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.

CSP Consumer's Favorite Gas Stations

5 May 2016—Market Force Information is out with its survey on consumers’ favorite places to fill up their gas tanks. The research firm polled more than 10,000 consumers for the annual report, which ranks gas stations in two categories: traditional gas stations and convenience stores, and grocery stores and big-box retailers with gas stations.

Date: Thursday, May 5, 2016
Progressive Grocer Customer Satisfaction for Gas Stations and Convenience Stores

10 May 2016—A recent study by Louisville, Colo.-based Market Force Information has found that BJ’s Wholesale Club is one of consumers’ favorite places to fill their gas tanks. Westborough, Mass.-based BJ’s ranked first in the grocery store/big-box retailer category. According to the study, although most drivers still purchase fuel at traditional gas stations, grocers and big-box brands continue to be common options, due to their low prices and convenience. Respondents noted that on a recent trip to fuel up, 71 percent went to a gas station, while 28 percent selected a grocer or big-box retailer. Further, while fuel prices are important, they’re not the only factor influencing a consumer’s decision on where to buy gas, payment options, fuel quality, and ease of entering and exiting being other major considerations.

Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Newsday Customer Satisfaction Ratings for Petro Convenience

19 May 2016 — Hitting the road this summer? According to a recent study of more than 10,000 consumers, Kwik Trip tops the list of gas stations where Americans like to fill their fuel tanks, with other favorites like Wawa and Sheetz making the top five. The study polled customers' satisfaction with their most recent fill-up, as well as a variety of other factors including fuel price and quality, food and services at the stations, and entry and exit into each brand's station.

Date: Thursday, May 19, 2016
Asda ‘UK’s favourite place to fill up’ | Market Force

Asda beat Sainsbury’s into second place, with Morrisons third and Tesco fourth – but with the highest customer loyalty nonetheless. Market Force Information questioned 3,900 UK drivers on their experiences at filling stations and averaged the data to rate each brand on a relative scale. Key to the supermarkets’ popularity was price, says the study, with a 63% price satisfaction rating for Asda compared to a meagre 15% for BP. Some 78% of drivers said is was important.

Date: Thursday, May 12, 2016
UK drivers prefer to fill up at Asda, says a new survey | Market Force

Asda beat Sainsbury’s into second place by a whisker, with Morrisons third-favourite and Tesco a more distant fourth – but with the highest customer loyalty nonetheless. Research by Market Force Information questioned 3,900 UK drivers on their experiences at petrol station forecourts and averaged the data to rate each brand on a relative scale.

Date: Thursday, May 12, 2016

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!

 

Schedule a briefing

 

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.

Measure Gas Station & Convenience Store Customer Service | Market Force

Asda overtakes Sainsbury’s and supermarket brands excel, says Market Force Information® study

London, U.K., 10 March 2016 – In challenging times for the sector, Asda has been named as the UK’s favourite petrol retailer, according to independent research from Market Force Information®.

In the large-scale consumer study, over 3900 UK consumers rated various aspects of their last experience on the forecourt. Market Force then averaged this data to rate each brand on a Composite Loyalty Index, benchmarking overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend.

The study also identifies the key characteristics that drive satisfaction, revealing how petrol retailers can win and retain customers through improved customer experience. Overall, one in ten people said they were dissatisfied with their most recent experience at a petrol station.

Asda puts its foot on the gas

While Asda leapfrogged Sainsbury’s to take first place, Sainsbury’s came an extremely close second, followed by Morrisons in third. Of the traditional petrol brands, only Shell broke into the top five. 

Graph 1: Composite Loyalty Index

Cheryl Flink, Chief Strategy Officer for Market Force Information says: “The supermarket brands performed exceptionally well, with little differentiation in consumers’ minds between the top three. As pump prices start to creep back up, our research shows just how hard the traditional petrol retailers will have to fight to win back the hearts and minds of consumers.”

