which is, let’s say at the core of what we are doing today.
30m 57s
2

And, and I love that whole concept around, I think it’s called in the retail sector. So online to offline or offline to online, I’m not sure which one comes first, but you know, in fact, I remember, I think it was a U S loyalty program saying exactly this it’s customers are not online or offline. And they used, they created a world called non-line N O N line. And I think that’s what you’re doing. You have the touch points at the point of sale. You have your app now. So wherever the customer happens to be, you’ve got the relationship.
31m 28s
1

It’s funny because, so, so you’re mentioning this old too, or the other way around that there were, there were a lot of books and stuff around that I don’t believe customers are doing one day. One customer is informing yourself online and they are doing whatever, whatever it is. So it’s aware where we said, so, okay guys, those are the discount customers. Those guys are the premium customers. That’s not true. That’s not how you shop this calendar. Then you go to Dior.
32m 8s
1

So you can put customers brackets, that’s you just, it has to actually be there where the customers are today and you have to provide value for them wherever they are. And if you do so then I think you have a good chance to be ahead of the curve,
32m 28s
2

For sure. Yeah. Yeah. You just have to be everywhere. You’re totally rice. And just for listeners burning, I did see one of your fabulous statistics, another one, and I believe you’re the purge top shopping app in Germany, about 10 million users
32m 40s
0

Of this stage.
32m 42s
1

I see, as you just said, is the core of what we are doing. Going back to what we just said, it’s connected to everything and everyone has this mold or whatever. It will be in five years, but for the moment you have it with you, and that’s the place where you can demonstrate the match. If you have magic, it’s not about. And then if you, if you look at the first stages of Facebook, for example, where a lot of companies went to a lot of customers, so it’s not about downloads, I couldn’t care less about the usage of it. You have this interesting. So you have to bring customers into your app on a regular basis because you are providing value with the app.
33m 22s
1

If they, if not, you will be gone, which device they have a download number of 10 million active customers is for us very important. And if you make the dropdown, we are having over 6.5 million a month. And I think that’s, that’s an impressive number. And that’s something where we focus on because for us, the air, my, my favorite picture by is it should be us wisdom innovations. We started informing our customers. Then we have our combining on a one-to-one base.
33m 59s
0

And then we have,
34m 3s
1

For example, the first ones that were mobile payment in Germany. So we are at two days, of course, I’m sure in three years, I, I, I can’t state that anymore. So I have to stay in Germany bigger than Apple pay. And we saw it with the pandemic. How important is the contact idea? So going through that, that’s the newest innovation, or which was, we just brought into a thing which is called me better go. And the payback go and means such a taking consideration. The localization piece payback go is changing.
34m 45s
1

Content is changing. Couponing is changing color wherever you go and enter which, which store. So if you go into Tesco, you have to color, send the quotes or Tesco you step out of Pesco. You go to, to boots and then you have to call us and the contents of foods. Excellent. To really be part of the whole customer journey, to demonstrate value wherever they are. If you are at home, probably you like to see where, where can I redeem? How can shop online? What’s the newest staff, or to be prepared for the next trip.
35m 28s
1

If you are the city, you like to have the content and the value of the shots where you are right now. And that’s the base idea. I think it’s quite unique and a fantastic innovation started in Germany. We just started in Poland and we are in the middle of rolling it out to all other countries. And I think that’s, that’s a, that’s the next step, which is more personalized, more on a one-to-one base making in consideration. That’s important for us because we are B2C and B2B company duration. None of us would like to use that you and his brand by interacting with the customer.
36m 14s
1

That’s the baby, which I’m quite proud.
36m 17s
2

Oh my goodness. Bernie, you should be because as you were explaining that, I was just thinking all of the historical transactional data that we all have is based on a totally different lifestyle, perhaps, you know, my coffee when I was on my way to the office. So, you know, all of the, the favorites or the behaviors are completely irrelevant. So if, instead, you’re able to, to locate based on where I currently am, perhaps working at home, it’s it’s relevant today, depending on what I’m doing today.
36m 49s
1

Yeah, definitely. It’s truly, let’s say real time. The more a disability world is the more real time is important for customers because they don’t want to think about tomorrow. They are here and they are now and they would like to have it here.
37m 10s
2

