eBook: Customer Experience Measurement

This eBook explores methodologies and approaches for measuring customer experience in multi-location businesses. We look at pros and cons based on our experience with hundreds of client programs that address the needs of large and complex Fortune 10 brands with thousands of locations, to emerging brands with 100 or fewer locations.

 

 

 

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Retail is not Dead: Suggestive Sell Index

We continue to be told that brick and mortar stores are going the way of the dinosaur, that they will all be gone before long and that Amazon will be the one-stop shop for all purchases that we make. And to look at the number of retail store closings for 2017, there is certainly strong evidence to support that conclusion.

Source: "There's one major thing everyone gets wrong about Amazon and the retail apocalypse," Hayley Peterson, Business Insider, July 22, 2017.

And while it is true that certain retail store formats are struggling, the truth is others are thriving. One example is Ace Hardware. Ace Hardware just came in first place for customer satisfaction and loyalty in Market Force Information’s annual Home Improvement Study. They placed well in the study largely because of their focus on in-store selling. As they say, “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks.” It is true that sales floor associates at Ace Hardware are just better at greeting customers, engaging them as to why they came in, assessing that need, making the appropriate recommendation and then asking for the sale. Simple, right?

Well, unfortunately a good number of retail brands don’t execute on this simple set of behaviors as effectively as they could. Some companies feel like asking customers for the sale feels like pestering and they worry about coming across as high pressure so they counsel their retail teams to avoid it. And even those brands that do share a sales process with their store personnel have difficulty sometimes ensuring that the process is followed consistently. As a result, retailers are leaving sales on the floor. Sales that could drive revenue. Sales that could help turn comps positive for a change.

Another large retail brand that works with Market Force absolutely gets it. In our research of their customer experience survey data, we found that those customers who received a product recommendation during their visit were more satisfied with their experience and showed a higher likelihood to recommend the brand after the visit. So we learned that upselling in this retail store drives customer experience and loyalty to the brand. This is counterintuitive to some people, but true nonetheless. This same brand was able to capitalize on this insight by measuring and improving in-store behaviors. After implementing a store-based training initiative, they were able to increase the percentage of times store staff engaged customers on the sales floor by 6% (from 71% to 77%) over the course of one quarter. During those 77% of customer visits where the customers were engaged, they reported 96% of the time a specific recommendation was made. And of those recommendations, the customer reported making that purchase 50% of the time, which translated to $32M in sales for the quarter.

Most retailers absolutely have the opportunity to capitalize on this aspect of in-store selling, including home improvement, home furnishings, wireless retail, fashion apparel and many others.  Collaborating with brands in these segments and recognizing the importance of upsell to customer perception and financial success, Market Force has developed the Suggestive Sell Index - a way of reporting on in-store effectiveness and the corresponding lift to retail sales that it produces. A white paper on the topic can be downloaded here. Brands can optimize their Suggestive Sell Index by following three simple steps:

  • Assess customer’s needs  Each team member that interacts with customers need to ask thoughtful questions about the customer and what they are seeking. Even a simple greeting followed by “what brought you in today?” can uncover critical insight into how best to serve that customer.
  • Make a recommendation  If the team member has been able to strike an authentic, not forced or robotic, conversation with the customer, they should have a general understanding of their need and be in a position to make a recommendation that most closely aligns with their need and helps them make a decision.
  • Ask for the sale  It is important that once the team member has made the recommendation that they follow through. ABC – always be closing. Simply asking, “Can I ring this up for you?” or “Can I put this in your cart for you?” helps move the conversation from an interaction to a transaction.

Brands that can effectively train their staff on these behaviors and then put measurement processes in place to ensure that they are being followed show higher customer satisfaction scores, better brand loyalty and increased financial performance. If you have retail stores or you are thinking about opening them, you would be wise to invest in the team members that you staff them with and ensure that they are following a best practices sales process. It is a truly strategic way to protect your brand, delight customers and drive powerful financial results. I can think of no better focus to have. 

  Download White Paper

Brad Christian is a Managing Director at Market Force and has been with the company for 11 years consulting retail brands on how best to implement customer experience programs that provide insight into strategic investment decision-making that helps them protect their brands, delight their customers and make more money. 

