eBook: Customer Experience Measurement

This eBook explores methodologies and approaches for measuring customer experience in multi-location businesses. We look at pros and cons based on our experience with hundreds of client programs that address the needs of large and complex Fortune 10 brands with thousands of locations, to emerging brands with 100 or fewer locations.

 

 

 

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Effectively Manage Social Media Reviews and Improve Results

Businesses that don’t think reviews on social media matter are making a huge mistake. Users on social media platforms can have an immediate and deleterious impact on the bottom line.

Just ask the Starbucks CEO after staff at a Philadelphia store called police on two African American men waiting to meet a friend. The interaction was caught on a smartphone and went viral. What followed was the shutdown of all locations nationwide as a training was conducted for all employees.

Or recall the Pizza Hut viral video of rats scampering inside a New York location. In that case, not only did the company endure the negative publicity on social media, but was forced to shut down 13 locations.

Reviews influence purchasing decisions

Social media reviews have become part of the decision-making process for countless consumers. Studies peg the percentage of consumers that check out online reviews at more than 80%. That means a majority of online shoppers rely on feedback from other consumers when making purchases. These reviews are powerful too: around the same percentage of consumers will not purchase a product if it gets a substantial number of bad online reviews.

Before the advent of the internet, Americans got their read on new restaurants, movies and products from professionals who were paid to review a product or service. Nowadays, they get opinions from real people who have actual real-life experiences with the things they're reviewing. As a result, people really trust online reviews.

Star ratings have also become prevalent because they’re a quick way for consumers to size up the sentiment about a business or service. It’s an easy system to understand, and they seem to matter to consumers just as much – if not more – as online reviews.

Positive social media reviews can also help a business get noticed outside of the social networks themselves. The more positive reviews a business has, the higher up they will move in the website’s directory. That, in turn, increases the odds the consumer sees the business and patronizes it rather than a lower-ranked competitor. It can also drive more local business. Consumers will check out reviews about a local business before visiting it. If they find nothing or, worse, bad reviews, they may be just skip it and go somewhere else.

We can all agree that social media reviews need to be handled, so how do you best go about it? Here are some best practices that can help guide the way.

Avoid bad reviews in the first place

The challenge is how to manage social reviews. The first step is making sure that your patrons have a good customer experience in the first place. This is especially difficult for multi-location businesses with hundreds or thousands of locations. Ensuring an excellent customer experience requires ongoing intelligence into how each location is performing – and it’s virtually impossible to have eyes and ears in every store to report back. This leads most restaurant, retail, grocery and other major chains to implement widespread mystery shopping programs. These program give businesses the insights they need to deliver an impeccable customer experience in each location, which, in most cases, will lead to an uptick in positive reviews.  

Another good step is deploying an employee survey to assess if you’re employees are happy, satisfied and engaged – all factors that can be reflected in the customer experience and, thus, in customer reviews. Companies like In-N-Out Burger are known for paying well, adequately training staff and having strong management. And it shows. The front lines have enabled In-N-Out to attain a loyal customer base that consistently rank the chain as their favorite burger restaurant. Making sure you’re taking care of employees adequately who are on your front lines pays off in more ways than one.

Managing the bad

Nevertheless, no matter how well a location is managing the customer experience, a mistake will be made or a customer will be irate for an unforeseen reason. In this case, it is extremely important that the guest be heard. Employees should be trained to handle these cases on the front lines, but guests tend to complain more online rather than approaching the staff with their issues.

One negative comment can undo the goodwill from dozens of positive ones. For this reason, businesses should have a contact center staffed with live agents who monitor and respond to mentions of your brand. Live agents can engage one on one to recover unhappy customers and to move the negative conversations offline. At the same time, they can also thank customers for calling out a service they loved at a location, and sincere appreciation can go a long way in consumers’ minds.

Amplifying the good

Businesses can also have success by amplifying good reviews. For example, a hotel chain asked guests who filled out an online survey whether they would like to post the review on TripAdvisor with one click. It turned out that almost half of the TripAdvisor reviews were from that mechanism. It’s a simple process to put in place with sizeable results. 

