Finding Your Way Online

By Malcolm Fleschner

Every year online incentive software solutions get better. They add more features, increase ease of use and eliminate more of the mind-numbingly tedious tasks traditionally associated with program administration. Yet many sales managers stubbornly cling to antiquated paper-based programs. Online incentive service vendors might reasonably inquire of these managers: What are you waiting for?

If the answer to that question is that managers are waiting for expert advice that will help them find the right online incentive solutions provider, then they are in luck. Potentials Magazine recently offered up the following five tips for sales organizations thinking of making the incentive migration to the Web.

1. You better shop around. Nowadays, virtually any solution you choose will be able to save you time and money. All programs offer rapid employee tracking and per participant savings that grow exponentially the more people you have enrolled. That said, take the time to investigate a number of the offerings. The most basic programs might cost in the low four figures whereas comprehensive, corporate-wide solutions can run into the high six figures. Look for a solution that can be customized to fit your needs.

2. Remember not everyone may be online. At some companies all employees are online at all times. But not everyone is riding the technology crest. Even in the Information Age some workers still go about their business away from a computer screen. For them your online incentive program should contain offline elements that enable participants to check in via the telephone or – gasp! – even snail mail.

3. Get it in writing. Consulting organizations often charge fees for additional management services or data comparisons above and beyond what’s stipulated in the original contract. At the outset you should know exactly what you’re paying for and what will cost extra. Then make sure all parties sign on so you have every pricing policy and service in writing.

4. Think location, location, location. Companies with participants spread all over the country – or the globe, for that matter – should consider where the actual prizes will be distributed. Local fulfillment can prove a make-or-break factor in a program’s success, as the effect diminishes the longer winners have to wait to receive their well-earned rewards. Other considerations include proper electric current for electronics, TV/VCR/DVD formats, warranties and safety approvals.

5. Get everybody on board for training. Most providers include training for program administrators. If local managers also will have administrative responsibilities, get them in on the training too. Make sure your solution includes options and applications that improve ease of use for participants, such as a FAQ section and drop-down menus that explain the program’s capabilities.