Make Loyalty Your Currency

You've painstakingly crafted your brand, your organization lives and breathes its values, and customers are responding to its message. Protecting that brand image is now paramount. As business booms, so does the need to establish processes to interact with customers, secure feedback, answer questions and resolve issues. You need a contact center. Whether your approach is home grown or outsourced, it’s imperative to institute an engagement strategy and to measure how effectively the contact center is maintaining your brand image and recovering unhappy customers.

After all, loyalty is your currency. Yes, coupons and gift cards can demonstrate that you value feedback and that you are willing to acknowledge bad experiences and provide some recompense. However, many consumers simply want to know that your organization cares about their concerns and acts upon them.

As you evaluate your own contact center or consider partners for outsourcing, keep in mind three criteria to inform decisions: 

1) Be Responsive

Negative experiences impact a customer’s willingness to return, which impedes the future relationship (revenues). When a frustrated customer wants to tell you about their bad experience, your brand needs to be available to listen. To this end, your organization must have effective workforce management and agent engagement measures.

KPI: Service Level is a measure of how quickly customers are served and Abandonment Rate measures customers who were unable to engage you. If agents are connecting with customers 80% of the time in less than 20 seconds, and no more than 5% of consumers abandon their call, then you have hit a solid performance level for engaging with customers.

2) Make resolution a priority

An apology for a poor service experience is not a differentiator - everyone does it. Your customers are looking for a connection. Resolution requires that customers feel they’ve been heard and had a great resolution. Without that, customers may defect to a competitor.

KPI: First Call Resolution measures the percentage of customer contacts that ended in resolution at time of engagement (no follow-up required). Strive for this number to exceed 90%. Using a post-call automated survey that specifically asks the customer, “Are you satisfied with the proposed resolution?” will help you evaluate your resolution activities and options. First Call Resolution should match customer sentiment on resolution offered to be in the sweet spot.

3) Trust your best talent with customer relationships

Service agents are brand ambassadors and must be up to the challenge. Highly skilled, trained and motivated agents need only apply. As mentioned, customers expect responsiveness, a personalized connection and action. They also expect their service agents to be highly knowledgeable and empowered to resolve issues. Remember that customers have already had one poor experience – they should not be set up to potentially encounter a second one.

KPI: Ensure every customer service associate has completed and passed with top marks all available customer-handling and tool-utilization training. 100% complete = Certification. Strive to ensure 100% of agents remain certified at all times when facing customers.

Contact centers are fertile ground for the expression of positive customer experience and the championship of customer concerns. If you've not given a contact center strategy correct thought, you could be tarnishing your brand dramatically, and without measurement you may not know it.

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Ryan Stewart is the General Manager, Market Force Center of Excellence in Winnipeg and oversees customer surveys and contact center services in Winnipeg, leveraging experience at companies like Sears and Staples. His mission? Deliver operational excellence to our clients. 

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When consumers walk a grocery retailer's aisles, they are confronted with a myriad of choices. Hundreds of thousands of products compete for a piece of the consumer’s shopping budget. What captures their attention at the point of sale? What labels do they look for—and do they understand the definitions and terms?

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2015 Banking Research

Although adoption of online banking is high, with 82% of consumers using their bank's mobile app, consumers are still visiting their banks. Find out why and how banks can capitalize on these visits in this interview with on Seattle's KOMO with Dr. Cheryl Flink.

Banking study | mobile apps

Chase, U.S. Bank and PNC Bank repeat as the top national banks based on satisfaction

LOUISVILLE, Colo. – 5 November 2015 – While mobile banking continues to take center stage, in-person interactions, such as advisory services, present some of the strongest opportunities for retail banks to increase customer satisfaction and drive referrals, according to a new study by Market Force Information, an innovator in customer experience management. More than 3,800 consumers were polled for the study, which reveals banking technology trends, America’s favorite national banks and what it takes to get consumers to love a bank brand.

Banking App Downloads Up 7%

Market Force Information found that 72% of consumers whose bank offers a mobile app have downloaded it, an increase of 7% compared to 2014. Those in the 18-24 year-old range have the highest adoption rate at 93%, but there are increases across all age groups. In fact, nearly half of those over age 65 use their bank’s app. [See Graph 1]. The most prevalent app activities are checking balances, checking payment history and transferring funds. Very few are using the app to apply for new bank accounts or withdraw emergency cash.

