Most convenience store and gas station operators understand the importance of an excellent customer experience. After all, fuel price and location are not the only factors that drivers consider when deciding where to fill up. But, the holy grail for these businesses is predicting how improvements in consumer experience can grow fuel volume sales.

For more than a decade, Market Force Information has worked with Phillips 66 to design and conduct a mystery shopping program for thousands of locations that carry the Phillips 66, 76 and Conoco brands. These mystery shops uncover critical insights that allow the team to assess how each location is performing through the eyes of the customer, and to make location-level adjustments, as needed. (To learn more about the Phillips 66 customer experience program, watch this video.) However, those insights alone are not enough to predict how improvements in the consumer experience can grow fuel volume sales. That’s where the Key Driver Fuel Forecast Indicator comes in.

In partnership with Phillips 66, Market Force Information designed and developed the Key Driver Fuel Forecast Indicator to leverage insights gathered from the brand’s mystery shopping and audit programs to formulate predictions that can drive change and improve the number of gallons sold.

Using the power of sophisticated causal financial modeling, the Market Force Analytics & Insights team identified the key operational metrics that drive site-level fuel volume performance. Market Force’s technology team incorporated these insights into a web-based performance calculator that shows operators how improvements on specific metrics can increase fuel volume at the site level. The Key Driver Fuel Forecast Indicator — the first-of-its-kind predictive tool — enables operators to understand the financial return of investing in improvements in the customer experience.

CSP Magazine published an in-depth story about this successful initiative earlier this month —"How Phillips 66 Is Leveraging the 5 Fundamentals That Drive Loyalty" and spoke with Mike O’Connor, manager of brand image for Phillips 66, to explore the ins and outs of the program.

According to CSP Magazine, “For Phillips 66, the results have demonstrated how powerful the connection is between the customer experience and fuel volumes—a relationship that rivals basic drivers such as price or location.”

“In this business, we’ve always placed a very high value on the real estate, the location, as determining our success,” O’Connor shared with CSP Magazine. “But this really does demonstrate that people who deliver an exceptional consumer experience sell much higher levels of volume, and they sustain that.”

As we continue our work with Phillips 66 and others in the petro-convenience sector, our focus is on ensuring that the valuable mystery shopping and audit data continues to be utilized in a way that allows operators to not only make data-informed decisions about how and where improvements are needed, but also how those improvements will grow fuel volume sales and the bottom line. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters.

Gail Funderburk is Vice President of Client Strategy at Market Force and works with national chains as well as regional providers, focusing on how to improve same store sales and capture market share. She has a Master of Science degree in Technology Management and uses that background to design and implement great location-level programs for clients.