How to make the most of the holiday season – a retail guide.

While it may feel like the holiday season is still a little while off, it’s a given truth of retail life that the season tends to creep up earlier and earlier each year.  While for some, this might be enough to make you want to exclaim ‘Bah Hambug!’, the fact of the matter is holiday sales are stronger than ever, with the season seemingly immune to the slump impacting other parts of the sector…

Just last week, the National Retail Federation announced that retail sales look set to increase between 3.8 – 4.2% this year again, consistent with a period of growth, which has seen sales rise annually for the past five years.

It’s in timely fashion therefore that we happily announce the release of our latest data report: Holiday Insights: A Retail Guide.

Based on analysis from our 1-Million strong data ratings base and featuring advice and tips from TruRating retailers, the report serves as the perfect compliment to your holiday preparations.

Amongst other treats, we take a look at topics including:

  • The kinds of holiday shoppers to look out for in your stores
  • Why the holidays are a ‘season of two halves’
  • Practical tips on how to prepare for the rush

Download the full report here!

Has an experience-focused HMV found its mojo again?

For those with an interest in the retail landscape, the opening of HMV’s flagship store the Vault presents yet another interesting example of a well-established retailer taking an ‘experience-first’ approach.  Considering how things were looking for the brand at the beginning of the year, the fanfare which the opening of the Vault is a receiving, is remarkable in more ways than one…

The story of HMV is a familiar one.  Once one of the most recognisable brands in the UK – shopping for records in HMV was a cultural rite of passage for many a British teenager – the seemingly unshakeable giant, found itself in hard times with the rise of the streaming generation, and a global decline in CD and DVD sales.

While it’s certainly true HMV suffered in some part due to an inability to keep up with the rapid changes in the industries that were once its stock and trade – there was sense if you entered a store in the years between it’s two periods of administration, of a business that simply wasn’t quite sure what to do with itself.

 

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Putnam showing of his record collection in the newly opened HMV Vault

Some recent innovations – a partnership with the independent cinema branch Curzon in South London and an attempt to capitalise on the vinyl boom – showed attempts to innovate in the face of increased customer demands, but the things that made shopping at HMV special in the first place – knowledgable staff, interesting stock – were slowly being eroded by the all-encompassing convenience of online.

For self-admitted vinyl junkie Doug Putman (the man behind the acquisition of 100 HMV stores in February of this year) the answer to the question ‘How does a well loved brand get its mojo back?’, appears to be double down on those aspects of the record store experience that simply can’t be replicated online.

With a huge selection of over 25,000 vinyl records (plus 80,000 CDs), and a projected lineup of in-store signings, performance and DJ sets, the Vault feels like a store designed by a team who truly understands what its audience are looking for from a retail experience.

Speaking to Retail Gazette, before the Vault’s grand opening, Grahm Soult observed that many recent examples of successful retail take-overs have been driven primarily by the passion of their leadership, “If you’re trying to rejuvenate a brand and appeal to people’s emotions and senses, it needs someone who really gets it”.

It will be exciting to see whether Putnam’s vision for HMV can translate into a new era of destination stores, one that not only creates happy memories for the next generation of music fans, but sets an example for experience-driven retailers everywhere.

 

In search of the retail metric of the future…

With the opening of not one but two ‘product-less’ concept stores (Nordstrom Local announces openings in New York), it seemed timely to re-examine a recent blog post in which we explored two arguments against the use of ‘traditional metrics’ in a rapidly evolving retail world.   The opening of a store that literally cannot measure sales provides a refreshing (and exciting!) context to reflect on those positions in an interesting new light….

Are traditional retail metrics dead?

In the article “The Way We Measure Retail Store Performance Needs to Change” retail M&A banker Richard Kestenbaum puts forward a well-reasoned and sensible argument for why retailers need to evolve their thinking when it comes to measuring store performance.

Retailers in the past relied on two key metrics, both sales driven, as a general gold standard for measuring performance – sales per square foot and store income statements.

Sales-per-square foot was used as a base-level indicator of performance; crucially, one that gave retailers to chance to make store-by-store comparisons, regardless of the size of each location.  While it may not have accounted for a host of important factors (age of store, local demographics etc.) it did at least provide a standardized basis for competitive analysis.  Combined with the evaluation of store income statements – a more localized viewpoint that treated each store as though it were an independent business – the two were presumed as sufficient by the majority of retailers.

The modern consumer’s relationship with physical retail is much more complex than it once was, having evolved beyond the point of that only looking at success from a ‘sales’ perspective can accurately represent.

Stores are no longer mere warehouses for goods, but rather interfaces for a wide range of interactions.  Customers today may use the store as a pick up and drop off point for online purchases, while retailers may use their physical locations to host experiential events, or even simply view as a showroom for product.