Graph 1: Mobile App Adoption Rates by Age Group

Digital Wallet Growth Sluggish

While mobile app use is on a fast track, digital wallets aren’t enjoying the same success. More than half of consumers surveyed don’t know what a digital wallet is, and only 12% are using them. PayPal Mobile is the most widely used, although Apple Passbook has gained the greatest momentum in the past year. The most popular uses are making payments, storing loyalty cards and making “tap-and-pay” purchases.

Physical Banking and Human Touch Build Loyalty

Even as new technologies take hold, the vast majority of consumers still retains retail bank accounts and visit branch locations. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed use a traditional retail bank as their primary provider, while 29% use a credit union, community bank or microfinance bank. Conversely, only 3% primarily use an e-bank.

Graph 2: Primary Financial Services Provider

Contrary to expectations, consumers visit their banks fairly frequently. In the past 90 days, 21% of consumers went into a branch to speak with an advisor about products and services, and 72% conducted a transaction with a cashier.

Of those consumers who recently met with an advisor, 16% reported a poor experience. However, when they do speak with an advisor, their satisfaction levels increase by 6% and they are 7% more likely to recommend their bank to others. [See Graph 3].

Graph 3: Impact of Meeting with Financial Advisor

“The investment made by banks in their financial advisors continues to pay dividends,” said Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force Information. “When banks focus on their customers’ experiences with a keen eye toward serving their specific financial needs, loyalty increases dramatically.”

Preserving loyalty is highly important, given that 12% of consumers said they are thinking about switching from their current retail bank to a different retail bank. The primary reasons given centered on both dissatisfaction with fees and the service provided by the bank, particularly when it comes the customer’s financial well-being.

Chase and U.S. Bank Again Rank As Favorite National Banks

To learn which banks are delivering exceptional experiences, Market Force Information asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent banking experience, and their likelihood to refer that national bank to others. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score. For the second year in a row, the top five were Chase, U.S. Bank, PNC Bank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. [See Graph 4].

Graph 4: National Banks Ranked on Customer Loyalty Index

Satisfaction (Not) Guaranteed – What Customers Really Want

Market Force Information uncovered four major factors that impact a customers’ satisfaction in banking: Transparency & Fairness, Security & Reputation, Ease of doing Business, and Location Convenience. There is an 81 percentage-point lift in satisfaction levels when banks perform well in all four areas.

“The national brands we evaluated are doing well on the basics, such as handling transactions and offering branch convenience, but they’re missing the mark in areas that enable them to build trust,” said Flink. “For instance, most consumers don’t see their banks investing in their financial well-being, customizing services to their needs or helping them with money-saving tools.”

Chase and U.S. Bank Dominate Core Attributes

Chase – the study’s leader – ranked first in three out of four areas that impact satisfaction, including transparency, security and convenience. U.S. Bank was voted the easiest to do business with and came in second in all other areas. Out of the five banks studied, Bank of America was last in each attribute. [See Graph 5].

Graph 5: National Banks Ranked on Key Attributes

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted in September 2015 across the United States. The pool of 3,853 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with nearly 52% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 63% were women and 37% were men.

To stay up to date on all of the latest banking news, trends and discussions, follow Market Force Information’s Retail Banking Insights page on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/retail-banking-insights-from-market-force

About Market Force Information

Market Force Information provides insights into operational excellence and customer experiences for multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. Market Force Information’s solution suite includes data collection (mystery shopping, customer surveys, contact center, employee engagement), a technology platform for integrating data streams, and predictive analytics models for financial results. The company enables brands with decision tools to protect the brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. More information can be found at www.marketforce.com.

When banks focus on their customers’ experiences with a keen eye toward serving their specific financial needs, loyalty increases dramatically.

Date: Thursday, November 5, 2015

Study Reveals Consumer Preferences and Trends in Fueling

LOUISVILLE, Colo. – 21 July 2015 Wawa and Costco are consumers’ favorite places to fill up their gas tanks, according to a study by Market Force Information, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions. Nearly 7,000 consumers were polled for the study, which was designed to uncover where consumers prefer to fuel up and why they prefer one chain to another, as well as trends in mobile app usage.

