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.

Schedule a Briefing

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.​

41% of Americans of Americans make New Year’s resolutions—and 21% of those resolve to lose weight. The annual cycle of shedding unwanted pounds and getting more fit drives consumers to evaluate health clubs and gyms.1 In fact, the fitness industry is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 2.4% from 2016 to 2021.2

What fitness clubs will benefit most from that growth? Our prediction is Planet Fitness. In our December 2016 panel research with over 4100 consumers, Planet Fitness had the highest customer experience ratings among five major competitors, including LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Anytime Fitness, and 24 Hour Fitness. Only the YMCA/YWCA received higher scores.

Why did Planet Fitness score so well? Consumers gave this brand high marks for value for money. A standard membership starts at only $10/month. In addition, Planet Fitness received high marks for the quality and condition of its aerobic equipment and a low problem incidence rate.  

Given that 10% of all consumers drop their fitness memberships every year, brands in the fitness industry must put effort into retaining their customers. Ensuring franchisees adhere to brand standards—like maintaining equipment—is key. In addition, putting more time and money into quality trainers will have an impact. Although 31% of our consumers reported working with a trainer, only 39% of those reported “making progress against their goals” while working with a trainer. These trainers can be brand ambassadors and will have a significant impact on brand retention.

Improving customer experience in this growing industry will drive the ability to gain market share and retain customers. For tips on how to measure and manage the customer experience, download our eBook titled “Customer Experience Measurement: Best practices for multi-location businesses"—or give us a call at 1-877-329-9621. We’d love to help you improve the customer experience you deliver in each of your franchises.

1IBISWorld
2StatisticsBrain

Download the eBook

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.​

I was recently in a new client’s office discussing the merits of using Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Top Box Overall Satisfaction (OSAT) as the key customer experience metric. That lively discussion highlighted the differences in the two metrics. At Market Force, we think about and use them in very different ways—and it has to do with the exact question being asked.

NPS asks “How likely are you to recommend [brand name] to a friend or colleague?” The question focuses on engagement with the brand itself, and very likely reflects everything from the brand reputation to the products offered. Consider Apple and the iPhone as an example. However, if you are interested in measuring a transactional experience in a multi-location business—we advocate using a different question: “How satisfied were you with your experience at this Apple location?” The questions then become focused on the experience in the store rather than the connection to the brand itself.

In Market Force’s customer experience (CX) management practice with multi-location businesses, we see both metrics being used. We recommend using a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being not at all satisfied and 5 being very satisfied, or delighted. We report top box OSAT as the measure of choice. There are two primary reasons for this choice. First, it’s very actionable at the location level. Based on absolute and relative benchmarks, our clients can set performance goals for every location unique to their individual needs. Second, our panel research clearly shows that competition in every industry is very tight. Receiving a 4 instead of a 5 on a satisfaction metric means anywhere from a 2x to 12x difference in likelihood to recommend. To be competitive you must create a best-in-class/top box experience; you must delight, not just satisfy, your customers.

Our financial modeling work has found that overall satisfaction—and the critical drivers of that metric—predict revenue growth metrics, ranging from same store sales growth for restaurants to revenue per available room for hotels. Our survey design practice advises implementing both questions—satisfaction with the experience and brand recommendation—to get both views. And we clearly advise not being solely dependent on NPS as a metric for your multi-location brand. Your operations teams may see a NPS result as intangible and very difficult to improve their score while specific transactional experiences may seem more in their span of control.

For more detail on how Market Force links financial data to customer experience metrics, please see a recent webinar that we conducted with Forrester on the topic. In this webinar, our own Dr. Cheryl Flink, Chief Strategy Officer for Market Force, compares notes and best practices with Harley Manning, Vice President and Research Director–Forrester. And of course, our Customer Experience eBook provides a very detailed perspective on implementing a comprehensive measurement strategy. 

Brands continue to invest in customer experience—and that investment is validated by independent analysts in the CX space. MarketsandMarkets projects that the CX space will grow from $4 billion in 2014 to $8 billion in 2020.

Why do brands continue to invest in CX? Because there is a high ROI.

In the recent Market Force webinar featuring Forrester, titled “Show Me The Money”, Forrester profiled companies that they have identified as CX leaders and CX laggards. Using public data, they found that CX leaders beat CX laggards on any number of financial metrics, ranging from compound annual growth to shareholder returns. The webinar showcased differences in leaders and laggards like AT&T vs. Comcast, Southwest Airlines vs. United Airlines, Edward Jones vs. Morgan Stanley, and Amazon vs. Walmart.

In sum, Forrester Research finds that CX leaders, in comparison to laggards:

  • Grow revenue faster
  • Drive more purchase intent
  • Earn greater pricing power
  • Lower their service costs
  • Reduce regulatory compliance risks

Market Force’s research findings focused on applying this research within a brand, looking at the CX ROI for location leaders vs. location laggards. In sum, our own work parallels that of Forrester. We found that CX location leaders, in comparison to laggards:

  1. Have higher revenue than other locations in the system
  2. Reduce costs of service
  3. Reduce regulatory compliance issues
  4. Have more loyal customers and are less vulnerable to competitive threats.

When brands don’t meet their growth and profit goals, they look to cut budget. These joint research findings definitively make the case that CX investments should be one of the last components to be cut from your budget.

We encourage you to watch the webinar, and if you need help in linking your CX investments to ROI, please give us a call 877.329.9621. We’re happy to walk you through relevant case studies and best practices for making the CX-ROI link crystal clear to executives. 

Get in touch

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.​

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.

Schedule a briefing

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.

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.

Download Now

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.

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.

Schedule a briefing

 

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. 

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 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. 

Schedule a briefing

 

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. 

These days, virtually every company has developed a mobile app—and consumers have responded well. In Market Force’s industry panel research, we ask consumers to tell us about how they use mobile apps—and which apps they’ve downloaded and how they use them. Consumers check gas prices, comparison shop for groceries and check to make sure merchandise is available.

So how can multi-location brands use apps to collect customer experience data? How can they get information about the operations in their stores? Market Force has just released its new Eyes:OnTM mobile app. We focused on three design principles that B2B clients and consumers wanted in a usable and useful design:

  1. Incorporate geo-fencing. Use location data to pinpoint information about the exact store being evaluated. This minimizes effort to enter data that’s easily available—and that makes it more likely that data will be a) completed and b) accurate.
  2. Allow visuals to be attached. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is still true. Make sure your app allows interviewers, auditors and consumers to attach a photo or a video. Sometimes voice recordings can be really useful. For example, when Market Force conducts customer intercepts, short audio files can be attached to the interview report.
  3. Be mindful of interface design. A single question on a page, grouping questions together in intuitive categories, using sliders for rating scales—all of the human factors design principles apply when creating a mobile app.

At Market Force, shoppers use Eyes:On to conduct mystery shops. Our clients’ internal auditors use the app to collect data and transmit that data either to their internal reporting platforms or to our KnowledgeForceTM platform. Consumers use the app to give us opinions about their experiences. All of these use cases help multi-location businesses keep their “eyes on” operations in their stores and the customer experiences they offer. And that leads to more money in their pockets. 

To discuss applications about our new Eyes:On mobile app, give us a call! 

Schedule a briefing

 

Ben Dards is the Chief Technology Officer at Market Force Information and has been developing technology in the rapidly expanding customer experience management space for over 15 years. His experience working with over 250 clients in the space has informed development of reporting and visualisation platforms, an online app for collecting data, and unique tools empowering operators take action on data. 

Pages

Schedule a Briefing

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!

Schedule a Briefing
We've noticed you might not be visiting the appropriate version of our site. Would you like to: