Blended Index: How to Create a CX Single Metric

The use of blended indices is quickly becoming a best practice as companies attempt to connect the dots across many sources of data being collected for their organizations. No single measurement tells the whole story—and that’s particularly true of multi-location businesses. Why? Because locations are looking at operational excellence metrics, satisfaction and loyalty metrics, as well as financial metrics to understand how they perform. And how they perform needs to be within the context of the brand itself and peer groups. In order to make sense of the rich data sources, we recommend constructing a blended index.

WHAT is a blended index?

A blended index creates a composite score from multiple data sources, spanning operational and customer metrics. The algorithm must normalize the data so that scales are not an issue (e.g. mystery shopping on a 100 point scale, customer satisfaction on a 5 point scale, or contacts on a number of complaints/1000 transactions). The algorithm should also flex to weight specific metrics. This single score provides the brand—and your locations—with a holistic view of performance across all metrics.

WHY should I have a Blended Index?

A blended index that spans across operational and customer metrics helps you understand performance as a whole. The magic happens when you bump that information up against a financial metric like same store sales growth, revenue per available room, or volume of gas sold. You’ll then want to understand the performance of every location on that grid to determine where you will want to require better operations, more marketing to drive traffic, management changes, and adoption of best practices.

HOW do I get value from a Blended Index?

The final step in maximizing your value from a blended index requires socializing the information with the rest of the organization. Executives and managers from both operations and marketing need to understand the numbers. More importantly, they need to drive action across the organization. Finding the critical drivers—specific actions that can be taken to change scores on the blended metric—must happen. Without that commitment, you’ll be looking at data that stays the same and never changes—and that will not help you grow your brand. 

Sam McKeveny is Head of Program Development, North America at Market Force Information. Sam consults with client executives to design program architectures that systematically improve operational execution, customer delight and sales growth.

Incenting Employees: Three Best Practices from our Clients

Our clients often ask us how other companies incent their employees to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Practices range widely and tend to group into three major categories. Let’s take a look at those categories and why they are used:

  1. Appreciation through badges, certificates, pins, etc. That “badge of honor” really matters to the front line. A certificate acknowledging superior performance, signed by an executive, makes an indelible mark on employees. They are proud to be recognized and execs can reinforce the importance of serving customers. I’ve personally seen a pride wall where a petro-convenience retailer had every 100% shop certificate up on a wall. I’ve seen employees wearing their “employee of the quarter” pins or displaying their “WOW” certificates for exceptional service. Indeed, virtually every research firm confirms the importance of employee recognition in driving retention and engagement.
     
  2. In the moment recognition for delivering exceptional service or complying with brand standards. In one program we deliver, employees receive a “Golden Ticket” for upselling beverage products at restaurants. That golden ticket is a gift card delivered immediately and directly to the employee. Not only is that reward valuable to the employee, it’s valuable for both the restaurant brand and the beverage vendor. Both see an uptick in sales.
     
  3. Bonus compensation tied to results. We have a number of clients that tie compensation to CX results—but it takes many different forms. Some clients emphasize the performance of the front lines. In one case, consistent delivery on 100% shop scores results in a bonus added to each monthly pay check for front line employees. For others, delivery on core CX metrics is tied to management MBO’s that go all the way up to the CEO. As with any compensation, you’ll want to check that you have a solid metric, that every location knows how to move the needle on that metric, and that you are recognizing improvement towards goals as well as overall results.

Recognition and incentives are critical to your team. We’d be happy to discuss alternative incentive programs that help your teams understand their importance to creating exceptional customer experiences and positioning your brand for financial success. 

