What is rebate processing? Simply put, it is the act of processing customer rebate entries in response to a rebate offer. A rebate entry generally proceeds through three key stages whilst it is being processed:
- The rebate entry is first received and the contents of the entry are checked against the conditions of the offer. Whilst the rebate entries are being checked they are also being sorted into groups depending upon their qualification status.
- The rebate entries are then bulk entered into a database, in order to create a digital record of the entry.
- Finally, in the case where the rebate entry is qualified, the rebate offer check/item is mailed to the customer. Otherwise, if the entry is disqualified a notice is generally mailed to the customer whereby they may have the opportunity to correct their entry in order to qualify.
1. Rebate Entry is Received, Checked, Sorted
This is the first stage of the Rebate Processing life cycle and it begins with the rebate entry first being received in the mail. The contents of the Mail In Rebate are then inspected and checked against a set of strict rules to determine its qualification status as outlined by the rebate offer. Depending upon the qualification status of the entry, it is then sorted into either a qualified or unqualified group and prepared for bulk entry into the database system.
The most involved part of this stage in processing the rebate is obviously when the rebate entry is being checked for its qualification status. As previously mentioned, there are strict rules governing the validity of a rebate entry and more often than not these rules are different for each rebate offer. Therefore, in order to process a rebate, a rebate fulfillment company must maintain a team of trained staff who are versed in the rules governing each rebate offer and skilled at meticulously reviewing every rebate entry against these rules. There are many different reasons as to why a rebate entry may be deemed as unqualified. Some of the most common are:
Incorrectly Completed Rebate Form
Every rebate form contains required fields, which are clearly outlined in the body of the form. It is the responsibility of the customer to ensure that these fields are correctly entered.
False/Duplicate/Missing Coupon, Receipt or Barcode
Every rebate entry requires a coupon, receipt or barcode, in order to demonstrate proof of purchase of the participating rebate product. A fair percentage of rebate entries fail to provide this proof of purchase, or provide a duplicate or false proof of purchase from a previously redeemed rebate.
A rebate offer may have a strict specification as to the exact type of product, possibly even down to a specific product number, that is participating in the rebate offer.
Rebate Redemption Limits
A rebate offer will most likely have limits on the number of times a rebate offer may be redeemed by a single person or household.
There are a host of other reasons as to why a rebate entry may be disqualified, depending on what rules are governing each rebate offer. It is up to the customer redeeming the rebate to ensure that their rebate entry is consistent with these rules, which are clearly outlined on the rebate form for the offer.
2. Rebate is entered into a Database
The second stage in the Rebate Processing life cycle is the bulk entering of rebate batches into a database system. At this stage a team of professional data entry staff input thousands of entries daily into digital forms, where upon submission they are validated and inserted into a database. Once a digital record has been created for a customer, it becomes part of a process of ongoing statistical analysis that is very valuable to the company offering the rebate. The outcomes of this analysis help companies to better understand their customers and also to better target their marketing campaigns.
3. Rebate Check/Item is sent
The final stage in the Rebate Processing life cycle is fulfilling the rebate entry. In the case where the entry is qualified, fulfilling the entry would involve sending the promised check/item as specified by the rebate offer to the customer who submitted the rebate entry. However, if the rebate entry was unqualified, a notice is sent instead informing the customer who submitted the entry the reason why their entry was unqualified. In most cases this un-qualification notice also informs the customer of how they may correct their entry in order to ultimately qualify.