Gulf Capital SME Awards Finalist

We at UrbanBuz are super excited to be nominated as finalists for the 2016 Gulf Capital SME Awards by MEED in the Customer Focus Award category! This awards category recognises the exceptional achievements and dedication of UrbanBuz to its customers. meed

In line with this philosophy, our customer success teams not only help resolve the issues of our clients with our platform, but also serve as pro-active consultants that help better our customers’ businesses and contribute to their growth. This is one of our core values that is embedded  in our culture.

By providing a unique cloud-based platform designed for marketers, we enable our clients to build and optimize their customer relationships through digital customer engagement solutions that are tailored to their brand’s specific needs.

We thrive to offer the best solutions in CRM, Loyalty programs, effective Marketing, and reliable analysis of trends and markets. Our clients have experienced the tangible benefits of optimizing their customer relationships with the digital customer engagement made just for their customers.

We are extremely happy that this nomination is a great milestone not just for us, but also for our customers, whose success was essential for us being nominated.

We await with excitement the coming date of October the 26th of 2016 where the winner will be announced in an event which will be held at the Conrad Dubai. For more information


Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is the use of software to automate marketing processes such as customer segmentation, customer data integration, and campaign management. The use of marketing automation makes processes that would otherwise have been performed manually much more efficient, and makes some new processes possible. Efficient implementation of marketing automation typically generates significant new revenue for companies, and provides an excellent return on the investment required.

78 percent of high-performing marketers identify marketing automation as a key contributor to improved revenue.

Some of the top benefits of Marketing Automation:

1- Productivity – It effectively eliminates repetitive manual processes by substituting automated solutions.

2- Customer Retention – One effective use of marketing automation in retaining customers comes in the form of marketing intelligence. It provides relevant insight into customer (both existing and prospective) intent.

3- Relationship Marketing – Marketing automation tools allow businesses to personalize their relationships with every customer through relevant strategies that include trigger campaigns, digital footprint analysis,  and sales and marketing alignment

4- Tracking and Monitoring of Marketing Campaigns – Marketing automation software not only helps in tracking marketing expenditures but also in monitoring responses to marketing campaigns based on specific parameters of success or failure.



By 2020

85 percent of customer relationships with businesses will be managed without human interaction, says Gartner on their Gartner Customer 360 Summit.


The Business Generation Gap

A few months ago the EMAAR Group announced the launch of their loyalty program in the UAE, UByEmaar. That by itself is good news because it shows the growing adoption of customer loyalty programs by businesses including giant groups like EMAAR.

Considering that EMAAR is one of the top groups in the UAE that is known for its quality and its mega-ambitious projects (the likes of Burj Khalifa the tallest tower in the world), one would expect nothing but new and exciting ideas when they launched their loyalty program, UByEmaar.

However, the excitement about what new things we are going to see and experience with the UByEmaar program was very short-lived the minute one tries to actually register for the program. It was a disappointing experience, which led me to think about at why big brands, like EMAAR, would still lag behind when it comes to catching up with customer engagement trends and technologies right when they should be the ones leading.

Some programs are still stuck on the very old model of accumulate points and wait, where a customer has to spend a lot of money, accumulate a lot of points over a long period of time to be given the chance to get something. This might still apply to some industries but even then customers expect some immediate recognition or at least a certain level of personalization. Consumers are no longer interested in waiting to get something, they want to engage in real time, which means they want to be recognized the minute they engage with the brand.

All this leads to programs that are still too confusing for consumers to understand. A lot of times, simply “personalizing” the relationship with your customers would take your a long way towards loyalty without even the points and rewards.

So many times, I have seen brands start working on a customer loyalty solution only to see it drag for years and by the time it is launched it is already far behind the new trends and customer expectations. This is why a lot of newly launched programs still look and feel like they were launched years ago because the chances are that’s when the work started on those programs. Not to mention the cost attached to those years. I have talked to a few brand managers who confessed that the solution they ended up with is really not what they wanted but because of all the cost and time involved they did not dare suggest an overhaul.

This is what I would call the “business generation gap”. One of the main and biggest challenges about businesses today is their inability to move at the speed of the market in terms of trends whether in technology or consumer behavior. Historically, established businesses are slow to change and catch-up with the trends of the time and considering the fast evolution in technology from social media to mobile and data collection and analytics to consumer behavior and expectation, the cost of falling behind is becoming extremely high.

Unfortunately, we still see many businesses tackling customer engagement and loyalty systems in a very traditional way and working with “legacy” companies that failed to adapt to the new changes. This means that a lot of businesses are still spending years and a lot of money on customer loyalty systems that by the time they are done they are already years behind.

I am not going to discuss here the tidal wave that cloud computing, agile companies, and mobile technologies that is creating havoc across the globe (in a good way) enabling businesses not only to quickly have systems in place to engage and learn about their customers but also to adapt and adjust on a ongoing basis at a fraction of the cost that they used to spend on similar initiatives. A lot of great articles have been published around this topic and many companies are being created globally to tackle exactly that.

