South Africa: Cell C to reward prepaid users
The South African mobile telephone service provider Cell C has followed in the recent footsteps of competing operator Vodacom to launch its own loyalty programme for prepaid customers.
With the strapline, "It pays to stay on the phone with Cell C", the company is asking its prepaid mobile users to imagine spending two minutes on a call and instantly receiving a 15% reward in the form of a free SMS (worth R0.80). After each qualifying call, Cell C automatically sends the subscriber an SMS notification to tell them how many SMS credits were earned during the call. Users don't need to take any action to claim their rewards.
Instant rewards Although the instant rewards programme is actually a limited-time promotion, it has all the mechanics of a loyalty programme. Users accumulate free SMS (text messages) automatically when they spend 2 minutes or more on any single phone call. The SMS credits are added into their account automatically, and in real time.
The rewards apply to both peak and off-peak calls for all of Cell C's prepaid packages. There is no limit to the number of SMS credits a subscriber can accumulate each day, although a maximum of five credits can be earned in any one call. All SMS credits earned but not used within sixty days are forfeited.
Not just a 'me too' According to Deon Olivier, director of the loyalty business unit at Achievement Awards Group, there are a few similarities between Cell C's offering and the loyalty programme launched earlier this month by Vodacom (see 1 Mar. 2006), such as:
- It's a closed-loop system - members can only redeem for in-network products;
- It's proprietary - there are no other points-issuing or redemption partners involved;
- It applies only to prepaid customers, not contract customers;
- SMS bundles are used as rewards (although Vodacom also offers other benefits).
However, the differences are interesting:
Cell C programme · Short term· One reward (free SMS)· Registration not required· Rewards usage, not top-ups Vodacom programme · Long-term· Range of rewards (SMS, airtime, handsets)· Registration required to redeem· Rewards top-up activity
Can't be compared Another interesting aspect of the Cell C instant rewards programme, Olivier says, is that it's actually quite difficult for the consumer to calculate the percentage return of the reward, because the calls that earn rewards are likely to incur a mixture of off-peak, peak, in-network and out-of-network costs.
According to Vanashree Pillay, executive head of corporate communications for Cell C, "With our subscriber base having increased dramatically over the past four years, particularly the prepaid subscribers, we believe it is our responsibility to reward them accordingly for being loyal."
By the end of December 2005, after operating for four years, Cell C's total subscriber base had grown to some 3.2 million, of which post-paid subscribers accounted for 670,000 and prepaid subscribers accounted for 2,530,000.