Final thoughts

Social media now plays a big role in how consumers make choices of where to eat, shop, what hotel to stay at and what movie to see. An effective social media strategy includes making sure you’re delivering a good customer experience in the first place, as well as a instituting a program to scour the social media universe and respond quickly and professionally to make things right.

What the community of millions, if not billions, of people are saying on these social networks can make the difference between a company succeeding and failing. It transcends size and scope of the business. Any size company that ignores the power and potential of social media reviews does so at their own peril.

Barbara Cummings is a digital marketing strategist who’s helped businesses from Fortune 500 to small nonprofits with their online presence and building a smart brand identity through their promotion and marketing campaigns.

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2018 customer experience survey on home improvement retailers

Peachtree Corners, Ga., Aug. 22, 2018 — IKEA is consumers’ favorite home furnishings retailer and Ace Hardware is their favorite home improvement chain, according to a new nationwide study by Market Force Information (Market Force), a worldwide leader in customer experience management.

Market Force polled more than 1,800 consumers for the home furnishings portion of the study and more than 4,000 for the home improvement portion. In addition to ranking the home retailers, Market Force also looked at the attributes that set the industry leaders apart from the pack, including merchandise variety, store layout, value and customer service.

IKEA No. 1 Home Furnishings Retailer

IKEA, which has maintained steady growth in the face of mounting e-commerce competition, ranks as America’s favorite home furnishings retailer. It earned a score of 75% on the Composite Loyalty Index, placing it far ahead of second-place HomeGoods, which earned 63%. Target and Bed Bath & Beyond tied for third with 61%, and Walmart trailed with 43%.

Graph 1: Favorite Home Furnishings Retailers

Target Wins on Store Layout, Ease of Finding Items

When it comes to the six most important customer experience attributes in the home furnishings sector, IKEA and Target take the top spots. IKEA ranked first for merchandise variety and availability, as well as value and store cleanliness. Target was found to have the best store layout and received the highest marks for ease of finding merchandise in its stores. Bed Bath & Beyond performed consistently well, earning a top-three ranking in all of the categories. On the flip side, Walmart ranked last for store cleanliness and merchandise variety, and tied for last alongside Target for value. 

Graph 2: Home Furnishings Retailers Ranked by Attributes
 

Which Furnishers Excel in Service?

Nearly half – 43% – of customers reported that they received assistance during their most recent trip to a home furnishings retailer. Nearly three-quarters found the associate friendly, but only 56% were asked if they wanted to purchase the merchandise in question.  

Not surprisingly, overall furnishings leader IKEA outperformed the other home retailers in customer service. Consumers find its associates to be the friendliest and have the most product knowledge. It’s also easier to find an associate at IKEA than other chains. Bed Bath & Beyond ranked second across the board, while HomeGoods ranked lowest for friendliness, overall service and ease of finding an associate. 

Graph 3: Home Furnishings Retailers Ranked on Service
 

“Service is of the utmost importance in any retail situation, but particularly in the larger-format stores that are commonplace in home furnishings and home improvement,” said Brad Christian, chief customer officer for Market Force. “The customer experience largely relies on being able to find what you need and someone to help. Otherwise, customers can quickly become frustrated and that can lead retailers to a missed sale.”

Ace Again Tops Among Home Improvement Retailers

Ace Hardware, known for its neighborly service and an intense focus on the customer experience, earned the top spot among home improvement retailers once again in 2018 with a score of 68% on the Composite Loyalty Index. Menards ranked second with 57%, Lowe’s was third with 54% and Home Depot was fourth with 53%. Walmart was a distant fifth, earning just 36%.

Graph 4: Favorite Home Improvement Retailers
 

Ace Sweeps Customer Experience Categories   

Market Force also looked at how the top brands fare in the seven attributes that matter most to consumers. Ace Hardware dominated, ranking No. 1 in all categories, with particularly strong marks for store cleanliness, checkout speed and store layout. Menards tied with Ace Hardware for first place for merchandise variety, and took second place for value, merchandise availability and store cleanliness. Walmart landed at the bottom in every category except value, an area that saw Home Depot rank last. [See Graph 5].