The study revealed that, while the majority of motorists still fuel up at traditional gas stations and convenience stores, grocers and wholesale clubs continue to gain ground. For their most recent trip to the pump, 69% said they visited a gas station or convenience store, while 31% chose a grocery, wholesale club or big-box chain. Because the critical drivers for customer satisfaction vary between gas stations and grocery or big-box stores, Market Force evaluated each category separately.

Wawa and QuikTrip Favorite Gas Station/C-Store Brands

For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent gas station or convenience store experience, and their likelihood to refer that store brand to others. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score.

Wawa ranked highest with 68%, edging out QuikTrip, which took the top spot in the 2014 study. QuikTrip was second with a score of 62% and Sheetz was third with 59%. All of the top three are corporate-owned, regional brands. Speedway and Phillips 66 tied for fourth, with Phillips 66 emerging as the highest-ranking national brand.

Graph 1: Favorite Gas Stations/Convenience Stores

QuikTrip Delivers on Service, Sheetz Wins on Loyalty

attributes that impact customer satisfaction, such as service and appearance. Chevron ranked highest for fuel quality and Arco was voted the fuel price-leader. Wawa, which offers made-to-order hoagies, breakfast sandwiches and other food options, took the top spot in the fresh food category. QuikTrip came in first for customer service and appearance for a second consecutive year. Sheetz’s loyalty program was a clear favorite, and it also tied with Wawa for quality coffee.

Graph 2: Satisfaction Attributes Rankings – Gas Station/Convenience Store

“We found that one in seven consumers was dissatisfied with their most recent experience at the pumps,” said Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force Information. “With the plethora of options available to drivers, gas stations and convenience stores must both execute flawlessly on the basics like bright, appealing imaging and deliver in experience-related areas such as customer service and specialty foods.”

Costco No. 1 Among Wholesale, Grocery and Big-Box Retailers

Consumers seem to largely prefer wholesale clubs over grocery stores and big-box retailers for gas, likely for their deeply discounted prices. When Market Force ranked the top wholesale clubs, grocers and big-box chains on the Customer Loyalty Index, three wholesale clubs led the pack—Costco ranked first, BJ’s Wholesale Club was second and Sam’s Club was third. Kroger and Walmart rounded out the top five.

Costco and BJ’s Emerge as Satisfaction Attributes Leaders

When Market Force examined how grocery stores, wholesale clubs and big-box retailers were performing on a spectrum of attributes that impact customer satisfaction, Costco took the top spot in five of the nine categories, including fuel quality, fuel price, customer service, appearance and brand reputation. BJ’s also performed well, leading on ease of entry and exit and good coffee, and tying with Costco for fresh food. Kroger ranked first for its loyalty program by a large margin, besting Costco by nearly 40%.

Graph 4: Satisfaction Attributes Rankings – Grocery/Wholesale Club/Big-Box

Motorists Using Mobile Apps to Find Cheap Gas

Fueling-related mobile apps are picking up steam among motorists, particularly those on the hunt for low-priced gas. Ten percent of study participants said they have used a gas app. Generation X reported the highest usage rates, although there was little differentiation across age groups. When asked which features they have used within a gas app, gas price comparison came out on top at 78%, followed by finding a gas station and reporting gas prices.

Graph 5: What features have you used within your gas/convenience store mobile app?

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For their most recent trip to the pump, 69% said they visited a gas station or convenience store, while 31% chose a grocery, wholesale club or big-box chain.

...Gas stations and convenience stores must both execute flawlessly on the basics like bright, appealing imaging and deliver in experience-related areas such as customer service and specialty foods.

Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Petrol Station - Research - 201507

Supermarket brands lead the way in customer satisfaction

London, U.K., Tuesday, 21 July 2015 – Sainsbury’s has become the UK’s preferred petrol retailer with 52 per cent of those surveyed choosing it for its exceptional service and experience, according to an independent study by worldwide leader in consumer intelligence solutions, Market Force Information.  A survey of 5,900 consumers in June 2015 asked participants to evaluate petrol-retailers on the experience delivered, including price, service, brand image, and value added services such as food and coffee shops.

