Dolphins or Pavlov dogs: how does your line staff let customers know about a loyalty program? What motivates them?

In May 2018, 4Service company hold a research and determined how employees broadcast a loyalty program to the customers in different business segments and what causes a lack of the involvement. Based on the research, an analogy was made between a dolphin and a Pavlov dog.


Dolphins are intelligent animals. They are able to make their own decisions. Pavlov’s dogs act solely under duress.


A series of focus groups studied the following areas of business: mobile salons, food stores, sporting goods, household goods and repairs, clothing, car dealerships, banks, eateries.

What the customers expect from the favourite brands?
Gifts, bonuses, Individual Happiness      Sense of belonging,
attention approach and positive emotions   shared values

As a basic hypothesis of the research 4Service company took the following concept:

The company, its identity and positioning, attracts consumers. The company management body – the generators of ideas. Personnel – an intermediate link, a channel for transferring information about the loyalty programs and a channel for customers’ involvement. And the client is the final consumer.

The employees are in the focus of research. It was important to identify:

  • the main factors affecting the broadcast of loyalty programs to the end customers;
  • the key “drivers” and to understand the main barriers of employees that hinder their involvement;
  • insights of staff involvement into loyalty programs.

Communication triangle:
Personal communication Study, involvement, motivation, control Company
Employee Digital, Advertising, Promotion

It is the staff that plays one of the key roles that influence the decision making of the client. Their mood directly affects the customer satisfaction. What influences the motivation and the involvement of employees?


Work schedule special aspects: how to cheer up the tired staff


Work schedule special aspects and psycho-physiological state of an employee can have both positive and negative effects on the quality of service. Most of the research participants described their state of health and mood at the beginning of the working day as follows:


  • Cheerful
  • Active (or even hyperactive)
  • Enthusiastic
  • Focused, “resolve situations”
  • In a good mood
  • “Autopilot”
  • “Gaining pace”

Closer to the end of the working day, the condition is as follows:


  • Downhearted
  • Tired
  • “Hightail it out”


As for the impact on communication with the client, almost all of the research participants said that the state does not affect the communication process in any way – “We are so taught that the client is always right.”

However, in case of tiredness and decline in the activity, the effective communication with the client requires additional efforts from them.


There is an exit


For the staff work better, it is necessary to ask how comfortable the work schedule is and how it can be made more comfortable. Additional motivation and loyalty to the brand will also help. Beautiful corporate clothes, useful souvenirs will help to develop a sense of pride in your company.


Microclimate in the team


The moment of the employee “entry” into the team plays the most important role. The help of more experienced colleagues involved in adaptation and the sensitive guidance of an HR manager sow the seeds of loyalty in a new employee. It becomes much easier for him when he is supported in case of difficulties, met with colleagues and will be happy to see every working day.


A good microclimate in the team as a whole positively influences the emotional state of an employee even during difficult working moments and helps to communicate effectively with the end client.


For easy adaptation, it is useful to build a system of mentors within the team. When a professional take under his wing a new one and helps him to adapt.


“Scandalous passengers” kill nerves and motivation of the staff


To support the activity and involvement of the employees, it is important to build a motivation system. For example, a special reward for the best way out of a stressful situation or the best service of a difficult client encourages the staff with passion and a great mood to provide the best service to even the most stressful customers.


It is necessary to hold regularly the training sessions for the team, to teach chips and life-hacks how to deal with stress and correct behaviour in difficult situations. Such training is the best carried out in the form of a workshop. You can play scenes and consider real situations faced by the employees.


Company image in the eyes of employees and the attitude towards the chief manager


The characteristics of the company that affect the perception of staff can be grouped as follows:

  • Company size
  • Fame
  • Stability
  • Company status in comparison with competitors
  • Financial component
  • Attitude towards employees
  • Emotional characteristics

It is curious that the company image among the majority of employees who participated in the research directly correlates with the image of their manager.

To assess the image of the employer-company, the projective “personification” method was also used. As a part of the methodology, it is proposed to present the company as a person.  And then to describe the characteristics and qualities that it possesses.


For the loyal attitude of employees to the company, you need to develop a sense of pride in your company. This will help to regularly inform the staff about the company’s success, values and benefits. Corporate souvenirs that can be used not only in the workplace, but the one that can be gifted to the relatives provide the immediate results.


I believe – I do not believe


A person cannot fully translate or sell a loyalty program without believing in its idea.


4Service company derived the formula for the ideal employee:


I Know + I Believe + I Want + I Can + I Understand + I Must = I Do


At the “I Must” level, the loyalty program transfer is included in the job duties; the performance monitoring system is established and successfully implemented. But the person will not emotionally “sell” the idea, the effectiveness is much lower.


“I Do” level: the person acts, but the drivers and barriers for the employees that prevent or facilitate the involvement of the end customers in loyalty programs are clearly evident.


“I Can” is a real opportunity to offer the loyalty programs, availability of specific and convenient for communication situations in the work process.


The “I Want” level is the motivation of employees to offer loyalty programs to the end customers, and “I Know” is the knowledge of loyalty programs, their list, content, and benefits.


“I Understand” means that the employee has a predisposition and the necessary communication skills necessary for the effective involvement of the clients into loyalty programs.


And “I Believe” is a personal attitude to the loyalty programs, confidence in their effectiveness, customer benefits “I don’t like the idea of pushing a customer into a bullshit”.


If the employee has a combination of all levels, the loyalty program is broadcasted correctly, efficiently and involves the client. But often the desire of management body does not coincide with the reality.


Pavlov’s dog acts solely on the “I Must” level: blindly and without emotion. The dolphin knows, can, believes and works as involved and with pleasure.


To identify what drives your employees, you need to “monitor the situation” regularly. Employee surveys, in-depth interviews with the focus groups, analysis of internal documentation and job descriptions, mystery shopper will help to determine the levels at which the staff is located.


How to grow a Dolphin, not the Pavlov’s Dog?


When you determine the levels, it’s time to act. The main barriers that need to be broken are:

  • I do not know
  • I should not
  • I do not believe
  • I do not want
  • I can not
  • I do not understand


For resistance at each level, there are various measures. They are aimed at overcoming barriers that prevent personnel from effectively broadcasting the loyalty programs to the end customers.


For the barriers “I do not know” and “I do not understand”, it is best to use the regular employee training and knowledge control. Trainings with staff aimed at building the skills necessary to effectively engage clients in loyalty programs.


“I should not” is broken with the job description and the rules prescribed in the functional position. It is necessary together with this to think over and prescribe the monitoring system of implementation.


“I do not want” and “I ca not” is broken with the adjusting of work schedule, forming a system of material and non-material motivation. The tools include the formation and adjustment of scripts, including the process of communication on loyalty programs.


“I do not believe” is one of the most difficult barriers. To overcome it, it is necessary to create a system of loyalty programs aimed at employees. “First I try it myself, then I offer it to others” works because the employee begins to see the advantages and the benefits of loyalty systems. Teambuildings, formation of a comfortable microclimate in the team and the system of “mentoring” helps employees to get involved in the common cause and develop it together with the team.


In order for your employees to effectively and efficiently broadcast the loyalty programs, you need to review all communication processes in the company. It is important to explain the value of the programs for clients, for the company and for the employees themselves. The main thing is that the subconscious of your employees should have not only “I Must”, develop “I Believe” and grow Dolphins, not the Pavlov’s Dogs.



[cf7-form cf7key="exit-form"]