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in these times of Big Data and analytics, industries like hotel and retail are gaining capability to look at individual customers and distinguish whether they are ‘their’ customers or not. For example, there are enterprises like the Hilton hotel chain, which can specifically make out whether a customer is a ‘Hampton Inn’ customer or a ‘Waldorf Astoria’ customer and target each on the basis of their likes and dislikes. This may not be a big deal. The challenge is to have the right data and then apply the analytics. Also even if you have the right sort of customers to target, you must also have the capabilities to fulfil the customers’ needs.

 At this point of time, banks, especially Indian banks, do not possess such capabilities. They have products and services, which are all in what can be described as ‘silos’ and these are offered to the customers on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. In short, customization is not a priority. Marketing is more or less done in a broadcast manner – point to multi-point – mainly because of the lack of data about the targets. Marketing wizards claim the digital world is changing this scenario whereby diverse channels can be targeted and targeted in real time and the customers can be accessed with ease. In the near future, the voluminous omnichannel customer data that is available can be fed into a digital system and the rest will be taken care of. The advantage is there is unique user view whether the customer comes in through the net, or the mobile or the POS or at the branch.

One distinct advantage this will bring in is in offering loyalty programs. Most of today’s loyalty programs are ineffective with customers least bothered about redeeming the points they have gained. This is mainly because the customers have not been briefed properly about the loyalty programs and the relevance of redeeming the points. The digital can take care of this shortcoming in a big way. Another aspect is the bank will be in the know of what the customer is doing – whether he has downloaded an app or whether he has approached the contact center or whether he has accessed the website, giving an insight into what can be called customer behavior. Finally, the system will also be able to gauge the customer sentiment when he really redeems the points and obtains something tangible. For that will be the moment of realization – the brand equity. The value add here is the narrowcasting – the system can assess the likes of the customer without his having to say so and the offer him what he desires. The loyalty program market is not a small market. Newer players are coming in with brighter ideas and innovative and efficient systems. It is a matter of time for banks to get into this in a more substantial manner and put in place a digital strategy and appropriate systems to execute the strategy

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