Kwik Trip, Quik Trip, and Wawa Offer Great Customer Experiences

In 2016, IBIS World predicts the US convenience store and gas station market will generate over $324 billion in sales, with slow growth of 4.1% over the next 5 years. The softened economy, cars that use fuel more efficiently, and steep drops in crude oil prices all conspire to slow down growth in this industry. This makes it all the more important that petro convenience retailers couple competitive fuel prices with superior c-store merchandise and great customer experiences.  

So how do brands fare in this competitive milieu? In our annual US customer experience research, over 10,000 consumers rated their last fueling experience. One clear finding emerged: Regional players with corporately owned stores beat the majors hands down. These regional players maintained a better image, had better service, and offered fresh food. In the composite loyalty index, shown below, you can see the top players who scored well on both customer satisfaction and likelihood of recommending the brand. Kwik Trip, Quik Trip and Wawa were clear standouts.

Why did these brands fare so well? They:

  • Have excellent ratings for the overall appearance of their sites. They attend carefully to the brand image focusing on a consistent presentation.
  • Attend to some of the details at the fueling area, like making sure squeegees and towels are in place.
  • Have reasonably competitive prices—but not the best prices.
  • Offer fresh, hot food that receives high marks from consumers for quality.
  • Receive high marks for merchandising strategies in their convenience stores with excellent cashier service.

We’ll be releasing more about our research in this space, with results for the UK posted next week. In the meantime, check out our case study profiling how one of the big nationals manages their brand image, or SCHEDULE A BRIEFING to arrange a presentation with the full research results. 

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.

Feedback is a Gift: Managing Customer Complaints

Consumers expect us to be united and omni-present in understanding their experiences. That’s a tall order when feedback can come from so many different touchpoints. How can you listen and respond effectively to consumer feedback, especially to those negative comments that can hurt your brand or lose loyal customers? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Make sure you listen across a wide variety of touch points, such as your inbound phone calls (into head office or call center), emails, social posts, online chat, customer satisfaction surveys, in store quick-feedback pods, comment cards, etc.
  2. Incorporate new technology touchpoints that look at customer behaviors—not just opinions. 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.
  3. Manage the complaint process consistently across all touchpoints. Ensure that each item—no matter whether it is a call, an email, or a social post—is appropriately handled with a closed loop system. Communications, escalations, fulfillment—all need to be handled in a single case management solution.
  4. Analyze your complaint data to find specific locations that generate most of the complaints—and link complaints to financial results. Allow data analysis to open your eyes. At Market Force, we have analyzed complaint data and consistently find two very important outcomes:
    -  The number of complaints per thousand transactions can vary widely, with some locations generating 3x to 4x the number of complaints averaged by other locations in the system.
    -  The number of complaints about a specific location is negatively correlated with financial metrics like same store sales growth.
  5. Act. We often find that clients can make it to Step 4 and then get stuck. It’s very difficult to actually act on this data. It requires consistent messaging and expectations to all locations, clear action plans, and then will to follow through and hold managers accountable for results. That takes time, and your closed loop reporting system can open your eyes to the behaviors of A, B, and C managers.

Feedback is a gift. Listen to what your customers say, respond consistently and effectively, and use the insights to hold your teams accountable to delivering exceptional service. 

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. 

Eyes:On | Market Force

Madeleine Earl Gray of Market Force Information explains the benefits of mystery shopping and offers her expert top tips on doing it right.

London, U.K., 5 April 2016 – Whoever said “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” obviously hadn’t heard about mystery shopping. In fact, mystery shoppers can not only get a free lunch, breakfast or dinner, they get paid for the privilege as well!

Simply put, a mystery shopper goes into cafés, restaurants and shops and writes a report about their experience. It may not be a replacement for a full-time job, but it can help you earn a little extra income, not to mention the costs you’ll save from the freebies. At Market Force Information, some of our more frequent mystery shoppers make over £2,000 per year visiting shops, restaurants, and pubs.

