5 Best Practices For Your Consumer Rebate Program

Consumer rebates make for great incentive campaigns and will definitely help a manufacturer get their product sold but the buck should never stop at the sale.   What manufacturers often neglect is the rebate fulfillment process. This crucial touch point is often the last experience a consumer will have with your brand, and is instrumental to securing recurring and loyal customers.

There is nothing worse for a consumer than to buy a product thinking they are getting it at a discount, and then are unable to redeem the rebate because of a complicated, poorly messaged redemption process.

Don’t take my word for it: type the words “Consumer Rebate” into Google and you’ll see dozens of blogs and consumer reviews trashing various brands for failing to fulfill promises on rebates. In the digital age, when consumers are unhappy they have several mediums available to them to make it known, and WILL take 10-15 minutes out of their day to vent.

If you want to avoid your brand being associated with the words “Fraud, Scam, Misleading” here are a list of MUSTS that will ensure continued consumer loyalty and repeat sales:

  1. Make it simple for the consumer to claim/redeem their rebate:  An online redemption process, as opposed to a mail in form, or an instant rebate at the point of sale is what most consumers want or expect in the digital age.  Snail mail is often an inefficient option for people, and an inconvenience that will likely irritate as opposed to please.
  2. Honor the rebate: When your customers go through the painstaking effort to fill out their rebate forms, make sure you pay them.  All to often, claims are not honored, leaving your customers sour about their experience with your brand.
  3. Build a transparent process:  If you make it easy for the consumer to track their claim throughout the entire process, everyone wins: the consumer is happy because they are well-informed and your team is saved a ton of inquiries from folks who just want to know what’s going on with their money.
  4. Pay the rebate claims quickly:  In the same vein, no one wants to wait 6-8 weeks to get their money back. A quick turnover on payment is a sure fire way to show your clients your business matters to them, and will increase referrals and repeat business.
  5. Give clear instructions on what consumers need to do to claim their rebate:  Sometimes rebates are not honored because the consumer didn’t provide the right information (i.e. original receipt as opposed to a photocopy) or because the rebate wasn’t claimed in the timeline stipulated etc.  All too often, this is because important information pertaining to the rebate gets lost in the fine print.  This can be incredibly frustrating for consumers, and will only serve to reinforce (whether true or not) that you never planned to honor the rebate.

Our research has shown that a properly executed rebate program will not only protect your brand value, but also have a significant impact on your top line as your happy customers become advocates for your brand and its products.

Creating a consumer rebate program with breakage in mind, meaning willfully creating conditions that you know will lower redemption rates as you make it tougher for people to redeem their claims, is just asking for trouble.   It is no exaggeration to say that in today’s connected world a bad news story about your product or a consumer’s experience with your brand can spread world wide in a matter of hours.   Remember: online reviews or any other online discussion of your brand and products live on the Internet forever and, as such, have a very long tail.   When potential customers begin researching their next purchase using a search engine, that long tail can either deliver a vicious ‘whack’ to your brand image, or it can wave shoppers on in your direction.

We urge all brands to take these steps to make their rebate offerings as consumer-friendly as possible.

If you are planning on building a new rebate program and all of this seems like a ton of heavy lifting, I recommend downloading our e-book Leveraging The Consumer Rebate. It includes a worksheet to help you supercharge the effectiveness of your rebate programs from end to end.

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Grace-Emily SaatiGrace-Emily Saati is a Sales Channel Incentive Specialist with 360Incentives.com.    Connect with Grace on Twitter@GraceEmilySaati or Google +.