While traditional KPI’s are not without value, if our relationship with stores has evolved, so too, argues Kestenbaum, should our success measures as a result.

The Store as Media? 

In, “Measuring the Store of the Future“, ‘Retail Prophet’, Doug Stephens goes a step further, denouncing retail’s traditional KPIs as mere ‘industrial-age metrics’,

Judging a store’s performance simply by regarding its most recent sales results is like evaluating a patient’s health by asking what they had for breakfast that day.” 

For crystal-ball futurist Stephens (in an argument echoing the thrust of his 2017 work Re-Engineering Retail) it is not simply how much product a store can shift that represents its effectiveness, but rather how well the store is working as a ‘channel’ for the brand.

In an increasingly saturated digital space, reaching anyone online through targeted media becomes increasingly cost prohibitive.  Stephens argues that the real value of the store is its potential to reach an audience directly – in the ‘real world’. “Your stores are your media,” Stephens declares, “you’re just not measuring it” – yet.

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A glimpse into the future? Customers wait for an event outside a Supreme store in London.

While looking to establish a more accurate method for performance measurement is a valuable endeavour, the parallels Stephens looks to draw to contemporary digital metrics (‘one positive in-store experience’ as the equivalent to a single digital impression or click through) feel perhaps a little too out there for some of the more literal-minded in the C-Suite.

Measuring the success of the store that doesn’t sell anything

Opened last week, Nordstrom’s “Local” concept store, is an 1,800 ft Upper West side behemoth, that doesn’t stock any product at all.  Customers can book ‘consultancies’ with stylists, or use the locations as a place to return products they’ve bought from other retailers (see our recent post on the announcement that Nordstrom will accept returns from Macy’s & Kohl’s in their stores).

With such a radical re-thinking of the traditional store experience, are metrics as sales per square foot even possible?  Speaking to Bloomsbury, James Nordstrom, announced that the success of his latest stores would be measured by increased market share – nary a sales metric in sight.

Is this what future of retail will look like?  No longer as a place of pure commerce, but rather something closer to the original vision of Harry Selfridge – the store as a place where people come to socialise and chat, with the incidental occasion of making a purchase an added bonus.

Have we lost that loving feeling?

In a recent interview with Forbes, TruRating CEO Georgina Nelson, observed a serious problem in contemporary retail, “Traditionally there has been something of a disconnect between customer experience and store operations… without a consistent way to measure it, how do you operationalise the customer experience in-store?”

In a world where customers no longer have the patience to put up with poor experiences, the need for a simple yet unobtrusive way to gauge customer sentiment in ‘real-time’ is more important than ever before.

If your customers are unable, or worse, unwilling to let you know how they feel about your service, then whatever the metric you land upon for measuring success, will ultimately be of little matter.

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To find out how TruRating’ point-of-sale customer feedback solution can help you to understand your customer experience and deliver rapid innovation in real-time, get in touch with one of the team today for more information. 

 

How Did I Do?

Top retail influencer and friend of TruRating Andrew Busby, recently celebrated the publication of his first book: Harry Was Right All Along is a collection of short stories from the high street, tracing the ups and downs of the ‘profoundly human’ business of retail.

Writing with an experts eye for detail, the collection offers “a refreshing and thought provoking insight into the rapidly evolving high-street from a skilled practitioner”.  Containing a selection of some of Andrew’s best writing from across the various platforms he contributes to, including Forbes, Retail Reflections and Retail Week, it’s an essential read for anyone with an interest in contemporary retail trends.

We suggest that you immediately buy your own copy before enjoying a taster below in the form of an article that may just contain a little reference to a certain company we know and love.

“How Did I Do?”, originally published in Forbes magazine, February 6th 2019.

Based on my last Forbes article, how likely are you to recommend me to a friend on a scale of zero to ten?

Sounds familiar?

They can be found everywhere; they even appear when we’re asleep, they ambush us when we’re least expecting them and they drive us crazy.

You know what I’m talking about, customer satisfaction surveys of course. They have become part and parcel of almost every consumer (and more besides) interaction we ever have. But are they really effective?

The last time I flew to the U.S. earlier last month, I received a survey via email from the airline asking how the flight had been and that was before I’d even landed!

My personal favorite, however, is of one at the exit of the public toilets at Victoria Station in London with the caption ‘did our facilities meet your expectations?’. Yes, they did thank you, I expected them to be gross and they were.

Which goes to show that the question being asked and the context in which it is being asked matter. A lot.

Car manufacturers have embraced customer surveys with a vengeance. When collecting my car from having its annual service recently, I was asked to complete a survey and gave them an overall eight out of ten, which I thought was pretty good.

