#477: Loyalty Insights from the GCC and MENA Regions

This is our final episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV for 2023.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so we are delighted today to be joined by another loyalty podcaster, who told us that he was inspired by Let’s Talk Loyalty and wanted to create something similar, but in Arabic.

Loyalty Bl Arabi is a podcast about our industry in the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) regions.

Our guest, Nizar Al Qabbani is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional, and an actuarial graduate, so naturally he’s fascinated with data – in particular, creating value from unused data, a situation he sees occurring too frequently.

Today Nizar shares his loyalty background and insights, and also some of the trends he is seeing in loyalty in the Arab world.

Listen to enjoy our conversation with Nizar Al Qabbani, co-Founder and podcast host of Loyalty Bil Arabi.

Show Notes:

1)  Loyalty Bl Arabi

2) Nizar Al Qabbani

3) Qitaf Rewards

4) Umniah

5) Watch this episode at www.Loyalty.TV.


Audio Transcript

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

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You can sign up at letstalkloyalty.com.

Hello, and welcome to our final episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV for 2023. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So I’m delighted to be joined today in studio by another loyalty podcaster who told us that he was inspired by Let’s Talk Loyalty and wanted to create something similar to what we do, but in Arabic.

Loyalty Bl Arabi is exactly that – a podcast about loyalty in this region that we both live in and love. It’s focused on loyalty marketing in the GCC and MENA region and recorded and released just in Arabic. Nizar Al Qabbani is himself a certified loyalty marketing professional and an actuarial graduate. So, naturally, he’s fascinated with data. In particular, creating value from unused data. Today, Nizar shares his loyalty background and insights, and also some of the trends he’s seeing in loyalty in the Arab world. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Nizar Al Qabbani, Co-founder and Podcast Host of Loyalty Bl Arabi.

So, Nizar Al Qabbani, welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty and now Loyalty TV.

Nizar: My pleasure, Paula. To be honest, it’s something that I have been looking forward to meet you in person as as a first thing. And you have been the role model for for us in Loyalty Bl Arabi. We will speak about it shortly, but just to say it out loud, I am very interested and looking forward for this episode. I would love to speak about the insights, the loyalty in general, and we consider you the first mover for the loyalty education in the world. So looking forward.

Paula: Thank you. Very kind of you. My husband calls me the Oprah of Loyalty. So if you need another positioning that said, that’s also fine. Just for fun.

Nizar: Perfect. Perfect.

Paula: Perfect for my ego. Honestly, bizarre.

Nizar: I double tap on this.

Paula: Okay, super. I’ll let him know you approve.

Nizar: Sure.

Paula: So listen, Nizar, you are one of the loyalty experts in this region for sure. We’re going to share all of your expertise and your credentials and of course the reason that we’ve invited you into our TV studio today to talk with our global audience.

Nizar: Looking forward.

Paula: But as you know, we always start our conversations trying to get inside your mind as a loyalty professional and get a sense of what you admire and have as a favorite loyalty program. So, please do tell us.

Nizar: The first or the most loyalty program that I believe is relevant to the region is Qitaf, which is launched by the Saudi Telecom Company. And they have been operating and they have operation across the Middle East and the Arab world in general. Why I choose Qitaf because I believe they have been In a constant enhancing or enhancement for their program.

Since 2007 or 2008, they started with a very basic loyalty pointing based loyalty solution. And they started to add the, one of the things that they started to add the donation or the charity donation. They were one of the first adopters. And they have always been looking after providing better experience for their loyal customer. And they have been doing it for more than 15 years now. So definitely I admire this program. And definitely there are a lot of other programs in the region. But mainly this program for me.

Paula: Okay, fantastic. Well, again, there’s a lot of our listeners and viewers who won’t be familiar with the Saudi market at all. So we’ll make sure to put a link in the show notes so people can learn more about that.

Nizar: It will be something useful for the non Arab speakers. And they definitely can find some use cases where they will be benefiting and can relate in other markets.

Paula: Amazing. And I think, you know, I also started my loyalty career in telecommunications. So I always find it actually like just the most insightful because my pain was so great at the time.

Nizar: Definitely.

Paula: You know, I’m not an airline. I’m not a hotel. How do I create loyalty? Yeah.

Nizar: True. True. And my pain point working in telecom mobile operators and starting from early 2009 or 2007, moving between the client side and the service provider or that loyalty provider side is wearing two different hats, you start to understand the actual pain points because in telecom as you know, we have a lot of data points.

