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In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Diane El Hachem, head of partnerships at Related Inc discusses the role of Related in the ICT industry and the importance of partnerships and rewards programs.

First of all, can you tell us more about your role as head of partnerships at Related? And why are partnerships an important part of the company’s structure?

Our mission is to build strong bonds between brands and their customers by creating memorable experiences. With more brands embracing the idea of partnerships to better engage customers, Related put together a dedicated unit of experienced resources, across the region, to help brands build these partnerships and create a mutually beneficial ecosystem.

This became an imminent part of our customer offering and product development because we know how crucial it is to offer relevant rewards at the right timing. During the early periods of COVID19, we had to acquire new types of rewards that appeal to customers in quarantine, such as VOD, online gaming, food, grocery and pharmaceutical deliveries. Consequently, we were able to increase our client’s customer engagement; that same client (Ooredoo Kuwait) won the award for Best Loyalty and Rewards Program for 2020.

How would you describe the role of Related in the ICT industry and what are the added values that the company offers?
With our primary goal being to help brands build real and meaningful relationships with their customers, we focused on transforming mobile operators into lifestyle providers. This meant mobile operators had to shift from legacy models to innovative tools that increase customer loyalty, customer lifetime value and create new sources of revenue outside the traditional services.

We designed, implemented and managed a seamless rewards program - using our smart tools and methods - to build a wide palette of strategic partnerships that offer these rewards and memorable experiences to our end customers across all touch points.

That’s where the reward marketplace came in; a one-stop solution for all loyalty program needs. To date, we’ve helped mobile operators:

  1. reach 85% customer satisfaction rate
  2. increase customer engagement with the program 7x times
  3. generate a 2% incremental revenue outside of core products

As a woman in the ICT field, what is your take on women inclusion in this industry?

There’s a strong business case for women in leadership: gender diversity across company boards and senior leadership is correlated with superior business performance, improved ROI and higher share prices. Despite the increasing support from industry leaders calling for gender diversity and inclusion, the shift is still slow.

I encourage women to be part of the ICT industry; it’s dynamic, constantly expanding and can provide enough opportunities to meet the various talents and skills of women in our region. There are perks to being one of the few women working in ICT, like having the opportunity to present a fresh perspective to matters and not trying to fit into existing frames, yet building new ones instead.

What are the plans of Related for the upcoming year?

Loyalty and incentive programs will gain more traction in 2021 given that businesses are now more cost-conscious and want to see a return on their marketing investments. As a company, we need to be fully ready to respond to changes in customer behavior while meeting the brands’ objectives.

In a nutshell, we want to create moments of “magic” that ensure “loyalty”. The plan is to expand our partnership network and help brands move from a transactional connection to an emotional interaction with customers, through experiential rewards. Moreover, we’ll continue to implement our motto, “reward with a purpose”, by serving critical industries - particularly after the pandemic - like healthcare and government, in areas of health and wellness, local tourism and education. Besides, we'll definitely be investing in innovative tools like contactless payments and digital currencies, and an even more solid data-driven base for personalized customer experience, through smart technology predictive models.

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