In Consumer Rebate Programs, Manufacturer Rebate Program, Rebate Fulfillment

The Execution Of Your Rebate Processing Can Make Or Break Its Success  

Rebates are a great promotional strategy. Not only do they offer your customers a sweet reward for their purchase, but they provide you with the marketing power you need to beat out your competitors and stay on top in your market. This “value” should be music to your ears–especially when you consider that it is value your discounts and coupon offers can’t compare to.

While there’s plenty of good that can result from a rebate program–there is always the potential for things to miss the mark. More often than not, we see rebate programs (as well as other types of promotional programs) fail when it comes to the execution behind the program.

While your offer may be enticing and drive a customer to purchase–the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of the operations behind your program can make or break a customer’s experience. And it’s no secret to us marketers that it only takes one negative customer experience to ruin a customer relationship or even your brand’s reputation.

We’re not saying it’s going to be easy, because it’s certainly not. In many situations, rebate redemption can be a “high-touch” and manual process. As with any “manual” process today, this puts a strain on internal bandwidth and creates a greater risk for mistakes. We’ll say it again, your goal when it comes to rebate processing is to make it quick, efficient and accurate.

Below we’ve listed the steps that should go into your rebate redemption process. These steps will allow you to achieve your goal of quick, efficient, and accurate rebate processing and ultimately create happy customers and marketing success!  

6 Steps To Successful Rebate Processing

So, you offered an enticing rebate program and your customer bought into it! They’ve submitted their rebate form and it’s on its way. Better hit start on that processing clock of yours. We’ll get going here with step one in three, two, one…

1. Receive and Scan

Depending on the specifics of your rebate program, customers might be submitting their rebates via mail or text, through an app or an online portal. Your options for rebate redemption methods are extensive and it’s important to choose one (or a combination) that aligns with your customer’s preferences.

No matter the method–all submissions will need to be gathered, sorted by campaign, and scanned into your system.

The Incentive Insights Way:

When we process rebate submissions for our clients we go through and scan the contents of every submission. Because we specialize in rebate processing–we’re able to complete this first step in a timely manner no matter the volume.     

Whether you’re processing rebates internally or outsourcing to a partner, it’s important to ensure that this first step happens within 36 hours of receipt so you can move on to the next steps.

2. Data Entry

Next, data from each submission should be read and then entered into a campaign specific form. Since the data is what leads to the approval or denial of a rebate, accuracy is critical during this step.

The Incentive Insights Way:

We pass digitalized submissions electronically and securely on to our team of highly trained data entry operators. Each submission goes through our extensive verification process (discussed later in the blog). This process requires two different individuals to enter the data separately. If there are any discrepancies in the data entered, it is reviewed until a match is made. While technology has certainly come a long way in recent years–it cannot be entirely relied on to read handwritten, multi-page invoices like a skilled human. This Double Entry Verification Process allows us to guarantee an average accuracy rate of 99 percent. In addition, our team of data entry operators are skilled across multiple form types and languages.

3. Customer Service

The more you’re able to communicate with your rebate program’s participants throughout the redemption process the better. Consider setting up workflows that will allow you to communicate with participants at each step of the process.

  • Upon receipt of a participant’s submission,
  • when a participant’s submission is entered,
  • and, when a participant’s submission status changes.

A great rebate processing company will balance high-quality processing and customer satisfaction. We mention this here in step three because the satisfaction of your customers weighs heavily on your ability to keep them “in the loop” on the status of their rebate. Keep this important factor in mind.

The Incentive Insights Way

At Incentive Insights, we put our clients’ in the driver’s seat with regards to their customer support and exceptions. Our clients have the freedom to determine how strictly they want to enforce their promo rules. They decide if they want us to contact them when we see exceptions, or when their customers have an extraordinary situation that may warrant some compassion (bending the rules) to accommodate their specific challenge/situation. We supply the same high-quality support regardless of the specific preferences our clients’ set up.

4. Validation and fraud detection

Based on the rules of your specific rebate program, each submission should be put to the “test”. Does it or does it not align with the guidelines you set for your rebate program?

In order to maintain a profitable incentive program, you can’t afford to reward invalid or fraudulent claims. Effective rebate validation goes further than “yes” or “no”. Essentially, rebate submissions should be cross-checked against know fraud databases, third party data, USPS deliverable databases, household limits, data standardization, etc.

The Incentive Insights Way

Our team goes the extra mile for our clients with extensive validation. In addition to regular checks, we check for these other trends routinely.

  • Human being pattern recognition (multiple envelopes in same handwriting from same address or similar addresses)
  • Mismatches on receipts  
  • Suspicious documents that look like a consumer-created them instead of submitting actual receipts for their purchase,  
  • Customer submissions that have a receipt from a different retailer/purchase such as a Walmart receipt for razor blades instead of the automotive shop receipt for 4 tires with install, etc.

Consider taking these rebate fraud prevention steps during the initial planning phases of your rebate program.

The Incentive Insights Way

If there’s one thing we think humans do better than machines–it’s making decisions. We have developed a systematic validation process that allows us to provide our clients with reliability, accuracy and speed. Due to our experience in rebate processing, we’re able to go the extra mile when it comes to validation. Not only do we know what sources to cross-check against but we’ve also come to learn the signs of rebate fraud which allow us to snag potentially fraudulent claims that might have otherwise been approved.  

5. Invoicing and funding

One of the most common delays in the rebate redemption process occurs when invoicing and funding is required. The best way to avoid this is to keep your account pre-funded. When your internal team or rebate provider determines a final number of valid submissions, they’re able to continue on to step six.

The Incentive Insights Way

For our clients, we offer flexible invoicing options. Weekly, biweekly, monthly, customized schedule allow our clients to select and option that fits their needs. We also offer flexible payment options so our clients can fund their rebates in a way that makes the most sense for their needs and payables procedures.

6. Reward fulfillment

At last, the step you and your customers (but mainly your customers) have been waiting for–fulfillment! Rebate submissions have been received, data entered, validated and reward funded, now it’s time to get your customers their reward.

The Incentive Insights Way:

At Incentive Insights, we don’t feel as though your reward options should be limited. That’s why we always do our best to accommodate for the reward type our clients want to offer their customers. One of the most popular reward types we offer are virtual and physical branded prepaid rebate cards. Physical reward cards can be on their way to your customer’s mailbox as soon as two days after funding is received. And virtual rewards, those can be sent almost instantly (given the adequate funding).

Ideally, the entire process should last no longer than 2 business weeks (four to five business days from submission receipt to reward issuance). For you, this means customer insights and data for better decision making and happy customers–win, win!

If your internal rebate processing team or current rebate partner isn’t able to complete this process in a time and resource efficient way–it’s time to look elsewhere. Our clients are able to execute on rebate programs that are profitable and deliver real results. Reach out to our team to learn more about what we can do for you in terms of rebate processing and fulfillment.  

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