The online retailing landscape is littered with the bones of organizations that were not able to fully execute on their plans. When customer satisfaction begins to drop, there are dozens of other companies hungry to take up your position in the market — and they won’t even blink as they snatch your customers. Perhaps the best way to keep your competitors out of your business is to provide the highest quality and most personal service available, at each step of the sales process. You’re accustomed to maximizing your sales potential by training your office and sales staff, updating your website and making sure you have top quality products and prices. However, are you optimizing each interaction with customers, or is there a particular step that’s causing frustration and negativity among your customer base?
Recently, a major investment group came to us with just this issue. They are growing rapidly, and their many acquisitions have a strong customer base. Their growth to date has included multiple acquisitions of other organizations that were either competitors or who offered complimentary products. Acquisition is a fantastic way to expand quickly, but it can also cause some serious growing pains for staff and customers alike. In this particular instance, the problem was in their rebate and incentive programs. Each new organization that was acquired had a slightly different way to handle rebates. This caused a great deal of tension between customers and staff, tension that affected customer satisfaction with the brand overall. The management team knew they needed to make a change, and make it fast. They contacted our team at Incentive Insights for help getting through this rough patch in their growth cycle. We were able to consolidate a large number of disparate manufacturer incentive programs into a cohesive and user-friendly whole.
About the Client
The U.S.-based automotive investment group of after-market truck upgrades and accessories is a recognized leader in their market. After founding a number of manufacturing units over the years, the organization came together in its current incarnation approximately 10 years ago with a range of complementary product lines. The cycle of approximately one acquisition per year continued, a furious pace that brought intense growth but also caused customer confusion and dissatisfaction with various processes — most specifically, their rebate options.
As each brand was acquired, our client was faced with yet another integration of processes, procedures, technology, and employees. This was exacerbated by the fact that customers saw the face of the organization as a single unit, which caused confusion when each manufacturing group required a different set of policies and standards in terms of their rebate program. Some rebates were handled internal to the group, while others were processed by external vendors.
Vendor management was expensive in terms of dollars, while internal programs were expensive in terms of staff time. Managing both side by side was costing the company significant funds and dilution of focus at a time when rapid acquisitions were exceptionally important. Overall costs began to spiral out of control and customer satisfaction started to plunge.
Annual profits for the corporation are significant, but even an outlay of capital couldn’t fix the challenges that customers were having with the rebate programs that were currently in use. Some vendors that were hired during this period provided sub-standard service to customers, with long wait times to receive rebate checks and little to no flexibility in the way that rebates were administered. Metrics were nonexistent, and there was no transparency to higher management about the overall viability of the various rebate programs. There was little to no consistency of service or costs for the various incentive programs.
Customers began to complain as individual brands were slow to fund rebates, even after our client hired an external accounting firm in an attempt to process payables in a more timely manner. Customer complaints centered around the unstable and inconsistent service levels between brands, the confusion of trying to decipher a convoluted incentive program and the lag time between rebate requests and receipt of the funds.
When our team was approached to consolidate the various rebate fulfillment processes and incentive programs into a single, cohesive approach that was based in metrics and provided both line management and executives with the accountability they needed — we jumped at the chance.
The Incentive Insights team took the time to listen to the client first and truly understand their needs. Our team became an extension of our client’s teams, working closely together to fully document challenges in order to design a solution that would be workable in the long term. One of the client’s key frustrations was in the time that it took for payments to reach their customer base. That was quickly solved — the team at Incentive Insights was able to implement a solution that uses reduced cost first-class mail that expedites the receipt of rebate checks without paying the traditional first-class postage cost.
Incentive Insights offers a modern approach to the age-old sales tactic of rebates, including fully customized solutions and reporting that is tailored to the needs of the organization. Our approach is ethical at all times, and provides a way of building relationships between customers and our clients that will stand the test of time. Traditional rebate fulfillment builds frustration, while modern solutions leverage technology and data to speed value back to the customer in a way that encourages ongoing engagement and social sharing. Plus, the wealth of data that is captured allows you to target future promotions more effectively. These real-time insights into your customers provide your agile marketing teams with the ammunition needed to always hit the target with promotions.
The manufacturer rebate incentive program adopted by our client includes comprehensive customer service support, based on our core philosophy of superior customer service before, during and after the sale. Individual brands that had their own procedures and policies for handling rebates in place are finding it a little more difficult to quantify their gains, but it stands to reason that the additional capacity that has been released by process consolidation and service is significant. Business units that were already outsourcing their rebate fulfillment and incentive programs have seen massive gains — in customer satisfaction ratings with the brand overall as well as with the rebate and incentive processes.
Plus, the flexibility of being able to offer promotions far beyond the “send a check to the customer” option is much appreciated. The new and more flexible incentive and rebate program provided by Incentive Insights allows marketing managers and sales leaders room for additional creativity in the terms of their programs.
Finally, the transparency of the system appeals to leaders at all levels of the organization. In-depth data mining and analysis are available on the wealth of information that is captured on a daily basis. Traditional programs are much more transactional than relationship-focused, while the new programs available to be customized from Incentive Insights focus on the long-term relationships that can be built through the appropriate use of data and technology.
Reports were customized for this particular client to let them know when a specific business unit was under- or over-performing in terms of rebate administration. This allowed program administrators and business leaders to make adjustments quickly and without disrupting the flow of business. Demographic and psychographic data captures allow marketers to mine for extended audiences for cross-marketing purposes, too.
Ready to get started on your own contemporary rebate program that will wow your customers and impress your staff with the ease of administration? Contact Incentive Insights today to learn more and increase your sales performance.