A “Break” With Tradition In Loyalty Programs

By: Jason Atkins

Ah, the holiday season: rich with tradition.   Many brands will be offering holiday season consumer sales incentives, sales spiffs, rebates etc and we humbly suggest there are some incentives traditions that should disappear forever.

I’m speaking, of course, of the tradition of designing incentives campaigns with “breakage” built right in.   Breakage is a focus on people not redeeming the rebate or sales spiff or having the claim rejected and the tradition is that many companies put lots of challenges in place to increase breakage in their campaigns, leading to breakage rates as high as 50%.

Why Compromise Customer LoyaltyWe want to know why: why design a campaign to leave 50% of your customers with a bad taste in their mouth about your brand, your product and even your retail partner?

Here are the top five don’ts for reducing breakage in your sales and marketing incentives programs:

  1. Make your campaign mail-in only:  It is startling and unecessary to see modern campaigns which are still mail-in only.  People expect to be able to enter their claims online, even from their mobile devices, and with today’s technology this is extremely accesible to anyone creating a campaign.
  2. Making no easy way for the consumer to check claim status: One of the top ways to create extra work for your marketing team and extra aggravation for your consumers and RSA’s is having a claim process where people are unable to check their own claim status.  Again, harness the power of technology for your campaigns and make them transparent so your end user knows when “the check’s in the mail.”
    no snail mail
  3. Having no live people available to the consumers; only voicemail or even snail-mail only: Of course, there will always be some people who have questions that you may not have considered when crafting the messaging around your campaign.  Make sure you have actual humans available to answer these questions in a timely fashion.
  4. No digital communication of issues or challenges; snail-mail letters that slow the process beyond the cut-off date: This is a huge no-no!  Is the claimant’s documentation incomplete?  Do you need more information?  Let the person know at once in order to make sure their claim is still honored in a timely manner.  Obviously you need to have a cut-off date for your campaign, but denying claims which you have slowed to beyond that date is just going to cause people to have a bad experience with your brand.   An experience that they are sure to share with their networks.
  5. Willfully vague rules: Finally, don’t give your customers strange instructions which they can’t possibly be expected to understand.  Your program is meant to build loyalty, so giving your customers or RSA’s a crummy job to do in order to get their claim processed is really going to work against you.
It seems strange to have to hammer on this fact in today’s connected world, but your relationship with the sellers and end users of your product
in no way ends with the sale.   Your incentives campaigns are the same as your goods: make sure they work well for your end user and they will build the loyalty you need to grow your business.
* For a more detailed look on this topic, including a worksheet to help you keep your eye on the important stuff while planning your next campaign, I recommend our free e-book Leveraging The Consumer Rebate.
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Jason Atkins, 360 IncentivesJason is the Founder/CEO of 360Incentives.com    Connect with Jason on Twitter
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