Behind the scenes of a Reward and Recognition program

By Mark Barling

“Thanks very much, great, yep you’ll love it. Ok, I hope to see you again soon.” Yes!! You’ve just closed great sale, a Microsoft Surface Book, top of the line with Office365 and Adobe installed as extras. That’s the weekend sorted, that’s a $100 incentive about to be paid straight into your pocket. Now, to claim that sale in the reward system…

For many sales reps, ‘road warriors’ or even employees of business with internal reward and recognition programs, the above is a familiar tale. Do something great, be recognised and then rewarded with points, or gift cards.

But what happens after the sale is made? Or the great internal presentation has been recognised by your peers.

Mark Barling, Regional Sales Director, takes a look behind the scenes by talking to two people who know – Matt Pope, Director of Operations and Matthew Lazzaro, Program Manager.

Mark Barling (MB): Matthew, what do your customers look for in a reward and recognition (R&R) program?
Matthew Lazzaro (ML): Organisations want a way to motivate their indirect sales partners or employees to sell more or provide better customer service. They want R & R to be autonomous; easy. They want reward to protect them in some respects: to act as a safety net to make sure a sales target is achieved. For many, a reward program in its simplest form is ‘table stakes’ – I need to have something to be competitive against my competitors.

MB: And what are the critical factors your clients look for to determine success?
ML: Achievement of their objectives. For some organisations it’s about supporting sales growth. For others it’s about increasing the capability of their employees or creating a culture of recognition which leads to higher employee engagement.

MB: What happens behind the scenes? After the recognition has been put through, or the sales claim in store made.

Matt Pope (MP): That’s where the magic happens. A lot happens without anyone knowing about it. Everything from data sent automatically, security being in place to prevent intrusion and reports being run. A lot of the work is automated so when an employee is recognised and has been further acknowledged by their manager then points are credited automatically to their profile. When someone receives points, the program participants are notified straight away and they can go to the catalogue and redeem for a gift voucher straight away.

Our clients get a huge amount of value out of this. Their participants can be recognised in the afternoon (or rewarded for making a sale) and be buying their weekly shop on the way home with a Coles e-Voucher.

For more complex programs we have business rules in place that control how many points are credited, the communications required, how the currency conversion is managed and how orders are sent across borders so suppliers can deliver the perfect iPhone or hair straightener to the deserving participant.

MB: Is that one of the key reasons why organisations value what you do so much?
MP: I think so. Global reward supplier capability. Being able to provide customer service support across the world; device responsive technology with fully compliant multi-lingual translation. It really does mean that for global organisations with large numbers of employees, customer or sales reps, they can work with a single partner to deliver their reward and recognition requirements.

ML: I think one other important factor is our role in helping consolidate an organisation’s spend on reward and recognition. By being able to report centrally how much an organisation spends on an R & R program, we can deliver monthly reports showing spend by cost centre, division, country. We can also provide a single consolidate report for taxation compliant (i.e. FBT in Australia). This has a huge benefit, saving clients weeks in terms of time and takes the fear away of being non-compliant to the tax man.

MB: Is R & R all about vouchers these days or do people still want a toaster or an iPhone?
MP: Vouchers are certainly popular, 60% – 70% of all volume in fact. But Visa pre-paid cards have become an incredibly effective way in which reward can be transferred to a participant in a program. They’re easy, they are often branded and link the behaviour that earnt the reward to the reward itself. Organisations are also shifting how they use reward. We work with quite a lot now who use their own product to help create brand advocates amongst their employees, customers or channel sales staff. This in turn reinforces the reason behind the reward program.

MB: I’m sure things go wrong from time to time in managing an R & R program. What do you do to prevent errors and issues from impacting the great outcomes you want to achieve for your clients?
MP: Thresholds! These are critical in any R & R program as they act as the checks and balances that ensure the risk in managing all the data transfers, points uploads, currency conversion, tax management etc are mitigated with safety nets.

For example, thresholds are put in place in terms of file or points uploads as this is where things can really go wrong. A good example is that we place $ limits on the amount of points that can get uploaded at any one time. This prevents points values in excess of that earned by the participants being uploaded in error. Imagine if a system bug ‘gifted’ $000’s to a participant. Great for them, not so much for their employer.

Internet and data protection security is the other big thing that our clients value. We are ISO27001 accredited and all our systems go through a rigorous, and ongoing, process involving penetration testing, stress testing and external auditing. This reinforces the confidence we provide as a global reward supplier and ticks a lot of boxes for global companies as we can provide them with assurance that their equivalent of a bank account is impenetrable from the outside.

MB: Finally, what are your best experiences in managing lots of reward programs?
ML: One of the best happened recently. An employee on one of our R&R programs desperately wanted to give their daughter an iPhone for her birthday but it was out of stock. Our Reward Manager personally tracked down the phone, drove and picked it up and delivered it to the employees home and made sure the employees daughter had a birthday to remember.

MP: That was a good one. The same was true for our Finance Manager who worked with another participant who only wanted fishing gear with his reward points which were not available in the Reward Catalogue. He also lived in a remote part of Tasmania. So our Finance Manager contacted his local fishing store, hooked them up as a supplier to us and processed the order. Now how’s that for a ‘catch of the day’!

This article was first seen on Grass Roots Australia blog

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