Graph 5: Home Improvement Retailers Ranked by Attributes
 

Methodology

For the favorite retailer rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their last experience at a home improvement or furnishings store, and their likelihood to recommend it to others. Only brands with 100 or more reviews were included in the rankings. That data was averaged to rate each brand on an aggregation of the two measures – a Composite Loyalty Index.

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in June 2018 across the United States. There was a pool of 1,841 consumers for the home furnishings portion and a pool of 4,040 consumers for the home improvement portion of the study. The participants represented a cross-section of the four U.S. Census regions and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 55% reporting annual household incomes of more than $50,000. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Seventy four percent were female, 25% were male and 1% preferred not to answer.

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information® is a customer experience (CX) management company that provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, employee engagement surveys, mystery shopping, contact center services and social media review tracking, which are integrated into one technology and analytics platform, KnowledgeForce®. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves more than 200 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including restaurants, major retailers, grocery and drug stores, petro/convenience stores, banking & financial institutions and entertainment brands. The company has been recognized as one of the top 50 market research organizations in the AMA Gold Report. For more information about Market Force, please visit us online at www.marketforce.com.

 

 

Date: Wednesday, August 22, 2018
2018 fashion panel research
Target gains ground and is tops in e-commerce

LOUISVILLE, Colo., March 21, 2018 — Consumer demand for value fashion is as strong as ever, and their favorite value fashion retailers are TJ Maxx and Target, according to a new retail study from Market Force Information (Market Force). Market Force polled more than 10,000 consumers for the study, which ranks value* fashion retailers overall, as well as areas such as merchandise selection, customer service and e-commerce. 

TJ Maxx and Target Narrowly Beat out Nordstrom Rack

Even though TJ Maxx fell 8 percentage points over last year, it still earned a 47% score on the Composite Loyalty Index to tie for first with Target, which saw the biggest gain of all the value fashion retailers studied. Nordstrom Rack – the discount arm of Nordstrom, which was named consumers’ favorite premium fashion retailer – was a close second with 46%. Burlington landed in third place with 45%, while Marshall’s, Ross Stores and Walmart ranked fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. 

Graph 1: Favorite Value Fashion Retailers

Burlington Boasts Best Selection

Market Force also looked at value fashion retailer attributes that matter most to consumers and impact where they shop. Ross earned the top spot for value for money spent, a category in which Walmart ranked last, surprisingly. Target scored highest for atmosphere, ease of finding items and checkout speeds. Burlington performed well in the merchandise categories, ranking highest for selection and the ability for shoppers to create a look. Although TJ Maxx failed to dominate in any one category, it performed consistently well across the board. 

Graph 2: Value Fashion Retailers Ranked by Attributes

 

Less than Half of Shoppers Received Sales Help

Although Market Force found value to be the biggest influencer in choosing where to shop, service is also an important consideration, and just 43% reported being helped by an associate during their last shopping trip. Nordstrom Rack associates assisted customers most often, however, shoppers gave higher marks to Burlington, Target and Ross for understanding their needs and suggesting relevant items. Marshall’s ranked lowest for helping and understanding shoppers. 

Graph 3: Sales Associate Help and Effectiveness

 

“Nearly half of those surveyed have shopped at a physical retail store at least three times in the past 90 days, typically to enjoy a great in-store experience and to hunt for a good sale,” said Brad Christian, chief customer officer for Market Force. “However, it’s not always about price, even in the value apparel realm. Customers also want attentive and helpful service, and that’s one area where these discount retailers can and should bridge the gap with their premium counterparts.”

Target Wins at E-Commerce

While many consumers like to shop in-person at discount and off-price stores, e-commerce continues to be an important channel for retailers competing with Amazon. Market Force found that Target – which saw 29% year-over-year online sales growth in Q4 2017 – received the most website visits and purchases, and delivered the best online experience. Fifty-one percent reported visiting its website in the previous 90 days and, of them, 72% made a purchase. Walmart’s and Nordstrom Rack’s websites were each visited by 40% of study participants, and nearly two-thirds made online purchases from them. 

