Not all B2B loyalty programs are the same - B2B vs B2C
Let's set the stage. I recently submitted a claim for a consumer rebate for a few hundred dollars for a furnace purchase. The posted expectation was that the claim would be paid in 60 days. It took 120 days. Not great service, but it will be another 20 years before I buy another furnace so my loyalty is not valued. On the other hand, if I was a business leader looking for a service provider for processing loyalty claims, I would think twice about the company that doubled the SLA on the rebate processing.
B2B Loyalty Matters - You need SLAs and Live Customer Support
Here's a B2B scenario, typical of the clients that we work with. Any one of our clients will have hundreds or thousands of sales reps in the field working for resellers, distributors, and agents. Our clients rely on the long term commitment and loyalty of these 'indirect' reps, and this loyalty is increasingly fragile as competitive intensity increases. These sales reps in the field submit claims for sales incentives based on the products they are selling through to end users. But unlike the consumer scenario, these reps submit claims for sales spiffs continuously throughout the year. The process has to be easy, there has to be an SLA that sets expectations for approval times for claims submitted, accuracy, processing time for redemption requests for rewards, etc.
And the SLA has to work for both the reseller's sales rep as well as the manufacturer running the program. Get it right and reps love selling for you. Mess it up and reps will abandon the spiff program and the overall relationship becomes a little more open to competitive influence. We've talked to many sales reps that acknowledge they have access to sales incentive programs that they will not use because the program is not reliable. That's not loyalty, and long term revenue is at stake.
A Great Sales Rep Wants to Sell
They don't want paperwork. They don't want to fight to get paid for a spiff. And a great sales rep always knows exactly how much money he or she has coming to them.
A Great Sales Rep Wants Great Service
So put a great SLA in place that also includes response times for inquiries via phone or email - from people that know every aspect of the program. No matter how excellent your program, there will be questions, exceptions and general inquiries. Many companies have seen the failure of their Loyalty program because they do not offer LIVE support for their participants. And make sure your participants don't have to wait 20 minutes on 'hold' to get to speak to someone offshore that barely understands the program. Reps will want their 20 minutes back.
Live Support Builds B2B Loyalty
When a sales pro has difficulty navigating a webpage or submitting a claim, they can become extremely frustrated if there is no LIVE support to assist them. We have found that loyalty programs, which are supported by an experienced Loyalty Call Centre, have a much greater success rate due to satisfied users. A loyalty program must offer more than simply attractive incentives. They must have a North American based LIVE call centre that meets and exceeds the program SLA’s. We have seen our share (and saved a few too) of programs that were not supported by LIVE agents.
Program feedback comes to us from the satisfied users who are grateful for the “hand-holding” when navigating the website, the “comfort” of an agent on the phone when having difficulty entering a claim, and the ability to get a simple status check on a claim or promotion entry.
LIVE call centre agents, along with a 1 business day Turnaround Time on all communications, including email, will give your program the support it truly needs. Your program participants deserve and expect this service, don’t leave them guessing!
What SLAs do you offer? How do they stack up in your industry? Are you meeting your SLAs?