However, as a business, the minute you start thinking about customer engagement you need to make sure that whatever solution you put in place needs to have the following basic aspects:

  1. Quick to Setup: I am not talking about a full solution here but a starting point that enables the business to start engaging and learning about customers today and not next year. Customer Loyalty is an on-going process so you need a system that allows you to start quickly so you can start learning about your customers and evolve.
  1. Simple: Again a lot of businesses are still giving the helm to technology teams to build those systems while it should be the Marketing and Customer Engagement teams who should be driving this with the support of the technology team. It is the marketing team that should decide how the system will be used, if it is not easy for them to use then it is of no use to them.
  1. Flexible: Long gone are the days where you spend years building an infrastructure along with a suite of features. Today’s technology and tools enable businesses to have something in place quickly and that they can easily adjust and configure based on feedback from customers and changes in the market.
  1. Open: which means it is easy to integrate with other systems (gone are the days of installing everything on your servers in a locked room). The whole world is becoming more and more connected so your customer loyalty solution needs to also connect to the world.

So if you are launching a program in the 21st century, make sure it doesn’t look and behave as if it is still in the 90s. “Understand” your customers first, then “evolve” your solution to make it “relevant” to them so you can start building “personal” relationships for the long run.


The Case Against Coalition Loyalty Program

Coalition loyalty program is a reward system that offers attractive benefits to customers of two or more businesses in return allowing those businesses to share their customer information and data. These systems create unique currency in the form of points or credits that are earned and could be redeemed across a network of different brands.

The biggest and only Coalition Loyalty player in the MENA region is AirMiles that claim to have around 1 million members with 52 participating businesses in the UAE, 44 in Qatar, and 14 in Bahrain. So with a such a members base and number of businesses, it is understandable that a business in the UAE, and the region in general, would find it appealing to be part of that network and think of AirMiles (or any similar programs) the solution for their Customer Loyalty program.

Here are a few points for business managers and owners to consider:

Your Brand

UntitledLoyalty programs are about differentiating your “brand” in the mind of the customers through different processes and tools. This relationship, if built on the right foundation, will eventually provide sustainable growth for the business. So as a customer, it is “your brand” that I have a relationship with and that I am interested in maintaining.

In the case of the coalition program, your brand is overshadowed by the brand of the coalition brand itself. So as a customer, I am really not building a relationship with your business, I might not even remember your brand at all, because my relationship is with the coalition program. In other words, I am loyal to the program and not to your brand, which is in this case owned by someone else.

So if we take AirMiles for example, as an AirMiles member, my relationship is with them, I have “their” card, I go to “their” web site, and every business I interact with I ask if they take “AirMiles” card, which means that it is AirMiles that is on my mind and not your brand.

If we take Spinneys for example, a supermarket chain in the UAE, shoppers there can gain AirMiles points but is that going to strengthen the Spinneys brand with their customers? It will actually benefit AirMiles more because to the customer it is AirMiles who is doing them a big favor by giving them points for shopping at Spinneys.

Your Customers

Here’s the deal when it comes to consumers, the question on their minds is no longer focused around if the loyalty program is going to help them save money but whether it is going to help them have a better experience with the business. So in the “new” world, a “loyalty program” that is focusing only on points and rewards is already obsolete.

As a business that is part of a coalition network, you have no way to provide your customers with the personalized experience that they now expect and demand. What happens if your top-spending customer is not a member of AirMiles? Would you even be able to tell how many of your customers are part of the Coalition Program?

The biggest drawback of the coalition programs when it comes to customers is that it treats everyone the same. It doUntitled2esn’t matter if I have been your faithful customer for years, I would get the same acknowledgment from your business as someone who just walked in and happened to be a member of the coalition program. So if I have been shopping at Sharaf DG for years and never received anything but then a tourist walks in with an AirMiles card and I see her is getting points then I will be enticed to become a customer of AirMiles. So Sharaf DG actually gave AirMiles a customer.

But let’s look at it the other way, what if that customer came to Sharaf DG because he had an AirMiles card and he wanted the points, doesn’t that mean that Sharaf DG gained a customer becaue of AirMiles? Not really, what Sharaf DG would gain from that is a transaction because the customer profile and preferences is still with AirMiles, they still “own” the customer relationship.

Your Program

Untitled3Another drawback of coalition loyalty programs is that they offer all businesses the same solution (when customers buy, they get points), which does not make sense because there is no one solution that fits all. A restaurant would have a different relationship with customers than a SPA and a different one than a supermarket would have with their customers.

This means that your customers and the customers of all of the other businesses that are part of Untitled5the coalition program are offered the same rewards and guess what? You have no control over what those rewards are. It is the Coalition Program operator that decides because it is their program and not yours.

On top of all that, your customers are not being offered a special experience, only rewards that they might or might not be interested in.

If you are still not convinced and are lured by the number of members that a coalition network has, think about those questions:

  1. How many “Active” members does the network have?
  2. How many of those “Active” members are “Relevant” to your business? (meaning how many of them are potential customers, if you are a women SPA then all male members are out of the picture, if you are a traditional family restaurant then all the young and single members are not interested)
  3. How many of those “Active” and “Relevant” members are within the same geographical area of your business? (unless you really think all members would drive for an hour to be your customer)
  4. Then the real tricky question is, how many of those “Active”, “Relevant”, and “Proximity” members are already your customers?

So “Active”, “Relevant”, and “Proximity” would give you a fairly good idea or at least a target of how many customers you might be set to gain but even then you would still need to have a system in place to help you build relationships with them to “retain” them.