Smartphones and personal data

Most services that connect businesses with their customers collect reams of personal data. Look at any of the loyalty programmes run by big brand coffee shops or other outlets. Their sign-up page can run to, well, many pages. Why is Loyalzoo different?

I could say that we do it to defend people’s privacy, but that would not be the real reason. Loyalzoo is in no position to defend anyone’s privacy for the simple reason that there is little privacy left to defend. Unless you are a survivalist and have managed to avoid using any digital services in the last 20 years, there is already a huge amount of information about you floating around in the cloud.

No, Loyalzoo makes sign-up so simple because it fits in with the nature of our business.

Too often, digital companies come along offering a third-party service to businesses that turns out to benefit the third party more than the business. The third party offers to connect a particular business sector with its customers through the internet or with apps. Sounds great: smaller businesses can’t afford to develop their own systems, so why not engage a bigger organisation with the muscle to do the job for them? The business wins and customers win because they can get the service they want more easily.

The problem is that, where previously the business and the customer connected directly, now they start to connect through another. As the third party’s service grows in importance, it gradually secures control over the relationship. The business comes to depend on the third party to connect with its customers while the third party gains access to a wealth of information about the customers and starts to use that information for its own marketing purposes. This is the main reason why so many third party services require a long registration: that information is valuable and can be used or sold on to others. Meanwhile, the real business feels trapped because they fear that if they ditch the service, their business will collapse.

Loyalzoo has no interest in mining customer data because our business is about customer loyalty and loyalty means loyalty to their favourite shops, not to Loyalzoo. The simple bond between merchants and their customers is what makes Loyalzoo possible and we would undermine our own brand if we started to exploit that bond. Other than providing the reward service, we stay out of the picture. Our app will help each individual shop to secure and reward its own customers but we will never use the app to push customers to particular shops or run campaigns of our own to promote higher-paying clients. And because customers can login without any personal information, the data we hold would be of little use for mass-marketing purposes.

For us, these principles (for want of a better term) make good business sense.

The Jolly Gardener