The Role Of A Rewards Program In A Great Customer Experience

360’s founder and CEO, Jason Atkins is featured this weekend as an industry expert for a loyalty & rewards supplement for USA Today and Mediaplanet. You can check out his article The Changing Face of Customer Loyalty here.

One of the questions in particular stood out to me. In fact, it is a frequent point of discussion in our line of work: Why is a good rewards program important for customer dynamics?

It’s interesting because I find that the question of building quality sales incentives programs such as SPIFFs or rebates can sometimes be a polarizing one. On one hand, a brand may view their promotion spend as a necessary evil and regard it as such in their planning. Another may throw a ton of resources at their programs, including loads of planning on user experience.

The reason for the occasional bit of contempt toward sales incentives stems from how difficult it used to be to attribute ROI to sales incentives programs. In the paper-driven incentives world, we could measure sales lift could at a high level but clear attribution of results to particular programs was just about impossible. With the advent of digitized incentives programs, we can now measure the success of programs in real-time and with data granular down to transactional, sales associate level. Luckily, the advent of digitized programs has converged with today’s unprecedented need to curate brand sentiment at the channel and consumer level.

Folks, I’m a realist and I’m also of an age where I can relate to the challenges of trying to account for marketing spend at any level. Marketing to the channels has never been exempt from this challenge. But now, engagement can scale more easily and marketing attribution is possible right alongside of it. Software exists for attribution of promotion spend right down to the consumer level, and so it just makes good sense to focus on delivering unbelievable experiences for both your consumers and your channels.

What’s In It For Them?

With exponential improvements in manufacturing technology, it has grown difficult for many consumers to differentiate between products in the marketplace. We are all consumers in our lives, so let me share an example of what I mean:

If you have recently shopped for a refrigerator, depending on where you shopped you may have faced a showroom full of similarly-featured, modern-looking stainless steel fridges. Did any of them appear to suffer from a lack of quality? Did you notice that they tend to fall into price categories and that items in similar categories tend to also have similar features? Research shows that certain types of customers may experience this selection as oppressive! This is where the softer, less tangible elements of the deal start to sway their decision to buy. How does the door handle feel in their hand? How does the sales associate make them feel? Is this the kind of person they’re comfortable giving their money to? And now to my point: do the terms of your rebate program add to the customer’s uneasiness? Or do they add to the good feeling that the consumer is starting to have that this is the item for them.

And how does your rebate program function after the time of the sale? If the customer has questions, are they able to get them answered in a way that is simple, pleasant and timely?

So, the role of your reward in the customer’s experience becomes one of a friendly curator. A warm indicator that makes it easier for them to say “yes” to your product. A pleasant reward program experience validates the buyer’s decision to choose your product.

For your channel partners, easy access to product knowledge, simple processes for sales incentives claims and fast payments make you their favourite brand to sell.  An online portal for partners helps you achieve all of these objectives.

What’s In It For Them IS What’s In It For You

This opportunity to build or burn bridges with consumers in the connected economy is what’s in it for you and your brand. A well-constructed rewards program that delivers a remarkable customer experience for your consumers and channels is the puzzle piece that gives your brand permission to continue your relationship with these important people.

Consider for a moment the amount of resources that your company extends to enable each consumer sale transaction at store level. Delivering an incredible customer experience today means a few things:

    • great products
    • great sales processes
    • great rebate processes

Curating the customer’s experience beyond the sale helps you build up brand sentiment in ways that were not scalable before digital. Digital connectivity between your brand, your channels and your consumers enables you to attribute each sales transaction to specific marketing actions or campaigns. Everybody wins.


Jeff Bennett, 360incentivesJeff is the VP of Client Experience at 360incentives.   Connect with him on LinkedIn HERE.