How to Integrate Rewards Program Vendors for Providing the BEST User Experience

How to Integrate Rewards Program Vendors for Providing the BEST User Experience


That’s the magic word in consumer health incentive programs. It’s the operative word. Because without incentive, no program will work. If program members aren’t incentivized, they don’t participate. And lack of member participation will assure the failure of any program.

There are many ways to assure that your program provides incentive to your members. Unfortunately, there are also many ways to assure that your program DIS-incentivizes your members.

And allowing vendor-integration chaos to creep into your program’s workings is one of the shortest, quickest paths to disincentivizing members.

Integration or Segregation?

Is your incentive program integrated or segregated? Are all vendors integrated into a smooth-running team, or are they all sort of doing their own thing, in their own way?

The ultimate success of your program can hinge upon the answer to that question. And the correct answer, of course, is that all of your vendors are integrated into a smooth-running, cohesive team.

Unfortunately, the realistic answer to that question is often the opposite. As noted in a Harvard Business Review article, “When hired independently, these vendors often work in silos, which can result in overlapping or duplicated work.” The impact to your program can be vendor-integration chaos. Incentive-killing chaos.

You can optimize the integration of your program’s vendors by focusing upon the following three keys:

1) Techie Talk

The IT teams of the various vendors need to talk amongst themselves. Or, to put it differently: the techies need to talk.

The IT teams, ultimately, handle the nuts-and-bolts of making the integration work — or not. So it’s important that the IT teams from the vendors are able to communicate directly with each other. And that’s simply not the same as having a message passed from one vendor’s IT team to that vendor’s management team, and then to another vendor’s management team, and then finally to the other vendor’s IT team. Too much can be lost in translation during that cumbersome and inefficient process.

Let the techies talk directly to each other. After all, it often takes a techie to understand a techie.

2) Presenting a Unified Front

The ultimate goal is to present a unified front to the program’s members. The member experience shouldn’t feel like a process of navigating from one vendor to another. Instead, the vendor team should interact with members as a cohesive whole.

Not surprisingly, this goal can be difficult to achieve. Each of the program’s vendors is a unique company, with its own culture and its own approach to conducting business.

So how can all of these companies successfully merge, virtually speaking, into a single unit? By assuring that all member-facing interactions and processes meet common, agreed-upon standards, and present a common look and feel.

Some examples:

  • A universal set of business requirements shared among all vendors
  • A common data dictionary
  • Using data mapping to define relationships between different vendors’ data
  • QA that tests the technical relationships between vendors and assures that all processes function smoothly from the members’ perspective (user acceptance testing is particularly important)

3) The Buck Stops…Where?

When multiple vendors are involved, someone must take the lead in coordinating the integration of each vendor. Someone must be responsible for assuring that the vendor team interacts smoothly, and that a quality member experience is maintained.

Who should that ‘someone’ be? Ideally, it will be one of the vendors. In a perfect system, one of the vendors will be able to serve as a digital hub.

This vendor of record should have the ability to view and monitor the raw data that fuels the interactions between all vendors. The vendor should be able to continuously monitor the status of vendor integrations, and assure that all vendors are working together as a harmonized whole.

Not all vendors are able to provide this service. But it’s critical that one of your program’s vendors is capable of serving as a digital hub, and willing to do so. (ChipRewards, by the way, currently provides this service for many programs.)

Making Magic — or Not

A few years ago, the National Institute for Health Care Management published a study, Building a Stronger Evidence Base for Employee Wellness Programs. The study noted that one of the keys to program success is the effectiveness with which various program components are integrated into the whole: “The best programs combine the diverse wellness program components into a unified and coherent program…”

That certainly applies to a program’s vendors.

After all, vendors comprise the basic building blocks of any program. Integrating the vendors smoothly and cohesively into the program helps make the incentivization magic happen. And conversely, nothing kills the incentivization magic quicker than vendor-integration chaos.

The ChipRewards incentive platform is fully capable of handling multi-vendor management, assuring a fully integrated, cohesive vendor team. To learn more, contact