"Loyalty is a two way relationship"– A conversation with Vishal Katelia, MR PORTER

Following on from our retail loyalty breakfast in January, we caught up with Vishal Katelia, Senior Manager, Global CRM, MR PORTER. In the first installment of this blog series we ask him what’s coming up next for MR PORTER and get his top tips for retailers considering investing in a loyalty strategy.

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At Qubit’s retail breakfast you gave a great presentation explaining what loyalty means to MR PORTER and why it’s so important. What have you got coming up in 2016 to maintain the great relationships you’ve built with your customers?

The majority of projects are focused around really sophisticated CRM programmes. The objectives of all of those campaigns and programmes are really all around increasing contact with the customers on a very personal basis. The main thing to point out is that the projects are not all purely centred around generating revenue. We see that as a by-product. It's really around providing customers with a great experience at the right moment in time. This will create longer lasting relationships with MR PORTER, which would, then, lead to increased sales.”

As someone who has gone through the process of implementing a VIP program, and MR PORTER’s continued focus on customer experience, do you have any advice for other retailers who want to implement similar strategies?

“The main thing would be the retailer or the company really getting to know what the customers want, and what the customer expectation is from that particular brand or service provider. This should form the key building blocks of any loyalty or VIP programme. The other thing, that I would really want to stress, is that loyalty is a two way relationship. It's something that you want the customers to engage with, and the customer should also want to be part of it too, naturally without force. The key takeaway from this, I believe, is that companies shouldn't embark on VIP or loyalty programmes, just to make additional revenues. They should really be thinking about putting the customer first, asking what benefits and drivers enable that to happen.”

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So, getting to know your customers is integral to delivering a great experience–how can retailers best do this?

“Giving customers the opportunity to feed back at any given touch point that they can.  So having, across multiple touches, opportunities to provide feedback. You could potentially also have a panel of customers, either where they are able to take part via surveys, or focus groups, for example."

A great example of this idea is Topshop's use of real-time customer feeback when redesigning their site. What else is important when getting to know your customers?

"It's also really important to have the culture of your company being very customer feedback orientated. Having a way to report back any trends or any particular wants or motivations that the customer has expressed, and actually use that information, feeding it back into the business. So the whole business knows about what their current situation is with the customer base.”

Want to learn more? Stay tuned for part two, where we’ll discuss who else is doing a great job with loyalty and how to join up the on and offline experience. And while you wait, why not download our brand new loyalty handbook featuring practical examples to take loyalty to the next level.

The opinions expressed in this interview are the interviewee’s own and do not reflect the views of the Yoox Net-A-Porter Group.