‘Oh sir’, came the response, ‘why have you marked us so low?’ It transpired that anything other than a ten would result in the dealer being taken to task by the manufacturer.

This to me would appear to be a fairly pointless exercise, obfuscating any real underlying issues. Seeking feedback in this fashion to satisfy some opaque corporate metrics seems to be the very opposite of customer centricity.

Customer Sentiment In Store

All this is giving rise to a new retail metric, perhaps the most critical one of all, namely, how is my customer feeling? The days of running a retail business on sales per square foot alone are rapidly receding.

Savvy retailers are now realizing that understanding customer sentiment drives something far greater than just short term sales figures.

To help understand this, I spoke to Georgina Nelson, Founder and CEO of feedback company TruRating.

‘Traditionally, there has been something of a disconnect between customer experience and store operations’ she says, adding ‘how do you operationalize customer experience in the store?’

Eschewing the traditional means of capturing customer sentiment that most review sites provide, capturing customer sentiment in real time at the point of purchase has proven to be very revealing for online purchases and in-store alike, but it is in identifying gaps in the latter experience where much of the interest lies.

“It’s not just about spend in the moment, it’s about the customer’s propensity to come back and spend more.”

Georgina Nelson, Founder and CEO, TruRating

And with an astonishing 85% response rate, it is proving to be a pretty accurate barometer of store performance linked to the customer experience.

Georgina gives the example of one customer, London based Chinese restaurant chain Ping Pong, who now have had more ratings than Disneyworld!

Intriguingly, just asking one simple (anonymized) question at the point of transaction is providing insights which have their roots in psychology more than anything else.

Just addressing the customer by name, for example, has shown a 30% increase in average transaction value.

In the relentlessly competitive and challenging landscape in which retailers now find themselves, capturing customer sentiment might just be the difference between survival and oblivion.

Maybe I’ll ask the question again, how did I do?

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Follow Andrew on Twitter for regular updates and commentary or check out his website for more details on his company Retail Reflections.

Is Nordstrom putting customer convenience above the competition?

In ‘shock of the week’ news Nordstrom, announced that it will be accepting returns from two major department store rivals – Macy’s and Kohl’s – at its recently opened NYC concept stores, Nordstrom Local.

With returns a pain point for customers and retailers alike, the strategy marks a bold leap into the prioritisation of convenience over competitive rivalry, in a surprise but welcome move from the retailer.  Discussing the reasoning behind the decision, Jamie Nordstrom commented, “Once the customer decides they want to return something, they want to it as quickly as possible… unlike wine, fashion doesn’t get better with age.”

While the open-arms policy may be a first for Nordstrom, it is not entirely without precedent.  Indeed Kohl’s announced only this past July that it would be launching a full roll out of its ‘Amazon-return’ kiosks in over 1,100+ US stores, following a successful trial pilot earlier in the year.

While the apparent move to place customer convenience over the retailers own short-term needs is an inspiring example for other retailers, the stores are unique in more than one sense as they don’t actually sell any traditional ‘product’ in store at all.  The stores instead offer customers the opportunity to book consultancies with stylists, along side a range of additional services such as shoe repairs, charity drop-offs for used items and stroller cleanings.

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Jamie Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom Stores

“In New York you have more choices than probably anywhere else in the world on where to buy stuff,” Nordstrom said to Bloomberg,  “Everything that we sell, you can buy lots of different places. Our service offering and focus is on engagement and convincing the customer that we’re a better alternative.”

With the so called ‘experience’ economy on the rise, Nordstrom is pinning its hopes on picking up an increased market share, by luring busy New Yorkers in with innovative offerings.  Could Nordstrom’s bold move mark the end of an older era of direct competition and see retailers joining together to truly put customer convenience at the heart of all the do?

There could be worst places to watch things play out then at one of the luxury retailers latest NYC locations.

3 CX Improvements To Drive Revenue Growth

We recently submitted a guest blog post for our fantastic partners Retail Pro about three simple customer experience tactics you can implement to drive revenue growth for your business.

Because we’re generous, we’ve decided to share the intro of the article here, enjoy this taster and be sure to click through for the full read below!

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For retailers looking to compete with the fast pace and convenience of online businesses, the in-store experience is an increasingly important battleground.

While historically success for retailers may have been measured by metrics such as comparable growth by store, sales per square foot, and gross margin return on investment, these no longer tell the full story.

Modern retailers need to know more than just what your customers are buying.

To succeed today, you need to understand how each of your touchpoints impacts the totality of your customer experience.

And the trend is one that’s catching – a recent study by the Forrester Group reports, “72% of businesses now say improving the customer experience is their No.1 priority.”

