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Enterprise-wide loyalty: the game banks should be playing

Loyalty professionals have long been using ‘games’ to foster loyal customers, frequent flyer schemes being just one example. In such programmes, the customer is rewarded for his loyalty by progressing to a higher status, bringing with it benefits such as access to an airline lounge or extra baggage allowances.

While the notion of gamifying the retail experience is nothing new, the concept remains dynamic and popular with consumers. This is demonstrated by the ubiquity of applications like foursquare, the location based platform that allows users to ‘check-in’ using their mobiles to earn points, acquire more badges, achieve higher ranking than their social circle and rewards from participating retailers after visiting the same location multiple times.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, as banks strive to retain customers, gamification is another weapon they can have in their arsenal. Games can be used by banks to help structure the customer journey into a sequence of events that is rewarding and engaging for the customer, as well as helping the bank to cross-sell products and services and build long term loyalty. Introducing initiatives which gamify the banking experience and reward customers with offers and discounts have the potential to boost customer loyalty in difficult times.

The banking ‘games’ could have various structures, for example paying a certain amount into a savings account could unlock a higher customer status which provides a new benefit or service. Alternatively, the scheme could adopt a treasure hunt structure where the customer is rewarded for opening certain accounts or making purchases at selected retailers. The game can also build in incentives encouraging customers to start redeeming loyalty rewards or points as soon as possible. This type of early engagement where the customer receives a tangible benefit quickly is key in building long term loyalty.

Rewarding customers with relevant benefits and discounts is an integral element of building loyalty to the banking brand. Banks should look to experiment with new methods of incentivising customers in order to ensure the relationship is profitable for both the bank and the client.

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