Question: what is your company doing right now to measure user satisfaction?
I'm not speaking about satisfaction solely with your products. I'm referring to the consumer's overall satisfaction with their experience when they interact with your company. Are you measuring satisfaction wherever consumers are coming into contact with your brand? Are you considering user experience when you're designing your channel marketing programs?
The reason I ask this question is because it's still puzzling to consider how many brands make a great product, spend money and time advertising and marketing to get people to buy it and then blow it when it comes to the rebate program. Considering the rebate is the last touch your company has with a consumer until the next time they have a need for your product, does it not make sense for this touch point to be as positive as possible? For today's consumers, user experience is no longer held separate from product experience when people are considering their experience with a brand.
Maybe there was a time when it made sense to design programs with built-in breakage. In today's connected world that time has long passed.
Before we all got connected via the Internet, dissatisfied consumers had nowhere to turn for relief after a negative experience with a brand. Even if they expended vast energy and personal resources, people had no way to make their voice heard and had little to no ability to alter public perception of the brand. Brands, on the other hand, have always been adept at handling complaints and other PR challenges. The brand was also the party who controlled the advertising and PR budget. Whoever controlled the budget also controlled the message and so the public perception of the brand remained whatever the brand wanted it to be.
Now each person with an Internet connection has the ability to become his or her own media brand. They can publish content online in forms such as blogs, review sites, video sharing, podcasts and, of course, social networks. There is no barrier to anyone growing his or her reach. High quality, interesting and novel content is rewarded by engagement and sharing, much the way traditional media always worked. This makes it easier for brands to lose control of the public's perception of their brand. If handled incorrectly, the downward spiral of perception can even lead to a downturn in the company's stock price! (For more on this, refer to the Domino's Pizza YouTube video scandal of 2009 where the company's shares plummeted 10% within a week of a scandalous video being posted.)
Here's How You Get It Right
I hope you're nodding your head right now and agreeing that it makes sense to do our best to build incentive programs as fantastic as our products. Here's an exercise I recommend to help build user satisfaction right into every SPIFF and rebate program. It is based on author/consultant Brian Solis' Dynamic Customer Journey. Of course, this framework is high level because each business is unique in many ways. These steps, however, are principles that can be applied to building out any customer's journey with any business.
1) Map out, at least at a high level, the client journey.
a) Consider some client journey stages: Pre-sales, retail sale/online sale, incentive claim submission etc.
b) Identify ALL client stakeholders at each stage of the client journey
c) Identify all stakeholders from your company or provider that are involved in each stage (map out what is above and below the client visibility line – example above visibility line could be a Sales rep – below the visibility line could be a person in finance who deals with incentive payments, but the user never sees or interacts with them.
d) Identify the measurements that matter most for each stage (turnaround time, time to deploy, speed of payment, SLAs for inquiries, etc.) – make sure there are just a few per stage – but that each would inform decision making. Have targets!
2) For each client stakeholder (or persona) write down what they are likely to feel (and how you want them to feel) at each stage, then write down what their needs are going to be at each stage:
For example – Pre Sale: A potential consumer may be thinking “I feel anxious that I might make the wrong decision” then “ I need proof that this is the right product for me”. Simply offering an incentive but no further information at this phase is unlikely to address this need, but being able to offer social proof would be very helpful.
HINT – give it a go from your own perspective, but try to engage a few real customers or other test subjects to confirm or add to your list of feelings and needs from each stakeholder at each stage.
3) Be CREATIVE! – Think of creative and memorable ways that you can address each feeling (and generate the desired feeling) and each need. Use this opportunity to brainstorm, think of unique ways of addressing. For example – at 360, when a new client comes on board we send them a welcome video to introduce the team members they'll be working with, and welcoming them to the 360 family.
4) Look at all of the above and ask yourself how does each of your actions:
a) Make clients feel VALUED?
b) Provide a service as EFFICIENTLY as possible?
c) Help to earn their TRUST?
d) Ensure CONSISTENCY from one interaction to the next?
e) Provide a high degree of RELEVANCE from one stakeholder (persona) to the next?
f) Make the client feel in CONTROL?
I urge you to take the time and discipline to map out unbelievable experiences for everyone who touches your brand. In today's attention economy, great experience are what will make your brand stand out among competitors as well as help you build a loyal customer base who will advocate for you to their own networks.
One last helpful tip: measure customer satisfaction constantly! Personally, I'm a big fan of the NPS scale where you ask a single question: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” The effectiveness of tracking this metric is well documented. For further reading on NPS, I would recommend the book The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld along with his 2003 article from The Harvard Business Review, One Number You Need To Grow.
A lifelong technology entrepreneur, Jason Atkins is the founder and CEO of 360incentives. 360incentives is the world's first integrated incentive software platform, allowing brands to run spiffs, rebates, co-op/MDF, and sell-through allowances all processed and paid with 100% audit and powerful analytics to predict what to do next.
For more information, visit: http://www.360incentives.com.