Time to reconsider the Financial Services Customer Journey

According to Deloitte nearly three quarters (72%) of consumers still want to use their local branch to access financial services. This emphasizes the importance of the branch experience on customer loyalty—at least for now. However, our most recent competitive benchmark shows over one in ten banking customers are not satisfied with their relationship with their primary bank. This makes brands vulnerable to losing market share. Overall, 12% of all banking customers are considering switching banks in the next 6 months, with individual brands ranging from 10% to 19%. Our study also shows that many financial companies have a long way to go in order to create a positive encounter with most of their touchpoints. Look at the following:

  • 1 in 6 consumers are dissatisfied with their experience interacting with their bank’s call center
  • Nearly 1 in 5 customers had a recent problem; fees were the most common problem, followed by operations issues while inside the branch
  • Of those with a problem, 13% said it was not resolved, resulting in a net loss of 46% in overall satisfaction

The research also shows that the advisory experience clearly impacts customer loyalty. Consumers continue to visit their banks’ physical branches to speak with and advisor—and over two thirds were very satisfied with that interaction. However, although bank advisors execute well on the basics such as explaining products and services, they miss opportunities to build relationships by asking questions to understand consumers’ needs and following through on commitments. Most large scale financial institutions are investigating the customer journey and the impact each touchpoint has on customer satisfaction. They would do well to consider the following:

  1. Driving Satisfaction: To create true loyalty, and not simply complacency, banks need to deliver an excellent experience that makes it easy to do business with the bank and builds a sense of trust with consumers. This means focusing on consumers’ financial well-being with great advisory services and creating transparency regarding fees.
  2. Resolving problems is critical: Besides impacting overall satisfaction, unresolved problems lead to decreased recommendation rates. Very few disappointed consumers tell brands they were disappointed, and that leaves brands open to loss of wallet share and poor ratings in social media.
  3. Banking brands have opportunities to differentiate: Banking customers scored their primary banks low on concern with the customer’s financial well-being, understanding unique needs, and even community investment.

These are big undertakings and require a strong discipline to develop the right strategy when they begin the customer process. Consider the following when you embark on a customer journey strategy:

  • Do advisors ask the right questions to ascertain needs and make solid product recommendations?
  • Does your bank have the right processes in place to listen and respond if customers have issues—and is the response consistent across channels?
  • Are you listening to your customers across all of the relevant online, social, and conventional channels?
  • Are you aggregating and disseminating information in effective ways?
  • Do you have a clear picture of reality in terms of your ability to execute against your standards and training?

Market Force’s banking customer journey maps assess the channels customers use to engage with your bank. We will help you identify customer expectations and frustrations at every touchpoint—and show gaps in the overall omni-channel experience. If effectively designed, your customer journey mapping can create an effortless customer journey—and that will insulate you from customer defections and help you improve the number of products each customer wants to purchase from your bank. That’s a great ROI.

Contact our experts today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation that will help you determine whether it’s time to consider a customer journey strategy for your banking customers.

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Charles is a customer experience management expert with over 28 years experience. In that time, he has assisted more than 200 service related companies with their efforts to improve customer experience and loyalty. His education and training includes advanced graduate degrees in Statistics and Market Research Methodology.

What Do Your Employees Think About Their Jobs? Five Tips for Finding Out!

Retailers with brick-and-mortar stores need to differentiate from online channel retailers. What will help create that differentiation? Engaged staff that love their brand, understand the mission statement and are empowered to create great customer experiences.

To find out whether your brand has created the culture and environment that engages employees, you’ll need to ask them. But doing that, especially across very large organizations, can present obstacles. Here are five tips we’ve created based on our work with large retailers who want to find out what their employees think. 

  1. Design the questionnaire so that it asks about two distinct components: Engagement and Empowerment. Engagement questions will help you understand whether employees are loyal to the brand, understand its mission, and feel like they have opportunities with your company. Empowerment questions will pinpoint whether employees feel they have adequate training and tools to deliver against the job expectations.
     
  2. Always assure employees that their data is confidential. For example, use email invitation methods that include a unique location code to ensure employees remain anonymous. Employees must be assured that their commentary is safe and there will be no negative consequences for speaking their minds.
     
  3. Think carefully about whether you can actually reach employees. In the restaurant industry, your brand may not have the ability to contact employees of franchisees—so they will need to focus on corporately owned restaurants. Similarly, you will need to ensure that employees have the tools to answer the survey. Do they have access to PC’s, tablets or phones? Can they respond to both URL and text invitations? Channels will matter.
     
