#112: Loyalty Challenges and Trends with Comarch's Bart Demczuk

With over fourteen years in loyalty and consulting roles from a technology perspective, Bart Demczuk is today leading the Middle East region for Comarch, who power loyalty programmes around the world for brands like BP, Old Mutual and Puntos Colombia, as well as regionally for industry leaders like ADNOC and ENOC.

Bart shares his strategic view on some of the current key challenges for loyalty professionals, firstly to ensure they measure truly commercial metrics to ensure they are running a successful loyalty programme.

He shares his views on the risks posed by industry disruptors offering short term marketing channels for restaurants and retailers, but at the expense of creating and owning long term direct relationships with their customers.

He also highlights the risk of “excessive personalisation” – a trend which has become increasingly prevalent on social media channels, and the importance of balancing privacy and personalisation in a way that customers truly value.

Listen to this episode of “Let’s Talk Loyalty” for a helicopter view of insights from the Middle East from this leader in loyalty.

This episode is sponsored by Comarch.

Show Notes: 

1) Bartosz Demczuk – Senior Vice President at Comarch Middle East

2) Comarch Loyalty Marketing Solutions 

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.


So welcome to episode 112 of Let’s Talk Loyalty. And today I’m delighted to be joined in studio by Bart Demczuk, who will be extremely well known, particularly here in the middle east region as Managing Director of Comarch Middle East. Now Bart and I have already done some great work together where he has introduced me to some of his favorite clients, and we’ve done really some fantastic recordings that you listeners will have heard over recent months and years. So Bart came in himself today because I wanted to get his perspective on what it is that clients are saying and I guess what members are saying in terms of the current and the future for loyalty programs.


So in this conversation, we, first of all, ended up discussing the super important metric around measuring growth in basket spend by your loyal customers, which I think is a really interesting key performance indicator. We also talk about the importance of share of wallet as well as the understanding of behavioral insights from customers becoming even more important than transactional insights. So without further ado, I’m delighted to present Bart Demczuk Managing Director of Comarch Middle East.


So Bart, welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty. I am dying to hear with all of the expertise that you have in the loyalty business. What is your favorite loyalty statistic? 


I was expecting to have this question.  good. And the answer is not that easy because for me it’s more like the old type of timeline based KPIs.


Okay, I’m really great from Into those numbers that are showing how the customer behavior is changing over time, how we are able to. Yeah. I don’t like to say squeeze more out of the customer but in more details like how we are improving the relation of the customer. Yes. Introducing more categories of our products to the customer. Yes. And that’s the journey. So I’m great fan of looking at the journey. So all of my KPIs okay. Are pretty much basket-related over the time. 


Okay. I love that Bart actually, because I think when we spoke the last time, what we said is so many of us actually traditionally maybe have looked at non-members of our loyalty program versus members of our loyalty program. And we use that to justify the investment and to feel good that we’re, we’re achieving something. But I like your idea that obviously we’re here to drive behavior change. Um, so looking at the average order value, I think. Normally the term that, that your clients would use and looking at it now and looking at it over, over different time horizons.


Hundred percent. I wouldn’t agree more with that. Wonderful. This is the usual yeah. Mistake done by many of the Latin programs where they’re comparing loyal versus non loyal customer. Yeah. And that’s in, well, that’s the most ridiculous thing can do about that. Yeah. Because we should focus around those customers. Yeah. Who actually are willing to be loyal towards our brand. Yeah. And we are investing towards them. Yeah. Not like the working customers, because they will never spend as much yeah. As those real customers. And let’s try to work it out. Yeah. Let’s try to focus on the wallet. Share let’s try to understand if I’m. Let’s say oil and gas company where there a hundred percent of the old purchases are done within my network.

Yes. So let’s try to work on those numbers harder. Yeah. Yeah. Not just easily brought to our CFO. Well, yeah, loyal customers are three times bigger than, loyal. That’s the number. Yeah. That’s the easy game to play. 


I think so. And I think what’s happened actually is that the, the CFOs have certainly become wiser and I think quite rightly, they’re challenging us to say, well, of course, the people who are members of your loyalty program spent more that’s why they joined your loyalty program. So, you know, so you can’t, um, I think confuse correlation with causation. I think that’s the, uh, the technical term. You probably know those words better than me, but I really think that that’s a powerful way that anybody who’s listening, who might not already be looking at that over time. I definitely think share of wallet particularly is one that absolutely. Is that one that we can get access to data on easily these days, because, um, in my loyalty consulting career and operational, um, uh, stuff I suppose, as you would know, is quite, um, quite a few years ago now, but is the share of wallet data available. So do we know where people are spending with our competitors in general? 