Absolutely. So with all of these innovations and a, and a, an incredible 20 year history already, Bernie, what would you say? Like, what are you struggling with or what, what problems do you think that you’re still trying to address?
37m 23s
1

Good question are two main things. A, it should depend AMEC was, and is still one of the biggest challenges which we are having in terms of colleagues, in terms of interaction with the customers, in terms of helping, how are big or smaller partners such a face it’s, it’s a huge chance on the other hand side, to demonstrate that you are a true partner, a true strategic partner, if you are there for your B2B and B2C customers, I truly believe that there’s a value in a face to face communication, especially if it comes to innovation, to creativity, to processes, which, which Alonda. So this is, this is for our company, one of the biggest challenges in the market or strategic wise, I would say what I, what I stated at the very beginning, where I said, we have to be a product and tech company to wrap that up and to change, to address the change process from a sales marketing company, to a product and tech company and not losing your original DNA and to bring everything together, to really provide additional value for companies which are today or which are having the possibility today to do a lot by themselves.
38m 39s
1

So you have to be always a little bit better or tried on better is maybe the wrong word. You have to play on your strengths a little bit more. Let’s put it that way, which is the reach, which are tools, which we can build for payback and display to all our partnerships. And by saying that to bring together, the ecosystems was one of our biggest discussion over the course of the last two years, because people and companies, they tend to fight for what they are having. And if we do so, we would lose what we are having today in five years. And so we had to change and to cut off things and to cut off security and to cut off revenue streams as well, knowing that you have to cut them now in order to be successful in five years, that’s something which is, let’s say, if you read the strategy book is crystal clear.
39m 39s
1

Sure. You have to do it, but if you do it, and if, you know, by doing this, you lose whatever a fair portion of your reps today. And you, you, you have the hope for the future that it will come back even better, but you have to do it now, if not, you’re out of business, but the moment to, to decide, to really change the whole business model and the whole model, which was successful for 18 years or 20 years or whatever, but it’s not too easy. We had two weeks of hard discussions before we had the big move where we are today and where we said, it’s cool that everyone is having his own app and is interacting with the customers.
40m 23s
1

And let’s think about how we can bring everything together and be even more powerful in the future for our customers. And if we are powerful of our customers, we will be powerful for ourselves. And this was probably for me and for our company, the biggest challenge over the course of the last two years,
40m 42s
2

My goodness, my goodness. And I guess part of that whole, you know, startup to, to success story is really the importance that you talked about actually at the very beginning, Bernie. So you being an incredibly loyal employee to the company and keeping your own ad team, it sounds like incredibly loyal as well. So, so I wanted to congratulate you on that. What, what would you attribute your success to in terms of keeping a team in such a competitive country as Germany?
41m 14s
1

I think this my way or highway thoughts from a CEO is not the road to success anymore. Let’s put it that way. So I believe incredibly in teamwork and in teams. And if you really believe, and if you live that value, you can’t be successful focusing on one leader. So that’s, that’s not the future. The future is being flexible, bringing together a team set, having always different teams together because you are tackling always new challenges. And so you want be successful in the future. And today, if you say, that’s my structure, and this is the structure for tomorrow, and this is the structure, how it works.
41m 59s
1

That’s not the way excellent people would like to work today. And I’m truly convinced that it’s, it’s, it’s a two way street. So a company has to think about what’s important for people to stay or to come to a company on the other hand side. Sure. The colleagues, how are the employees, however you like to call it? They have on the other hand side, the, the duty to, to bring the same mindset at the table. And I think, I think that we found a quite good balance, how we try to motivate by projects, by ideas, by transparency, by giving a clear way forward what we think what’s the strategy, what’s the future?
42m 45s
1

What are our numbers? So we are, we are a company which is very transparent apart from what I can say, being in a corporation like Amex, but talking about our numbers, we are very transparent with our colleagues. We are very open for discussions. I just recently had a town hall and I had in the hour after the town hall, I had 56 questions. That’s a lot, I’m very happy about that because it shows that people, they don’t have to fear to ask whatever they think and whatever they have in mind. And that means that we are an interactive company. And I think a forum for young, talented people, a possibility to bring in their ideas and to fulfill new things.
43m 31s
1

