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.

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.​

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.

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.​

4 Tips for Leveraging Your Audit Data

Almost all multi-location businesses use some form of audit to measure execution against brand standards. Some companies outsource these audits, others use internal staff. Regardless of who collects the data, this rich source of information and its business impact can be overlooked. The impact of a slip in brand standards can have a dramatic impact on your company’s sales and reputation, potentially causing irreversible damage to your brand. Here are four tips for ensuring that you leverage your audit data for maximum impact:

  1. Measure what matters. Ensure that the audit criteria is relevant, constructive and measureable. We have seen audits that contain hundreds of questions. Take time to step back and ask whether all of the questions are necessary. Do some questions receive 99% or 100% virtually every audit? If so, is this question truly needed? Are safety or regulatory violations clearly called out—and do you have appropriate scoring to weight these concerns?
  2. Allow for variable questions like promotional campaigns. Marketing is at the core of most sales strategies; being able to confidently track their success is pivotal for ROI. Monitoring these campaigns can then allow you benchmark and identify best practices.
  3. Use technology for data collection and reporting. The days of pen and paper are gone. You can help your auditors be more efficient and lower the costs of data collection by using technology. Applications supporting auditors are available on smartphones and tablets and should support the ability to load a multitude of questionnaires to be used in the field. Perhaps more importantly, the questionnaires should load into your brand standards and customer experience (CX) reporting platform so all data for every location can be seen in one place.
  4. Analyze audit data to get insights. Audit data can tell you three things: 1) Who are the repeat offenders who frequently make the same mistakes? Do any of those mistakes create risk for the brand? 2) How does audit data interplay with other CX data? Do those locations with poor audit scores also have poor customer experience scores—and which audit questions predict the customer experience score? 3) How do audit scores relate to financial metrics like lowered costs of service (number of calls, social posts, or web comments that you must field)? How do audit scores relate to revenue? (See our hotel industry case study on how to make these links.)

To help you leverage your audit data, Market Force has developed its new Eyes:On audit application. The app also provides functions such as offline use, image capture, geo-location technology and is fully integrated with KnowledgeForce reporting platform.

Learn more about our effective compliance audit solutions by scheduling a briefing or giving us a call at 1-877-329-9621. 

Learn about our audit capabilities
Tags: audits

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. 

Mine the Power of Rich Open-Ended Comments

Open-ended comments from sources such as social media, customer surveys, and your contact center can provide rich insights for both the brand and its locations. Executives can see and react to the macro-level brand relevant commentary that will help them shape strategy, products, merchandising, customer experiences and pricing. Location-level operators and franchisees can use commentary to drive and focus training, empowering teams to execute both brand and operational excellence.

Using this data for making the best decisions, though, depends on the analysis. Here are some important considerations when selecting a text analytics platform: 

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) Algorithm: Choose an engine with excellent NLP capabilities, like IBM Watson’s Alchemy program. This algorithm allows computers to ‘read’ the text that a human has written. Any NLP engine should provide you with categories, more refined categories, entities, word patterns, keywords and sentiment.
     
  • Dataset relevance: Make sure that the questions you want to ask are targeted towards a relevant dataset. As an extreme example: Understanding brand sentiment from a contact center stream is going to give a heavily biased outcome to negative sentiment as many customers use this channel to complain—not provide compliments. 
     
  • Dataset sources: Any datastream with open ended comments is fair game. Consider using social posts, customer satisfaction surveys, contact center comments, and even mystery shopping or audit annotations. 
     
  • Analytics: Online platforms should present categories of data, trending, and be able to pinpoint changes. Analytics teams can take these analyses one step further by using text categories in two ways: 1) As predictors of satisfaction and loyalty and 2) To show the differences in and commentary between different groups. For example, a small business entrepreneur pays attention to and comments very differently on their cell phone purchase experience than a personal user. These differences in conversations can give you keen insights into how to address the needs of various customer segment. 

Market Force has recently introduced our new text analytics platform capabilities. Sentiment and keywords can be tracked in near real-time giving you the ability to track emerging trends—and as with all data, feeds into our KnowledgeForce® platform to provide you a single cross-datastream analysis of what your customers say. We’d be pleased to provide you with a demonstration—just call us at 1-877-329-9621. 

Learn about Text Analytics

Zachary Faruque is the Director of Product Management at Market Force, ensuring that the digital product portfolio is aligned to the strategic requirements of clients.

Pushing Sales Above All Else Hurts Your Brand

It’s Q4 2016, and many of us are in the last quarter of our fiscal year. We’re assessing performance against targets, looking how to close gaps, and simultaneously planning for 2017. As executives and stakeholders in the success of our companies, we all want to achieve our goals, reward our teams, and personally benefit from that success. But what happens when we push too hard for revenue and sales—and how do we know what “too hard” means? Two recent personal experiences reminded me of how thin the line can be.

In September I visited New York City. Now, to be honest, I really hate shopping, but for some time I’d wanted to go on a shopping spree in this beautiful city. I stumbled into a retail store that carries my favorite high-end brand and spent an entire morning there. Two sales associates ended up working with me—but they provided very different experiences. One woman seemed younger and perhaps less experienced than her colleague. She was eager to please and extremely complimentary—in fact, too much so. No matter what I tried on, she said “That looks wonderful on you!” or “You look fabulous!” Sometimes I looked in the mirror and thought, “Nope, no way". The other sales associate was much more honest, and would literally say “That just doesn’t work for you” or “That’s not a good fit”. Which one do you think I trusted? Which one did I want to buy from? Which one did I think was less concerned about her commission and more interested that I was happy with the experience and my purchases? You got it—the more honest one.

Very recently, in preparation for a meeting I visited a wireless retail store. My goal was to experience the sales process. When I walked into the store, the sales associate was alone and was working with a couple who was trying to set up their phone. When he learned that I was thinking about buying a new phone, he immediately dropped his attention from the hapless couple and worked to sell me on a new plan. He did a pretty good job—until I asked him to show me a coverage map. I live in a rural part of Colorado and I wanted to know whether I would have good service. Otherwise any plan—no matter what the price—is worthless. The young man looked at the online coverage map and said “coverage is rated at best or good”. I leaned over his shoulder, and could clearly see that the area around my home was marked as spotty—perhaps good. This young sales associate fudged the truth to try to land the sale. I will not buy from this brand.

When we push our teams so hard for the sale that they undermine the customer experience, our brands suffer. A recent extreme cautionary tale is what happened at Wells Fargo, where associates opened accounts without customer consent. As we think about 2017, let’s remember that customers reward us with their loyalty and increased wallet share when we clearly communicate we care about them and want their business. It’s a virtuous cycle that we need to emphasize as we lead our teams.

For more information about that virtuous cycle, please link to our video with Forrester called “Show Me the Money.” It’s all about how our emphasis on customer experience leads to the ROI we want.

WATCH THE VIDEO

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.​

Tags: retail

Linking CX Investments to Financials: What the Research Says

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. 

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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.​

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 reviews, social media monitoringaudits, 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.

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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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