Well, that’s the holy grail of loyalty we might say to perfectly understand is 360 or as we might say 359 degree of the customer, because it’s 1% should still remain a little bit. Yeah. A little to the mystery. Yeah, totally. Well, those data are available. Okay. In both ways. Okay. One way is like quite easy. Yeah. If you are working over the partners, if you have the coalition program, of course, it can easily estimate. Yeah. Based on the transactions. Got you. Another element where the data is helping us. Yeah. Is the artificial intelligence, of course. Okay. So the first buzzword of today’s okay. Very important from a software company. Very, we have to have those. So actually we can predict with the certain accuracy, what is actually the proper sequence of customer behavior. Okay. And based on that, we can understand, okay. If there is a missing purchase or if there were any interesting products yeah. Which we can combine with the first choice of the customer, then we can quite easily predict. Okay. So it means that out of a hundred percent of the purchases, yes. Unlike 30 to 60% are done with us. Yes. So where is everything else? Okay. Okay. So we are using a lot of those, uh, models okay. That are helping us understand. Okay. Where our money. Yes. And what is the. Think here. Yeah, because we are opening right now and I’ll be opening that this small or actually large Pandora box about the aggregators. Yes. Like Muslims of this world, because actually those guys yes. Have all the details. Yeah. Every single data because they’re creating this great marketplace. Yeah. And for the record, I will never question innovation. oh course of course. Yeah. I only question. Yeah. Whether we are fully aware what we are stepping into. Yeah. As a small companies who are never investing that much money for the technology. Yes. And right now we are having the perfect marketplace with all of the features, with the fantastic logistics purchase behind. Yes. But we are losing one crucial element. Yeah. The control.


Of course, of course. Yeah. You’ve mentioned this to me before Bart. I know you feel very strongly about aggregators and disruption in the industry and who is the customer going to be loyal, loyal to. So I suppose in the example of the restaurant industry, obviously that’s been completely disrupted by aggregators. So I definitely think that there is, um, a reason to focus on that direct connection with your customers. Um, so I can hear that’s something that you are very passionate about. 


It might be very unpopular what I will say right now. And you’re right. I’m very passionate about it because I’m in many cases seeing that yeah. The companies were absolutely unaware. Yeah. What they’re stepping into. Yeah. And of course COVID was a definitely accelerator for those processes. Of course. Yeah. Suddenly your business has to be digital. Mm. Unless you won’t be able to approach your customers. And then there’s a huge question mark. Are you approaching your customers and actually to whom the customers are loyal because technically yeah. That customer has no relation with you. 


Yeah, of course. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. 


So we are stepping in this kind of pond with this kind of very tough questions. I know, I know because first of all, if suddenly 80% of your business yes has been done by the aggregator. And you are not investing in the other channels. and this is the usual story here. because everything goes so well. You might be saying, okay, I’ve saved so much money because I was not buying the platform. you’re. Only paying those percents, which are. Increasing recently, because that’s the nature of the business. Yeah. And, you know, just think about it then within the COVID times,  Amazon pretty much doubled their venue. It’s extraordinary. Yeah. That’s and same time a lot of businesses are struggling, you know, we’ve seen it for the, for example, restaurants as a very good example or specialistic stores. Yeah. They’re losing the market while at the same time. Yeah. Aggregators. Earning tons of money. Mm. Because they’re owning relation. Yeah. They’re consuming the small part of every single transaction. 


It’s amazing scale that they’ve got, isn’t it? 


Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.


Yeah. I think for, for, you know, a busy restaurant to use this example, um, it almost sounds too good to be true and, and clearly it’s probably unfolding that way that it has been too good to be true. Here is a partner. You know, and I’m doing my air inverted commas here.  no, which you won’t see on the, on the podcast. Um, but yeah, so, so there’s a marketing channel available, but the cost of that is more than the cost of the commission, the cost of the fulfillment. It’s the cost of the relationship. So I think I that’s your key message is don’t concede the relationship.


