review request incentive program

How To Create a Review Request Incentive Program For Your Employees

Review request incentive programs should be built around your employees giving style. These 4 different structures will appeal to your team and their needs. Read More...

What's the first step to creating a successful review request incentive program? Is it possible?

If it is, how do you do it? How do you motivate your employees to pursue customer reviews? Mobilizing employees isn't a common review marketing strategy, but it's incredibly effective if you can pull it off.

It's also dangerous.

One careless misstep can create an unwanted fiasco. But with that danger comes an incredible opportunity and a significant payoff. Is there a safe way to pull this off?

Without a doubt.

Your review request incentive program begins with a choice

What are you willing to give?

Do your employees expect the best from you?

They should.

Employees tend to look for very specific things. They want to be rewarded for their efforts. They want to feel that they're on the same page with you, that you're working together to achieve a common goal.

Are you?

See, here's the thing. It really isn't about what you're giving. It's actually more about the spirit behind your giving. Your employees want to see if you're the kind of giver they're willing to support.

Wait, what?

Yup, the reward matters, but the type of giver matters more.

Okay then.

This raises some important questions.

  • How many types of givers are there?
  • How do we sort through this to identify any changes we need to make?
  • Why would we want to give our employees anything in the first place?

How does that saying go again?

Nice guys finish last?

Why would you go out of your way to reward employees for something they should already be doing for you? Isn't that what you're already paying them for?

First things first.

What kind of giver are you anyway?

Adam Grant PhD, Wharton professor, management consultant and author of the book Give and Take states there are three kinds of people.

1. Givers. These people are altruistic givers who go out of their way to share their time, knowledge, resources, connections and support with those around them with no strings attached and no expectation of return. These givers come in two varieties: selfless givers drop everything to help people all the time. Otherish givers are smart, strategic and wise about their giving.

2. Matchers preserve balance. If you take from them, they take from you. If you give to them, they give to you.

3. Takers are self-focused. They put their interests ahead of the needs of others. They try to take as much as they can from others while giving or contributing as little as they can in return.

These profiles apply to organizations as well.

Here's the interesting thing about these three types of people/organizations. Contrary to popular belief, it's givers, Otherish givers in particular, who succeed.

Why?

Takers develop a reputation for selfishness. As a result, matchers tend to return the favor, knocking them down. This is why takers rarely succeed in their relationships and networks. On the other hand, matchers work hard to reciprocate on a giver's good deeds.

And the givers?

Their focus is on adding value and enriching the lives of those around them so they're loved and trusted by everyone. Givers have stronger and happier relationships. Remember that saying? Nice guys finish last?

It's true.

But it's only true for selfless givers, the kind of givers who leave themselves exposed to takers. Selfless givers lack the boundaries and limits they need to protect themselves from takers so these nice people are chronically abused.

Should your incentive program fit your giving style?

I would argue no.

In fact, I'd actually argue for the opposite. Your review request incentive program shouldn't be built around your giving style, it should be built around your employees giving style.

What does that mean?

It means you create an incentive plan that's flexible enough to reward your employees based on their individual giving style. There is an incredible degree of flexibility here but that's important.

Why?

Employees are free to choose the giving style that works for them, when it works for them.

Okay then.

What are some helpful incentive programs you can use to reward your employees?

The bonus pool

The bonus pool creates a virtuous cycle that rewards good behavior of all kinds, not just review requests. This is based on Basecamp's profit sharing program. Here's how it works.

1. Earmark a specific fee as a reward. Employees receive a predetermined amount. This can be distributed evenly or proportionally (i.e. based on an employee's individual performance). Be sure to set compensation minimums and maximums.

2. Set a goal that's specific, timed and measurable e.g. 20 to 35 five star reviews each month on a specific platform (i.e. Google reviews). Set per person quotas to encourage teamwork, leverage social proof and minimize abuse.

3. User tracking system (i.e. unique affiliate or bit.ly links) to determine which employee gets credit for what customer and when.

4. Divide the total you selected in step one by the total number of employees in your incentive program. This is the amount each employee would receive.

Here's the good thing about this bonus pool.

It encourages your team to work together. It discourages a hypercompetitive, cutthroat environment. What's fantastic about this incentive program is the fact that it uses social proof to identify employees across a wide variety of core metrics.