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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.​

Innovation in Social Media: The Power of a Listening Ear

Social media strategies now require a large percentage of our marketing budgets. In fact, Forrester research forecasts that US social media spending will increase dramatically in the next five years, from $13 billion in 2016 to $30 billion in 2021 with a growth rate of 16.9%. In Europe, growth is projected at 18.4%, from $7.4 billion in 2016 to $17.3 billion in 2016 (US dollars). And advertising is only one component of social media dollars spent by big brands. We divide that spend into three separate categories:

Responding to CX commentary. Customers post their customer experience comments to both corporate and site level Facebook and Twitter pages. Brands have built strategies for managing those comments, focusing on taking negative commentary offline and recovering unhappy customers. Positive commentary can be used to uplift and motivate employees. Direct recognition for great work can immediately impact morale!

Managing third party reviews. Reviews posted to Yelp, Trip Advisor and other third party sites have become increasingly important. For example, understanding sentiment, categories of commentary, and trends—and comparing that information to key competitors—form the very basics of what your brand needs to be watching. Also, in the restaurant industry more than 67 percent of customers take online reviews into consideration when making a purchasing decision (as published by Modern Restaurant Management). In Market Force’s research, we clearly see the influence of sites like Pinterest for fashion and even comparative pricing apps like GasBuddy for gas.  

Creating engagement and innovation through advertising. We love it when brands use social media to innovate. Flynn Decker, CMO for Wingstop, gave a great interview to Loyalty 360 (https://loyalty360.org/content-gallery/daily-news/wingstop-carries-its-innovative-spirit-through-dig) about how Wingstop is using social media and CX data to engage with customers. Wingstop has aligned its CX strategy to match the heavy use of online ordering, recognition of the importance of mobility, and the first-of-its-kind social auction series on Periscope “THUMP by Wingstop.” Users bid on prizes by tapping the Periscope heart button. 

As you think about your own budget for social media, divide it into those things that will a) create and drive revenue, like engaging your customer base through advertising, b) those that will help you mitigate risk, like taking negative conversations offline, and c) those that will help you drive down costs, like using commentary and third party reviews to help your teams perform better. Every dollar you spend can be leveraged to drive your business. 

 

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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.​

 

Making Sense of Sensors and Beacons

Many companies have invested in camera and beacon technology to track customers within brand locations. That data is very rich. How can you make sense of the plethora of information? We recommend tying behavioral data from these sensors to the subjective data supplied by customers.

For example, a Market Force partner uses sensor data to track cars and people at a gas station and convenience store. Data includes unique visitors, first time visitors, dwell time at certain stations (like the pump) and number of visitors entering the convenience store. This rich behavioral data can be combined with subjective survey data, contact center data, or mystery shopping data. Brands can examine:

  1. Relationship between dwell time and cashier service in the convenience store, and sales. Modeling can relate actual physical time spent in the convenience store to basket size and sales. It can extend to test hypotheses—like whether dwell time is related to cashier friendliness collected on your customer survey. And if that relationship exists, analytics can help determine what a cashier could do to ensure that a longer time spent in the store or at the register, ensures a higher number of items purchased.
  2. Bounced visitors. Real estate is an expensive investment. The number of bounced visitors who spend very little time at your location is a great indicator of abandonment. This information can be related to your mystery shop data to indicate whether the attractiveness, security, and cleanliness of your site discourages or draws in traffic.
  3. Average days between visits. This frequency metric will help you determine whether you have a steady clientele or new customers entering every day. That’s an implicit measure of loyalty and can be related to both customer satisfaction and loyalty card data.
  4. As a last example the number of people in a particular zone can be related to conversion rate. For example, three people might visit a zone that has a live sales person and only one purchases. Conversion rate could be related to the time spent with the sales person or the effectiveness of the sales person in positioning products. The latter would be measured through customer satisfaction surveys

With the use of GPS tracking in smart phones and the nearly ubiquitous implementation of cameras and sensors, your brand has the opportunity to link highly complex behavioral data with subjective perceptions and operational metrics like mystery shopping. A wealth of insights that your analytics team can mine to manage your business more effectively. To learn more about our location based services offering and/or analytics, schedule a briefing with us and we’ll be glad to have a conversation. 

