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What’s the key to a good incentive or loyalty scheme?

Most of us have a Dickensian view of Christmas with snow on the ground, skating on the river Thames and good will to all men.

Most of us have a Dickensian view of Christmas with snow on the ground, skating on the river Thames and good will to all men.  But of course in business that image couldn’t be farther from reality. 

For many businesses Christmas is their peak trading season when they expect the most from their staff and customer’s loyalty is hard fought for.  Perhaps it is of little surprise then that Christmas is also the period when more employees are incentivised and more customers rewarded than at any other time of the year.

The key to any good incentive or loyalty scheme is the desirability of the reward and the ease with which it can be attained.  And of these two ingredients it is the desirability of the reward that has the power to increase staff performance most and encourage customers to positively alter their shopping habits.

Of course, rewards are subjective, but with UK Gift Card and Voucher Association research indicating that more than half of UK businesses are planning to reward with retailer gift cards this Christmas, it’s fair to say they are very popular amongst staff and customers alike.

Getting it right     

Debenhams Gift CardA reward is personal.  There is no such thing as a ‘one fits all’ option, because what drives one employee won’t necessarily drive another.  Get the reward right and results can easily surpass expectations, get it wrong and the whole thing becomes counterproductive.  This is where retailer gift cards come into their own as they have the huge advantage of allowing employers to offer the operational convenience of a single type of reward whilst giving the recipient the opportunity to choose their own desirable incentive.

Department store gift cards are a great example of the perfect reward as they provide the widest possible choice all under one roof.  From fragrance to food mixers and iPads to watches, recipients can choose the reward that best motivates and engages them.  Of course how they can select their reward is also becoming increasingly important.  Younger recipients are likely to want to redeem their reward online whereas for the older employee spending in store is perhaps more preferable.  Retailers are catering for this too, with most offering multi-channel shopping and accepting their gift cards across all channels.

Rewarding on time

There is also an increasing demand amongst those being incentivised to receive their reward immediately, and we are certainly seeing a big uplift in results amongst those companies that have recognised and embraced the potential benefits instant rewarding can bring.  And yet again many retailers are able to support this through their own e-gift cards which, in simple terms, are gift cards sent by email and which can usually be redeemed across all channels.  These offer a great benefit to the employer as well by reducing fulfilment costs and avoiding expensive postal charges.

Not just for Christmas

Whilst the economy continues to improve on paper, in reality that improvement is taking it’s time to filter through to many companies in the guise of increased sales turnover or new contracts.  There is an argument therefore that incentives and rewards should form a core part of a company’s business model throughout the year.

Newspapers are very good at disillusioning staff with stories of mass redundancies, pay freezes, liquidations, Debenhams giftthe list goes on; and of course it’s worse for those employees who find themselves directly affected.  A disillusioned workforce lacks the motivation to achieve.  It’s the perfect example of when a reward and recognition scheme needs to be in place and yet so often, when Christmas trading is over, it’s one of the first costs to go.  Offering such a scheme throughout the year can deliver significant benefits, especially when linked to company KPIs such as sales targets, customer acquisition/retention, hitting SLAs and so on.  And do not overlook the other soft benefits that a motivated workforce can bring, such as reduced sick days and stronger brand loyalty.

It can’t be coincidence alone that of the most successful of our clients, all of them operate a permanent retailer gift card reward and recognition scheme for their employees, their customers or both.  In these continuing tough economic times, anything that gives a company a cost-effective commercial advantage should not be easily overlooked.

Offering the right incentive says a lot about how an employer appreciates the hard work of their staff and loyalty of their customer base.  Make sure you say the right things about your company and include department store gift cards in your incentive scheme this Christmas and beyond.

For more information on Debenhams gift cards contact Debenhams Business Services on:

Telephone:  08445 61 61 70
Fax:              08445 61 61 72

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