Almost anyone can be a mystery shopper, from students, to retirees, to full-time workers – you don’t need qualifications, just the ability to write well and a good eye for detail.

Through the internet, it’s never been easier to find opportunities. At Market Force, we’ve just released a new app called Eyes:OnTM which lets you know about nearby opportunities. So if you’re out and about and fancy a free meal, you can simply use the app to see if any restaurant or retail locations near you need an evaluation. You can then sign up for the job and complete your evaluation on the spot. 

Mystery shopping is a very rewarding pursuit, and to help you make the most of it I’ve put together my top tips on being a savvy mystery shopper:

  1. Fit it around your job. Mystery shopping isn’t really an alternative to your job – in fact it works much better as something that fits around your current schedule. This means you can take assignments when you have time, or leave them when you don’t.
  2. Be flexible. You’re in control and that you’ll never be made to accept an assignment. The good thing is that you can complete assignments before work, on your lunchbreak or in the evenings. You may have to travel to some assignments so bear the cost and time involved before saying ‘yes’.
  3. Look at the assignment details carefully. Not all assignments are alike so make sure you read the details thoroughly, confirming how much you’ll be paid and reimbursed.  
  4. Be discerning. Mystery shopping works best when you’re getting something you’d have been buying anyway - a sandwich for lunch or some new clothes.
  5. Ensure you have the time. Assignments need to be completely carefully and with a good amount of detail. If you’re not sure whether you’ll have time to complete the job, it’s probably best not to take it on.
  6. Find a good provider. A few different companies use mystery shoppers but it’s important you find a good one. Things to look for include how widely they operate, the number of jobs they have available and how easy they make it for you to be reimbursed.
  7. Apps. Market Force’s Eyes:On app makes it easier than ever to be a successful mystery shopper. Going away for the weekend? The app can alert you to nearby jobs on the go. So why not stop at the next service station and have a bite to eat on Market Force? Have a couple of hours to kill before an appointment? No problem – Eyes:On can instantly show you what’s around.
  8. Save your receipts. It’s important to remember you’ll have to purchase items out of our own pocket before being reimbursed. Make sure you save all of your receipts so you can check against your earnings. Do bear in mind that, depending on your situation and how frequently you mystery shop, you may have to register as self-employed for tax purposes. 

Mystery shopping is getting more and more popular so if you think it might be a good fit for you – don’t delay! If you’d like more information, or would like to sign up with Market Force, download Eyes:On from the App Store and Google Play now.


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

Date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016

CX ROI: What's the value of investing?

There are two schools of thought around customer experience. The first school says, “Of course you have to focus on customers. Just do it.” The second says, “I have any number of initiatives where I need to spend money. Prove to me that my investment in CX has an ROI.” The latter is a tall order, but the link has been proven both by independent companies like Forrester and through modeling work by Market Force.

In July of 2015, Forrester released new research regarding the link between CX investments and ROI. The original research found a link between CX leaders versus CX laggards and stock returns, but also noted that there is lots of noise in the stock return data. In the new research, they focused on modeling to revenue in five different industries. The rich research (see, “Does Customer Experience Really Drive Business Success?” by Harley Manning) concludes that it does ... but with some caveats. For example, industries with lots of competition and freedom of choice from consumers show a much higher ROI on CX investments than industries where there is little choice and consumers are trapped.

Over the years, Market Force has created dozens of sophisticated models showing the relationship between customer experience and revenue, and indeed, the expected ROI when locations improved their performance on critical drivers of both. Example industries and KPI’s where we have found those relationships include:

  • Hotel: Increased Revenue Per Available Room (REVPar)
  • Petro Convenience: Volume of gas sold
  • Restaurant: Year Over Year Same Store Sales comps
  • Grocery: Annual household spend and same store sales
  • Retail Banking: Number of portfolio products purchased

The work is not for the faint of heart and requires much more than trying to generate a correlation between two columns of numbers. But the results open the eyes of executives and investors alike as they see the return on improving the customer experience. Read one of our case studies profiling a wireless retailer or visit our predictive modeling page to learn more about who you can make the case for your investment in customer experience.