For the rankings, Market Force Information asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent petrol retailer and their likelihood to refer that petrol retailer to others. The results were averaged to rank each brand on a Composite Loyalty Index.

Supermarkets Vs Traditional Petrol Brands: The attributes that drive customer satisfaction and repeat purchases

Consumers rated supermarkets as providing a better experience than traditional petrol brands, with loyalty cards being a primary driver for that preference.  Tesco’s loyalty programme provides the most pull, followed closely by Sainsbury’s (58 per cent and 57 per cent respectively). Sainsbury’s took either first or second place in five of the nine attributes measured, and the traditional petrol brand Shell took the lead in fuel quality and brand reputation followed closely by BP. BP* also led the way for fresh food and good coffee. ASDA received the best ratings for price with Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons coming in as distant seconds.

(* Some BP stations feature Marks and Spencer food outlets)

“We found that one in six consumers were dissatisfied with their most recent fueling experience,” said Cheryl Flink, Chief Strategy Officer for Market Force Information. “With the plethora of options available to motorists, it’s difficult for brands to differentiate. To be competitive, brands must deliver on core customer expectations  like a competitive fuel price, good fuel quality and ease of getting in and out of the location. In addition, they have opportunities to differentiate on service, site maintenance and overall image. Attention to these will lure customers over and over again.”

Mobile Apps favoured for price comparison and location of petrol retailers

Fuel-related mobile apps are picking up steam among motorists, particularly those on the hunt for low-priced fuel. Five percent of participants said they have used a fuel-related app. Generation X reported the highest usage rates, although there was little differentiation across age groups. When asked which features they have used within the app, finding a location and comparing fuel prices came out on top. 

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in June 2015 across the United Kingdom. The 5917 reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 37 per cent reporting household incomes between £25,000 and £49,999 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 19 to over 65. Approximately 67 per cent were women and 33 per cent were men.

Follow Market Force’s LinkedIn page for the latest insights, timely discussions, commentary and industry news.

*Composite loyalty score = Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their favourite petrol/convenience retailer and their likelihood to refer that retailer to others. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score.

About Market Force Information

Market Force Information is the leading global customer intelligence solutions company for multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. Market Force Information has pioneered the industry with a suite of customer intelligence solutions that enable multi-location business to manage operational excellence and customer loyalty. Proprietary decision-support tools comprise a platform of data collection techniques including mystery shopping, customer surveys and contact centre; analytics algorithms for predicting growth in loyalty and financial metrics; and a technology platform for integrating multiple data streams. Market Force Information solutions enable brands to identify the actions required at the store level to increase customer loyalty and improve financial performance. For more information, visit www.marketforce.com.

With the plethora of options available to motorists, it’s difficult for brands to differentiate. To be competitive, brands must deliver on core customer expectations  like a competitive fuel price, good fuel quality and ease of getting in and out of the location.

Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Grocery - Research - 201506

Marks And Spencer And Aldi Follow Closely In Loyalty Stakes

London, U.K., Tuesday, 10 June 2015 – Waitrose continues to build consumer loyalty with its exceptional service, quality, diversity and availability of foods according to an independent study by worldwide leader in consumer intelligence solutions, Market Force Information.  A survey of 6,800 consumers in April 2015 asked customers of their supermarket shopping habits including brand preference, brand engagement, experience and technology/social media use.

For the rankings, Market Force Information asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent grocery shopping experience and their likelihood to refer that grocer to others. The results were averaged to rank each brand on a Composite Loyalty Index.

Co-operative scores lowest in attributes that drive satisfaction and loyalty

Waitrose took the lead in five of the six attributes for delivering consumer satisfaction.  Whilst ALDI took lead in checkout speed, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer clearly deliver excellence across the board with cashier courtesy, store cleanliness, item availability, item location and specialty departments.  When supermarkets commit to delivering excellence in all six attributes it is guaranteed to drive loyalty. 

‘The competition between supermarkets is extremely fierce,’ says Cheryl Fink, Chief Strategy Officer for Market Force Information.  ‘Our research clearly shows that one in three shoppers reported that brands did not execute well on any of the six drivers; but when they do on all six, satisfaction improves dramatically (by 89 per cent).  Furthermore, when supermarkets deliver across all six attributes, shoppers are almost three times more likely to recommend it to others. That’s a huge increase and one that supermarkets need to pay attention to in today’s market conditions.’

