You’ve read about the benefits of incentive programs. You know how flexible and scalable they can be. You have high hopes to use incentives to increase sales, improve channel partner relationships, engage employees, and/or increase sales. You’re hyped to collect an Incentive Program Super-League in-house and run the best incentive program anyone’s ever seen. But wait—is in-house really the best way to go? Are your teammates actually that pumped to be taken away from their day-to-day responsibilities in order to make this incentive program run? Before you take the plunge, you should understand all the long-term and ancillary benefits that come with using incentive program management software and services, rather than doing it all by yourself.
Benefit #1: Time & Effort Saved
If you’ve ever moved to a new location, you’ve probably faced the age-old question: should I do it myself or hire movers? Sometimes the can-do spirit overtakes you if you’re making the decision weeks or month ahead of time. But as moving day approaches, the dread and realizations set in: do you have enough boxes? Do you have access to a big enough vehicle? Can you get enough time off work? Is anyone willing to help you?
Running an incentive program in-house is similar, in ways, to the moving conundrum. It seems more cost-effective to do it yourself, but all the pieces are often not taken into account. A high-performing incentive program should involve a business/market analysis to determine what the incentive goals should be, sourcing rewards, setting up a system to quickly and reliable fulfill reward redemptions, providing support to program participants, implementing data security and fraud prevention, collecting and interpreting data to analyze the program’s ROI… If any of these are things you hadn’t even yet considered, you might not be in the best place to run your incentive program internally.
Take a moment to find out what incentive technology can do for you easily and automatically—and how much time and energy those things will require if you adopt them as internal responsibilities.
Benefit #2: Better Reward Sourcing
Sometimes I hear the question, “Why can’t I just buy my own rewards and distribute them?” The answer is that nothing’s stopping you from doing just that, but you likely can’t offer the best possible rewards this way.
Online Rewards Catalogs
Incentive program management software can offer an online rewards catalog will millions of merchandise items, including event tickets, vacation accommodations, and trip packages. Without the leverage of being a large-scale online store like Amazon or Overstock, it’s difficult to strike a deal with such a wide array of vendors and offer their products as rewards. Incentive companies, because they often have many clients with thousands of participants redeeming rewards every day, have the leverage a major distributor would have. Incentive Solutions, for example, is able to maintain direct relationships with multiple catalog vendors to provide the latest in-demand items.
Debit/Gift Card Rewards
Even debit and gift cards, which are easier to source internally than an online rewards catalog, are more easily sourced with an incentive program provider. The issue with sourcing internally is that you have to continuously replenish the debit/gift cards. If you’re offering gift cards, you’ll need to provide a wide enough brand/store variety that all your participants will be enticed. If you’re offering debit cards, you’ll have to keep up with the amount each participant has earned for each card.
By contrast, an incentive management software provider can offer you:
- Instant access to a wide selection of gift card brands
- Automatic reward redemption tracking
- Real-time reward balance tracking and reporting
- Card distribution/delivery service
- Debit card reward options, including virtual debit e-cards, pre-paid or reloadable debit cards
- Card branding
All of these incentive services and tools mean that, not only do you not have to source your own card rewards, but your cards’ effectiveness is boosted.
Benefit #3: Reward Fulfillment & Participant Support Services
One of the key elements of an incentive program is the positive experience associated with rewards. In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is crucial. When 59% of customers will walk away from a brand after multiple bad experiences, and 17% will walk away after just one bad experience, you can’t afford a dicey reward experience.
A good incentive software provider will offer expert services in reward fulfillment and participant support. If your participants experience undue wait times with reward deliveries, difficulties logging into their incentive program account, or other program-related snags, there’s a team dedicated full-time to addressing these issues quickly. Incentive Solutions goes the extra mile by allowing clients to script participant support interactions so our fulfillment/participant support team is exactly the brand representative you require.
Benefit #4: Increased Program Versatility & Effectiveness
Incentive management software has the potential to be much more than just a reward delivery mechanism. You can reward many different kinds of participants for many different kinds of behaviors—not just encouraging those behaviors with rewards, but also making them easier or more fun to perform. Depending on the incentive software provider you select, you could have access to online technology capable of:
- Real-time performance tracking that keeps you informed of your program’s progress toward its goals.
- Producing detailed incentive program data that can be exported raw or displayed in visual aids like charts and graphs.
- Online training deliverable in multiple formats, such as quizzes and daily trivia.
- Automated sales claims uploads.
- Mobile availability, from mobile optimization to a full incentive app.
- Digital or physical on-the-spot reward certificates that can be automatically added to an incentive program using serial numbers and/or QR codes.
- Interactive leaderboards showing the incentive program’s top-ranking earners and performers.
Using technology to streamline and automate various tasks, you have the option to start small and expand the capabilities of your program, earning greater ROI over time without dedicating more time to it.
You could say that the benefit of “incentive expertise” encompasses all the others. Incentive management software, after all, is only as useful and intelligent as the experts that help you implement it. Working with an incentive software provider who has years of specializing training and experience running successful programs saves you time and money spent on planning, new hires, missteps, misconceptions, and analysis. It can be the difference between an incentive program that adds extra stress and responsibilities to your organization vs. one that adds excitement and positivity to your sales culture or buying experience.