Exactly. Because that’s the only asset we have. Yeah. And once we are reaching that level where 80, 85% of our business has been done over the aggregator. Yeah. And then aggregator is saying, well, we’ll have to increase your fees. You’re totally. Yeah. You’re trying to understand. Okay. So who is the customer I’d like to better? Well fit the product, adjust something. Where is my data? And you’re suddenly seeing, well, the data.  owned by someone else. Yeah. And to get access data. Yeah. Well, there’s a huge price tag behind every single yeah. Customer record. Yeah. Yeah. And of course, you might be saying, okay, same time we have GDPR, a lot of policies that are respecting the customer privacy. Yeah. But same time, this kind of zero-level data, first level data. Yeah. That’s something which is again, not owned by us. Sure. And we need those data error. 


Totally as a, as an asset, absolutely valued, respected, retained, and absolutely never conceded. So certainly you’re preaching to the converted, I think in terms of me anyway, um, you know, no question there, hopefully most of our listeners as well, but I think it’s an important point. And I think it’s something that I’m hearing coming through increasingly with, you know, the pandemic having gone on for, I think a lot longer than any of us would’ve imagined, um, the focus, I think commercially for most clients I was talking to just went into, I suppose, freeze maybe for, for 3, 4, 5 months till we all, I suppose just literally figured out, um, how to stay safe.

Um, but now my experience, and I’ll be dying to hear what, what Comarch is doing, but in my experience, then there has been a renewed focus exactly for these reason. On how can I own my customer relationship? What do I need to own? How quickly can I build it? Um, for example, do I need artificial intelligence, or what are the other buzzwords? Because I know there’s loads of other things that, that you’re passionate about. So, so what do you think are the priorities? If I was looking now and saying, okay, I’m a retailer, I’ve never had a, a loyalty program. I might. Spreadsheet. Uh  cuz everybody starts somewhere. So what do you think the key criteria is for an effective loyalty program now and this, and especially I guess, because we’re both in the middle east, you’re here in person with me, which is always a joy. 


It’s a pleasure to have this kind of proper relation, right?


It is faces face to face. Yeah. 


Uh, starting with something very important. Never underestimate either the, a Excel or the stamp card. Okay. That is a very key lessons from loyalty programs around the world, interest other cars. After COVID we are digitally spoiled for sure. No question about that. Yeah. Yeah. And also we have to remember that in today’s vault. Yeah. The last best experience. Yes. Is the minimum expectations for the next one. Yeah. So we’ve seen what Uber did for the taxi industry, right? Totally. Sorry. I have to use always Uber case because that’s very presentative. 


Of course it is. Yeah. Yeah. Nobody saw it coming. I mean, it, it literally seemed to come left field, and all of a sudden it was this giant overnight. Like, honestly, it was extraordinary. 


Hundred percent. 


I never think that big clearly, maybe that’s what I’m doing wrong.  and it’s happening right now. Yeah. So also, when you are thinking about. Being a retailer and establishing your new loyalty program. Yeah. Trying to win back the customers who are already taken because yes, many years ago we have these fantastic numbers. How many loyalty cards are within the wallet? Right? Oh, stuffing the wallet with the cards. Yeah. Stuffing the wallet. Like always be on the top within the wallet. Yeah. I remember this numbers from US, like 14 loyalty cards and number average. 


Who’s gonna check 14 loyalty cards. Honestly, I think we, maybe I probably only actively connect with three or four if I’m honest and that’s as a professional in the loyalty industry. So yeah. I mean, that’s a, and we got the other side because I’m pretty much enrolled to every single loyalty program you’re running houses, so  yeah, well that’s story. It’s like I’m obliged to be there. Yeah. Yeah. But it’s, it’s a different story because right now, because of the mobile. Yes, which is like replacing the wallet, forget about the wallet. Yeah. That’s definitely something we it’s already over. Yeah. We’re not going to invest any world company anymore. Yeah. But the thing is that for just a piece of plastic or more likely to say the, the reality application. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a very important question for the retailer. It is. Yeah. Should he ask in the very first place? Yeah. What will be the reason to download the application? Yeah. And then to use it on every single day. Totally. While he’s competing with those aggregators, combining hundreds of the offers from all of the competitors. Yeah. Yeah. And what is the reason for me? Because, well, it’s like the very tough discussion because we might be saying, okay, I’m stepping outside from this aggregator. I’m building my own place. Yes. But a lot of your customers yeah. Prefer to go to the, the simplest solution. Yeah, of course. Yeah, exactly. 