Using CX to drive loyalty & revenue

For today’s retailers, the availability of point-of-sale data provides a huge range of options when it comes to building true and lasting engagement.

Creating customer experiences that are truly memorable can help drive loyalty and advocacy for your business, so it’s important to make every single moment count…

Make every experience count

In an increasingly competitive landscape, you need to focus on creating memorable experiences.  This doesn’t need to involve a radical overhaul of everything you do.

As we found with one of our retail partners, the little things can add up.

The Retail Prodigy Group (master franchisee holders for Nike) is committed to providing the ‘ultimate customer experience’ with every visit. In practice, this manifests itself in a series of relatively cost-efficient but rigorously maintained, service measures, especially at the point of sale.

Staff at RPG are trained to ask for each customer’s name and always offer multiple product selections at the checkout. Customers are made to feel welcome with small personal touches, creating an authentic and warm experience.

This not only creates happy customers but can lead to financial gain too – we measured a 30% increase in the average transaction as a result of these measures and 5% increase in total revenue.

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To read the article in its full unabridged glory, click here!Image result for retail pro logo png

We’d love to hear your thoughts as to the best ways to create memorable customer experiences and how to measure the results. Get in touch with us on Twitter or Linkedin and leave your comments below!

The Influencers: Andrew Busby

Second up to bat in our new series The Influencers, we were lucky enough to speak to the fantastic Andrew Busby.  Having worked in the retail industry for over 20 years, Andrew’s time is now primarily spent working as a retail analyst, writer and keynote speaker.  As the principal and founder of Retail Reflections, Andrew regularly speaks to audiences around the world and has been recognized as a Vend 100 influencer and IBM Futurist to boot.

Andrew’s regular Forbes column is a great introduction to his work and style, and he is also a contributor to Retail Week.  Having recently wrapped up his first book (we’ll let you know as soon as it’s hit the shelves) it was great to catch up with Andrew to get his thoughts on all things retail. We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did!

Hi Andrew, to start things off, could you tell us a little about your background and how you ended up where you are today? 

My retail journey started over 20 years ago when I joined Superdrug to run IT Operations and Services.  It was a great business and a fantastic way to learn all about retail.  From there I moved onto business development roles, working with a number of technology partners, but always retailers too.

I’ve always wanted to do what I’m doing now – writing, speaking and working as a retail analyst and commentator.  Initially, I began to write columns for Retail Week as a sort of ‘extracurricular activity’.  A few years ago, I took a couple of months off, leaving the corporate world behind me, and that’s when I really began to focus full time on Retail Reflections.

It’s been a fascinating journey.  I’ve learnt that if you’re open to opportunities, one thing tends to lead to the next.  One of the fantastic things about the power of social media is that, even if people aren’t always actively commenting on everything you do, you have a platform to get your content out there. And if it’s informative and entertaining, people will read it!

When did Retail Reflections officially open doors? 

March 2017 – a major milestone for me. About a year after Retail Reflections setup, I began writing for Forbes as a retail columnist, which has been amazing so far too.  The next big personal project is the book I’ve been working on for the past several months.  We’re exploring publishing options, but it’s given me the taste, and I’m already thinking about the next one!

What’s your take on the current retail landscape – are these challenging times or our are we in a period of opportunity?

It’s definitely the latter. I get frustrated when people talk about the ‘death of the high street’ or the ‘retail apocalypse’.  It might feel like that for some brands but usually, there’s a reason why they’ve struggled and sadly in some cases, why they’ve ultimately failed.  I refer to it as ‘Darwinism on the High Street’ – the survival of the fittest rings true.

We’re currently seeing a rapid, rapid period of transformation.  The role of retail, where it sits in our lives and in wider society, is being challenged.  I see a lot of ‘legacy’ brands still clinging to the old ways of working, which are clearly no longer fit for purpose.  Old KPIs, like sales per square foot as an example, are pretty meaningless today, but some retailers struggle to move on.

What this evolution really presents is an opportunity for retailers to become more relevant to their customers.  Just setting up a website or a new store is no longer enough. Retailers need to start thinking about themselves like small media organizations or service providers, adapting and evolving to their customer’s needs.

How do you see the relationship between physical and online retail developing in the coming years?

They will become one and the same and we won’t refer to them separately, it will all just be ‘shopping’.  That’s how most consumers already see it today.

If you listen to a legacy retailer speak, they still tend to talk in terms of channels and they try to calculate sales attribution as to whether something is an online sale or a store sale, but those lines are becoming increasingly blurred…

I read a report from a consultancy recently that said that by 2030, online sales will make up and account for 53% of total retail sales.  If that’s the case, it says two things. Firstly, we’re probably going to see more and more white vans, rushing around the country to deliver all those online sales.  Secondly, it’s that ‘online’ is the norm.  Physical stores will come to be seen as the physical manifestation of the brand – there won’t be room for weak stores, they simply won’t be tolerated.

