Photograph of Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti from Vivre, and Douglas Beckett and Omar Asghar from MashreqUAE-based
lender Mashreq has rolled out one of the region’s most innovative
rewards programmes to promote its strategy of retaining and
developing primary relationships with its existing customers.

The loyalty scheme Salaam by
rewards customers with benefits by means of financial
and lifestyle rewards via two key programme pillars, Salaam Mosaic
and Salaam Rewards.

According to Mashreq, Salaam Mosaic
has been designed as a “revolutionary financial tool that visually
demonstrates the power of consolidating a banking relationship with

Salaam Rewards represents “the
world’s most personalised rewards programme that enables customers
to celebrate their individual tastes and preferences”.

At the launch of the programme on
19 April, Mashreq’s head of retail banking, Douglas Beckett said:
“For over 40 years, Mashreq has provided its customers with
innovative, customer-focused banking solutions.

“Today we have created history with
the launch of Salaam, and have revolutionised the way banking will
be done in the future.

“It is the way forward in the
banking industry, and one we are proud to pioneer. Salaam addresses
our customers’ growing needs for the future, and treats them as
unique individuals to establish a relationship that extends far
beyond mere numbers.”

In terms of the programme, each
additional banking product added by a Mashreq customer improves the
terms not only of the new product but each existing product in the
customer’s product package.

Mashreq has partnered with US-based
style curator Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti, founder and CEO of Vivre,
who will source one-of-a-kind lifestyle rewards from around the

Lorenzotti said: “Partnering with
Mashreq for this programme presents an exciting opportunity that
will pave the way for a new journey by understanding each customer
better and making their experience more rewarding.”

The banking sector in the UAE has
not enjoyed universal acclaim for matching Western standards of
customer service.

Last year, a survey conducted by
cashy, the Arab world’s first personal finance website, and polling
organisation YouGov Siraj, reported that one-fifth of banking
customers in the UAE were considering leaving their bank after a
host of grievances revealed basic customer service requirements
were not being met.

In a separate report, released in
January by Ernst and Young, Retail banking in the GCC:
Competing for customers
, the survey found that one-quarter of
all retail banking customers in the region were planning to switch
their bank accounts in 2011, flagging up account switching
opportunities for banks that can meet customers’ increasingly
demanding service expectations.

The launch of the Mashreq rewards
programme coincides with major banking groups in the US scaling
back or axing their loyalty programmes in an effort to cut costs
(see Capital One launches credit card rewards

At a recent RBI round
table in Dubai, Beckett said: “The world has changed. Our whole
model has been built around customer acquisition and product sales.
It is no longer going to be enough to take your share of the new
expat arrivals.

“We are now in a different game.
That means a deeper and broader relationship with our existing
customers and the implications are monumental.

“It means having to build primary
relationships with our customers and there are knock on issues
which emerge: in productivity, analytics, loyalty.

“While I am not going to tell my
rivals our cross-sell [metrics], it currently begins with a two and
we want it to begin with a four or a five, with an emphasis on more
affluent customers.”

Following the rewards programme
launch, Beckett told reporters that, while the banking sector
remained challenged, non-performing loans were improving and had
peaked last year in the retail sector.

“We are seeing a steady and sustainable improvement in our
non-performing ratios,” said Beckett.