‘Click and Collect’ Service is on the rise, with Tesco taking the lead

Consumers are now going online to pre order their goods in order to save time.  24 per cent have said that groceries were bought in this way and over 75 per cent have been happy with the service.  The service is still burgeoning in the UK, but of those who have used it, 59 per cent did so more than once.  Tesco is also rated top for online ordering (64 per cent) followed by ASDA (54 per cent) Sainsbury’s (48 per cent), Waitrose (47 per cent) and then a sharp drop for Marks and Spencer to 22 per cent followed by Morrisons at 21 per cent and lastly, Co-operative at 9 per cent.

Out of those surveyed, almost 40 per cent use supermarket mobile apps to solely compare prices before purchasing items.  Technology is playing a vital role in driving in-store spend and for claiming discount vouchers.

Consumers love ready meals, but prefer organic and locally sourced produce

Ready meals are ever-popular with 86 per cent choosing this option down to convenience more than value over the past 90 days.  Over 35 per cent eat a ready meal once a month with 25 per cent eating it once a week.  Despite this growth, 52 per cent of consumers find importance in organic and locally sourced products.

Supermarket own branded items are the preferred choice for consumers

Private labelling is very popular with consumers and Waitrose beats its rivals with 89 per cent knowing about its own brand products, followed closely by Marks and Spencer (85 percent). There is little differentiation of awareness between Sainsbury’s, Co-operative, ASDA and Tesco.  When asked if respondents preferred to buy a national brand or supermarket own brand, supermarkets won hands down on fresh produce, but national brands won for packaged goods and personal hygiene.

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in April 2015 across the United Kingdom. The pool of 6,846 reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 19 per cent reporting household incomes between £25,000 and £49,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 19 to over 65. Approximately 74 per cent were women and 26 per cent were men.

Follow Market Force Information’s LinkedIn page for the latest insights, timely discussions, commentary and industry news.

*Composite loyalty score = Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their favourite supermarket and their likelihood to refer that supermarket to others. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score.

About Market Force Information

Market Force Information is the leading global customer intelligence solutions company for multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. Market Force Information has pioneered the industry with a suite of customer intelligence solutions that enable multi-location business to manage operational excellence and customer loyalty. Proprietary decision-support tools comprise a platform of data collection techniques including mystery shopping, customer surveys and contact centre; analytics algorithms for predicting growth in loyalty and financial metrics; and a technology platform for integrating multiple data streams. Market Force Information solutions enable brands to identify the actions required at the store level to increase customer loyalty and improve financial performance. For more information, visit www.marketforce.com/.

Our research clearly shows that one in three shoppers reported that brands did not execute well on any of the six drivers.

Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Grocery Store Rankings 2015 Click and Collect

ALDI is again value leader and ShopRite has best promotions

LOUISVILLE, Colo. – 13 May 2015 – Trader Joe’s continues to build a loyal following with its diverse grocery selection and exceptionally friendly service. A study of more than 7,200 consumers by Market Force Information, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions, found that Trader Joe’s is America’s favorite grocery retailer for the third year in a row. Publix ranked a close second and ALDI was third.

The study was designed to uncover consumers’ grocery-shopping habits, including the brands they prefer, why they prefer one to another, how they engage with various grocers and their social media use.

Trader Joe’s the Crowd Favorite

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

Trader Joe’s took the No. 1 spot out of the 14 grocery chains studied, with a score of 78%, and was closely followed by Publix with 74%. ALDI, Hy-Vee and H-E-B rounded out the top five. [See Graph 1]. This is the third straight year that Trader Joe’s and Publix led the rankings. Brands such as WinCo Foods, Albertsons and Sam’s Club made this year’s list, after failing to garner enough mentions in 2014.

Graph 1: Ranking of Favorite Grocery Store Chains

 

With its neighborhood feel, zealous customer service, and an array of exotic and affordable food items, such as Speculoos Cookie Butter and Mandarin Orange Chicken, Trader Joe’s has built a following of devoted customers. The Greater Los Angeles-based chain has outlined an aggressive growth plan that calls for opening more than two-dozen stores in the next year.