“Physical stores will come to be seen as the physical manifestation of the brand – there won’t be room for weak stores, they simply won’t be tolerated.”

You say that weak stores won’t be tolerated – what will be important to the survival of the stores of the future? 

There’s a number of elements that will drive success.  The store experience needs to be exciting, it needs to be inspiring and it needs to create an element of intrigue.  Take somewhere like Selfridges, one of the all-time great department stores and retailers.  Every time you go in there, there’s always something interesting just around the corner.

And here’s a shameless plug for the book that’s coming out – I’ve called it ‘Harry Was Right All Along’ after Harry Selfridge.  If you look at what he was saying over a hundred years ago, he wanted his Oxford Street store to be a place where people socialized, where they ate and drank, where they chatted. If they happened to buy something along the way, great, but if they didn’t, that’s okay too.  Hopefully, they’ve had such a wonderful time that they’ll want to come back again and again.

For me, the ironic thing is that he was saying these things over a hundred years ago, and now you hear people today talking about ‘experiential retail’ as if it were something brand new! We’re seeing a shift in perception as far as the purpose of a physical location today, and that makes these exciting times.

Do you think that technology is driving retail’s current evolution or are there other forces at play? 

Retail is fundamentally a human business. Technology is the enabler – it should always be human first, tech second.  At big shows like NRF you often see retailers clamouring over the latest technology.  I often look at this and think to myself, but do you know who you are? What does your business stand for? Who is your audience?

If you do know this, and your organization is aligned in this understanding too, it will help you to make the technology decisions that are right for you.

As far as what’s driving consumer expectations, that’s a fascinating question. We’re constantly learning from our peers and our children and the environment around us.  It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy in retail, the more we see, the more our expectations grow. To give an example – there’s a company based in Stockholm that partners with retailers to deliver any item you might need, wherever you are, in under an hour.  Forgot a loved one’s birthday? Here’s your solution!

The ability to provide this level of customer service will become almost expected.  The art is in making all the hard work that goes into providing these experiences invisible to the consumer.

Retail is fundamentally a human business. Technology is the enabler – it should always be human first, tech second. 

Is operational excellence going to become a key differentiator as far as customer experience is concerned?

Absolutely – I think it that will come to define brands in the future.  Most people when they interact with brands have already accepted a certain level of price and quality as a sort of agreed-upon terms of engagement.  We know what to expect when we shop with Group A or Group B. What actually matters to us now, is convenience.  Who makes it easiest for us to shop with them?  Because of this, inventory management is going to become one of, if not the most, important parts of successful retail going forward.

Is this expectation for immediacy what people refer to when they talk about ‘Amazon Effect’?

There’s an element of truth to that, yes.  When it comes to Amazon, we love the convenience, but I think most people have a pretty practical or functional relationship with them as a brand.  People don’t love Amazon, it’s often just the easiest choice.

As far as the impact of online on the modern high street is concerned, the issue is really a social and community one.  As we become increasingly accustomed to buying things online, we’re going to see more holes appearing where businesses used to be.   There’s only so many coffee shops, hairdressers or estate agents that any one person can bear!

I’m hoping that we will see regeneration in the form of properties combining residential space with retail on the ground floor.  Done well, this will bring people into town centres and create a community hub that preserves the idea of retail as a social activity.  The problem comes with getting all the various stakeholders aligned and moving in the same direction.  As we’re already seeing today, that can be an incredibly difficult thing to do.

Thank you so much for speaking to Andrew – to close things out, what would your single piece of advice be to the retail community? 

Be relevant.  That applies to the customer experience, your distribution methods and everything your brand stands for.  Make your customers needs’ your own and you’ll do well.

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For regular updates, follow Andrew on Twitter and while you’re at it why not follow Retail Reflections also.  You can check out Andrew’s fantastic Forbes column, and keep a lookout Andrew’s soon to be published book, ‘Harry Was Right All Along’ – we can’t wait!

Introducing… the CX Primer

Making Sense of CX 

In today’s information overload world, while it may feel like access to near anything imaginable is only a quick Google search away, it can be hard to cut through the noise to find the relevant information you’re looking for.  Sometimes what we really need is a curator’s hand to point us in the right direction, particularly if the subject you happen to be interested in belongs to a fairly new or growing field. 

While Customer Experience (CX) has enjoyed a significant profile boost over recent years, for newcomers it can still be a slightly confusing place.  What exactly is CX? How does it differ from good old customer service? Who ‘looks after’ it within an organization? Why is it so important to modern businesses?