Paula: Yes.

Nizar: We have access to dozens of of of information that can be utilized and should be utilized to serve the client in a, yeah, in a faster manner, in a more personalized manner.

Paula: Of course.

Nizar: Unfortunately most of the unutilized data, I see from the banking and the telecom sectors. So, yeah, I totally understand the pain point on managing loyalty program for telecom, prepaid, postpaid different segments, different, and adding the internet and the 4G, 3G.

Paula: The product piece. Yeah.

Nizar: All of these the product piece. It’s a different scenario to be honest.

Paula: Totally. And for me, Naar that my key pain point was actually the attribution. So like, I remember vividly when I went into the business. So again, I was coming from digital and other marketing, but somebody said, look, our churn is at 33 percent at the time. And I’m like, Oh my God. So in three years, we’re out of business.Okay. So we definitely need loyalty, but then there’s this idea about, you know correlation and causation just because your customers are a member of your loyalty program and staying with the network doesn’t mean they’re staying with the network because of the loyalty program.

Nizar: True.

Paula: So yeah, what’s your thoughts on that?

Nizar: And my thoughts usually on the churn rate, and it’s not a direct. Most of people will tell you, okay, get a loyalty program. So it will affect the churn rate directly. I don’t see it this way. It will help in reducing churn. It helps. It helps usually. But in telecom, for instance, you have the sub dealers and other attributors or contributors for the ceiling cycle.  So the washing machine, where the sub dealers take commissions, it will never end. They will, that the sales team will keep on burning new lines to get their commissions. And you need to deal with it.

So first of all, you need to focus on understanding the root cause for this high churn rate. For instance, in, in Jordan and I saw it in couple of other countries in Qatar, in the UAE there is the sub dealers are the mainselling channels, not the actual official shops, because at the end of the day, they have their own ways to sell the new lines. So understanding their effect and their contribution to the churn, understanding how you can focus more on your actual customer. The actual ones.

Paula: Make the calls.

Nizar: Who actually make the calls and the ones that are because in telecom, you have all the segmentation. For instance, in the GCC, it’s more diverse with all the expats. But when you go to other countries in Jordan, for instance, we don’t have that diversified let’s say community. But we’re all Jordanians with a couple of other nationalities, but here you will find everyone in the UAE.

Paula: Of course.

Nizar: So it’s a way different scenario. You need to understand each nationality, each behavior, each purchasing power. And you will stuck with the actual ARPU.

Paula: Of course. Yes.

Nizar: So, you’re familiar with ARPU?

Paula: I am. Yes, I was gonna say. Yes. Yes.

Nizar: So whatever you will do, you will not reach to the point where you have a purchasing power similar to the banking sector because in the banking sector, you will have a direct access to the, to their wallets. But in the telecom sector, maximum, you will pay your subscription fees. You will add another service, another value added services. But you will end up with going back and forth in this area of utilization for the ARPU. So you need to make sure that your ARPU is fine, you have a gradual enhancement, or at least a sustainable ARPU for this customer, while increasing the lifetime.

Other contribution or other attribution that you need to make sure you have, the mobile number portability. For instance, in Jordan, we still don’t have it.

Paula: I don’t believe you.

Nizar: We still don’t have it.

Paula: Wow.

Nizar: For some reasons.

Paula: Who knows? Yes.

Nizar: I, who knows, but in the GCC, you have it.

Paula: And in Ireland for many years, yeah.

Nizar: So you need to make sure that they have been talking with TRC, which is the Telecom Regulatory Commission for years, but never applied it. So in this case, you still have the higher hand or the upper hand on keeping your own customers because they can’t switch if they are attached to the similar number or mobile phone number, they can’t switch or the switch is more.

Paula: Painful.

Nizar: Definitely. So, but in the GCC and other countries where you have the mobile number portability, it’s a different game changer. So you need to make sure that your customers are really engaged and yeah, I believe I can see or talk about some of the really interesting things that I have done when on a later stage when I joined Umniah for the second time was the fully digital loyalty program.

Paula: Nice.

Nizar: It was basically based on the mobile application for the mobile operator. And we started to get the idea about the digital score or digital health score, not only the health score or the NPS and the CSAT, it’s when we have different attributions, different aspects, and we started to score or put some scoring sheets on on each element.

Paula: This is for the consumers, yeah?