ALDI Wins on Value, Publix on Merchandise Selection

Market Force looked at the operational and service attributes that set leading grocery brands apart, and found Publix and Trader Joe’s led in many key areas, including cashier courtesy, speedy checkouts and cleanliness. ALDI, WinCo Foods and Costco led in the value category, while ShopRite was rated highest for sales and promotions. H-E-B, Hy-Vee and Kroger also performed well in most areas.

Graph 2: Top Grocery Chains Ranked by Attributes 

“In the fiercely competitive grocery industry, customer satisfaction is the one measure that can tell you if you’re delivering on your brand promise or falling short,” said Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force. “Our research revealed that one in eight shoppers were disappointed with their most recent visit to their primary grocer, leaving ample room for improvement. This is especially impactful when you consider that delighted customers are 2.4 times more likely to recommend their grocer to others.”

High Importance Placed on Organic and Local Items

As consumers adopt more healthy eating habits, organic and locally sourced products grow in importance. The study found that 48% prefer to buy organic products, when given a choice. Produce is by far the most popular organic item – 90% said they had purchased it in the previous 30 days. Meat wasn’t far behind with 55%, dairy was a close third with 54%, and packaged canned (soups, sauces, etc.) and dry products (cereal, pasta, etc.) were each cited by 29% to tie for fourth. On the flip side, only 6% of shoppers reported purchasing organic baby products.

Prepared Foods Heating Up

Prepared entrees and sides are gaining steam among time-crunched shoppers who are finding more quality options to choose from, and embracing ready-to-go and ready-to-cook meals as convenient alternatives to dining out. In fact, 28% said they have purchased prepared meals from a grocer at least weekly in the past month, a 10% increase from 2014’s findings. [See Graph 3]. Ready-to-eat entrees are the most commonly purchased, followed by ready-to-eat sides, ready-to-cook entrees and ready-to-cook sides.

Graph 3: Prepared Meal Purchases from Grocers in 2014 vs. 2015

What’s Trending in Tech – Mobile Apps and Click-and-Collect

Mobile app adoption in the space continues to gain traction. Thirty-nine percent of shoppers have used a grocery app, primarily to obtain coupons and scan barcodes, and seldom to build lists or research nutritional facts. Of those, 23% are using the app provided by their primary grocer. However, shoppers are beginning to adopt apps that compare grocers, such as Checkout 51 and Saving Star. The transparency in pricing and product availability made available through these apps will continue to blur competitive lines between grocers.

The click-and-collect model, which involves ordering online and picking up curbside, appears to be building a loyal and satisfied following. Only 5% have used click-and-collect, but 75% of those said they were highly satisfied with the experience and more than half are repeat users.

Graph 4: Click-and-Collect Usage Frequency

Long Live the Circular

Meanwhile, one old standby – the printed circular – is as popular as ever. Nearly half of consumers are reviewing them once a week, and 16% are reviewing them three to four times a week. They’re also influencing where and how consumers shop. Eighty percent said they plan their shopping trips based on what is in the circulars, 67% clip coupons from them and 63% use them to compare prices between grocers.

Graph 5: How Shoppers Are Using Printed Circulars

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in April 2015 across the United States. The pool of 7,203 participants represented a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 51% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 68% were women and 32% were men.

About Market Force Information

Market Force is the leading global customer intelligence solutions company for multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. Market Force has pioneered the industry with a suite of customer intelligence solutions that enable multi-location business to manage operational excellence and customer loyalty. Proprietary decision-support tools comprise a platform of data collection techniques including mystery shopping, customer surveys and contact center; analytics algorithms for predicting growth in loyalty and financial metrics; and a technology platform for integrating multiple data streams. Market Force solutions enable brands to identify the actions required at the store level to increase customer loyalty and improve financial performance. For more information, visit www.marketforce.com.

In the fiercely competitive grocery industry, customer satisfaction is the one measure that can tell you if you’re delivering on your brand promise or falling short.

Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Retail - Homeware - Favorite Home Improvement Retailers

Ace Hardware and Costco Take Top Honors

Louisville, Colo. – 23 April 2015 – A new nationwide study by Market Force Information, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions, reveals that Ace Hardware is America’s favorite home improvement store and Costco is the favorite for home furnishings.