Creating a CX Measurement Program That Works: It’s Not About the Score!

A Common Mistake—Focusing on the Wrong Target

When I was a franchise operator, the franchisor was excited about creating a successful new CX survey program. After using the system for a few months, the executives reviewed their progress and identified five key drivers of satisfaction. They believed that if all of their locations would focus on the five drivers, CX scores and revenues would naturally increase. They were so confident this would happen that they decided to set a target score and incentivize the employees so they would hit the target. The incentive was a $.25 per hour raise for every month their restaurant hit the target score.

The program was a success…kind of…well, not really. Yes, all of the locations hit or exceeded the target score and received a $.25 per hour increase in pay (which is highly unlikely and should have raised red flags for all of us).

Determining the drivers. What we should have been doing was figuring out exactly what factors needed to change to deliver an excellent customer experience. We should have been tying both the operational measures that we had collected through either audits or mystery shops and aligned that with what our customers had to say about us via our survey program. This is no trivial exercise. It requires a specific modeling process to understand the linkages between behaviors and perceptions. We just didn’t have the Ph.D. statisticians and data scientists on staff that could help us draw those conclusions—the specific on-site behaviors, that when executed in combination, drive the highest levels of overall satisfaction with our customers—or delighting them.

Tying to financials. My new firm, Market Force Information, leverages just this type of talent and modeling process to help brands understand three things, i) what matters most to its clients' customers, ii) where operational deficiencies exist, and iii) what the specific financial ROI would be for implementing various targeted improvements. This is made possible by incorporating financial measures in the analysis such as same store sales or same store sales growth. It is this kind of analytics that truly provide the strategic insight required to make sound business decisions as to which stores to invest in and what focus that investment should take. I would have loved to have had this available to us.

Focusing on the score. In the case of my company, the big mistake we made was to focus on just the score as opposed to focusing on the behaviors that drove the score. Understanding the importance of "please" and "thank you" or what the specific speed of service needed to be in order to avoid frustrating customers is critical to charting what matters and focusing action plans on how to address them.

Gaming the system. As a result, by incentivizing the employees based on achieving a score, the goal changed from “delivering an amazing customer experience” to “gaming the system so they can make more money.” (Yes, we have seen instances where staff or friends of staff filled out favorable surveys.)

Measuring execution objectively. In order to minimize the problem of gaming the system and to ensure that the survey data that you collect is accurate, you need sufficient fraud protection and detection capabilities as well as other measures of restaurant performance besides just a survey. Having other measures like social media review tracking or mystery shopping ensures that you are getting a much more holistic view of the customer experience. These measures can be aligned with your survey scores to provide assurances that what you are learning in your survey is factual. 

Measuring to improve each location. By leveraging multiple measures and reporting on each key behavior uncovered in the analytics objectively, you’ll be able to see exactly what a restaurant needs to improve upon. All restaurants are not equal. Typically a handful of restaurants consistently execute at a high level, while others are abysmal and reflect poorly on the brand, and most are somewhere in the middle. The challenge is let each location know exactly where they need to improve.

Does this make sense? In the case of my company, it would have been immediately apparent that something was awry if the higher scores did not translate into increased revenues. Our analytics practice has repeatedly seen clear correlations between high scores on both surveys and mystery shops and increased same-store sales performance.

A better way. My learning here was that we should have focused on behaviors instead of scores. In upcoming posts I will offer up exactly how brands can focus on those behaviors that drive change, as well as how to effectively drive change down to the individual restaurant level.

Learn about our Analytics

Troy Mott is a Director of Sales at Market Force and works with restaurant clients to help them understand what matters most to their customers, where they have operational gaps in execution and what specific financial ROI can be derived by implementing specific initiatives.  His experience in working in restaurants and with restaurant executives makes him a sought after resource for operations measurement, customer experience and growth initiatives.

Empower Your Auditors with Eyes:On Mobile App

The Eyes:OnTM mobile app allows your auditors to complete questionnaires with their Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. Geo-location and geo-fencing technologies help auditors easily link to the sites they are evaluating, and auditors can complete their work offline even if connectivity drops. Need photos? Users can attach photographs to questionnaires from their smart phones. 

