If the final outcome isn’t certain, then elements of certainty can be applied in other ways.

Take coffee shops for example. If, like me, you are a fan of hanging out, meeting friends or working in coffee shops then you’ve probably got a coffee loyalty card or two. Many coffee shops, from large chain ones to small independent ones, offer a loyalty system where you get a free coffee for every 10 coffees you buy (or 6 or 8 or whatever number they choose).

Some offer digital points or rewards stored on a credit-card-sized plastic membership card, like the one offered by Costa Coffee, or the app-based system operated by Starbucks. The digital loyalty systems give the companies who issue them data about your coffee and travel habits so I personally prefer the simplicity of the paper-based ones. With these, you get a stamp for each coffee you buy.

The certainty they offer isn’t in the quality or taste of the coffee itself, but in the promise the cafe makes to customers of the reward they can have for buying them. You don’t have to like coffee, in fact you don’t even have to drink the coffee, but there is a certainty given that if you do buy enough of them to fill your loyalty card, you can have a free one.

Rewards don’t have to cost the seller money either. Many people think providing rewards will be an expensive exercise but with the coffee shop example it probably only costs them a few pence to give you a free drink, and there are also free rewards you can offer.

Have you used Foursquare, owned a Fitbit or provided reviews on Google Maps or TripAdvisor? All of these provide virtual rewards for engagement or effort. Fitbit lets you earn badges for height climbed, or distance walked, run or cycled. Foursquare is a location-based points scheme, very popular a few years ago, in which you checked in to places as you physically visited them. The more places you checked into the more types of virtual badges and awards you could unlock. Google Maps and TripAdvisor offer you points and levels for the amount of information, star ratings and photographs you provide in your reviews.

Ever given any thought to what most virtual badges actually are? Digital icons that start in greyscale, and when you unlock them they turn to colour on your device! And yet people will go to huge lengths to collect them.

Another type of reward you can offer is special status. For example, you could adopt a bronze, silver or gold tiered membership programme, VIP status, priority access, personalised service, first to get in to your sale event or first to try your new experience.

Loyalty schemes, points collection and rewards can provide certainty for customer engagement. People enjoy collecting things and completing challenges and they like to feel like they belong to a special and important in-group. The actual cost value of the benefits may very small but the emotional and motivational benefits can be enormous.

What rewards are you able to offer your customers?