For the rankings, Market Force Information (Market Force) polled nearly 2,000 consumers who were asked to rate their satisfaction with their last experience at a given home improvement or furnishings store and their likelihood to recommend it to others. That data was averaged to rate each brand on a Composite Loyalty Index. The Market Force study also looked at the attributes that drive these preferences, analyzing factors such as merchandise and brand selection, cleanliness and value.

Home Improvement Retailer Rankings

Ace Hardware, known for its focus on helpfulness and the customer experience, earned the top spot with a composite loyalty score of 61%. Menards came next at 50%, followed by Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart. [See Graph 1].

Graph 1 – Favorite Home Improvement Retailers

DIY is big business, as illustrated by 66% of males and 59% of females reporting they both buy the products for home improvement projects and complete the projects themselves. Another 20% of males and 28% of females buy the products themselves but outsource the work.

Menards Wins on Merchandise, Ace on Organization

Market Force also looked at how the top brands fare in operational and product attributes that matter most to consumers. Ace Hardware ranked first in nearly every category, with particularly strong marks for organized merchandise and speedy checkouts. Menards scored highest for merchandise selection. Lowe’s also performed well across the board. [See Graph 2]. Overall, consumers expressed the highest levels of satisfaction with their store’s cleanliness and checkout speed. Conversely, they were least satisfied with the availability of green or eco-friendly products, making it a potential area for brands to differentiate.

 Graph 2 – Home Improvement Retailers Ranked by Attributes

"More than anything else, our home improvement and home furnishings retailer study reinforced our belief that, in order to increase satisfaction and sales, it’s no longer good enough to just be good enough,” said Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force Information. “With fierce competition and plenty of choices available, retailers should be striving to delight every customer on attributes related to service, value, atmosphere and merchandise. Retailers that figure out how to deliver on those fronts will reap the rewards and win the hearts of shoppers.”   

Recommendations Lift Conversions

Can a helpful sales associate impact conversion rates? Market Force asked shoppers if they were helped by a sales associate during their most recent visit to a home improvement store, whether or not the associate recommended a product and if they purchased that product. Across all the retail brands studied, 55% said they were assisted by a sales associate and, of those, 54% received a recommendation, resulting in 87% of shoppers making a purchase. Additionally, the results showed Ace Hardware is living up to its brand promise of being the place with “the helpful hardware folks,” as its associates were most likely to assist customers. Those Ace Hardware customers also had the highest conversation rate at 90%.

Loyalty Cards, Credit Cards and Mobile Apps for Home Improvement

Compared with other industries, very few consumers are using mobile apps to research home improvement products and access promotions. Of the chains studied, Lowe’s had the highest mobile app usage rate, yet it was still a nominal 8%. The retailers fared better with store credit cards – 34% use a Walmart credit card, 28% with Home Depot and 27% with Lowe’s. Ace Hardware had the most popular loyalty program by a large margin and was trailed by Lowe’s and Menards. [See Graph 3]. 

Graph 3 – Use of Loyalty Cards, Store Credit Cards and Mobile Apps

Home Furnishings Retailer Rankings

The Market Force study revealed consumers rated Costco as delivering the best home furnishings experience, primarily because of its high ranking on value. Costco earned the top spot with a composite loyalty score of 63%. Target ranked second with 57%, followed by Bed, Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s and Walmart. [See Graph 4].

Graph 4 – Favorite Home Furnishings Retailers

In order to better understand which home furnishings retailers are delivering on consumers’ expectations, Market Force asked study participants to rank their most recently visited home improvement retailer on various attributes. Target led in five of the eight categories, while Bed Bath & Beyond came out on top for two. [See Graph 5]. Overall, consumers expressed the highest satisfaction with their store’s cleanliness and high value. Again, the lowest satisfaction was related to the availability of green or eco-friendly products.

 Graph 5 – Home Furnishings Retailers Ranked by Attributes

Loyalty Cards, Credit Cards and Mobile Apps for Home Furnishings

Mobile app usage was significantly higher for home furnishings than home improvement, with Target a clear leader with one in four reporting they use its app. Meanwhile, Kohl’s had the most popular loyalty program, and 58% had opened a store credit card with them. [See Graph 6].