Nizar: For the consumers. So why we have done this? To actually show the benefit of having a loyalty program, digital loyalty program versus the non digital users. So in the digital users, and if I don’t, if I do remember quite good, it was at least a two times to three times more engagement for the digital users and a better engagement in all cases where we as we, we spoke before added some non telecom transactional benefits where you have the social media, you have the for instance, the health integration on the Apple Health and Google Health. So we started to give people points on the non telecom services. So you like sports?

Paula: Yes.

Nizar: We integrated with Apple Health and Google Health. Once you reach 10k steps, you will get points.

Paula: Nice. Yeah.

Nizar: And we have done it in 2018, I believe. We were the first adopters for such services. On the social media, we started to integrate with Meta or Facebook at that time on the likes and shares. So if you want to compare Umniah as engagement, on their engagement on social media with the other two competitors, it was by far at least 400, 500 times the other mobile competitors, and it’s not because they only like this mobile operator because they are getting benefits at the end of the day.

Paula: So the social media in particular is something I’m super interested in because we’ve talked about it on this show. Anything that’s non transactional, I can only imagine the complexity of building the business case around why are we going to give something of value for something that is, you know, I suppose a soft, you know, behavior change, let’s call it, you know.

So social media, of course, it’s easy to like, as you said, there’s the fraud issue, but even if we leave fraud out of the conversation is our for now, like we’re the senior management teams in Umniah. If I’m pronouncing it correctly.

Nizar: Yeah, super correct.

Paula: Great. We link to that as well. So if anybody is interested in loyalty and telecoms in Jordan, of course, we’ll link to your former company.

So was it a difficult decision? And I know your background is actuary. So, so how did you do the business case around that? Was that one that everyone was comfortable with?

Nizar: Usually it’s showing the actual benefits. So the actual benefit here was we are investing a lot of money on the digital advertising. So if we give you more engagement, okay more awareness related to this product, so it’s a very clear case. You have the marketing budget, you can compare it with whatever I am getting you as engagement on from the marketing agency, the actual marketing agency that we are working. So, it was we started as a pilot.

Paula: Okay. Yes. Interesting.

Nizar: It was only on the on Facebook for the likes and shares. And with it was open as you can like as much as you want and share. Then we started to put some rules or regulations to to minimize the abusive behavior.

After that, you will start. You need to be smart enough to show the actual benefits. So we started to compare the figures on how much you needed to invest to get this kind of engagement and compare it with the other mobile operators, how they are investing in digital campaigns and getting way less engagement than what we have. Plus we tried to always encourage the positive reactions, so on the angry and the upset emojis, we didn’t really encourage people to do it, which is a little bit tricky, but again, people need to act on the positive side.

One of the main po pain points or the struggles you are dealing with international companies, so it’s not direct integrate, it’s a, you are pulling the data from their open APIs. But at the end of the day, whenever they change their APIs or change, do some changes, they don’t inform you.

Paula: Oh no.

Nizar:In a prior time, so.

Paula: Oh my goodness. Yeah.

Nizar: You need to keep on updating. Your terms and conditions you need to keep on updating the actual APIs. And we worked it with a loyalty vendor provider. So you can imagine the complexity of updating or keeping  the service up and running in the right manner.

We had our flaws and downtimes on a regular basis which is something that you cannot avoid. But at the end of the day, you need to make sure that you have for instance, a very straightforward and blunt message. We’re having a downtime. We’ll get back to you soon. Because you need to be to keep the credibility with your customers.

Paula: Of course.

Nizar: It’s a service that we Yeah, third party service that we try to give you the benefit off. But sometimes it’s out of our hand.

Paula: The technology can be complicated.

Nizar: So the technology can fail you sometimes.

Paula: Yeah, totally. Okay.

Nizar: But definitely, it’s it’s something that we can talk about for episodes. But in general, I do advocate for such behaviors. You will find different ways of rewarding people.

Paula: Of course. So what I’m hearing and I’m pleased to hear is that as a region here in the GCC as we say the Gulf Cooperation Council, or sometimes we call ourselves MENA, which is, of course, Middle East and North Africa.

So what I think I’m hearing from you, Nizar, is that there’s plenty of innovation. As you’ve said, the charity initiatives have been around for a long time. This non transactional behavior has been around for a long time. So what other trends are you seeing in loyalty in the Middle East region that our global audience would be interested in?

