On Metrics: Brand Recommendation or Satisfaction with the Experience?

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. 

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.

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. 

Use Cameras and Beacons to Understand Customer Experience

Multi-unit businesses strive to gain a better understanding of what truly happens across their expansive network of locations. Being in-tune with the nuances at the location level can be the difference between the success or failure of a brand.  Each location and each shift will either help or hurt in your quest for market dominance. To intimately understand performance we need answers to important questions. Questions like: Are staff interacting with customers? Are we managing queue times effectively? Are we seeing more or fewer customers walk through our doors? Are sales staff interacting with customers? 

Market Force is working with more and more clients who are investing in digital stores as a part of their customer experience management strategy. They are using camera and beacon technology to collect information on customer counts, dwell time, number of customers in line, and time for sales associates to approach customers. In turn, this objective data is combined with customer experience data to get the subjective perspectives on the experience itself, for example, how effective the sales associate was in ascertaining needs and making good recommendations.

The plethora of data can be overwhelming. How can you find the ROI in your camera, beacon, and customer experience data assets? Try these three tips to get started:

  1. In the retail space, cameras count the number of customers who enter the store and the POS system shows the number of transactions. That conversion rate is a key metric—and will vary across locations. Use your customer experience survey and mystery shopping data to explain the difference in conversion rates between your locations. Then set goals to drive improvements on what matters most.
  2. In the restaurant industry, focus on dwell line queues and how well staff greet and connect with customers. Focus on how to better engage staff and whether you have the right labor model to handle the queue and optimize transactions.
  3. Embed a customer experience survey in your app. Ask customers about their experience while they are in the store, and marry those perceptions with your beacon technology tracking in-store movements. Market Force now provides a software development kit for our survey technology to embed surveys in your app—and report on KnowledgeForce.

In a past post our CTO Ben Dards wrote about the importance of looking at customer behaviors not just opinions. Specifically he cited the following; “Cameras, beacons, and app integrations give you extremely insightful information into some operational measures, for example: dwell times, queue abandonment, and conversion rate. When you couple this behavioral data with customer perceptions, you will have powerful new insights into the customer experience and how you can take action.”

Technology is empowering us in new ways to get an affordable and continuous view of reality. We can now monitor behaviors and trigger instant alerts when necessary, while in the background we amass huge amounts of data. By combining a series of behavioral data with subjective measures, and tying it back to specific and quantifiable business outcomes, you can get to a clear ROI and create a plan of action that quickly improves your revenue and reduces your costs.

To learn more about how to create a Location Based Service strategy that leverages your camera or beacon technology, contact Market Force. Our senior strategists have the expertise to blend the right processes and technologies to create cost effective solutions for leveraging your data assets. We look forward to an exciting discussion!

 

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Scott Griffith is Vice President, Executive Business Strategist at Market Force Information. Scott consults with client executives to design strategies that foster growth for companies in early stage ventures through IPO and beyond.

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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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