Incentive programs applied wrong are a pet peeve of mine.
Recently, we were driving on one of Florida’s straighter-than-the-path-of-light highways and we passed a sign advertising a loyalty program for Sunpass.
Sunpass is the state’s automated toll collection system, based on transponders, like most of those in use. The pay-per-use network of highways in Florida is extensive, and quite good in general. Operator attended, or even cash-enabled collection booths have been phased out at most entry and exit points, leaving Sunpass or toll-by-plate as the only practical options.
The sign advertised their “new” loyalty program, which allegedly discounts the rate for frequent users of the system. “The more you drive, the less you pay”.
I could not help but to ask myself, what is this program incentivizing for? There are a few possibilities:
- Use of toll-roads above regular (slower?) free options. There is no inherent incentive in this sense, because free continues to be free under this program, and less expensive is still not free.
- Use of Sunpass over cash or toll-by-plate. If the objective is to have more of the people who already utilize the system, to have an automated account, instead of just using toll-by-plate, the program doesn’t advertise that. The incentive here should be to create a differential between the two payment forms (which the program does, but it is not advertised this way).
- Incentivize more driving, no matter what. This is what the program seems to be aiming for according to the advertising. This cannot be good for anyone, but it would be such a Floridian thing to do.
When designing rewards programs, start with the behavior to be incentivized. Know the customer journey. Look for unintended consequences. Advertise the benefit for the intended behavior.