Nizar: Recently, maybe in, in the Western countries, it has been more into gamification, but definitely this type of activities is picking up recently. I know a couple of of people and providers that they built their whole business on gamification. And they that their identifier was the gamification.

Paula: Okay, great. Yeah.

Nizar: So, which give you the idea that the whole region is evolving. They are looking into loyalty in different aspects. We’re still having I believe you will agree on this. We need to work on the education for the businesses.

Paula: A hundred percent. Yeah.

Nizar: On that, the importance of loyalty. Yes, it’s not an add on a task for the marketing team to handle or it’s for in the banking sector for the cards team to handle. And that’s it.

Paula: Totally.

Nizar: You need someone who understand loyalty, who’s passionate about loyalty, because usually when you hire people that are not passionate about. They don’t have the passion for loyalty, you will mess up and end up with a very rigid loyalty program. And as I quote from Henry Christian, when he once said, don’t blame the loyalty managers on their actual program value or the program that they are running. Sometimes your hands are tied. Definitely, you will see people who are very passionate about loyalty, and they want to do things, but it’s a very complex rule. You are dealing with everyone in the company from the higher management to the front liners and even the third party front liners. We will talk about it more in depth, I believe.

Paula: For sure. I totally agree with that. My own experience is always that the loyalty manager, whether it’s, you know, in house, for example, or sometimes with an agency, the proposition that’s designed is very rarely the proposition that gets to market. And I always, you know, used to be frustrated with the legal people, the finance people. And we know the story. But yeah, so what was, you know, maybe tested and created for a specific purpose, you know, by, you know, a very well intentioned marketing person and is very rarely what the customer ends up seeing. And that does yeah, it upsets me, I have to say, because, you know, you’ve got a business case based on, you know, projections and promises.

Nizar: True.

Paula: And then you’ve got something weaker that gets to market.

Nizar: That’s why I, we need to focus on loyalty and educating the higher management, and I believe Mike Capizzi on his CLMP course he will start with. You need to buy, take the, buy-in from the higher management.

Paula: Totally. Yeah.

Nizar: Other than that, you’re fighting a lost battle. You are you are focusing, yeah. All your efforts on something that the first one who will reject the CFO. And you will not have the backup from the CEO, CCO.

So, from my perspective, I believe what you are doing and what I’m trying to do in the with the Arab community or the Arab professionals is increasing the loyalty content in Kriya, talking about the importance of this rule in the, in any company.

And I, I always keep on saying it, I will say it in Arabic and then translate it. Dukkan Abu al Abid needs a loyalty program and the bigger akbar tayaran needs a loyalty program, which means that the small coffee shop for Abu al Abid in, in the street needs a loyalty program. And the biggest.

Paula: Yeah, enterprise.

Nizar: Enterprise needs a loyalty program. You can utilize the same or you can use the same.

Paula: Mechanics.

Nizar: Technology, but different complexity, different scale, so on and so forth. But it’s there, every business needs a loyalty from different aspects. Call it digital stamps, call it points, rewards, discounts, a mixture of both, gamification. But at the end of the day, you need to work on your existing and loyal customers.

Paula: So, was it that exact reason then, Nizar, that you said where you see this lack of understanding of the power of loyalty, the importance of loyalty, and I suppose the impact on the business? Again, with your actuarial background, I can imagine the business cases were phenomenal.

Nizar: I tried. But still.

Paula: I’m sure, yeah. So, is that why you started your podcast?

Nizar: To be honest, 100%. We’re struggling. And even earlier this year, I have been affected by a layoff as well.

Paula: Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah.

Nizar: It’s alright, because it gave me this urge to to go and do this thing. Because from the first day that I started to listen to the podcast Let’s Talk Loyalty, I kept on having this urge to actually do and go and talk about it. And as we all know, and when you talk with your first language, it’s way easier.

Paula: Of course.

Nizar: And even in, in this region, you have different slang languages, different accents, different Arabic utilization for the same word. So you need to understand in the same country, western region, eastern region, they will understand same wordings, but in different concepts and different ways. So, it’s very interesting for me to to look at the Arab professionals and start educating them about it and actually bridge this gap between the Arab professionals.

Because I saw, for instance in, in the UAE, there are some sort of community for the expats in general, for the loyalty professionals. And one of them were the people who listen to Let’s Talk Loyalty. But when I look at the other Arabs or professionals from this region I struggle to find them. But at the end of the day, you have hundreds of loyalty professionals that are working.

Paula: Practicing.