Top of the pumps

Motorists also rated petrol stations on five critical attributes relating to satisfaction. Asda came out top in the fuel price and ease of access categories, while Sainsbury’s led in overall appearance and availability of fuel area cleaning tools like squeegees and paper towels. Shell, meanwhile, received the highest rating for fuel quality. Supermarket brands performed strongly across the board, and the research reveals that 74% of people last purchased fuel from a supermarket branded petrol station – a slight increase on last year’s figures.

Graph 2: Percentage of totally satisfied customers by attribute

Price is key, but so are amenities, convenience and overall experience

When asked which factors are the most important when deciding where to buy fuel, price was the clear winner, chosen as important by 78% of motorists. However, ease of getting in and out of the site (33%), availability of payment options (32%), fuel quality (31%) and loyalty programmes (25%) were all seen as important as well.

Cheryl Flink says: “The research shows exactly where retailers can look to improve to win and retain more customers. Although the price on the pump is easily the most important factor, people can also be enticed by a range of services and these too offer good opportunities for differentiation in a tight sector.”

Other key findings

  • People are more likely to have used a petrol/convenience store app compared to last year, however this amounts to just 5% of motorists.
  • Just over half of consumers are loyal to a particular brand – and Tesco has the highest allegiance.
  • Over 1 in 5 customers made an additional purchase (non-fuel), with shoppers at BP the most likely to do so.
  • About 1 in 6 purchased fresh food; over 1 in 4 were not satisfied with the quality.
  • Few customers used the toilets; over one third were not satisfied with the cleanliness.
  • Few customers used the car wash; one fourth were not satisfied with the experience.
Survey demographics
The survey was conducted online in March 2016 across the United Kingdom. The pool of 3,907 UK consumers reflects a broad spectrum of income levels, with 21 per cent reporting a household income of more than £50,000 a year. Approximately 66 per cent were women and 34 per cent were men and represented a broad spectrum of age groups.

Follow Market Force’s Convenience Store & Petrol Station LinkedIn page for the latest insights, timely discussions, commentary and industry news.

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information® provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, mystery shopping and contact centre data integrated on one technology and analytics platform. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves over 350 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions and entertainment. More information can be found at www.marketforce.com/en-gb.

When asked which factors are the most important when deciding where to buy fuel, price was the clear winner.... However, ease of getting in and out of the site (33%), availability of payment options (32%), fuel quality (31%) and loyalty programmes (25%) were all seen as important as well.

Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Measure Gas Station & Convenience Store Customer Service | Market Force

With focus on fresh food, convenience stores eating into quick-service restaurant business

LOUISVILLE, Colo., May 10, 2016 — Kwik Trip and BJ’s Wholesale Club are consumers’ favorite places to fill up their gas tanks, according to a new study by Market Force Information® (Market Force), a leader in customer experience management. More than 10,000 consumers were polled for the annual study, which ranks gas stations in two separate categories – traditional gas stations and convenience stores, and grocery stores and big-box retailers with gas stations. It also uncovers trends in food, technology and loyalty at these establishments.

Market Force found that, even though most motorists still fuel up at traditional gas stations, grocers and big-box brands continue to be popular choices for their low prices and convenience. For their recent trip to the pump, 71% visited a gas station, while 28% chose a grocer or big-box retailer. Additionally, while fuel prices are important, they’re not the only factor influencing a consumer’s choice of where to fill up – payment options, fuel quality, and the ease of entering and exiting are other key motivators.

Graph 1: Most Critical Factors in Deciding Where to Fuel

 

Kwik Trip, QuikTrip and Wawa Favorite Gas Station/C-Store Brands

For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent fueling experience and their likelihood to refer that brand to others. The results were averaged to attain a score on the Composite Loyalty Index.

After not earning enough votes in 2015 to make the list, Kwik Trip overtook Wawa this year to rank No. 1. QuikTrip and Wawa tied for second with 68%, and Sheetz, RaceTrac and Speedway rounded out the top five. Interestingly, the top five brands are all regional and corporate-owned. Phillips 66 is the highest-ranking national brand for the second consecutive year, earning a 51%.  