 

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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.​

 

A boon, not a cost: Leveraging your contact center information

Insights collected from contact management platforms enable an organization to pinpoint problematic locations, create customer brand advocates, and prevent risk. How can your brand benefit from your contact center operations? This white paper explores two critical components:

  1. How to leverage your contact center data
  2. Best practices for managing your contact center

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Time to Re-evaluate Strategy

When was the last time you took a walk in your customer’s shoes and experienced your brand from their perspective? Having a clear understanding of their priorities and how those priorities connect to your bottom line is extremely important.

The reality is, our knowledge of the customer experience, customer expectations, and our ability to deliver against their needs, is in constant flux. If we get complacent we may find that our focus, metrics, and the systems we use to manage performance, lose their ability to create real positive change. If it has been more than 2 years since your last deep-dive into the customer journey and the associated measurement and support systems, it is time for fresh perspective.

Are you asking the right questions? Do you have the right processes in place to listen and respond if customers have issues? Are you timely in addressing customer concerns? Are you listening across all of the relevant online, social, and conventional channels? Are you aggregating and disseminating information in effective ways? Do you have a clear picture of reality in terms of your ability to execute against your standards and training? Is it clear to all what the true priorities are?

These are just some of the important questions to consider. That said, even if you recognize the importance of the customer experience, it can be easy to get lost in the daily grind and lose sight of important details. If any of the following conditions exist, now is the time for a second opinion regarding the efficacy of your customer experience practices. To make the review process easier, we’d like to share a list of telltale signs that it is time to revisit your customer strategy.

  1. Low engagement in customer experience programs with customers and/or employees and managers;
  2. Low executive engagement or visibility into customer experience program metrics;
  3. Flat or declining customer experience scores;
  4. A high degree of variability in performance across your brand;
  5. A lack of certainty in the connection between scores and a desired business outcome;
  6. Dated program design, branding and PR strategies;
  7. Reliance on a limited number of channels to engage customers;
  8. High or improving scores, with inverse financial outcomes.

If effectively designed, your customer experience program can be a highly scientific tool to manage your business, placing the wants and needs of your customers at the forefront of decision-making. By deploying best practices in combination you will elevate your chance of success, and ensure you maximize the financial return on your investment of time and energy in creating great customer experiences. 

Contact our experts today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation that will help you determine whether it’s time to revisit your customer experience strategy.

 

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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.

 

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. 

Three Tips for Collecting Customer Experience Data on Mobile Apps

These days, virtually every company has developed a mobile app—and consumers have responded well. In Market Force’s industry panel research, we ask consumers to tell us about how they use mobile apps—and which apps they’ve downloaded and how they use them. Consumers check gas prices, comparison shop for groceries and check to make sure merchandise is available.

So how can multi-location brands use apps to collect customer experience data? How can they get information about the operations in their stores? Market Force has just released its new Eyes:OnTM mobile app. We focused on three design principles that B2B clients and consumers wanted in a usable and useful design:

  1. Incorporate geo-fencing. Use location data to pinpoint information about the exact store being evaluated. This minimizes effort to enter data that’s easily available—and that makes it more likely that data will be a) completed and b) accurate.
  2. Allow visuals to be attached. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is still true. Make sure your app allows interviewers, auditors and consumers to attach a photo or a video. Sometimes voice recordings can be really useful. For example, when Market Force conducts customer intercepts, short audio files can be attached to the interview report.
  3. Be mindful of interface design. A single question on a page, grouping questions together in intuitive categories, using sliders for rating scales—all of the human factors design principles apply when creating a mobile app.

At Market Force, shoppers use Eyes:On to conduct mystery shops. Our clients’ internal auditors use the app to collect data and transmit that data either to their internal reporting platforms or to our KnowledgeForceTM platform. Consumers use the app to give us opinions about their experiences. All of these use cases help multi-location businesses keep their “eyes on” operations in their stores and the customer experiences they offer. And that leads to more money in their pockets. 

To discuss applications about our new Eyes:On mobile app, give us a call! 

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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. 

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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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