Nizar: Practicing. In, in, in practice. And they don’t know anything about, okay, Let’s Talk Loyalty or the importance of this, so, to be honest. This is one of the main reasons that I started the podcast. Moatez they are the co founders as well.

Paula: Brilliant, okay.

Nizar: And like, I mean, funny enough, Moatez and I were working together in Umniah.

Paula: Okay, great, yes.

Nizar: And now he’s managing the loyalty program for Nova Cinemas in the GCC. So, it was a pleasant experience. We’re looking forward for the next season. Inshallah, but, definitely there is a very room for improvement on educational level for loyalty.

Paula: Absolutely. Well, well said. I mean, I think we said to you off air, like our show is around education, inspiration and innovation. And you’re absolutely right. Like, I cannot do justice to the Arab market. Either in terms of reflecting all of the innovation that’s happening here because I haven’t been to Saudi, unfortunately, in about 20 years. So I’m due to go back on holidays and because, you know, it may be surprising to people around the world, but Saudi is reinventing itself.

Nizar: Definitely.

Paula: I think it’s very much fair to say. And it has incredible heritage, you know, there’s some incredible parts of that country that definitely deserve to be explored and they’re certainly innovating very quickly. So, you know, it’s not perfect and clearly nowhere is, but they’re doing great work.

Nizar: A tremendous work. And they are putting their, the, their efforts and all the other countries as well. They are trying to work on the loyalty part as much as they can. Egypt is one of of the very, very strong markets in loyalty. From my, I mean, I have a biased experience because I worked with a lot of Egyptian companies and I have a lot of Egyptian friends, but they are amazing in terms of communication.

This is what I’m talking about. When you are from the same culture, you will understand the power of the Egyptian advertisement. So in, in all cases. And they, there are 1 million, 100 million. And so the scale up is very phenomenal.

Paula: Phenomenal.

Nizar: Phenomenal. And they, they have very talented people. So, and they are investing a lot of in the loyalty. They have been shifting from international providers to local providers, which is fair enough for their country. I’m seeing a lot off loyalty providers as well in the Saudi market, which is very interesting.

Paula: Interesting. Wow. That’s unexpected.

Nizar: Young people, they’re building a lot off of, let’s say highly professional softwares.

Paula: Solutions as well.

Nizar: Solutions and they are trying to keep up. At the end of the day, they are copying pasting sometimes, but learning from the best.

Paula: Why not? Yeah.

Nizar: Why not? Yeah. And one of the fascinating things and I should have looked up the exact statistic, but from memory in Saudi Arabia, 50 percent of the population are under the age of 30.

Nizar: I would agree, as well.

Paula: It might even be slightly higher. But that youth demographic, the ambition, the education is incredible, the increasing freedom for women now, thankfully being allowed to drive and all of these things that historically were an issue is totally changing.

Nizar: And even the government is investing heavily in the startups and empowering the young generation to actually go try and this is something that I believe if we were in this age I would definitely go and try to start up something.

Paula: Why not? Yeah.

Nizar: Why not? Because at the end of the day, you have all the support from the government sector, from from the community as well. Everyone wants to do a startup nowadays.

Paula: And why shouldn’t they? Yeah. Brilliant. So as a podcaster, Nizar, what has your experience been? Because I know it’s you know, early days still, but tell us how have you experienced? And I’m thinking of, again, our audience listening and they listen to learn. And I’m a very strong believer that actually showing up and sharing your voice and doing your best to at least have an opinion in the world is in both parts terrifying, but powerful. So I would love to hear your view.

Nizar: First of all, it’s not an easy thing and having this and even in my case, for instance, I am going as a co host. In your case, you started as?

Paula: Full control.

Nizar: One person. Full control. So, anyone will see it as, ah, it’s another podcast it’s easy to be done. But when you actually get into the details and start on the preparation getting the right people to discuss with, getting the right questions and the right content and preparing I will I know your team is very professional.

But for instance, from our side, it was a very collaborative initiative. Everyone is putting their heart and their experience and time. Nagham Tarhini, she’s the one behind launching everything. She put all the effort into the content, reviewing the social media, and she managed to facilitate all the missing parts and to launch a seamless loyalty podcast.

