‘Transform Customer Engagement from Mass Marketing to Cross-channel Marketing’

PAYBACK, the first to launch the Mobile Identifier as the unique customer identifier, has tied up with IBM to deploy the latter’s Watson Customer Engagement solution and to improve its data centre capabilities. In an interaction with Voice&Data, Ramakant Khandelwal, Chief Marketing Officer, PAYBACK India, talks about providing such solutions through the collaboration that are aimed at providing customers and partners with a more personalized and real-time experience

Voice&Data: Tell us something about PAYBACK and its business model…

Ramakant Khandelwal: PAYBACK, the largest coalition loyalty program in Europe, entered the Indian market in 2010. Being a multi-brand loyalty program, PAYBACK offers its members a multitude of benefits over traditional, stand-alone customer loyalty schemes.
From a varied portfolio of partners, PAYBACK members can earn points on everyday shopping and redeem them for attractive rewards, at their preference. The combination of the rapid accumulation of points and their easy redemption for desirable rewards makes PAYBACK an attractive and interesting platform to use. Other benefits include discounts on purchases through points earned or through coupons and special offers.
These unrivaled features make it a shopper’s delight as it offers more value for every rupee spent.
PAYBACK is the first to launch the Mobile Identifier as the unique customer identifier. The company reaches to its audiences across platforms and various customer interfaces by combining engaging communication that is contextual, personalized and real-time.

Thereby, building a robust engagement strategy between brand, partners, and the customer. The mechanism behind PAYBACK loyalty program and points is simple and if utilized properly, one can avail multitude of benefits across several leading brands.

Voice&Data: Please explain PAYBACK’s partnership with IBM…

Ramakant Khandelwal: PAYBACK India has partnered with tech giant IBM to deploy the latter’s Watson Customer Engagement solution and to improve its data centre capabilities. The idea behind this partnership is to provide more personal, content-rich and enhanced experience to customers. These solutions are aimed at providing customers and partners with a more personalized and real-time experience and will help us to analyse customer behaviour and shopping patterns. Moreover, with data integration playing a larger role in improving speed to market and customer experiences, tools that rely on AI for predictive response marketing have grown in prominence. It will be helpful to transform and enhance the customer experiences by using data-driven insights and to create customized experiences.

Voice&Data: PAYBACK India is using Watson Customer Engagement on IBM Cloud (formerly known as Marketing Cloud) and IBM’s Loyalty Management System (LMS). What is IBM’s Watson Customer Engagement and what are the various ways that it can help PAYBACK to meet their requirements?

Ramakant Khandelwal: IBM Cloud and IBM’s Loyalty management system are offering us technology, a kind of platform with rich assortment of infrastructure, software, and services which will not only accelerate the pace of our business. At this time, we need to exceed our customer’s expectations along with making our human resources more impactful by leveraging AI to expand and transform our business. IBM solutions will surely help PAYBACK to drive superior customer experiences by redefining online and offline experiences for customers and partners. This kind of technology will empower us to connect with our customers in a whole new way, leveraging the power of the cloud and AI.

With this alliance, PAYBACK aims to transform their customer engagement from mass marketing to behavior-based cross-channel marketing. With real-time data flowing in, PAYBACK will look at significantly reducing the complexity of managing multiple vendors and technologies, thereby helping them reach out to both customers and partners at the right time, and at the right place.

How do you aim to transform your customer engagement from mass marketing to behavior-based cross-channel marketing?

Ramakant Khandelwal: A cross-channel engagement strategy is the need of the hour, and today our customers are always looking for reasons to interact directly with brands of their choice. Hence, the new IBM Watson Customer Engagement solution will support us to achieve this objective by enabling us to capture relevant insights about consumer spend patterns and behaviour, thus creating an ecosystem which can deliver more personalised, real time information to customers which is relevant and behaviour based.

Voice&Data: Who are your partners? These days most of the ecommerce players are coming up with their own loyalty program but how PAYBACK has proven its presence in the market, lagging behind the other players?

Ramakant Khandelwal: PAYBACK has over 50 partners including affiliate brands participating in the PAYBACK Network across categories in-store as well as online namely American Express, ICICI Bank, HPCL, TripAdvisor, Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar, Food Hall, Central, Ezone, Home Town, Brand Factory, Book My Show, eBay, Amazon, Flipkart and many more.

Being a multi-partner program, PAYBACK has an edge over other traditional loyalty companies. The power of PAYBACK stems from pooling loyalty benefits from many attractive partners along with the competitive advantage through its differentiated offering: Using one single card, members earn loyalty points when they shop at a wide range of different merchants and brands – offline and online. The accumulated points via PAYBACK can be spent across its partner brands as well as the extensive rewards catalogue of PAYBACK. The product and services categories covered in the program account for nearly 70% of a member’s shopping requirements.

It offers the consumers a truly unique shopping experience and drives customer retention through on-going engagement. Customers, today have 24X7 access to the brands they love through social media and mobile devices. So, loyalty program like PAYBACK which is aligned with social media and mobile commerce increasingly impact the brand experience and the stickiness of the consumer. With the advent of a large digital population and e-commerce industry, along with increased penetration of smartphones, PAYBACK is poised to grow at an exponential pace with new partner additions and new consumer acquisitions in the network

Voice&Data: What are your current business strategies in India? Also, you have recently become the CMO of the company, so what new has been brought into the practices and how is it helping the brand?

Ramakant Khandelwal: At PAYBACK, we believe in embracing technology to constantly create a more rewarding experience for our customers. We continue to benchmark ourselves against our own potential and targets. The decision to invest in upgrading our digital capabilities with the help of IBM is to ensure we keep pace with the changing retail landscape, technology and evolving needs of our customer base.

We are also looking to invest in our new businesses of performance marketing and affiliate marketing and create an ecosystem for brands to create more customised and relevant experiences for their customers. In addition, our focus will be on new partner acquisition and increasing our penetration in more consumer spend categories so that we offer consumers a single platform which rewards them for their loyalty and stickiness to brands.

We are currently devising market strategies to improve the overall customer experience and add delight at every step of their shopping journey. Our new strategies will enable us to empower our customers and give them an advantage.

As a company, we focus on the customers’ needs, buying patterns and transaction cycles. This gives us an edge and an advantage in communicating seamlessly with them.

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