With just a few clicks, your staff can complete audits and upload directly to the KnowledgeForce® reporting platform. Audits become an additional datastream sitting alongside other brand and location level data like mystery shops, customer surveys, contact center, and social media.

Breakthroughs in Modeling Customer Loyalty: Machine Learning

In February, Forrester Research released its report titled “The Forrester Wave™: Insights Service Providers Q1 2017 | Leaders Emerge in a Nascent Insights Services Market” written by Jennifer Belissent, PhD and Elizabeth Cullen. Forrester included Market Force Information® as a domain-specific insights provider in their consolidated vendor landscape. A graphic from this report calls out Market Force in an ecosystem of industry-specific, domain-specific, and broad insights service provider. We are very proud to be recognized for our innovations in linking customer experience metrics to financial ROI, and a joint video with Forrester presents case studies giving examples of how we do that.

I am one of the data scientists on the Market Force analytics team driving insights innovations in the CX space. We’ve been addressing a thorny modeling issue related to collinearity. Collinearity is a statistical phenomenon in which two (or more) explanatory variables are highly correlated, meaning that one can predict the other. For example, in the retail space, the predictors—associate helpfulness and associate friendliness—can predict customer satisfaction, but they can also predict each other. This creates a situation where the behaviors share explanatory power of customer satisfaction, creating redundancy and causing significant issues with predictors, including their perceived impact on customer satisfaction and the deterioration of integrity within the modeling process.

The presence of collinearity in customer experience data can negatively affect the quality of predictive models and may lead to incorrect or incomplete insights. That means that when those insights are converted to business initiatives, there is potential to focus on the wrong things. The hard work put in by managers and operators will not have the predicted impact. This sounds dismal for multi-location businesses, but innovations in statistics and machine learning have brought predictive modeling techniques to the market that mitigate the impact of collinearity.

Enter LASSO (least absolute shrinkage and selection operator) and ridge regressions. These techniques are machine learning linear regression models that use sophisticated computation analysis to control collinearity and produce the most predictive models possible. The two modeling techniques, each presenting its own unique solution to collinearity, work by computing tens of thousands of algorithmic operations to determine the most predictive combination of coefficients, or weighting, to be applied to each predictor. Both modeling techniques remove collinearity through shrinking the weighting of variables and eliminating the redundant explanatory power of collinear predictors.

In preliminary tests using these machine-learning techniques, Market Force Information has discovered that model predictiveness increases by as much as 10%.  The integration of these sophisticated models has increased the ability to generalize findings and predict future outcomes. This results in clear and productive direction to our clients on where they should focus to improve the customer experience, increase revenue, and reduce costs.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you leverage your CX data to link to a financial ROI, please schedule a briefing or call us at 1-877-329-9621 and we will be glad to discuss!

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Aaron Zelmanow is Senior Data Scientist at Market Force Information with a Master's in Statistics and a background in business operations and finance. Specializing in the retail industry, Aaron provides analytics and actionable insights for clients to maximize customer satisfaction and increase their bottom-line revenue.

Insights Top the Data Value Chain

In a Forrester Research article authored by Jennifer Belissent, PhD, Forrester, the author defines insights services in this way:

"Insights services combine internal and external data sourcing and advanced analytics to deliver actionable business insights that clients subscribe to and apply to specific functional or verticalbusiness use cases."

                      —Insights Services Disrupt The Data And Analytics Market, February 8, 2016

She goes on to describe the data value chain, with four major components:

  • Data management: Collect and store
  • Data governance: Clean and secure
  • Data analytics: Discover and analyze
  • Insights delivery: Act and automate

The research concludes that while companies invest in data management and governance, they too often neglect the last two components—understanding what the data say and acting on it.

We have first-hand experience with this phenomenon at Market Force. Brands spend a great deal of time and money ensuring their customer experience (CX) data has high integrity, is clean and well-secured, and can be properly accessed. However, brands too often choose to minimize their investment in analytics and insights—either using internal or external resources. This is a critical mistake.

When brands choose not to invest in proper analytics and change management tools, they create four critical challenges for their organization:

  1. Customers will assume that the brand is not listening to their perspective, resulting in an erosion of trust and good faith.
  2. The people who can drive change lack the information and tools to actually execute change. Scores will begin to stagnate.
  3. Given the lack of information, operators will assume or invent actions that they should take—and they may or may not be the right ones. Scores won’t change and they may consider their efforts futile or question the integrity of the data.
  4. Executives will begin to question their investment in CX data collection—and will inevitably cut the budget. What should have been a brand imperative will experience an untimely death.

