partial reinforcement is better over the longer term than continual or no reinforcement

Did Qantas inspire your next business promotion?

Qantas airlines have created a new business arm: Qantas Assure.  In partnership with NIB health insurance customers will be able to claim frequent flyer points in return for being active. Launching in the first half of 2016, they will offer a wellness app that syncs with mobile phones and wearables such at Fitbits and Apple Watches, logging the number of steps taken in a day and then depositing Qantas frequent flyer points into member accounts.  Eventually points will be able to be earned for other forms of physical activity beyond walking and running. “Qantas Loyalty chief executive Lesley Grant said the idea behind Qantas Assure came from members saying they wanted to be rewarded for leading a more active lifestyle. Qantas said there were estimates around one-quarter of Australians now own a fitness tracker, but fewer than one in five Australians took the recommended 10,000 steps per day.

(Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 2015)

What can your business learn from this?

With the increase of fitness programs being shown on television and older people realising being active is the best preventative medicine this is a great time for fitness providers to offer incentives to existing and new clients to maintain and/or increase their fitness membership levels.  It would be anticipated that through recognition and reward, not only will retention rates increase, but so too membership rates. But, you don’t have to be in the fitness industry to share the tips from the Qantas and NIB partnership. The theory of a ‘given reward’ (in the case above frequent flyer points)  in return for a ‘given behaviour’ (using your services/product or as in the case above walking/jogging) is a great marketing strategy for all industries. Psychological studies show that not only is the end result (the service/product provided as well as its outcome) not always reward enough, but also that continuous reward will not be motivation enough to maintain using the service/product.  However it will initially strengthen the behaviour.

So what is a good takeaway strategy for acquiring and retaining clients/customers based on Qantas’ research?

When acquiring new clients/customers a regular reward is most beneficial.  For example, providing a 5% discount on the next four services;  a free cup of coffee every time you come into the business premises.  When your client is established, switch to partial reinforcement. An example of partial reinforcement is after a random number of services/products sold  give you client/customer a $50 gift voucher to say thanks for being a loyal supporter.  According to partial reinforcement theory (a strategy used in casinos) when a response is reinforced after an unpredictable number of responses it creates a high steady rate of responding. Other simple strategies for retaining your clients/customers and getting more referrals, apart from great customer service; are going above and beyond what is expected from you – whether that is a personalised birthday greeting or the provision of a cup of coffee.  It is the small tokens, above what is expected, that make all the difference. Do you offer loyalty programs to your clients/customers?  If you do share in the comments and let us know what works!  

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