And again, first mover advantage. I think again, to credit the aggregators, you know, they’ve done good work. So, so, and I do think anybody launching anything now, yes, digital is, is the next best experience, but it’s still time consumer expensive. And I don’t really want to go through a long process. So, you know, it has to be a super slick and as you said has to be a clear reason for me to download it. 


Exactly. so for the retailer, yeah. The approach would be like, okay, I’m creating extra value. And of course, the easiest way is like, let’s give the discounts. Right? Sure. Yeah. But you know, right now, if you’re looking and I could bring, like, I have notes with the numbers from loyalty can all read over the internet. Yeah. And also some research we did about the customer experience about generations that. And yeah. What they’re looking for about this recognition about yeah. How fragile towards the environment they are, how important for them is personalization, which is not stepping too deeply towards the privacy. 


For sure. Yeah. That’s another one I know. You’re very passionate about the balance of, yeah. What’s what feels personal, but not yet creepy because we’ve all had the extreme experience over the years and there’s some, you know, absolute worst-case nightmare scenarios. Um, so GDPR does protect us all, maybe not globally in the same way, but there is a sense of why would you risk freaking your customer out by saying something that actually shows, you know, too much about them? 


I would say you might run another podcast only about the creepy marketing. Totally. Because there is so much around that, for sure. And in many cases, when we are doing surveys with the customers yeah. When we are trying to understand what might be the next trend, we’re trying to play this kind. Futurologists trying to predict the future. Okay. And in many cases, people are saying, well, I’m pretty much sure that you are listening to me all the time. And I was like a lot of conspiration theories coming up, but it’s like, those ads are a way too accurate. Yes. When I was like chatting with my friends. And of course, yeah, from the AI perspective, we are nothing more than just the segments of the people who are yes. Can be easily sorted out. Yeah. And based on the more well, large data, we are understanding what might be the individual behavior.

And actually, that’s why we can in such a huge accuracy predict what might be the next best yeah. Purchase I might be going for. But actually, from the customer’s perspective, this is not necessarily the best thing. 


It’s not a good experience. Usually. 


It’s freaking out the customer. 


Yeah. It’s gone too far. It’s yeah.


The customers like us twice as much likely to step out from the program. Exactly. Or, uh, like simply cancel the permissions to communicate for sure. Display the ads. Yeah. You know, we’ve seen four years ago with the Facebook be cased of this Cambridge Consulting. Very of course. Yeah. Yeah. You know, those days there were like 30% Facebook users in US state. They’re willing to step out from the Facebook, if they’re not going to change their policies. Yeah. How their data processed. Yeah. So yeah. We have to be very aware. There’s a tin line. Yeah. Between the perfect marketing. Yeah. The proper personalization, understanding the customer. Yeah. And simply being this kind of, you know yeah. Guy hiding in the bushes like, no one can bit too much about you.  


I know. Yeah. Well, I think I said to you as well, last time we spoke that, uh, I had an experience last week where I was in the gym doing a very unusual yoga class, which I’ve never done before. So headstands and handstands. And not something that I booked, you know, within any of the usual platforms, for example, but yet now I’m not being targeted by yoga classes for headstands and handstands, and I’ve only discussed it verbally, you know? So I’m like, oh God, you know, that’s a bit too much. Like, I dunno where that data was, was picked up from. But yeah, I think as, as loyalty professionals, we need to go, okay. We want to be relevant, but also we want to have that level of integrity and taking care of what is the customer actually want. So, yeah, I think we have to draw that absolutely thin red line. Maybe make it a thick red line to use your language and not step on the other side. 


Exactly. Because there’s another element around the buzzwords for loyalty, we call it stealth loyalty, stealth loyalty, okay. This is the approach where we are. Okay. Listening to the customer in the very first place. Yes. Like what is the perfect loyalty experience. Yeah. And for many, many years, yeah. This approach EDLP everyday low prices was like the winning one. Of course, the group ones were saying we are finishing loyalty. Okay. The one we knew because nobody’s willing to collect points for a year to get the teacher. Right. Sure. That was very common statement. Yeah. For this loyalty one though, which was purely transactional.