From our side my cousin, myself, we started with this idea at least six months before introducing to another. So we tried to first of all, building a loyalty or creating a loyalty podcast, LinkedIn page, then LinkedIn group. But it didn’t went as expected. Okay, people will get excited once they are verified. No, you will just go and chase people. But the, and even the, when we started to actually put the teasers for the first season a couple of days we were almost dissatisfied of in, in all the results because people are not engaging. As much as expected. We’re talking about a niche market or a niche audience, which is the Arab professionals working in loyalty.

Paula: Yeah, I think I’m in a niche market. You’ve got a language as well.

Nizar: I’m in the niche of the niche. But I, when I started on the fourth episode, I started to get more feedbackon positive feedbacks, of course. And of course some of the negative feedbacks, but we digested it and we analyze it.

Paula: That’s fine. Of course, nothing is perfect.

Nizar: One, I have two incident. One was I think a VP in the Arab bank in, in Jordan. He was very fascinated about that way of the professional level of the transcripts. Building all the, let’s say social media activities and the content in, in, in the podcast. And this is hats off for Nagham, to be honest.

The second one was one of that I came to know about the story from someone who knows someone. So, it was one of the people who joined a bank in Jordan. He’s a young professional he started to listen to the podcast.

Paula: Oh, wonderful.

Nizar: To understand more about loyalty because he was going from the digital marketing or the e-commercepart.

Paula: Like me. Yes, exactly like me.

Nizar: To actually managing the loyalty program in another bank. So, to be honest listening to such feedback, it will give you the power to or that it will encourage you to go continue on what whatever you’re doing. We believe that still we can reach more in terms of giving more insights, introducing and spotting the light on more professionals. So, yeah, I totally agree on the or I totally stressed on the it’s not an easy job to do.

And having Let’s Talk Loyalty and now the Loyalty TV for this long time and with a very consistent level and increasing that we’re struggling to get one episode every two weeks or every three weeks.

Paula: I was going to ask. Yeah.

Nizar: Now you’re doing three times a week. It’s a very, very fascinating thing to be done. And again, it’s not because we’re on the show, because literally you encouraged us to start with this podcast. We’re looking forward to reach as much as you reach now maybe more, but definitely it’s it’s something that we need to mention.

Paula: Indeed. Absolutely. Well, again, thank you for the validation. So for anybody listening or watching, it’s Loyalty Bi Arabi. Yeah, so we’ll make sure of course to link to that in the show notes of anyone who does speak arabic so.

Nizar: They will enjoy it.

Paula: I can’t listen we’ve been experimenting a little bit Nizar with AI as you can imagine. Of course, like I think everybody is at the moment. And from our perspective as content creators. We’re looking to see can we create, you know, Loyalty TV in Chinese? Can we create it in French? So we’re just starting to figure out exactly what’s possible. So I’m sure you’ll be doing the same.

Nizar: Definitely. It, it helps in, in, in the outlines, but the actual content I think still needs to be a human base.

Paula: A hundred. Oh, there’s no question. Oh yes. I mean, we’re not going to.

Nizar: To speed up things. Yes.

Paula: Yeah. Well, at least it means, you know, we don’t have to rely on subtitles. So, you know, if I want to listen to your show, I would need to look at it on YouTube and read it as a translation. And who knows, it’s not always a great translation because it’s automated, but hopefully as it gets better.

But what I love is that you’re taking the local loyalty marketing experts practicing in GCC markets in Arab countries, as you said, with their own innovation through their own ambition, listening to your show, listening to my show. So I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as too much education, so.

Nizar: Definitely. And to be honest, it’s People will look at it that it’s a competition or anything. It’s not a competition.

Paula: No, not at all.

Nizar: And I keep on even when I meet that loyalty providers and I was lucky enough that I was the Chairperson for the CX and Loyalty Summit earlier in November in Dubai.

Paula: Congrats, yeah.

Nizar: Thank you. It was a pleasant experience and we have met with a lot of providers, loyalty managers and the awards and everything. It’s still the market. It’s not saturated with the loyalty vendors. They can still have a lot to be done. You need to educate people that definitely every business needs a loyalty consultation strategy. Yes, it’s and it’s not part of the marketing. It’s not part of the finance, not part of operation. It’s a holistic view. The strategy should be yes focusing on your loyal customers then you build around it other than that. You’re just running business as usual and trying to catch up.

Paula: For sure. Yeah. And you mentioned Henry Christian as well, briefly earlier.

Nizar: I like this guy. Yeah.

Paula: And I think it was him. He’s amazing.

Nizar: To be honest.

