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Passport to riches

Sangeeta Singh | June 18, 2005

Pampering customers through loyalty programmes is catching on as a "subtle" maketing gimmick amongst corporates. Public sector companies, from Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum to private players like TVS and and Hero Honda are going all out to sell their loyalty programmes.

For instance, while you wait at the petrol station, an HPCL agent will come up to you and insist on telling you about how you can benefit by having an HPCL petro card.

Hero Honda has a passport programme that offers accident insurance worth Rs 100,000 to customers.

(This is on top of the motor insurance all two-wheelers and car companies offer.) And to make it more personalised, Hero Honda's official ties up with the insurance company and personally hands over the cheque to the bereaved's family.

"Well, I'm not happy talking about it, because nothing can replace a human life," says Atul Sobti, executive director-business operations, Hero Honda Motors, glibly. "But for the sake of statistics, I will. So far, we have disbursed benefits worth Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million) to 500 customers across the country."

Getting back to customers still of this earth, each passport member automatically participates in a monthly draw, where four members who have enrolled that month get a Hero Honda Splendor worth Rs 40,000 each. It's even better if you already have a Hero Honda bike, because then you can take home Rs 40,000 in cash.

Also, the other exciting prize is that, as a Hero Honda passport holder, whenever a new Hrithik Roshan (Hrithik is the brand ambassador) movie comes to your town you will have the privilege of watching the movie along with your spouse and other Hero Honda bike holders in a special show. Even the popcorn and coke will be on the house.

"This concept has really caught on and dealers also keep organising functions for passport holders. For instance, some of them recently held a laser show for participants. We've become like a large extended family," gushes Sobti.

So how exactly does the passport work? Any Hero Honda customer (including those who bought their bikes before the programme was introduced) can become a member by filling up a form and paying Rs 125 towards the one year accident coverage or Rs 300 for three years.

"In rural areas this passport also acts as an identity card for many farmers or others who don't have things like ration cards or voters cards," says Sobti.

The passport also comes in handy when one wants to sell the motorcycle. The inside pages of the passport has records of all services, repairs and recharging that one has done at Hero Honda service stations. In other words, the track record of one's bike is clear to the buyer.

Besides, like any other loyalty programmes Hero Honda passport holders get points for discounts and benefits. TVS Motors, for instance, has introduced its loyalty programmes Miles and Smiles, offering similar facilities.

The company claims that, with over two million members, this is the most successful loyalty programme followed by BPCL at 1.8 million. BPCL's petrobonus programme rewards the customer each time he buys any product from its retail outlets using the petro card.

And if you introduce your neighbour to a company dealer who later buys a Hero Honda bike you earn points. "Nine lakh customers have come to us through reference," claims Sobti.



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