For sure. The very first let’s say the very one point. Oh yeah. 


A hundred percent right now. Depends who you’re gonna ask. We are the five or the sixth generation of flu. Interesting. Okay. I never counted. Okay. No, that’s true. Some people do, some people do. It’s like internet to the do, free to do of next versions. Makes sense. Yeah. Anyway, it’s another buzzword for us, but technically where we are right now, we are fighting. Yeah. And that’s very. Difficult question. Of course. So answer won’t be as well. Step loyalty comes with the approach where yeah, we have perfect understanding of the customer. Okay. But we are not offensive when it goes about sending those offers. Okay. And in many cases, yeah, there is no point to display to the customer. Actual point. Okay. Okay. So, because that might be frustrating that after a year of being loyal customer yeah. What you get. Yeah, of course, the real loyalty is about being proactive with the promotion right now. Over 60% of the customer ask, they’re saying I would love to be rewarded for providing the feedback yes. For watching ads. Interesting. And actually you’ve had Brett Cameron from Old Mutual a few days ago. Yeah. And he was telling a lot of stories about how they’re rewarding the customer for the better yeah. Understanding of their product portfolio.


Totally educating themselves. And you’re rewarding them. And then, and that’s even before they were becoming customers. So I think that is absolutely revolutionary. So I know listeners will be, be listening to that show before they’re listening to this show. So yeah, I think thats extraordinary. And the point you made before, I think is everything that’s nontransactional. Like what are all of the behavioral, uh, aspects of loyalty? And to me, that’s where it’s going, you know, it’s like, yes, understand me, but yeah, leave the creepy marketing, leave the offers, leave the discounts. But I want to be inspired. I want to be educated. I want to be entertained. So, so that’s where loyalty has to step up and do something new. 


I wouldn’t agree more. Mm. And actually right now we are landing on this very important statement. Okay. Where. The marketing is not about the product anymore, right? Yeah. So just let’s look at the brands right now. Yeah. There’s always either the great personality behind the brand of course, or the story. Yeah. And that’s also how our loyalty should migrate from this classic point base approach where well You spent X you’ll get Y. Yeah. Certain percent of that for sure. In the. Exactly. So we are stepping towards this self-approach. We are actually, okay. We are deciding where we are going to reward the customer and how we are going to reward the customer. Okay. And instead of showing those kinds of creepy ads, yeah, we are precisely, providing rewards to the customer mm. That are not necessarily immediately changing the customer behavior because that’s very easy. But actually, again, very few of the marketers are looking at that kind of approach in the long-term perspective. Well, we might be cannibalizing some of our products. Yeah. Because of like random marketing actions are yeah. Looking great. Yeah for a week, right? Sure.  so we are playing this cart in a different way where we are starting to engage the customer where he’s asking for more. Okay. He cannot wait to get the next reward. And in many cases, yeah. We might be showing to the customer. Yeah. Like free rewards. Okay. But you can pick only one. Okay. So we are playing with those emotions where there’s like, okay, are you relating for you? Okay. All of those rewards are very attractive. Okay.

But not all of them can be yours. Okay. Okay. Again, we can play, we can utilize a lot of gamification mechanisms for sure. Yeah. Of course. The leaderboards, like creating the badges, showing the progress bars, but we know it very well. 


Yeah. That’s been around for a while around, still, still, probably has work to do I think are potential. Um, yeah. I often think that when you’re, you’re trying to change behavior in a way that, um, is, is maybe not a transaction when you want to, you know, get people to educate themselves or whatever, then sometimes games can be a more fun way. To learn something. Um, so I definitely think gamification has a lot of potential. And, uh, I think you had said actually before, it might be, some people are saying it might be the end of the points, uh, in in a couple of industries, which is, I think a, a debate, a lot of us have a lot of the time. 