Introducing the CX Primer

For new initiates into the world of CX, we have some good news for you.  All the answers to any questions you might have (and many more you probably hadn’t thought of yet) can be found in a useful – and completely free resource – developed by the good folks over at CX Accelerator

Nate Brown, co-founder of the site and a director of customer experience in his own right, developed the ultimate resource for anyone looking to take a crash course in what it means to be a modern customer experience professional: the CX Primer 

The Customer Experience Guide 

Breaking the CX manual down into four key disciplines – CX Strategy, Voice of the Customer, Experience Engineering & EX and Culture – the Primer covers pretty much everything a new starter could need, while serving as a fantastic reference guide for experienced people in the field.  

With an appendix covering the top CX resources around today and introducing many of the field’s top thought leaders, there’s simply no better resource for those interested in learning about contemporary CX thinking. 

View the CX Primer now

The Story Behind the Story 

We wanted to know a little bit more about why Nate decided to put together the guide, and he kindly obliged us with a response, in his own words… 

“These past five years have just been tremendous from a learning perspective.  I’ve been blessed with incredible mentors and opportunities to bring new knowledge to life as a practitioner.  You could think of it as an academic diary of sorts. 😁 It was really exciting this year going back and doing a massive update based on the growth I’ve had since the original version.  One of the things that attracted me to CX in the first place was how incredibly generous and helpful the leaders in this space are. Continuing in that tradition, it’s a great pleasure to be able to offer up whatever wisdom I can for the betterment of experiences everywhere.  My hope is that the CX Primer will be a terrifically helpful starting point for new CX professionals in particular!

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Thanks, Nate! We recommend checking out the CX Accelerator Slack channel as a fantastic and friendly place for anyone with an interest in customer experience.  For more frequent updates, you can also follow both Nate and CX Accelerator on Twitter.

 

What lies in store for the future of retail metrics?

Typical – you wait an hour for one article about the inadequacies of our current methods for measuring retail performance, and two turn up at once.

Recently at TruRating Towers we came across two interesting articles both questioning the validity of today’s most commonly used retail metrics.

Writing in Forbes, Richard Kestenbaum’s “The Way We Measure Retail Store Performance Needs to Change“, puts a straight forward and well-argued case for change.

Historically, there have been two metrics fundamental to measuring store performance:

  1. Sales per square foot
  2. Store income statements

The first was often used to provide a base level indicator of performance that allows for store-by-store comparison, regardless of the actual size of each location.  The second is a more localized metric, that allows management to review performance as if each store effectively operated as its own business.

While these were once stable and generally industry-normative indicators for judging a store’s performance, the relationship the modern consumer has with physical retail locations is more complex. Stores are no longer mere warehouses for selling and holding goods but operate in a variety of ways including:

  • Boosting online sales in the local area (the store as billboard)
  • Pick up and drop off point for online purchases and returns
  • As a venue for ‘experiential’ events

While traditional KPI’s are not without value in this new world, our relationship with stores has evolved, and so too, argues Kestenbaum, should our success measures as a result.

In, “Measuring the Store of the Future“, Doug Stephens goes a step further, labelling retail’s traditional KPIs as ‘industrial-age metrics’, “Judging a store’s performance simply by regarding it’s most recent sales results is like evaluating a patient’s health by asking what they had for breakfast that day.” 

Stephen’s hypothesis, echoing his 2017 book Reengineering Retail, is that we will judge the worth of the store of the future in terms of it’s ‘media value’ more than anything else…

But what does this mean?  As the digital space becomes increasingly saturated and reaching anyone online via targeted media becomes near impossible, the value of the store as simply another channel by which to reach customers becomes increasingly tenable, “Your stores are your media,” Stephens writes, “you’re just not measuring it.” (Yet!)

Image result for customers queuing in-store event
‘Store as Media’ – a glimpse into the future?

For Stephens, the retail metric of the future will be closer to our existing digital measurements e.g. positioning ‘one positive in-store experience’ as equivalent to a digital impression or click through.  Stephens proposes a method of value calculation that utilizes NPS scores to attempt to derive a quantifiable $-comparison to establish each store’s ‘media worth’.

While certainly thought-provoking, the idea of evaluating store success purely by this kind of hypothetical metric seems a little way off yet.

At TruRating, we believe that ‘Experience’ is the metric that contemporary retail needs to focus on.  While every customer experience is subjective to a degree, providing a consistent way to measure the majority of customer interactions, across a full range of experiential metrics, is the closest one can get to something like an objective truth when it comes to CX.

To put it in simple terms – if you want to understand your business, it’s a necessity to ask your customers about it frequently.  And if you can map that customer sentiment to transactional point-of-sale data while you do it?