You cool stuff on the other hand side. Sure. You have to get your base. Right. But I, I think it’s, it’s very important for, for young talented colleagues to, to be part of the decision is very important for people which are more experienced and would like to be, to be here and seen and have the possibility to be part of the change process. And I think that’s something which we are doing quite okay.
43m 59s
2

Well, I mean 56 questions. I mean that you must have been exhausted after that whole town hall, but as you said, it shows that they feel comfortable and that they are happy to be able to ask. And I always think for me, I just want to know that I’m making a difference in the job that I do. You know, like we’re all showing up to work every single day and we want to keep good talent. So, so to have that like openness and to keep them loyal to you and ultimately the whole company benefits, because obviously then the product can develop with the insights of a different, because as you said, there’s plenty of mature people around the table. There’s usually plenty of gray hair and still force, you know, get the energy and dynamism of a, of a young team is extraordinary.
44m 42s
1

Yeah, exactly. To the point what you’re saying. And there’s a one, maybe one more thing. What we always said, we don’t value this show. We value somebody is 15 years in the company, but the, if we talk about careers, that’s not the point. It’s about your talent to fill the role to fulfill a task or whatever it has to be discussed. So for us, if we talk about salaries or, or positioning inquiries or stuff like that, it’s, it’s never a, for us, a KBI, how long are you in the company after three years, you have to make the next step. No, Y maybe off two months, if you are excellent.
45m 25s
1

I think you have to be flexible and people love flexibility if they have a stable base.
45m 32s
2

Perfect. Well, listen, on that note, Bernie I’ve asked all of the questions I’ve been dying to ask you in terms of the payback business. Is there anything else that you wanted to mention before we wrap up?
45m 44s
1

Yeah. I have to please for us as a company, and this is something we talked a lot about change processes and the future for us as a company. And I have a interview of one hour, one hour without mentioning it or us as a company. It’s not only looking at the most are the best people short. And it’s always very important for us to have diverse and be choose teams. And that’s something I would really like to mention to our podcast. We are very open to that for us. It’s very important.
46m 26s
1

It’s not only a social reason that you have to talk about this economic reasons. So we have 60% of our customer base. And I think there’s a huge value if teams are diverse, but then you have new ideas that if they are to speak out what we just discussed and then you can produce the best ideas. And so for us as a company going forward, I think it’s a main competitive factor. If you only look from economic reasons, it’s a main competitor factor, having a good product and having excellent people and part of the talent pipeline to really embrace the diversity.
47m 9s
1

And this is something which I personally, because that’s not a thing which is really important.
47m 15s
2

Well, I think that’s a lovely point, Bernie, because I think you’re right. A lot of people talk about diversity and inclusion as a strategy or as an intention, but you’re right. The commercial reality is we need to be representative of our customer base. So have that as a strategy
47m 31s
0

For your own team. I think you’re right. We’ll absolutely be a competitive advantage. Yeah.
47m 36s
1

If you just look at that unique as we are in an environment where we have Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and they are all unit, so it’s really hard to keep your talent, the people, if they come with big checks.
47m 51s
0

Oh my goodness. Well, listen, I can hear you’re doing a fantastic job, Bernie, and, you know, just from a consumer perspective as a leader. And so I’m really thrilled to have had some insight into your program. I really hope we can stay in touch and maybe do another show, maybe further down the track and maybe when the whole pandemic is behind us. But for now, I just want to say Bernie Bruger as CEO of the global loyalty coalition. Payback. Thank you so much from let’s talk loyalty.
48m 20s
1

Thank you so much, Paul. That was a fantastic break. Pleasure to speak with you and looking forward to, to connect soon.
48m 33s
0

This show is sponsored by the wise market here. The world’s most popular source of loyalty, marketing news insights and research. The wines marketeer also offers loyalty marketing training through its loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 170 executives in 20 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals. For more information, check out the wise market, tier.com and loyalty academy.org. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of let’s talk loyalty. If you’d like me to send you the latest show each week, simply sign up for the show newsletter on let’s talk loyalty.com and I’ll send you the latest episode to your inbox every Thursday, or just head to your favorite podcast platform.
49m 24s
0

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