This cycle occurs far too often. To ensure that your brand can leverage the ROI of its data investment, you must invest in data scientists and other analysts who can surface meaningful insights that can be translated into real actions with tangible ROI. Do not neglect this most important part of the data value chain. Instead, make this the bright line of excellence for your program.

LEARN MORE about Market Force's analytics and insights methodologies, and then schedule a briefing. We’d be glad to walk you through methods and proof points.

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As Chief Strategy Officer, Cheryl aligns Market Force's strategic direction with our clients' strategic objectives. She oversees the North American client base, Analytics and Insights, Winnipeg Operations and Marketing. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology and broad business experience in both private and public companies.​

Eyes:On – Personal perception

Market Force continuously evolves its product set to meet the needs of our clients. One of those needs is providing an easy way for our clients’ internal teams to compile and report audits. We have just released our new Eyes:On audit app, a tool that saves auditors time and make data more tangible.

I am privileged to work with a Market Force client in the retail industry with over 900 locations here in the UK. This client has implemented the Eyes:On app, going from an internal audit tool that could only be completed via desktop to a fully functional app on mobile and tablet devices. Being able to complete an audit with mobile technology—but not requiring a connection to complete a report while in the field—has improved productivity. This has been extremely useful for them as auditors would sometimes have no or limited connectivity. To make matters more complex, auditors had to rely on notes completed after the visit, making it more likely results would be inaccurate. With the app, auditors fill out information real time. Our client says the app has helped them reduce costs by reducing man hours and improving quality. Instead of spending hours filling in documents, teams can focus on what the data actually say.

There has been another benefit to consolidating the audit information: The audit data has really helped my client improve their mystery shopping scores by being firm but fair on their internal visits as they now have two sources of data pointing towards similar results—all consolidated in one place. This is the perfect opportunity to coach operators and franchisees with useful information that will help them improve their stores.

Finally, our client now uses the app to collect additional information, like presence of POS materials and checks on inventory. That has prevented them from over-ordering and reduces the risk of waste.

The feedback we have received from all members of staff that use the app has been phenomenal: They find it user-friendly and a great tool. Our client has been more than pleased with how the app has helped them improve their business!

To learn more about Market Force’s Eyes:On app for auditors, download the data sheet or schedule a briefing with one of our sales representatives. We’d love to give you a demo!

Ross Lloyd is a Market Force account manager in London, working on building and maintaining relationships with clients, including making sure Market Force is strategically aligned with clients' goals and objectives.

Success Metrics for Your CX Strategy

2017 is in full flight. As business leaders, we’ve all committed to objectives and targets ranging from product introductions to revenue growth and cost management. We’ll have balanced scorecards, any number of reporting dashboards, and the ubiquitous spreadsheet telling us whether we’re on track to achieve our goals. But be careful. Many of those metrics are lagging indicators—a rearview mirror into what’s already happened. We need to have leading indicators that help us shape the future and lead to the outcome we want. Customer experience metrics do exactly that.

In an article published by Aberdeen Research titled “Customer Experience Strategy: Get it Right to Drive Success,” the authors summarize research about the culture, strategies, and metrics used by businesses to manage their CX strategies. The research divided companies into those with best-in-class CX strategies versus “other” and found clear differences on five key metrics.

CX Metric Best-in-class Other
Customer retention 85% 45%
YOY change in CX rate 37.4% -0.8%
YOY change in annual revenue 35.4% 7.7%
YOY improvement in response time to customer requests 32% 3.6%
YOY change in customer profit margin 18.2% 2.9%

 

 

 

 

 


These are excellent CX metrics to consider for improving the customer experience. Yet there still needs to be leading metrics that help us drive change. To identify those metrics, consider a framework that includes three core metrics:

  • Indicators of operational excellence and brand standards. In various time series analyses, Market Force has seen that execution on standards is a leading indicator of customer satisfaction metrics—which is a leading indicator of revenue.
  • Customer experience (CX) feedback, whether survey, contacts, social media, etc. These listening devices—and change in the volume and velocity of commentary—are exceptionally important. CX metrics are best when they can be traced to both channel (e.g., ecommerce or brick and mortar) and location.
  • Changes in patterns. Changes to the normal performance can be either positive or negative. Watch for shifts in the patterns of traffic, CX metrics, and brand standards execution. Changes in management, new competitors, new products, and acquisitions will impact customers. Watch for changes in the metrics during these event timings.