Well, you just might be on to something!

Leaving a Lasting Impression: Traditional vs. Digital Marketing

Modern Marketing:  A Digital Love Affair

Good data is the foundation upon which strong marketing decisions are made.  The more data at our fingertips, the more targeted we can get.  Which goes some way to explaining the contemporary marketer’s infatuation with all things digital.

Digital is steeped in data.  The ability to A/B test every permutation down to the smallest detail often makes it irresistible to the analytically minded.  Indeed, spend on digital now dwarves that of all other categories, having beaten out its closest rival television just recently.

Traditional vs. Digital – but is it a binary choice? 

Of course not. While digital may be the market leader, at least when it comes to pure $-spend perspective, we’ve gathered evidence to suggest that traditional marketing still has a few tricks up its sleeve and that a combination approach is the most effective.

We’ve collated over 48,000 responses from shoppers across a variety of retailers that deploy our technology, and made some surprising discoveries about the type of marketing that lingers longest in our minds, and is most likely to shape our behaviours.

In our latest white paper, we take an in-depth look at the fresh evidence we’ve pulled together combined with further industry research, to give practical advice and recommendations that will be invaluable to any marketer looking to optimise their budget.

To download your very own copy, just click on the link below.

Leaving a Lasting Impression: A Marketing White Paper

What is social proof and why is it important in marketing?

The history of social proof

Social proof as a concept has been around for quite some time. Psychologists were describing it decades ago (perhaps most notably Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book Influence: The psychology of persuasion). However, it’s only recently that we’ve seen it become the focus of intense interest from marketers – particularly marketers in the digital space.

A great example of social proof from pre-digital times is choosing a restaurant. You’re on vacation in a completely new area. Your first day you go for an early evening stroll to find a place to eat. Of course, the beachfront is filled with appealing-looking seafood restaurants.  You walk by three that are almost exactly the same. All look good, but two are almost empty and one is almost full. Which do you choose?

The vast, vast majority of us will choose the busy restaurant. Even though we know this means that service will probably take longer. It may not even be a fully-conscious decision – such is the power of social proof.

This is but one example – there are all kinds of ways that social proof is influencing our behavior every day – from working later because our colleagues tend to, to watching a box office hit movie or reading a bestselling novel.

As much as we all love to think of ourselves as independent, free-willed individuals, the truth is that we’re all human, and as such all subject to a certain amount of ‘herd mentality’: we like to fit in.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Social Proof Pioneer: Elvis Presley

Recent developments in social proof

So why has ‘social proof’ as a concept suddenly moved front and center of many a marketer’s spheres of interest?

Well, consider the above restaurant example. These days people are as likely to hop onto the TripAdvisor app on their phone as they are to take a chance on strolling up & down the road to pick out a restaurant. And what powers TripAdvisor? Social proof in the form of ratings and reviews.

While restaurants and cafes remain the top category that consumers check reviews for, all types of commerce are now subject to social proof. Even in the case of buying products in a brick & mortar store, people still often jump online to check out reviews first (usually for larger ticket items – not so much when buying a pack of gum). In fact, in 2018 56% of consumers read reviews on their mobile devices while browsing in-store.

It’s not just reviews. The simple power of knowing that lots of people have made the decision we’re considering can help push us one way or the other. Hence ads and sign-up CTAs have started to include little nuggets such as “114, 506 people in your area have already joined us!”. Next time you’re booking a hotel, notice the little pop up that tells you something like “This hotel has been booked 19 times in the past 24 hours”.  Even Candy Crush, when encouraging you to buy extra moves to get past a level, now tells you reassuringly, “28, 881 people used extra moves to complete this level”. Oh, well, in that case…

Other types of social proof include celebrity endorsements, expert endorsements (“9 out of 10 dentists recommend…”) and quick stats similar to those above, like “84 people are currently viewing this webpage”. However, ratings and reviews are where the big business (and hand in hand, the gaming and the fakery) lies.

Social proof and marketing

Whether you’re marketing a product, service or experience, if you have no online reviews, you have a big problem. 92% of consumers will hesitate to make a purchase if there are none, according to this 2017 survey.

86% of shoppers will look for reviews according to this 2018 consumer survey – and this is only going to grow. In the 18-34 category, 95% of people look for reviews, and 92% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

This last stat was fairly astounding to me. As a marketer, I’d always understood ‘Word of Mouth’ (or WOM) marketing to be the ever-elusive holy grail for marketing, something that money can’t buy, and that ‘friends & family’ recommendations were the most powerful of all.

And yet here is a growing body of evidence that online ratings and reviews are almost as powerful as a personal recommendation from a family member.

