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Below is our recent interview with Eugene Mayevski, Co-Founder of inCust:
Q: How would you describe inCust?
A: People often describe inCust as something that you would use to run a loyalty program in your business. Such a description is technically correct, yet it is just a small fraction of what we offer. I would like to highlight two aspects that describe our product the best:
– It is not about just loyalty programs. InCust is a platform that covers full customer lifecycle, from the initial acquisition to bringing them back and to repeated sales. Many startups are told to take one specific need and focus on it. We, the founders of inCust, each have about more than 20 years of experience in IT business, and we decided to give our customers something flexible. Doing this allowed platforms to become successful, while one-function companies rarely survive when the market needs change.
– The product is available as an installable software and as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The service lets small and medium businesses start building relationships with their customers within 15 minutes. They don’t need to install specialized hardware or manufacture and distribute plastic cards. Larger companies, such as retail networks, banks and alike, have their specific needs and requirements. Due to this, the implementation of a customer management project takes quite a lot of time, and a software platform is just one component of the project. To such clients, we offer installable software with custom branding. This software is deployed on the servers under the customer control. This approach, in particular, lets businesses meet the regulations, related to protecting personal data of their customers.
Q: Why is it important to have a rewards program and to make friends with customers?
A: It is very humane to want more. More sales, more customers, more money. However, the cost of acquiring a new customer is usually twice as high as the cost of retaining the customer who was your client before. In other words, it’s more cost-efficient to work with the loyal existing customers than to convince new customers to come and try your offer. This is especially true for businesses, where the unique selling point is hard to find, or when it doesn’t even exist (like two grocery stores, located next to each other).
In these cases, the properly applied loyalty and rewards program can become such a unique selling point. By “properly applied” I mean the loyalty program that goes beyond merely giving a 1% discount and expecting the stellar outcome.
Another use of the loyalty program is that such a program is the first step in customer lifecycle management. You collect customer data including contacts when the customer signs up to your loyalty program. Doing this gives you multiple marketing opportunities, from offering some specials to reminding about your business on birthdays and seasonal holidays to offering prepaid goods to gamification and more. The possibilities are numerous when you really want to become friends with customers. And customers like being friends with businesses.
My personal opinion is that the feeling of friendship can be even more important than the ideal service provided by the unknown person. Would you prefer to go to a pub with good beer but “automated” service, or a pub with a friendly bartender that will tell you the latest gossip?
Q: Can you walk us through your platform’s features?
A: That would be a long list 😊.
As we started by talking about loyalty programs, I’ll mention its features first. This function, being the most mature in the platform, is compelling and can be quite sophisticated, with a number of ways to authenticate the customer and the capability to have multiple levels of participation with different benefits. The loyalty program mechanism supports multilevel referral rewards, which let you attract more customers and help spread the word about your business.
To make your offers more appealing and bring customers back, you need some tools like coupons and gift certificates, and they are fully supported.
No friendship is possible without communication, and here inCust offers a variety of channels: from simple SMS and e-mails to Viber messages to bi-directional communication with individual customers via the mobile app. For group messaging, one can fine-tune the list of recipients to get the maximum effect. Messaging can be used for any activity, including distribution of coupons and informing about special offers, while bidirectional communications let one hear each customer personally.
inCust is not just about loyalty and friendship, but about pure commerce as well. The platform lets one sell of the prepaid goods and services, including tickets and passes for various events. If a business is looking to accept new payment methods without cash or credit cards, the inCust platform offers payment processing too.
Our latest offering is an integrated store, available in the mobile app. There, businesses let customers order goods and services and request delivery or collect the ordered items at the points of sale.
The platform includes support for customer accounts that can hold bonus points, prepaid goods or services, money. These accounts are used for both bonus point tracking and for handling purchases, tickets and so on.
Business is all about control. Control is achieved by careful analysis of all aspects of business operations. For this, the inCust platform offers some sales statistics, updated in real time, as well as custom analytics using Microsoft PowerBI or the tool of the client’s choice. Upon request, we arrange the export of sales data to satisfy the individual needs of each business.
Q: What makes your company the best choice?
A: It can look like a bold statement, but if your retail business is not ready to pour a couple of millions of dollars into developing in-house software, and you need to work with your customers, there’s not much choice on the market. Of course, there exist simple SaaS offerings that let you run a loyalty program and maybe distribute coupons or gift certificates. But as you can see from the list of features, inCust goes way beyond such simple offers and can satisfy the needs of the most demanding customers. Also, we offer inCust as the installable software. This software includes the same features as the service and also allows branding, customizations, and connectivity with the third-party software.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: This is an interesting question. From our experience, sometimes, the by-product features become the core of the business, while the initial plans fade away. Being the developers in mind, we want to add cool features. At the same time, we have to listen to our customers. For us, things like gamification and social network integration are a huge fun. Our clients are different, though. For them, GDPR compliance in Europe and advanced analytics (aka data mining) are the hottest topics, even as they seem to contradict each other (as you know, GDPR is specifically designed to counteract data mining). These are the directions we are heading to in the nearest future.
Also, it is worth saying that several banks and some payment systems are interested in the technical capabilities of the inCust platform, and we are looking to implement some nationwide or maybe even international projects in Europe. Stay tuned and subscribe to our news on Facebook or Twitter to be informed.