The Green Sheet Online Edition
June 08, 2009 • Issue 09:06:01
Virtual card delivers instant rewards
Pavlov's famous experiments on dogs showed how dogs can be conditioned to expect a certain outcome, such as food, if the same outcome is repeated each time the dog exhibits a certain behavior. Sarah Grotta, Executive Vice President of Products and Marketing for Springbok Services Inc., agrees Springbok's new virtual rewards card offers a similar dynamic.
The immediacy of the reward delivered via the EZspend service to employees or clients is the "name of the game," she said. Designed for the business-to-business and business-to-employee markets, the instant rewards program reinforces customers' loyalty to specific companies and brands, or employers to their employees, she added.
According to Grotta, employers can incentivize employees with the virtual cards, and businesses can do the same with their clients. It is ideal for "very large consumer rebate and consumer loyalty programs, where especially the immediacy of the reward is particularly of interest," she said.
When businesses reward their customers using EZspend, Springbok e-mails customers with registration codes and links to secure, business-branded Web sites. After customers input registration codes, they are presented with virtual, Visa Inc.-branded cards with 16-digit card numbers, expiration dates and cardholder verification value codes. (Grotta said MasterCard Worldwide-branded virtual cards are on the way.)
The cards can be redeemed online or by phone, but not in brick-and-mortar stores. Springbok's clients can also add text messaging capabilities to the cards to enable businesses to connect to their employees and customers via mobile phones. Furthermore, the cards are reloadable, and cardholders can be updated through e-mails and text messages when fresh funds have been loaded on the cards, Grotta noted.
Offering rewards for taking online surveys is one application of the virtual card, Grotta said. On completion of surveys about likes and dislikes of particular products, survey participants are given virtual cards loaded with rebates or other types of incentives that allow them to make purchases in "a matter of minutes," she said.
Springbok contends the speed with which the reward is given makes all the difference. "So, for instance, when I bought my new cell phone, the vendor sent me a prepaid card rebate 30 days later," a Springbok spokeswoman said. "With EZspend, the rebate could've been sitting in my inbox by the time I got home from the store."
Grotta said Springbok is content to remain in the background with EZspend. The virtual cards are customizable with company names, colors, graphics and logos. Web sites to which businesses' employees and clients are directed are equally customizable. Additionally, integrated voice response scripts for phone transactions can be tailored to deliver business-specific messaging.
"We feel very comfortable private-labeling or white-labeling our product suite," Grotta said. "We can brand that visual depiction that the cardholder receives to match up with the client look and feel. And the whole Web site experience can be branded all the way through. And that's also inclusive of all of the service sites as well."
The virtual card also supports the trend toward environmentally friendly business practices. Since physical prepaid cards are not produced, manufacturing and distribution costs are saved.
"If your client is looking at doing that for 10 million customers, the opportunity to save on postage is tremendous," Grotta said.
Like Pavlov's dog, going green through EZspend may be a business' conditioned reflex to financial savings.
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