The bonus pool helps you to identify:

  • A players, A player potentials (who need a little bit of help to get there), B players and finally C players
  • Your selfless givers, otherish givers, matchers and takers
  • Employees who are conscientious (or not), agreeable, neurotic or extroverted
  • Leaders and followers, creators and consumers

Individual performance benchmarks

This incentive program rewards employees on a sliding scale. It requires more effort and time to track performance, but it rewards employee behavior proportionally. Here's how it works.

1. You create a system of tiered rewards (e.g. first review = X, 10 reviews = Y, 25 reviews = 50). This tiered system rewards individual effort and results.

2. Set a goal e.g. five reviews per week. Create individual quotas that leverage social proof and prestige.

3. User tracking system (i.e. unique affiliate or bit.ly links) to determine which employee gets credit for what customer and when.

4. Payout on a regular schedule (e.g. weekly, monthly or quarterly). Reward employees as often as you can.

Individual performance benchmarks helps you to identify:

  • Top, medium and low performers
  • The competitive nature of each individual employee
  • Employees who are conscientious (or not), agreeable, neurotic or extroverted
  • Leaders and followers

Conditional employee profit-sharing

Profit-sharing produces the greatest amount of employee commitment and loyalty but it also requires a bigger commitment on your part. It's similar to the bonus pool but the rewards are greater and more significant. Profit sharing aligns employee/employer interests producing the best results over the long term. Here's how it works.

1. Earmark a specific percentage or fee as a reward. Could be quarterly earnings, net profits, gross revenues - it's up to you really. Next, choose a specific percentage that fits your needs (e.g. 10% of net profits, 5% of quarterly net revenue, a flat fee set annually)

2. Set a goal e.g. 14 five star Avvo reviews per week. Maintain a 5:1 review ratio.

3. User tracking system (i.e. unique affiliate or bit.ly links) to determine which employee gets credit for what customer and when.

4. Payout on a regular schedule (e.g. weekly, monthly or quarterly). Reward employees as often as you can.

Conditional employee profit-sharing helps you to identify:

  • A players, A player potentials (who need a little bit of help to get there), B players and finally C players
  • Your selfless givers, otherish givers, matchers and takers
  • Employees who are conscientious (or not), agreeable, neurotic or extroverted
  • Leaders and followers, creators and consumers

Impromptu contests

Impromptu contests can be used to generate a significant money response before, during and after an incentive program. Impromptu contests typically work best with single or one-time rewards. Here's how it works.

1.Use surveys to identify a list of high value, one time rewards (e.g. $2,500, a new TV, a vacation etc.)

2. Set an abnormal or higher than average goal (e.g. 100 reviews on a new platform or site, a stretch goal of 25 reviews per platform, per month.)

3. User tracking system (i.e. unique affiliate or bit.ly links) to determine which employee gets credit for what customer and when.

4. Provide evidence (via images, video, notification) of the payout to contest winners and losers.

Some important caveats:

1. Your incentive program should incentivize employees never customers. A pay-for-play scheme permanently destroys the integrity and trustworthiness of your reviews. It's not worth it.

2. This system should disincentivize any and all attempts to game or manipulate your review request incentive program. Anyone who attempts to manipulative system should, at a minimum, be disqualified from the program.

3. Text, photo, audio, video and combo reviews are more valuable than an aggregate star rating.

Why didn't we focus on alternative compensation scheme (e.g. gifts, gift cards, trips, etc.)? Because employees are primarily motivated by cold, hard cash.

That said, we will discuss some other compensation ideas later this week that might work better for your employees.

But, cash creates choice.

It gives your employees the opportunity to choose the rewards they want, when they want it.

Your employees want a choice. What are you willing to give?

Your employees want the best from you.

The benefits are important. Employees tend to look for very specific things. They want to be rewarded for their efforts. They want to feel that they're on the same page with you, that you're working together to achieve a common goal.

As we've seen, the focus isn't entirely on what you're giving.

It's actually more about the spirit behind your giving. Your employees want to see if you're the kind of giver they're willing to support.

Are you?

Contrary to popular belief, it's givers, Otherish givers, in particular, who succeed.

Givers go out of their way to share their time, knowledge, resources, connections and support with those around them. No strings attached, no expectation of return.

Are you that kind of giver?

Your review request incentive program shouldn't be built around your giving style, it should be built around your employees' giving style. With the right approach and a compelling incentive, you'll have what you need to reward your employees and win reviews.

No danger or doubt.

About the Author

Andrew McDermott

Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin and the co-author of Hook: Why Websites Fail to Make Money. He shows entrepreneurs how to attract and win new customers.

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