Graph 2: Favorite Gas Stations/Convenience Stores

 

Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip (known as Kwik Star in Iowa) operates more than 400 locations in the Midwest and is undergoing rapid growth. It aims to be a fill-in grocery option, offering fresh meat and even making its own baked goods, dairy products and snack foods. It appears to be a winning strategy, as consumers are increasingly turning to convenience stores for fresh food options.

QuikTrip Delivers on Service, Murphy Wins on Price

Market Force also evaluated how well fuel brands deliver on a spectrum of attributes. QuikTrip led in three of the categories, including ease of entering and exiting the property, cashier service and having cleaning supplies at the fueling station. Kwik Trip took the top spot for appearance and merchandise selection. Chevron ranked highest for fuel quality and Murphy was voted the fuel price-leader. Wawa also performed consistently well.

Graph 3: Satisfaction Attributes Rankings – Gas Station and Convenience Store

 

“The brands are tightly clustered in nearly every category, which shows just how fiercely competitive this industry is,” said Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force Information. “With drivers having so many options to choose from, gas stations and convenience stores must excel in areas beyond price, such as offering multiple payment options or specialty foods to attract loyal, repeat customers.”

Customers Hungry for Fresh, Custom Food From Convenience Stores

With everything from freshly made salads to built-to-order hoagies, convenience stores and gas stations have upped their foodservice offerings, and are stealing market share from quick-service restaurants. Market Force found that 23% of customers bought a fresh food item during their last visit and 89% were satisfied with the quality. Wawa, Kwik Trip, Casey’s, Sheetz and QuikTrip led in fresh food purchases and all had relatively high marks for food quality satisfaction.

Graph 4: Fresh Food Purchases and Satisfaction Rates

 

BJ’s Ousts Costco as Fueling Favorite Among Grocers, Big-Box Retailers

In the grocery and big-box category, BJ’s Wholesale Club took the No. 1 spot in this year’s study, an honor that went to Costco in 2015. Fellow wholesale club Costco ranked second, Kroger ranked third and Sam’s Club dropped a spot to fourth. Competition is tight between the top two, with only a 2 percentage point difference on the Composite Loyalty Index.

Graph 5: Favorite Grocery/Wholesale Clubs for Fuel

 

Costco Has Best Fuel and Best Prices

When Market Force looked at the attributes that drive customer satisfaction, Costco led in three of the five categories, including fuel price, fuel quality and appearance. However, it lagged behind for ease of entering and exiting and availability of cleaning tools at the fueling area.

Graph 6: Satisfaction Attributes Rankings – Grocery and Big-Box

 

Motorists Using Apps to Find Cheap Gas

As in 2015, 10% said they’ve used a gas/convenience store mobile app. App use has increased since last year among 45-54 year olds and decreased among 25-34 year olds. GasBuddy, which uses crowdsourcing to find the cheapest gas prices in an area, is by far the most popular app (cited by 59%). However, one-third reported using the retailer’s branded app.

Graph 7: Gas/Convenience Apps That Consumers Have Used

 

Price was the predominant driver for app usage. When asked which features they have used within a gas app, gas price comparison led with 71%, followed by finding a gas station and reporting gas prices.
 

Graph 8: What features have you used within your gas/convenience store mobile app?

 

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in March 2016 across the United States. The pool of 10,535 respondents represented a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions, and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 53% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 73% were women and 27% were men.

Follow Market Force’s Convenience Store & Gas Station Insights page on LinkedIn for the latest insights, timely discussions, commentary and industry news.

About Market Force Information

Market Force Information® provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, mystery shopping and contact center data integrated on one technology and analytics platform. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves over 350 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions and entertainment. More information can be found at www.marketforce.com.

Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2016

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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
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