  4. Survey your employees 2x per year—but only if you are committed to acting on the data. Follow the initial survey with a pulse survey to those who had not immediately responded, aiming for an overall 60% response rate. The second can take place approximately 7 months after you first identify where metrics are changing. And remember—you absolutely must act on the data or you will lose employees’ trust.
     
  5. Combine the employee engagement data with other data—like mystery shop scores, customer surveys, contact center complaints, and/or financial data. Spend time understanding how employee engagement and empowerment impacts execution to brand standards, the ability to delight customers, and financial metrics. Understanding what your employees needand acting on those needsmay be the best way to grow your business.

To learn more about our employee engagement best practices, schedule a briefing with us. And check out our case study to find out how one retailer used employee engagement surveys to increase customer recommendations and lower service costs. 

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Charlotte is a Key Account Manager for Market Force Information Europe. Specializing in the retail industry and working closely with our analytics team, she builds programs that align with business goals and strengthens customer experience management strategies. 

Customer Experience Insights: Transforming Big Data into Smart Data

Big Data presents great opportunities for insights into the customer experience, but it is not without its challenges. The problem, of course, is that Big Data, by definition, means that there is increasing volume, velocity and variety of data. That volume and velocity of data often outstrip a company’s ability to utilize it.

Over the past decade I have seen brands gather data from various sources (mystery shopping, customer satisfaction surveys, social media, audits, contact centers and finance), but few companies truly break the data down into actionable insight and build a clear customer strategy behind it.

It’s no wonder. With so many forms of data being collected by various methodologies, different vendors, with siloed analysis of data streams, it’s not surprising that mixed and sometimes even conflicting messages are reflected back to the business, from CEO to store manager, to Learning & Development to Operations. Or what is more typical—companies end up with lots and lots of data, but no real insights.

Through working with hundreds of brands, we have learned the best way to transform Big Data into Smart Data is to:

  1. Aggregate. To take advantage of Big Data and understand how to improve the customer experience with the greatest ROI, we recommend investing in technology that allows you to gather data inputs from multiple sources and multiple vendors in real-time into a single platform.
  2. Analyze. Turning Big Data into Smart Data, is not just the aggregation but analysis. To extract insights you need analysts who specialize in dealing with customer experience data. In fact, our analyst team has found that by combining different types of data you get insights you could not get with each individual data stream. These insights can then be fed out to each location via the technology platform.
  3. Recommend by Location. Make sure that the platform allows you to drill-down to location-level data and recommendations. Not all locations need the same fixes. Giving blanket instructions based on aggregate data to all locations will penalize some, and totally miss the mark on others.

To learn more about Market Force and how we help companies turn Big Data into Smart Data, schedule a briefing today.

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As a Senior Director of Strategic Relations at Market Force, Jay aligns his team's focus on providing the best actionable insights to the UK & European client base. He has vast experience not only in Retail Management, B2B Client Management & thought leadership, but also how to empower and motivate your teams to deliver the best Customer Experience possible.

Hospitality Industry: The Inside Scoop

The hospitality industry is growing. IBISWorld reports: “While the Hotels and Motels industry is highly susceptible to changes in the global economic environment, the industry has experienced robust growth over the five years to 2016. Thanks to increases in travel spending, corporate profit and consumer spending, industry revenue has grown every year since 2011, as the economy improved and domestic and international travel rates increased. As a result, the Hotels and Motels industry has outperformed the broader economy over the past five years, driven by a combination of high demand from leisure and business travelers and international tourists. Over the five years to 2016, IBISWorld expects industry revenue to grow at an annualized rate of 4.2% to reach $169.2 billion, as consumer confidence and spending spike, raising revenue 2.4% in 2016 alone.”

In new research by Market Force, we found that consumer loyalty—and the opportunity to capture growth—depends on each hotel’s delivery in six areas of excellence:

  1. Overall condition of the hotel
  2. Value for money paid
  3. Helpfulness of staff
  4. Ease of check-in
  5. Bedding comfort
  6. Safety of guests and belongings

In the research, guests rated their satisfaction with their most recent hotel stays. 16% said the hotel delivered poorly on all six of these factors—and satisfaction with the stay was a very low 6%. In contrast, 29% said their hotel delivered well on all six factors—and 92% of these were highly satisfied with their stay. These satisfaction ratings led to very high loyalty—with hotel brands varying widely in their scores. (We will publish the brand level results in a press release in September.)