Graph 4: Value Retailer Website Purchases and Experience

Methodology

For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent value fashion retailer experience, and their likelihood to refer the brand to others. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score. Only retailers with at least 100 locations were included.

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in December 2017 across North America. There was an overall pool of 10,821 respondents covering all U.S. and Canadian regions. Within the survey pool, 6,759 reported shopping for fashion at a favorite retailer within the past 90 days, and 5,109 reported shopping for shoes within the past six months. There was a broad spectrum of income levels, with 54% indicating incomes of over $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 73% were women and 26% were men.

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information® is a customer experience (CX) management company that provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, employee engagement surveys, mystery shopping, contact center services and social media review tracking, which are integrated into one technology and analytics platform, KnowledgeForce®. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves more than 200 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including restaurants, major retailers, grocery and drug stores, petro/convenience stores, banking & financial institutions and entertainment brands. The company has been recognized one of the top 50 market research organizations in the AMA Gold Report and by Forrester as a Breakout Vendor. For more information about Market Force, please visit us online www.marketforce.com.

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* Market Force broke out this year’s fashion retail study into value and premium. The premium brand rankings were announced in February.

Date: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
2017 satisfaction survey on consumers favorite home improvement retailers

20 February 2018 — Nordstrom was the favorite premium fashion retailer among 10,000 shoppers, according to an annual fashion retail study conducted by Market Force. This marked Nordstrom's sixth year in a row as the voted favorite retailer, with 56%, and Lane Bryant came in second, up 7% to 52% in popularity from last year. The study also looked at what attributes consumers are looking for in a fashion retailer. Kohl's ranked first for its loyalty card program, as well as for delivering high value for its prices. Lane Bryant, Nordstrom and Dillard's were at the bottom of the list for high value for the price. 

Date: Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Business Insider

21 February 2018 — Lane Bryant has won over the hearts of American shoppers. The plus-size store, which is owned by Ascena Retail Group, placed second on a list of Americans' favorite premium fashion stores, gaining seven percentage points of favorability over the year prior. 10,000 people responded to the survey, which was done by the customer-experience management company Market Force.

Lane Bryant was second only to Nordstrom, which was voted the No. 1 favorite for the sixth year running.

Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Nordstrom ranks as consumers' favorite apparel retailer

21 February 2018 — For the sixth year in a row, in an annual study by Market Force Information, Nordstrom earned the top spot as the United States’ favorite premium fashion retailer — and it’s largely due to the department store’s customer service.

Polling more than 10,000 consumers, the study took into account factors such as store atmosphere, size options, checkout speed and merchandise selection — all areas in which Nordstrom ranked No. 1. (The Composite Loyalty Index, where Nordstrom led overall, also includes the value for money spent, shoppers’ ability to create a look, the ease of finding items and valuable loyalty cards.)

Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thinking of Cutting Investment in Frontline Staff? Think Again.

It’s always heart-breaking to read of potential job losses because of store closures, as has recently been announced in the UK by Toys R Us and Maplin. It’s especially hard to take when some of the issues were foreseeable and resolvable months ago.

In an effort to cut costs, management cut staff levels in stores, which resulted in lower customer service. Based on Market Force Information’s research, brands that consistently deliver excellence on operational standards in their stores will delight their customers. Delighted customers will not only return but also recommend the brand and store to their friends and family. This virtuous cycle results in more traffic, which drives revenues and same-store sales growth. In fact, in its most recent Fashion Apparel Retail Consumer Preference Study, Market Force found that only 43% of the customers that purchased in-store were actually helped by store staff. This lack of engagement on the sales floor is caused by two issues that currently present themselves in retail formats. The first issue is that many retailers are not investing in their people. Ensuring that front line staff have the latest and best sales process training will give them the confidence to engage and more effectively serve customers who come into the store. The other issue is the fact that, like Toys ‘R Us and Maplin, retailers are making budget cuts to frontline staff in the effort to reduce costs. Having fewer team members in the stores to help customers is not a winning CX strategy.