Graph 6 – Use of Loyalty Cards, Store Credit Cards and Mobile Apps

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in February 2015 across the United States. The pool of 1,992 consumers (for the home improvement portion of the study) and 1,764 consumers (for the home furnishings portion) represented a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 62% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 71% were men and 29% were women.

About Market Force Information

Market Force is the leading global customer intelligence solutions company for multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. Market Force has pioneered the industry with a suite of customer intelligence solutions that enable multi-location business to manage operational excellence and customer loyalty. Proprietary decision-support tools comprise a platform of data collection techniques including mystery shopping, customer surveys and contact center; analytics algorithms for predicting growth in loyalty and financial metrics; and a technology platform for integrating multiple data streams.  Market Force solutions enable brands to identify the actions required at the store level to increase customer loyalty and improve financial performance. For more information, visit www.marketforce.com.

More than anything else, our home improvement and home furnishings retailer study reinforced our belief that, in order to increase satisfaction and sales, it’s no longer good enough to just be good enough.

Date: Thursday, April 23, 2015
Restaurant - QSR - Coffee Shop - Research - 201503

Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Caffè Nero Close Competitors in Winning Customer Loyalty

London, U.K., Wednesday 18 March 2015 – A national survey by Market Force Information reveals that consumers’ rate Greggs and Pret a Manger as providing the best coffee experiences, followed by competitors Caffè Nero, Costa Coffee and Starbucks.  Although 43 per cent of consumers were highly satisfied with their coffee experience, one in ten consumers were dissatisfied.

For the rankings, Market Force polled more than 4,500 consumers in January 2015 who were asked to rate their satisfaction with their last experience at a given coffee shop and their likelihood to recommend it to others. The data was averaged to rate each restaurant brand on a Composite Loyalty Index.  

Wake up and Smell the Coffee!

In addition to the Composite Loyalty Score, Market Force also looked at the attributes that drive consumer preferences for an excellent coffee experience, focusing on eight critical drivers such as service, food quality and value. Consumers found that brands provide good service, clean restaurants, and high food quality, but have opportunities to improve healthy food options. 

Consumers rated Pret a Manger as being the best on seven of the eight critical drivers of satisfaction. Greggs scored best on only one attribute - value received for money spent. Greggs came in second best on friendliness of staff, speed of service, and store cleanliness.  When coffee locations score well on the eight critical drivers, 95 per cent of consumers will recommend the brand. When coffee locations excel on only one of those critical drivers, only 34 per cent will recommend.

Mobile Apps – Fast Becoming a Favourite with Consumers

Consumers also indicated whether they used the mobile application offered by brands they had recently visited. Of all the respondents surveyed, an average of 60 per cent across all brands didn’t know the brand offered a mobile app which means brands have the opportunity increase awareness of their mobile apps. When consumers know of an app, they had typically downloaded it. Adoption rate varied by brand, with Greggs having the highest adoption rate (68 per cent), followed by Starbucks (58 per cent), Costa (51 per cent) and lastly Pret a Manger (36 per cent).

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in January 2015 across the United Kingdom. The pool of 4,500 reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 67 per cent reporting household incomes between £25,000 and £49,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 19 to over 65. Approximately 68 per cent were women and 32 per cent were men.

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*Composite loyalty score = Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their favourite restaurant and their likelihood to refer that restaurant to others. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score.

About Market Force Information

Market Force is the leading global customer intelligence solutions company for multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. Market Force has pioneered the industry with a suite of customer intelligence solutions that enable multi-location business to manage operational excellence and customer loyalty. Proprietary decision-support tools comprise a platform of data collection techniques including mystery shopping, customer surveys and contact centre; analytics algorithms for predicting growth in loyalty and financial metrics; and a technology platform for integrating multiple data streams. Market Force solutions enable brands to identify the actions required at the store level to increase customer loyalty and improve financial performance. For more information, visit www.marketforce.com/.

Coffee brands have the opportunity to capture more wallet share in two ways. First is focusing on creating a great experience through exceptional execution by every location in the estate, which will create differentiation in a market that has become very competitive. Second, brands can drive awareness and adoption of mobile apps to create a convenient, hassle-free experience.

Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2015

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