These results highlight the enormous opportunity to capture growth in the hospitality industry. Satisfied customers are loyal to the brand—and that loyalty allows hotels to command a higher RevPAR rate (revenue per available room) as shown in this case study. To help you measure customer satisfaction and impact on REVPar—or simply to evaluate your current customer experience measurement programs—call us at 1-877-329-9621. We’d be glad to discuss ideas for helping you improve your guest loyalty and financial success for every location. 

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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.​

It Takes Two; a Customer Experience Measurement Strategy

World class multi-location brands leverage several measures to understand individual store performance. This is true across numerous industries, from restaurants to supermarkets to petro and convenience retailers to drug stores to department stores to hotels to banking and financial services organizations. However, not all stores are created equally. There are many factors that go into measuring how an individual location delivers on the brand promise. Financial metrics are an obvious metric—but tend to be in the rear view mirror. In Market Force’s modeling work, we have found that both delivery to brand standards (assessed through mystery shopping and audits) and customer experience metrics (surveys and call center data) can be lead metrics of financial performance. So how?

Location-level customer experience derives from two components:

  1. Operational execution—how well did the location deliver on the brand standard?
  2. The experiential factor—how did a customer feel about his or her experience?

Both operational and experiential measures tell a brand how its locations are delivering on the brand promise.

Operational Measures: Most brands leverage mystery shopping to understand their operational execution. This measure is a black and white, objective evaluation of exactly what happens at the store when a customer comes in. Were they acknowledged and greeted? Were they served properly? How quickly did they receive service? How long did it take them to check out? Were they thanked for their business? These are simple questions, answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses. In addition, shoppers can assess the sales process—did associates ask needs based questions, provide recommendations, and interact in a way that positively represents the brand. Mystery shopping enables a business to ‘inspect what they expect’. This feedback helps brands know where they are executing and where there are performance gaps.

Experiential Measures: Just as many businesses deploy customer experience surveys. This measure is more of a ‘shades of gray’ perspective; a subjective read on how a customer felt about their visit. Overall, how satisfied were they with their experience? How likely are they to return? How likely are they to recommend the store to a friend, family member or colleague? How do they feel about the value for the price paid? These questions are answered using both quantitative scales and open-ended text data. Leveraging both numeric and open-ended data will provide operators with the information they need to coach their teams to delight each and every customer.

With both measures in place, an organization has a truly holistic view of their location level CX, and change becomes a matter of acting on very specific behaviors. In our research across hundreds of multi-location businesses, we find that better performance on brand standards (as assessed by mystery shopping) has a high impact on the actual customer experience—customer satisfaction increases as locations deliver better on standards. In addition, our sophisticated financial models show that the actual behaviors of store staff and operational attributes of a store can predict financial metrics like same store sales, transaction counts and average transaction value. And these are the metrics that really matter.

For additional insight into this integrated approach, please see our “Better Together: Integrating Direct Customer Feedback and Mystery Shopping Data” white paper.

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Brad Christian is a Managing Director at Market Force and consults with retail and restaurant executives to design cost-effective customer experience measurement programs that help them protect their brand's reputation, delight guests and drive greater unit economics.

Brexit: What’s the Impact to Your CX Strategy?

The referendum results taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union has created an atmosphere of uncertainty. Financial markets initially responded unfavorably and analyst assessments of the economic impacts in the short term cover virtually any potential outcome Euromonitor forecast declines in GDP and increases in both unemployment and inflation. (See http://blog.euromonitor.com/2016/06/the-brexit-vote-is-in-what-next-for-the-uk-leave.html). In stark contrast are predictions that restrictions on immigration may create a labor shortage. Predictions for impact on the EU as a whole and investor confidence vary widely. Forrester predicts wide-scale impacts on technology investments. This ambiguity and uncertainly will continue until the two year exit strategy is defined and negotiations completed.

What is certain is that now is the time to pay extraordinary attention to your customers. At Market Force, we weathered the 2008 economic downturn with our clients. Those who maintained a laser focus on product, service and value, came through with flying colors. Some lost their focus and went bankrupt. Others suffered damage and recovered, including corporations in the banking and auto industries.

