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How incentivising customer loyalty can spur business growth in 2019

By Paul Kent, MD and Founder of Sureswipe

People have different ways of engaging with businesses today. The digital landscape has seen the likes of chat bots, social networking, and instant communication becoming preferred touchpoints. And with the traditional concept of customer loyalty having all but disappeared, companies need to find more innovative ways of driving business growth in 2019.

Thanks to the rise of fake news and other misinformation, corporate scandals and financial mismanagement, trust in businesses is non-existent. Instead, 81% of consumers prefer the advice of friends and families over that of a brand. Furthermore, 55% do not trust companies they buy from as much as they used to and 65% do not trust advertisements.

Meanwhile, in the US, an estimated $62 billion is lost annually due to bad customer experiences. Within this context, perhaps one of the most telling statistics is the one that shows that customers with an emotional relationship with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend the company at a rate of 71%, as opposed to the average of 45% for those without it.

Data collection

Some believe that rewarding customers for non-transactional activities can help build and develop this relationship. For example, if the brand has an app, incentivising customers to use it daily can result in improved data collection on user behaviour. It also creates a more cost-effective way of communicating with them than the cumbersome postage or ‘spammy’ email tactics of the past.

In turn, this data can be used for engagement purposes and to develop increasingly tailored product offerings for individuals. A great way of seeing this in action is the recommendation engine of an Amazon, YouTube, Netflix, or the like. The more people interact with the platform, the better it becomes at providing them with the content they want. This will see them return more often and stay for longer, creating potentially more advertising opportunities whether that be explicit or more nuanced.

High-end solutions

And while discounts and other money-saving value-adds help from an incentive perspective, the business must also cater for those high-end customers who are not influenced by such tactics.

For them, the differentiation is often built around an emotional response. Referred to as ‘unexpected moments of delight’, these interventions rely on data analysis and understanding the touch points of individual customers. For example, if the business knows a user enjoys coffee, they might simply text them a voucher to redeem at an upmarket coffee shop. It is not the free coffee itself that elicits an emotional response, but instead the fact that the brand appreciates a customer for their engagement and treats them to something every now and again.

Personalisation and partnerships

With loyalty programmes becoming more sophisticated thanks to an increasingly discerning customer audience, businesses must think differently about personalisation. Sure, it is great to send out a personalised text or email a birthday message, but more is needed to differentiate the organisation.

Partnerships are an important element in this. It is a great way to facilitate growth by working with an organisation that can enhance the existing service offering. This results in additional value offered beyond just a discount or voucher. Naturally, the partnership needs to be a natural extension of what the brand vision is and can open new doors for both parties to work with customers previously inaccessible to them.

Customer loyalty as a business strategy must be approached differently. Leveraging incentives to drive engagement is something that has to be par for the course. Those brands unwilling to move beyond traditional tactics will start losing momentum to faster-moving organisations partnering with others, going the more personalised route, and delivering an integrated loyalty approach that forms part of the business strategy.

Sureswipe is a proud Partner of the NSBC.


British-born Paul was educated in Johannesburg. His background is in business development within large corporate accounts. Kent completed his Management Advancement Program at Wits business school in 2003 and completed his Accelerated Directorship Program to become a certified member of the Institute of Directors. As a Sirdar governance panel member Kent assists SMEs in integrating corporate governance into their business. In 2013, Paul was a finalist in the Sanlam Entrepreneur of the year. In 2015, Paul received his MBA from the IE Business School.

Sureswipe: a brief company history

Sureswipe is one of South Africa’s most established and innovative FinTech companies. It was founded in 2008 and has over 8,000 independent retailers using their debit and credit card machine payment services. In its infancy, Sureswipe was all about managing a business development team that led to ensure easy card payments to small business owners. His passion to make a difference saw him grow a small team to now employing over 100 passionate individuals throughout South Africa, with main regional offices nationally. 

 In 2016, Sureswipe was voted as Africa’s Top 10 Fintech companies and in 2015 they won an international award for Sureswipe’s mPOS.

Sureswipe’s core focus is on making payment acceptance easy and accessible for all independent retailers and service providers. This year marks a decade of swipes for their customers – but none of it would be possible if Paul Kent did not have the vision and courage to take the first step in leading the way for payment innovation.