Customer Experience: Long-Term customer appeal

Posted on February 25, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

The retail industry is taking a harder look improving their customer experience programs. BNet.com published the American Consumer Satisfaction Index findings from the fourth quarter, to which it appears consumers are having better shopping experiences. The ACSI report also revealed Wal-Mart and Dollar General's customer's satisfaction did not increase with the industry trend.

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Topics: Customer Satisfaction

Customer Experience: Retail's recession fighting tool

Posted on February 23, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

AdAge published a very insightful article on the changing spending habits of consumers. The list includes payment methods, expendable items, and where consumers are shopping. The topic of major interest, is how consumers feel when they shop.

How Are your Consumers Feeling during shopping:
"¢ Self-conscious
"¢ Cynical
"¢ Buying based on research

Retailer's typically cannot change how a consumer pays for their goods, but they can influence how a consumer feels about spending. The research evidence shows consumers are more hesitant to spend, questioning the validity of their purchases, and basing shopping decisions on word of mouth research (primarily via the internet). Organizations who have established and continually improve customer experience can lessen the negative feelings associated with purchases.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Brand Wars: Name brands versus private label.

Posted on February 23, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

In today's economy, the retail industry is seeing consumers engage in two shopping trends. Consumer coupon use is increasing and there is a push to buy store label and generic brands.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Competitive Audits

Posted on February 22, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

Further proof that the scope and advantage of mystery shopper programs extends well beyond that of a perfunctory customer service evaluation is their effectiveness as a tool for conducting competitive audits - and for building a body of competitive intelligence that can be used to inform your own product, staffing and service-based decisions as well as long-term strategic development.

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Topics: Compliance Audit

In-Store video promotions used by Tween Brands

Posted on February 20, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

In-store video promotion is a growing trend. Meijers uses video at the point of sale and Betty Mills runs customer testimonials onsite. These are just two examples of the growing trend to use media for in-store promotions. Tween Brands is applying the same tactic but to their niche market.

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Topics: In-Store Marketing

P&G ends in-store promotional RFID tags with Wal-Mart

Posted on February 19, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

In-store promotional displays are used in retail centers across the nation. One of the issues brands endure managing promotional displays is accountability. The introduction of RFID tags allowed brands to digitally manage whether or not the displays where set up.

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Topics: In-Store Marketing

Measuring Progress is a Bottom Line Difference Maker

Posted on February 18, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

Clarifying employee expectations and creating reward and incentive schemes go hand in hand with increased sales. That's what measuring company progress can do for you. But it's "how" companies are deploying performance measurement programs that is changing the business landscape today.

Historically, gauging consumer "experiences" has been the primary responsibility of the customer service department.

But in my experience, customer service departments have become little more complaint departments. Or even worse, a place to go for customers to go and replace unwanted merchandise. Let's face it, you can't use the current customer service department model as a way to gauge the health and vibrancy of your company's customer relationships "“ it's an outmoded model that is spread too thin in terms of responsibilities and is not advanced enough to handle all the measurements that need addressing across the company.

Enter the mystery shopper.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping

Word of Mouth Marketing and Loyalty Programs

Posted on February 17, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

Research shows customer loyalty and reward programs foster positive customer experience. New research connects positive word of mouth marketing with the success of your loyalty program. The two go hand in hand.

Why Loyalty Programs?
MediaPost touches on new research that looks at the success rate of loyalty programs from Colloquy Marketing Consultants. The results are impressive:
- Reward program members are 70% more likely to recommend the brand
- 32% of brand purchases are from non reward members
- Reward program members are more likely to engage in word-of-mouth marketing for the brand, including engaging the online space with Web 2.0 (think Twitter and Facebook)

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Topics: Customer Experience

Starbucks: It's the customer experience not the blend

Posted on February 16, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

Starbucks is the king of specialty coffee. The brand has maintained a strong presence in light of the economic recession. Which brings up the question: What are consumers drawn to; the coffee or the experience?

Advertising Age reported Starbucks has an interest to expand the brand to include instant coffee. Currently, consumers can grab Starbucks brand off the shelves at the local grocery. The brand's availability at the grocery store doesn't hinder customer appeal to the stores. There must be a strong customer experience at the store which is not recreated at home.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Microsoft brand's store-front approach

Posted on February 16, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

Microsoft recently announced plans to launch a line of retail stores. Microsoft has dominated the PC software business for years. Apple is the biggest competitor, who surpasses Microsoft in terms of integrating customer experience with the brand.

Apple's retail stores have been core to their customer experience program. Customers receive one-on-one service with a human tech to help with everything from software, purchases, and repairs. Apple's store setup is well thought out: simplistic, core products displayed, and clean feel which is a part of their branding.

Some experts believe Microsoft has lost "focus on the individual user" while growing their enterprise customers. Microsoft's move to expand it's presence with retail stores is a visible shift in priorities. The question in everyone's mind is whether or not their stores will put them back in touch with the individual user.

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Topics: In-Store Marketing

Employee Satisfaction = a Good Customer Experience

Posted on February 15, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

Ever have a boss you loved to hate? You'd bite your lip when he or she spoke, afraid you might say what you were really thinking. If so, you already understand how employee satisfaction equals the customer experience.

Not long ago, as I shopped at a local discount store, I overheard several employees bashing their boss. Obviously, the ladies did not like their jobs, but they needed the work.

When I asked for help, I received half-hearted service--just enough to get by, nothing more. My customer experience was sorely compromised. Perhaps the boss was difficult to work for. I'll never know because I won't be shopping in that store again.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping

Combining Mystery Shopping with Customer Opinions for the Best Data

Posted on February 13, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

As we've talked about before, the best users of mystery shopping programs offer additional methods to capture data that can be used to make necessary improvements. The reason why these different strategies work together to create such a comprehensive program is because they offer a variety of perspectives that, when combined, give great insight into the total customer experience. For the most part, mystery shopping programs look at the customer experience from the viewpoint of the customer and that of the store staff.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping

Physical placement affects the customer experience

Posted on February 12, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

Customer experience is more than friendly service, clean floors, and well stocked shelves. Retailers are learning from research that customer experience includes the set up of your store.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Education Learns Something New

Posted on February 12, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

Retail chains have long been the leaders in utilizing mystery shopping as a means of measuring employee effectiveness and customer satisfaction. Recently, the medical industry has taken note, with some medical systems employing mystery shopping as a way to report on patient care and patient satisfaction.

Now, education is jumping into the mix. As education becomes more customer-oriented, the practice of using mystery shoppers is becoming more common among online and offline colleges who want to measure the quality of the admissions recruiting office. This growing segment of mystery shoppers are paid to "shop" educational institutions, recording their subjective observations about service quality based on a specific set of criteria such as:

"¢ Was the phone answered in three rings?
"¢ Were you asked your name at the start of the conversation?
"¢ Did the representative ask questions to gauge your level of interest?
"¢ Did the representative inquire about your timetable for enrollment?
"¢ How much time elapsed before you received a call back or followup email?
"¢ Were your questions answered sufficiently?
"¢ How friendly and professional were the advisors?

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Topics: Mystery Shopping

Creating the Best Customer Surveys

Posted on February 11, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

You can measure your customer's experience using several methods. The most popular being customer surveys. The effectiveness of the survey depends on the method of delivery and design of the survey.

Terry Varva and Douglas Pruden of ICC/Decision Services, co authored an incredible white paper on how to get the most from consumer research. The authors start by discussing what makes consumer research different than market research.

"The special regard in which customers or employees hold the survey means the researcher probably should conduct the research somewhat differently than if he or she were contacting consumers at large."

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Topics: Customer Experience

Customer Experience Update