It’s a never-ending debate. It is. Yeah. And I was always willing to compare to the fashion, like some trans common girl. Right? Yeah. But it’s anyway, we might be seeing that for a while. Yeah. The points are not the loyalty we know. Right. It’s like you have this portfolio of the point, the teacher. Yeah. Just, just even think about the airlines right now. Yeah. For sure. That’s a huge challenge for them. Yeah. How do we approach those customers who used to be like in a high tier right now? They’re not flying because pretty much nobody’s flying right now. Of course. Yeah. So we have a lot of challenges. So it might be like that for now on, we might put points away for a second and focus on this kind of additional. Yeah. Relation where we are exactly. Approaching the customer. Yeah. Showing the journey. Yeah. Telling what are the milestones within the journey where we have okay. Certain types of the prices for the customer. Okay. And then one day, yeah. We now be coming back with the very classic points. Okay. And again, play with the way where. Yeah, well, like Tesco did or the other brands. Yeah. That’s the product. You will have triple points. Yeah. And because if you have that many points, those are the rewards waiting for you. Sure. But, well, the question is.  when the COVID ends of course, of course. That’s a very brutal question, which is simulating a lot of, uh, of course, discussions right now. Yeah. 


Yeah. I don’t think any of us, I, I, I really, to be honest, have stopped thinking about that because I think the best I can do is vaccinate myself and, and go and get on with life as best. And we’re obviously lucky here in Dubai to be able to get our vaccinations and all of this kind of stuff, and to be able to travel, please God, as well, quite soon. 


Absolutely. And I will say that we should never complain about any situation? No, for the way the government managed tuition here in Dubai. So we are very lucky to be here. That’s for sure. We are absolutely blessed for sure. Seeing the Europe and India right now, all the COVID is, is really tough to see at those. It’s hard to what markets and actually, yeah, and the same time we are looking from the perspective of what can we do for the loyal customers. And that’s usually the question we get from our existing customers. We’re asking that’s a yeah. Good point. How we can approach them, you know? Yeah. Are customers suddenly yeah. They went from like a hundred percent spendings. Yeah. To like 20, 30%. Yeah. And we know right now. Yeah. The priority like loyalty towards brand is stepping outside from this circle of love. As you can call it towards like these basic budgets. Righ?. We’re looking for the cheaper replacement from a new products. And whereas the loyalty, how those brands can still maintain the relation, why they will not. Yeah. Well, Cannibalize their margin, same time. Right? Of course, because those are very tough questions. In many cases. of course. Yeah. Again, we might be working with a customer by like trying to work with them, like our RMD team, by asking them about their feedback. We have more information from them who can improve our products. Okay. Because let’s be honest. Yeah. Post-COVID world will be. Quite different. 


It will be very different as well, but I do think what will definitely happen and I’m sure your clients are saying the same is people will remember, you know, what brands were loyal to them and which brands were not loyal to them. So did they devalue my currency? Did they stop? Building the relationship with me just because I didn’t fly slash couldn’t fly. So, so I think that is extremely important is to say yes, unfortunately it’s gone on for such a long time. Again, we’re only struggling commercially as, as we’ve said. Um, but yeah, I think it’s important to say there will be an end. And how will customers respond to us then? 


And your single statement right now. This is the most important, I would say part of our discussion today. Okay. People will remember. Yes, exactly. And there will be tagged behind each company. What have you done during the co yeah. How did you behave? Yeah. Yeah. When I needed you,  you? Because, you know, honestly, if you’re looking at many programs right now yeah. That are devaluating the layout, because let’s be honest for the same CFO. Yeah. But he’s looking at the numbers. How many parts do I have frozen in the loyalty? What’s my liability behind the loyalty program. So the easiest way yeah. To do the quick cost reduction is simply totally yeah. That line. Exactly. And people will remember that. And again, rebuilding the trust from the customer. Yeah. It’s very difficult for sure. On top of that, because of social media, because of the, oh, for sure. Way people are sharing information, word of mouth. I would say it might be very bad decision to be. It’s a, yeah. 


It’s a long term play. Yeah. 




And what I’ve always loved actually about you guys is, and, and listeners will know, I have interviewed some extraordinary brands who are clients of Comarch. So we’ve had BP on the show, um, Enoch here in Dubai, our friends. Um, I know you also look after ADNOC, and then as you mentioned, we’ve already spoken to Old Mutual down in South Africa and Puntos Columbia. So in my view, and again, I’m not the CFO of any of these companies, but in my view, they have to take that long-term customer perspective because it’s easy to say I’m customer focused when I’m building a beautiful new design and a new strategy. But this is where the rubber meets the road to use that cliche, you know? Oh, yes. It’s it’s time to show up and be present. So I think that’s true loyalty in it’s in its, uh, truest purest form. 


