The Magic of Theatre: Using Digital Rewards to Bring the Smiles

Receiving a reward, whether it’s the result of exceptional work or participating in a customer loyalty scheme, should be satisfying. Customers or colleagues have achieved a goal and receiving the reward should be a conclusion to the process that brings a smile to their faces. The bigger the smile the more likely they are to repeat the process and the chances are their colleagues will attempt to emulate the behaviour which warranted the reward. The question for many organisations is can digital rewards offer as much potential theatre as the process of opening an envelope and finding a reward inside?

A little bit of theatre goes a long way. A kind word and a flourish from a waiter doesn’t add anything to the flavour of the food, but it makes a big difference to the memory of a meal out and will make you more likely to go back to a restaurant. The patter doesn’t add anything to the mechanics of a magic trick, but it does add a great deal to the show and make you more likely to recommend it to a friend.

One of the regular observations about digital rewards is that they remove the potential for theatre. The argument goes that you can’t build a reward ceremony around an email or text message and consumers want something they can hold, delivered with a little bit of theatre.
As a result, the perception is that digital reward strategies are not as strong as physical rewards in attracting or retaining customers or colleagues because there’s no envelope to be delivered or award ceremony to hold.

As much theatre as you like

As with much received wisdom, if you look a little closer a different picture emerges.
Digital rewards can be issued virtually instantly, giving the person receiving the reward very quick gratification. According to various academic studies, issuing a reward quickly (within seven days) will increase the likelihood that people will repeat the behaviour that generated the reward in the first place. Digital reward strategies can circumvent a lot of manual intervention meaning that rewards can be issued more quickly, increasing their positive impact.

A digital reward can also be issued with as much or as little ceremony as you like. It can be as simple as a text message with a string of numbers, but it can also be delivered with a fair amount of fanfare, hoopla or razzmatazz through the communications process, depending on how much time you have and how creative you wish to be.

More personal and more brand compliant

Even if you don’t need a ceremony, it should be pointed out that personalisation is important to around three quarters of consumers according to our recent white paper, The Evolution of Reward Technology. Automation can deliver fantastic levels of personalisation if it’s done with a bit of thought and finesse. And from an administrative perspective, it can be achieved at a far lower price in comparison with a traditional paper-based scheme.

Related to this, a digital reward can also be branded without adding a great deal of cost to the strategy. This means that even if corporate identities evolve, firms do not need to be stuck working through stocks of vouchers with obsolete logos or losing customer loyalty because they struggle to issue new vouchers in a timely enough manner.

Digital rewards offer flexibility and security

There’s also a lot of flexibility. A digital reward strategy can be delivered via email, SMS, social media or apps, but could equally offer physical cards or merchandise rewards in exchange for a reward code. The key is to give the recipient the ability to exchange an online code for electronic rewards, but also retain the option for physical reward redemption if the recipient is most comfortable with this medium, as well as to maximise the electronic communications surrounding the online presentation. The data that is collected can be consolidated quickly so that the overall reward strategy can keep being refined based on up-to-date data. Digital rewards are also more secure than traditional paper-based approaches.

As more and more digital natives get to the stage where they have independent spending power, expectations are changing. From a work point of view, our studies show that colleagues increasingly expect to enjoy flexible loyalty rewards, while from a retail point of view, the profusion of potential places that consumers could spend their rewards lends itself to the flexibility of digital strategies.

The bottom line is that digital rewards can deliver as much theatre as your strategy requires, as well as a number of other benefits that would be prohibitively expensive through traditional, paper-based strategies. While the technology behind digital strategies continues to evolve, the strategies themselves are now starting to mature and those firms that respond quickly are likely to enjoy the best results.

Love2shop has a number of innovative digital reward solutions, including our Evolve platform – find out more here.