  Download Our Case Study

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.

Three Ways to Increase Your Survey Response Rates

Every brand wants customers to provide feedback. That feedback ensures that the brand has solid metrics around the customer experience being delivered by each of its locations—and can then help each location meet or exceed various goals.

A 2015 research study conducted by Market Force showed that 83% of all consumers had completed at least one survey in the past 12 months, with an average of three to four being completed in that same time period. That’s good news. The bad news is that they are bombarded with requests to give their feedback. Both the market research and customer experience industries suffer from response fatigue. So how can you ensure every location in your brand receives the feedback they need to delight customers? 

1. Let customers use the channel they prefer to respond to you—and don’t make assumptions. In a recent pilot for a major petro-convenience retailer, Market Force tracked what channel consumers used to respond to surveys. You may be surprised:

  • 24% used the URL invitation to begin the survey
  • 12% scanned the QR code (no kidding!)
  • 40% used the SMS text code
  • 15% used Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

2. Make the survey visible. We see this mistake so often. The only visibility to the survey is the receipt tape—and that’s not often easily seen! Augment your receipt tapes with great materials that include the SMS text code, the QR code, the phone number, and the URL. Use window clings, table tents, print on bags and cups, have a “business card” at the register . . . all of these things will help you increase the chances that customers see the invitation and respond.

3. Offer a smart and flexible incentive. In our 2015 research consumers indicated that they are most likely to respond when they get a gift card or a have a bounce back—of course. That’s expensive, but if you can manage budget for that, it’s important to offer. Sweepstakes do work, but if you use them, make sure you have many chances of winning smaller prizes rather than one big prize with a low probability of winning. Finally, do consider giving the winner the option to contribute monies toward a charity supported by the brand. There are some do-gooders out there who prefer this and it’s great for building up the brand reputation and support philanthropic initiatives.

Getting a consistent flow of 20 to 30 surveys per month per location takes resources and planning. Make it your mission so every location has what they need to delight their customers and be an A player in your organization. For more information about Market Force’s approach to customer experience surveys:

  Download our Solution Sheet

Fuelling change: Major petrol retailer drills for insights

A petrol retailer with 8000+ locations had been measuring the performance of its convenience stores with a mystery shopping programme. They had lots of data, but no insights. The company tapped the Market Force Analytics team who discovered a 58% variance in sales between the top and bottom quartiles. The next step was to find which specific questions predicted the Nvariance in fuel sales growth. In other words, what matters most to consumers and their behaviours?

Get the case study:

Major petro-convenience brand moves into the fast lane

The franchise model for petro-convenience brands requires distributed training and brand compliance evaluation across thousands of gas station/c-store sites with different owners. Increasing sales requires that every branded location—no matter where it is located and who owns it—must take the steps to keep customers coming back. Learn how one brand with 7000+ locations rises to meet the challenge.

Get the case study:

Contact Centre KPIs for CX

Which measurements you use to assess contact centre operations and effectiveness depend on your goals. If the goal of your contact centre is to deliver excellence in the customer experience, here are the KPIs you should consider.



Get the white paper:

Better together: Integrating direct customer feedback and mystery shopping data

Mystery shopping and direct customer experience data are most effective when integrated into one model— the first giving shape to the second. The two must be combined to get the most value from each, driving visible improvement where it matters to your customers on-site and where it matters to you — your financial metrics.



Get the white paper:

Better Together: Integrating direct customer feedback and mystery shopping data

Mystery shopping and direct customer experience data are most effective when integrated into one model— the first giving shape to the second. The two must be combined to get the most value from each, driving visible improvement where it matters to your customers on-site and where it matters to you — your financial metrics.



Get the white paper:


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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