In Maplin’s case, the reduction of colleagues in the final few feet of the customer’s journey resulted in lower customer satisfaction. Market Force has demonstrated the link between performance on CX measures and financial performance at store level. We recently leveraged our predictive analytics practice to help a client predict and identify sites at-risk of closure due to declining scores on a blended index of CX metrics. The client has been able to take more precise and decisive action to prevent site closures that would otherwise have impacted its bottom line. This ability to link CX measures to financial performance results earned the praise of Forrester in 2017 when they identified Market Force as a Break-out Vendor for domain-specific insights.

To learn more about the power of leveraging predictive analytics to i) understand what matters most to your customers, ii) identify gaps in operational execution, and iii) determine the financial ROI of driving change, please schedule a briefing.

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Victor Chauhan is a Key Account Manager for Market Force Information and consults on CX best practices with clients from a variety of industries.

The Future of CX: Identifying and Driving Financial ROI

The customer experience industry is evolving, and with it, a need to evolve the approach to helping organizations protect their brands, delight customers and make more money. The days of simply putting in measurement systems and reporting on results just don’t deliver enough value.  Best-in-class organizations are leveraging multiple customer experience measures, including mystery shopping, customer surveys, contact center services, and social media review tracking, among others. In addition, those same industry-leading companies are integrating these measures and linking them to financial performance at the location level. Market Force refers to this approach as “Better Together” and it remains a key differentiator of our approach. With these integrated measures, multi-location businesses are then able to apply analytics and location segmentation to figure out exactly what to do and where to invest in CX for the highest ROI. Forrester recognized Market Force Information in 2107 as a Break Out Vendor for these kinds of capabilities.

A case in point is one of Market Force’s fast casual clients. They had a dilemma. Although the majority of their stores were seeing positive comps, 31% were seeing negative sales trends. The chain wanted to understand how they could increase same-store sales growth across the system. They collected mystery shopping, customer surveys and provided their customers with a guest recovery contact center service.  Our PhD statisticians and data scientists linked those results to same-store sales and growth by store to develop what we refer to as a “Criticality Index,” that short list of attributes or behaviors that when executed, in combination, drives the KPI in question, in this case, same-store sales.

Using different measures of CX gave a fuller picture of the drivers that impacted financial performance. Interestingly, this brand’s Criticality Index showed that there was one unique driver across each of the three measurement methods. Mystery shopping highlighted speed of service and whether a store delivered food within the pre-defined time frame. Customer surveys uncovered a driver of how often a store received a top box score for food quality according to guest feedback. The contact center driver was connected to the store’s ability to minimize the number of guests that called to complain about food quality. So the analysis showed that food quality and speed of service were most important to guests. It was not location, cleanliness, staff interaction issues, or the plethora of other issues that a store needs to consider. It was not to say they weren’t important, it was just that they did not specifically contribute to same store sales growth based on the model that was developed with their CX data.

What was most important for this analysis was the store segmentation work that accompanied the insight. The analysis showed that stores that executed at a high level on all three had 7% greater same-store sales growth than those that did not. Bear in mind, that the stores in the upper quadrant weren’t perfect.  They didn’t get perfect mystery shop scores and not every guest survey was a home run. The key is that this brand was given specific attributes on which to focus that were shown to drive sales a statistically significant level.

To further emphasize the value of these attributes, these measures were communicated to the field and performance on them was tracked.  What was most compelling about the insight was that for those stores that worked the hardest on these qualities and drove improvement, their same-store sales growth was 11% higher than those stores that did not. Now that is CX insight that you can take to the bank! The key to any good CX program is that it helps a business  i) understand what matters most to guests, ii) identify where gaps exist, and iii) determine the financial ROI of driving change. Click below to learn how we are helping companies do just that.

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Brad Christian is the Chief Customer Officer at Market Force and has been with the company for 12 years consulting with leading brands on how best to implement customer experience programs that provide insight into strategic investment decision-making that helps them protect their brands, delight their customers and make more money. 

 

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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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