Incentives and the Progression Dynamic

In one of our previous posts about using game dynamics with incentives, we mentioned briefly the utility of the progression dynamic. Of the four dynamics discussed, this particular one could prove to be the most influential to any incentive or loyalty program.

For a quick refresher, the progression dynamic mentioned here is defined as as one in which success is granularly displayed and measured through the process of itemized tasks. We've stated on several occasions that incentive programs should be focused on specific goals for success. We've also talked about how rewarding small behaviors influences the big picture. Using a progression dynamic system in your program, you can achieve both objectives.

The Progression Dynamic of Rapid Rewards

Several loyalty programs take full advantage of this. Take Southwest Airlines' Rapid Rewards program as an example. There are two clear goals established for a Rapid Rewards member

  • Earn a free round trip flight
  • Earn A-List Status

A free trip has its own unspoken benefits for the customer. A-List status not only has a few rewards in route to earning that title (at least two free flights) but also enjoys other perks such as line-jumping at Southwest A-List Progression Barticket counters and automated checkins - giving members the best available boarding pass. A Rapid Rewards account homepage shows several statistics showing progress. At the bottom right of the screen, a progress bar is displayed, giving a visual representation of how close a member is to achieving the A-List status goal. Above that, your progression towards a free rewards flight is detailed. This itemized box includes how many credits you have earned and how many credits are left to earn your next free flight.

In addition to the above mentioned details and other features showing your recent flights and upcoming flights that contribute to your Rapid Rewards credit, Southwest also provides several ways to earn incremental awards. Often times members receive coupons for free drinks and exclusive deals throughout the year for flying with Southwest. They are always engaging members and clearly communicate what members need to do to earn awards while also showing them their progress in that task. It's a simple method but one incentive and loyalty programs should note.

It's About Communication

For an incentive program to thrive, clear communication is needed - we've mentioned that on here before. A large component  of that communication is expressing exactly what steps need to be taken in order to accomplish the goal. Little things like visual representations - even mundane things like progression bars - will do a lot to help motivate progress. Tapping into this progression dynamic while rewarding incrementally along the way makes your incentive program more and more like a game. A game where there is no real "first place" but one where everyone with a goal has a clear cut path of achievement.

What do you all think? Does this progression dynamic encourage a positive game layer to an incentives program?