We’ve also seen the measurable consequences when companies pull back on their CX investments. In three different situations, detailed below, pulling back on investments or stopping measurement significantly impacted the ability to meet corporate objectives and satisfy customers:

  • For a large retail bank: Customer engagement scores for advisors responsible for accurately presenting products and upsell, dropped by almost 50 points, from 72% in compliance to 25% in compliance. When measurement restarted, performance returned to previous levels.
  • For one of the world’s largest QSR companies: NPS declined by 5.6 points and a critical upsell behavior—recommending a beverage—dropped by almost 80 points from 91% to 9%, creating friction with their beverage partner. When measurement restarted, upsell increased but took time to gain traction.
  • For a major wireless retailer: Performance on five critical selling skills declined between 3 points and 10 points with consequences for ability to attract new customers and sell accessories. 

The uncertainty caused by Brexit creates both risk and opportunity for any corporation. Market Force considers this a time of opportunity and will continue investing in technology, focusing on text analytics, social media listening, and mobility

And we will continue to invest in the teams that serve you, focusing on our ability to help you execute on your brand standards, delight your customers, and position you for financial success. Market Force is here at the ready to help you navigate these uncertain times.

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Ray is the consummate road warrior. His 25 years of experience as a senior-level executive has taken him to over 40 countries in multiple roles. As CEO for Market Force, Ray champions the role of technology and innovation in creating programs that improve our clients' brands. 

Forrester CX Conference: CX Investment Remains Core for Leading Brands

On June 21 and 22, Market Force participated in the Forrester Customer Experience (CX) conference in New York City. A report by Markets and Markets estimates that this space is due to grow to $8 billion by 2020, and certainly the level of commitment and investment by presenters validates that trajectory. I found the conference very valuable and walked away with a few key points that I’ll share with you. All of these points are framed by a keen focus by the world’s largest companies in creating cultures focused on exceptional customer experiences. 

  1. The customer is becoming increasingly powerful. George Colony, CEO of Forrester, put corporations on notice by claiming that we are now in an “existential crisis” with the increasing power of customers to voice their opinions and demand increasing levels of service. He believes that customers will increasingly judge corporation based on the state of their business technology and that software investments will be critical to success.
  2. Effortless customer experience requires vision. Vicky Jones at AT&T simply thrilled the audience with the bold and sweeping vision AT&T has for integrating large acquisitions like DirecTV with current mobility platforms to create an “effortless customer experience”. That focus is backed by AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson. His commitment? Over $1 billion in budget to make that happen. Vicky reiterated that this is a “long game” with sustained investment and grit to make it happen.
  3. Design with simplicity as the core principle. Echoing the message from Vicky Jones, Mark McCormick, Head of User Experience at Wells Fargo, spoke to the power of simplicity in the design of products and experiences. “Simplicity is hard. Simplicity is noble”. He made an argument that products and experience that are complex or difficult to use “rob us of time time and confidence”.
  4. Map the customer journey to align the corporation. A presentation by Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha, Forrester analyst, compelled me to think again about the importance of customer journey mapping. This powerful tool makes it clear where every function and every employee plays a role in creating an effortless, simple customer experience. A good journey map will help create channel parity, simplify offers and pricing, and streamline platforms across multiple channels.
  5. Ask creative questions of your CX data to show ROI. Mike Dzura, EVP of GNC, presented a case study based on his experience as SVP of Operations at GameStop. He showed how analysis of CX data could predict top performing managers, clarifying where GameStop should make its talent investments and the strategy for growing game sales.

In summary, the conference emphasized the increasing importance of the Customer Experience, with companies like Ford, Wells Fargo, AT&T, Marriott, SiriusXM, American Express and Etsy emphasizing their own investments in time, money, and people...lessons for all of us. To understand more about Market Force’s solutions for prioritizing investments, see our strategic advisory workshops.

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.​

Mystery Shopping: Four Mistakes To Avoid

Mystery shopping is an extremely important tool to have in your customer experience management toolbox. Why? Because it measures each location’s adherence to brand standards. Brands invest six or seven figures in their merchandising strategies and planograms, sales associate training, line management protocols, and healthy and safety regulations. Those investments are wasted if teams don’t adhere to them.

Mystery shopping is an objective, standardized method for measuring operational excellence and the execution of brand expectations at every location. Implementing a mystery shopping program requires thinking through how to design the questions to ensure both the quality of the data gathered, and the actions you want to encourage in the behaviors of the managers and teams receiving the results. Here are four things you should avoid when structuring your program:

  1. Use subjective questions. The whole purpose of mystery shopping is to provide objectivity—not opinion. When questions are structured so they become opinion-based, they lose credibility. Question design needs standardized, clarifying comments so that your managers and teams know what to repair to drive performance improvement at the location level.
  2. Set up scenarios that identify shoppers. Shoppers need to remain anonymous. Anything that allows teams to quickly identify shoppers should be removed from the scenario. For example, we worked with a QSR company that wanted shoppers to approach the cash register with a $20/bill in hand. How many of us pay in cash—or have the cash ready at the register?
  3. Allow managers and operators to constantly question results. Pushing back on one questionable shop result is understandable. Pushing back on 10 of them is not. When a location receives many poor scores, it’s not the shop that’s wrong—it’s operations. Make sure operators use the data to take action—not complain about the shop.
  4. Look at only aggregated data. Sure, the overall score for your shops, aggregated at the brand level is important. However, it’s more important to look at how all of your locations perform and the distribution of scores. If locations perform very inconsistently on your own standards, brands are at risk. Location-level data provides the insights needed to drive change…at the location.

Market Force prides itself on the extraordinarily high quality of its mystery shopping programs. Companies rely on us to deliver insights about thousands of locations and these tips come from our experience as the largest mystery shop provider in the world. Contact us if you would like our expertise in helping you build a world class mystery shopping program. 

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As Vice President, Operations, Emily oversees Market Force's mystery shopping operations in North America and helps build programs that meet regulatory guidelines and retain customers. She also holds a BA in government from the College of William and Mary. 

Customer Experience Management: Revamp Your System!

Have you been measuring the same things in your customer experience surveys for the past three years? Has your mystery shopping program been in place with little change? Has it been 6 months or more since your team met to clearly assess your measurement program—including spend and ROI? If so, it’s time to step back and do a clear-eyed evaluation.

Too often, measurement systems are left running untouched for months or years. That’s a mistake. The market is dynamic, customer expectations change, and your own products and services change as well. Granted, there is a cost to making changes:

  • You do want a stable measurement system to track and trend results;
  • If compensation is tied to results, changes may need to roll out slowly;
  • There’s work involved—and that includes aligning stakeholders.

However, the benefits of carefully evaluating and fine-tuning your program far outweigh the challenges. You will want to:

  • Find the gaps. What methodologies need to be added to assess brand and store level performance? What focus areas or questionnaires need changed?
  • Align the questions. Remember to construct a questionnaire matrix to ensure that you use the same wording and scales across your measurement instruments.
  • Evaluate communication. Go out to franchisees, the front line, managers—all users of the data—and ask whether they are getting what they need to better manage their business. If they aren’t, you’ll need to rethink that strategy.
  • Raise the bar. Demand more of your teams. We have one client who raises standards every year in order to remain best-in-class. The bar he’s set in demanding exceptional customer experience has become a real challenge to competitors.

Market Force provides CX Strategic Planning workshops to assist with this process. We’d be glad to discuss how we might help you. In the meantime, check out a video published by The Telegraph interviewing Cheryl Flink, Chief Strategy Officer for Market Force. You’ll find some great tips for designing your customer experience management program. 

Gino Virgadamo is a Key Account Manager at Market Force Information, specialising in the pub, restaurant and petrol-convenience industries. Over the past 4 years, he has helped businesses understand key drivers & trends, as well as provide strategic planning to drive ROI and stay ahead of the market. 

Engaged Employees: The Key to a Thriving Brand

So much has been written about the importance of employee engagement that it almost seems foolish to spend time talking about it. But if we are creating environments that created happy, productive employees, why do organizations like Gallup report that only about one third of employees report being “engaged” in their work?

The reality of what employees actually think about your brand, their job, and your customers needs to be measured. Why? Because literally hundreds of research studies, including those from Market Force, show that engaged employees create more revenue, lower costs, and create more loyal customers. In one study by Market Force, we found that a 30% difference in absentee rate and a 19% difference in retention between locations with high vs. low employee engagement.

Employee engagement is a vital part of your customer experience management strategy. So how should you measure employee engagement? You will need to assess satisfaction and engagement in two core areas: Engagement and Enablement. Consider the following in each core area: 

  • Engagement. Do your employees love your brand? Do they understand your mission? Do they personally believe that the brand and the location they work in serves customers well? Do they believe that their job matters to the business and that they do their job well? Do they believe they can grow and learn?
  • Enablement. Do your employees have the tools and training they need to do their jobs? Do they receive regular feedback about their performance? Do they understand corporate policies and how to follow them? Do they have a reasonable workload and are able to balance?

In restaurant and retail, employees come and go. You may think the revolving door is inevitable. It’s not. By getting a clear picture of what employees need in these two core areas, and then having the fortitude to act on what you learn, your brand will thrive and be the place where the best want to work. 

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.

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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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