And there’s always the same question where like 85% companies are stating your customer-centric. While, we are going to go for the very basic survey. Yeah. And then we are seeing less than 15% of the customers from the same companies. Who’s always putting the customer first. Yeah. We’re saying, well, I’m bit afraid that we are on a different story here. Okay. They’re not feeling it. Oh, they’re not feeling that. And. Yeah. And that’s a also very tough point to, to be right during this kind of meetings. Yeah. Where everybody’s saying we are investing so much money, we’re doing so many things. for sure. Well, of course, yes. Yeah, yeah. But then we might be reviewing whether we are doing those things in the right way, because yeah. As long as the customer is saying, well, I don’t feel it. Yeah. Yeah. It doesn’t exist. Yeah. And actually we had such a discussion when the Groupon came up. Okay. In the very first place. Yes. And a lot of our customers think like, well, our customers are complaining that. They’re loyal to us. Yeah. They has been loyal to us for like 10 plus years. Sure. Yeah. And. There is a group oncoming out. And on the very first day, yeah. They’re offering greater value than you did. Yeah. Yeah. For all of those years. Totally. Of the corporation. Yeah. They feel like I’m betrayed. Yes. Yeah. But of course, people are not looking at the Groupon, from the perspective of the long-term approach. Exactly. Well, once you are discounting your product by 50%. Yeah. Never expect. Yeah. That customer will come back and pay the full price again. 


Yeah. And you’ve reminded me Bart, because, um, there’s a term that has emerged in the UK and it’s called the Loyalty Penalty and I’ll make sure that, um, I do a show on that actually, because there is a class action lawsuit coming to prevent exactly this type of behavior. And I think it particularly comes up with utilities. Um, where, you know, it might be a phone company or something like that. And exactly like the group on example where, you know, new customers are, are literally, um, incentivized and loyal customers are, are penalized. So that’s outrageous to us with our mindset and taking care of our customers, but the Loyalty Penalty is something customers resent. Um, and if anything, again, it’s, it’s a short term tactic. It’s, um, it’s a bit cheap and nasty. I think we probably all agree at this point. Yeah. If we agree, I don’t even know how Groupon still exist, So, I mean, fair play. I mean, they did some extraordinary work, but, um, it’s, it’s not a loyalty mindset. It was a great disruption. Exactly. And by the mistake. Yeah. They’ve been placed next to the loyalty. 


Exactly. Yeah. Customers see the same it’s marketing from this brand and yeah. Yeah. They, they feel hard done by. Wow. Well, there’s certainly a lot going on. I was looking back at your, uh, LinkedIn as well, Bart 14 years in total, across, um, consulting director for, for Comarch and obviously now managing director for the middle east. So some extraordinary work going on, uh, with you guys. Um, what else do you think our listeners should be thinking about? I mean, you are the, you know, the software guy, so as we’ve often said, um, you know, it’s, it’s you get the benefit of hearing all of these different. I think for us or anybody running a loyalty program, we’re sitting thinking, you know, we, we, I suppose we get consumed with the day to day. So I think you have more of a helicopter view. So what else do you think our listeners should be thinking about in terms of, uh, the future for loyalty? 


Uh, I felt for a second. When she said that I’m a software guy, the magic is over, right. Because software usually is very boring part. Oh, I know. I know how it works. You know, I would never say that part.  you’re just very polite. We have to be nice.  yeah. Honestly speaking, uh, as a software vendor and I might be not saying that, but all of our customer, they should never feel afraid to challenge us. Oh, good. Nice. Yeah, we are as a software company’s enablers, right. Okay. Sure. And at the second, yeah, when we are obstacle okay. In the perfect customer journey. Yes. You should really reconsider. We are, you are working with the right company. Totally. That’s absolutely the whole point. And actually, yes, I love the statement. Like yeah. Stay hungry.  yes, because that’s the thing ask for more, totally stay foolish, right? Yeah. Yeah. Ask for impossible. Yeah. And again, it’s like, if I. My favorite quote is like by JFK. Okay. We’ve chosen to go to the moon. Not because it’s easy. Yeah. We’ve chosen that because it’s hard. Oh, I love. And then the magic happens, right? Yes. Yes. So I’m really, yeah. Grateful that I’m working with such a company. This is constantly challenging to ask. Yeah. As a software company. Nice to build more. That’s the reason why we are having such a huge investments towards R and D yeah. Towards AI. Yeah. I would say any buzzword right now. Of course, that is of course flying around is lending somewhere else. It’s all available. anything you want.  well, even the blockchain for some time we did it. They didn’t catch up. Nobody seems to really be making any difference with it. I’m sure. But you just to be sure that we are very closely okay. We are there capable, aware exactly. Monitoring closely? Yeah. We should be helping supporting yes. Never slowing down. Okay. That’s the key message right now from the IT, yeah. From the software providers, especially during this. Well, yeah. Uh, how can I call it? It’s like evolution or revolution. 