Paula: Yeah. Anybody is on LinkedIn and is not following Henry Christian. You must, you know, he’s been on our show as well. But I hope I’m right in remembering that he’s the only person so far that I’ve seen with the title of CLO Chief Loyalty Officer.

Nizar: I would. Yeah. I agree on this.

Paula: You can imagine.

Nizar: I never seen anyone in this title.

Paula: So it needs. This is, I think, exactly what you’re saying. So it deserves the C suite perspective and it needs to be a board level role. You know, certainly we would say that, of course, not everybody’s going to agree, but you know, as one of my favorite quotes, I think I said to you, your customers are your only source of revenue.

Nizar: Definitely.

Paula: So, if we can’t be loyal to them.

Nizar: Don’t play with these type of customers. They are the segment that you need to nurture, enhance in giving them.

Paula: Cherish it.

Nizar: Cherish. Let’s see. And to be honest I just hate it when people or the finance team will emphasize on okay, we need to reduce cost. It’s a cost center. It’s a blah, blah, blah. And at the end of the day, they will try to change the rules, change everything terms and conditions, and even without a prayer notice or a very tricky prayer notice that is in the newspaper with three by three columns and that’s it.

Paula: No, that’s not fair.

Nizar: No never.

Paula: We wouldn’t allow that.

Nizar: Never.

Paula: No, if we can prevent it.

Nizar: True. True. And stressing on the importance of the loyalty rule, as I remember in one of my previous rules, the internal audit was always looking after auditing this suspicious program whatsoever. And he once told me that It’s very impressive that you’re running a company inside a company where you’re dealing with your own agreements. You’re dealing with your operation. You’re dealing with third party merchants or technology yes, you’re having different type of let’s say financial revenue recognition or reservation for the points value for the burn and earn. The expiration is part of different legal stuff.

Paula: The legal stuff.

Nizar: The legal privacy, even the communication, for instance, in the CLMP course. I have been dealing with loyalty for at least when I took the course for almost 13 years, and it was the first time that I figured out you have a loyalty communication difference in type of vie. Because you don’t talk or communicate with your loyal customer in the same way that you’re acquiring your customer, you’re retaining existing customers and so on. So the term of, the terms where you’re talking about loyalty communication or loyalty marketing, it’s a different skill for me. It was an eye opener and I started to dig deeper into this term, to be honest. It’s  an amazing way to, because you need to understand the whole story behind the program, the communication

Paula: And the relationship that exists with that customer. Yeah. So, so you did your CLMP? Congratulations. You’re a certified loyalty marketing professional.

Nizar: Yes, yes. Yeah, I did it in. 2021.

Paula: Okay. Fantastic. We work very closely with the Loyalty Academy globally, so.

Nizar: Mike is an amazing guy.

Paula: He sure is. He sure is. Absolutely. So listen, is our, what does 2024 hold for, you know, Loyalty Bl Arabi,for Nizar Al Qabbani, what’s coming up in the new year?

Nizar: I think since we’re approaching more focused on two at least launching another two seasons from Loyalty Bl Arabi.

Paula: Great! Yes.

Nizar: We’re preparing for the second season, but I think I, we need to manage between the actual day job and of course the loyalty in in terms of a profession. Other than that I will try to focus into getting in contact with more loyalty professionals. This is what I try to do even on LinkedIn and other other, let’s say channels and educating people about loyalty. This is my main goal, to be honest.

Paula: I can see it’s a passion.

Nizar: It is.

Paula: Yeah. I want to congratulate you on everything you’ve achieved on stepping up and sharing all of your expertise. Yeah.

Nizar: Thank you. Thank you. And again happy to be one of the guests. And it turned out that actually it’s it’s something that will help in educating people because yeah, who knows?

Paula: Who knows? Absolutely. Listen, it’s been an absolute joy, Nizar. I want to say thank you a huge, huge amount for joining us today.

So Nizar Al Qabbani, Loyalty Expert and Podcast Host. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV.

Nizar: Thank you, Paula.

Paula: 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 is already certified over 500 executives in 38 countries, as certified loyalty marketingprofessionals.

For more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org.

Paula: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. If you’d like us to send you the latest shows each week, simply sign up for the Let’s Talk Loyalty newsletter on letstalkloyalty.com. And we’ll send our best episodes straight to your inbox. And don’t forget that you can follow Let’s Talk Loyalty on any of your favorite podcast platforms. And of course, we’d love for you to share your feedback and reviews. Thanks again for supporting the show.