For more information about customer experience metrics, download our ebook or watch a video with Forrester’s Harley Manning and Market Force’s Cheryl Flink as they discuss research findings relating CX metrics to revenue. And if you’d like to discuss strategy, please feel free to schedule a briefing with us.

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As Chief Strategy Officer, Cheryl aligns Market Force's strategic direction with our clients' strategic objectives. She oversees the North American client base, Analytics and Insights, Winnipeg Operations and Marketing. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology and broad business experience in both private and public companies.​

Does your organization have an addiction to growth?

In the January-February 2017 issue of the Harvard Business Review, the article “Curing the Addiction to Growth” presents a provocative idea: Companies in all industries eventually see their growth slow. The authors argue that too often, multi-location businesses focus on opening new stores to drive growth—even when doing so can destroy the profitability of their other businesses.

Instead of focusing on sales growth, the authors suggest that multi-location businesses should focus on Return on Invested Capital (ROIC). What opportunities does each location have to maximize its profits given the investment in the site? The authors make five suggestions for boosting sales from existing stores:

  1. Invest in analytics: Customers need to be able to find the products they want at an attractive value and get help from staff. The ability to have the right quantities, pricing, and staffing models depend on analytics, and the article calls out a great case study on how Kroger uses infrared technology to manage check-out lanes.
  2. Keep a keen eye on product development: Use highly disciplined methods to identify and test potential offerings, including considering private-label offerings. The right products and labels will drive loyalty and capture more market share.
  3. Staff at the right levels with the right team: Staff can make or break the results for a store, so hiring the right people, training them well, and deploying technology to help them be more effective is important.
  4. Use the omni-channel strategy: Customers who go online and then go to the store often pick up extras—thus increasing their intended basket size.
  5. Revise customer policies to maximize growth: Look at your store policies. Do you need to revise how you accept payment? Your store hours? The number of lanes for your drive-through? These three components helped drive sales for McDonald’s, a case study cited in the research.

This philosophy exactly matches the predictive modeling results found by Market Force for a number of our clients. Our modeling occurs at the location level, and the site characteristics matter a great deal. We’ve found that:

  • Sites in the honeymoon or opening phase have fast growth curves, and those that are mature may struggle against competitors. Sales growth is very different for these groups.
  • Training impacts key performance indicators, such as conversion rates—but the investment in training can degrade very quickly if continuous measurement against standards is not in place.
  • The right staff focused on creating a great customer experience will increase conversion rates and basket size. Our sales-efficacy model focuses on understanding how staff interactions drive increased revenue.

In sum—the data tells a clear story if you take time to mine the insights. If you’d like to discuss how predictive analytics can help you maximize the ROI for your existing locations, call us at 1-877-329-9621. We’d love to discuss how we can leverage your data to help you increase revenue and reduce costs.

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As Chief Strategy Officer, Cheryl aligns Market Force's strategic direction with our clients' strategic objectives. She oversees the North American client base, Analytics and Insights, Winnipeg Operations and Marketing. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology and broad business experience in both private and public companies.​

San Jose Mercury News

17 January 2017—Market Force has been recognized by Forrester Research as a breakout vendor in the January 2017 report, Breakout Vendors: Domain-Specific Insights Service Providers. Market Force is profiled as a breakout vendor for its deep expertise in the customer experience (CX) domain, including helping corporate executives and local managers identify and improve upon the most important drivers of a positive customer experience. According to the report, “Market Force Information helps multi-location businesses improve financial performance through better CX.”

Date: Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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To discuss your needs for improving performance for your multi-location brand, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss best practices for measuring the customer experience and compliance to brand standards, using analytics to understand what matters most and the ROI for change, and technology solutions that integrate large quantities of data on one single platform. We look forward to a great discussion!

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