Yes. I don’t know. Um, it, it feels like a giant pause, and yeah, a pivot might be how I I’m feeling about it at the moment. And again, that’s, you know, whatever we are now 13, 14 months in, but I’m pretty sure, you know, in another year’s time, you know, maybe we’ll feel actually okay at passed by sometimes feel once it’s in the. You can move on and forget about how painful it was, particularly as in many countries that we’ve talked about. But, um, yeah, no, to me it feels like a big opportunity, a big pivot. Um, and yes, for anybody who hasn’t yet done something exceptional with their loyalty program, I think now is the time to show up because with fewer brands competing for customer’s attention, I think when you do step forward, I think they feel it so much more. I think it’s a powerful time. 


Absolutely. If you were thinking about introducing this kind of mystery offers yeah. New type of engagement with the customer, or setting up hundreds of triggers in your system that are just waiting for the proper customer behavior. Okay. And then we are sending the perfect message. we are sending the reminder. Yeah. Doing all the small things. Yeah. But in nice way, we are not pushy. Yes. And that’s the time where people are saying, well, the new is coming, right? Yes, yes. Yeah. And even though you might be saying, well, we are bit too afraid to send too many marketing messages to our customers. a hundred percent. Yes, we have to be very careful. Yes. But then if you’re sending the sales message is very different. If you’re sending just like the happy birthday message of course, or just a kind reminder or just wish. Exactly. Totally. And those are the foundations of doing the proper loyalty program, right? yes. And then there’s a tough question. So who is doing this stuff, right? Yes. I know. Do you have any favorites? Dare I ask, or is that a sensitive question? Of course, I will always prefer my customers in the first place. And we’re always happily advising them how to create these perfect customer journeys. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I would say the perfect loyalty program is still about to come. Really? Yeah, I believe, uh, we, we have all the know-how right now, how to build it. Okay. It’s only about adding all of those building blocks, you know? Okay. Piecing it together almost a hundred percent. Yeah. And you might be saying it’s like, well, IPO, right from, Steve jobs. Yeah. While the same thing was introduced mic Microsoft years before. Yes. Yeah. It’s just like waiting for the right time to click in. Yeah. I wouldn’t say that plastic cards are coming back because that might be too much. No, for the environment. Definitely. Sure. But we might be expecting some of the trends that has been out there for many years. Yeah. They might be forgotten. Yeah. They’ll be coming back in a year or two.


Yeah. For sure. Well, listen, I think it’s a, it’s a very exciting time, Bart. Um, as I said, I love your perspective. I love the work you’ve done. Um, I remember when I got into loyalty, like when I was ever talking to somebody in software, like I wasn’t equipped to have the technical conversations. But I would always go on the basis of happy clients and that I know, I know you do super well and you keep all of these guys super happy and running great programs with a lot of innovation. So, so I do see you’re doing great work. So congratulations on that. That’s all the questions I had from my side. Is there anything else? Thank you very much. Well, keep on going with that. Yeah.  and again, the more pressure we have from our customers, the better we are. So we keep it easy. 


Okay. Well, we will make sure that all of our listeners, uh, put lots of pressure on you and, uh, we’ll definitely be staying in touch. I know we have plenty, more, um, interviews coming up with them. Are there many other topics that yes. Should we discuss yes. Maybe this kind of creepy marketing section. 


We have plenty more to keep us going. Okay. Well, listen, that’s it. From my side of you, any final comments that you wanted to include? 


It’s been a pleasure.


Wonder. Wonderful. 


Thank you very much.


Okay. So Bart Demczuk, Managing Director for Comarch Middle East. That’s it. Thank you so much. Let’s talk loyalty.


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 through its Loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 170 executives in 20 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals. For more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org


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