Enthusiasm Abound at the 2012 Card Forum Expo
With a name like “Card Forum And Expo,” excitement and enthusiasm might not be the first, second, or third thoughts that pop in your head. And it’s certainly not the response I expected when delivering my 7:30 a.m. talk at day-two of the event on technological advances and the growing multichannel loyalty needs in the financial services industry. But the invite-only gathering I spoke at earlier this month proved me wrong and I’m proud to admit it.
As if on cue with the market bell about to ring, the room filled to 65-person capacity and extra chairs were brought in. Maybe it was the free food and coffee.
During the presentation, I discussed how at Kobie we leverage nearly 25 years of experience working across multiple industries such as entertainment, foodservice and travel, sharing insights into best practices and strategies within the loyalty space, and finished up with my thoughts on where the industry is headed. The response was very positive. And over the next two days, conference attendees sought to further the conversation.
Let’s face it. For card issuers, it continues to be a challenging time between rapidly-changing technologies, regulatory mandates and evolving consumer preferences about payment types. Traditional issuers have been forced to adjust their offerings and revamp their loyalty and rewards programs, while new partnerships are emerging, as are clever forms of payment types, like NFC-based mobile wallets that can read virtual credit card or loyalty card information directly off a smartphone via low-frequency radio transmission. The reality is that customers expect to be able to interact with financial services firms through an increasing number of touchpoints like mobile devices and social networks – and it’s our collective jobs to deliver what customers want. Not only must we commit to this goal at the beginning of the customer journey, but throughout its four phases: awareness, consideration, decision and purchase.
Today, the focus on understanding and delivering an effective and seamless customer experience is paramount, especially in a highly competitive and diversified industry such as the financial services. Many credit card issuers and payment firms struggle with a pre-existing legacy system as well as determining the best technology strategy and system integration approach to achieve optimal results and revenues. Even with the realization that they must look beyond engagement to acquire and retain high-value customers, many organizations still don’t have a blueprint on the steps necessary to leverage each touch point to create the best experience possible nor the wherewithal to fully understand analytics and how to measure each and every customer let alone campaign effectiveness.
The good news though is that I really think this industry is starting to get it. And ultimately that can only translate to great things for their customers—and ours—down the road. The dance that technology and the customer experience inevitably do is finally falling into proper step.
I’m sorry there’s no coffee or free food for reading this post. But at least it’s food for thought.
Author: Don Hughes
Don serves as Chief Information Officer and leads the development, product innovation and IT operations efforts of Kobie Marketing. Drawing from a wealth of technical and creative problem-solving skills acquired during the past 15 years, Don works closely with Kobie’s clients to deliver new customer loyalty management solutions that provide differentiating value. His experience spans a number of highly regarded technology companies, including TSYS, Harbinger/Peregrine Systems and Vantive/PeopleSoft. Don also has extensive retail and financial services experience having led large-scale customer loyalty marketing implementations for retailers such as The Home Depot and Sears, among others. In addition, Don owned and operated his own technology consulting practice, eLinkOne Inc. He is an accomplished solutions architect and possesses a range of development and operations skills utilized on today’s most advanced technology environments. His work has been recognized by The Technical Advisory Group as one the “Top Forty Most Innovative” in Georgia.