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TruRating collected more reviews for a London based DimSum restaurant than Disney World

How to get social proof

Whether you work in retail, hospitality, service or pretty much any industry going, there is a multitude of tools available to help you increase your business’s social proof.

Here is our run-down of the factors you should keep in mind when considering these tools:

  • Mix it up. Online ratings may be the most powerful tool in the kit, but ‘recent customer activity’-type quick stats have been said to boost conversion rates by 10-25% in e-commerce.
  • Quantity counts. People find your rating more trustworthy if they can see a lot of people have rated. Choose a tool that makes it as easy as possible for people to rate, and watch your social proof skyrocket!
  • Don’t aim for perfection. This fascinating study found that not only is the quantity of ratings way more important than quality but that a perfect rating average can actually hurt your business, as readers view it as a suspect.
  • Timing is, if not everything, then certainly very important. 70% of people responded to a question about how recent the reviews need to be in order to trust them with ‘within one month’. More than half of those preferred ‘within two weeks’. Choose a tool that keeps your ratings display fresh.
  • Make sure you’re pushing traffic in the right direction. No sense having all this fantastic influence on your consumer’s buying behavior if they’re not then directed to the right place (such as your website). If the increase in traffic picks up enough, you’ll also see a positive impact on your SEO – win-win!

TruRating and social proof

By asking customers one simple question each as they pay, both online and in-store, TruRating gets businesses more ratings than they’ve ever had before.

With the highest response rates of any customer rating system, we’ve helped a small London restaurant chain gain more ratings in just two years than Disney World has in total.

And it’s not just about the numbers…once you’re collecting all those ratings, we can help you leverage them in the most valuable possible way, through real-time updates on your website that help positively influence your customers’ buying behavior.

Speak to us about how you can use your in-store ratings to boost online social proof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TruRating at Retail Expo 2019

We are delighted to be speaking at the Retail Expo 2019 in London on May 1-2.  As one of Europe’s leading events for retail technology and design, it’s an honour to share the stage with so many fantastic retailers and industry names.

Georgina will be taking to the Marketing & Branding stage with JD Sports Head of Retail Kevin Dowson, in a panel entitled “Innovating the Basics: Using data-driven insights to improve the fundamentals of customer experience”.

You can expect to find out about subjects such as…

  • Understanding the core factors driving your customer’s shopping behaviour
  • Data backed methods for improving customer experience and correlated revenue
  • How to collect feedback without impacting the customer experience
  • Discovering the ROI of being excellent at often neglected retail basics
  • Operationalising customer experience-based performance metrics

Join us to find out how JD Sports has used TruRating on their journey to become one of the British highstreets biggest success stories (the JD Group recently acquired iconic US sports retailer Finish Line to overtake Sports Direct as Britains’s leading sportswear retailer!)

We recently filmed a testimonial with the team that we look forward to sharing in the near future, but in the meantime, here’s a couple of very nice things that they’ve said about us,

TruRating has removed the guesswork… we’re not spending resource on initiatives that we only assume will delight the customer.” Wayne Davies, Retail Director, JD Sports

 “The bonus is that you don’t have to have a degree in data science to understand the insights.” Lee Bagnall, Managing Director for JD Outdoors

You can register for the Retail Expo free of charge here

If you’d like to book a demo with one of the TruRating team in person, just leave your details on our event landing page and we’ll be in touch.

Georgina will speak with Kevin Dowson, Head of Retail JD Sports, at 1.35pm on May 1st on the Marketing + Branding Stage.  Read the full program entry here.

 

How to put Customer Experience Theory into Practice

A recent report by Bain & Company contained the somewhat shocking statistic that while 80% of businesses believe they provide a ‘superior proposition’ only 8% of their customers agree.

For those in the retail business, this highlights one of the key challenges facing the industry today – how to close the gap between the service you think you’re providing and your customers lived experiences.

The evidence is there to show that a well-executed CX strategy really is one of the key drivers for the ‘holy trinity’ of customer spend, loyalty and advocacy, but actually implementing an approach that works for your business can be a complicated endeavour.

To help you make the leap from theory to practice, we’ve collected a series of insights from some of the best minds working in customer experience today.  Practical tips that you can start to put to work right now, or at the very least, use as inspiration for your future CX adventures.

Jeanne Bliss – Get Deliberate

For five-time Chief Customer Officer Jeanne Bliss, taking a deliberate approach to customer experience is key: “What is the memory you want to imprint on your customers? Are you hiring the right people and behaving the right way to make those moments?”

In a world where up to 80% of Gen-Z shoppers prefer to shop in-store, but often turn to online for convenience sake, it’s up to retailers to find ways to draw shoppers into their doors. By focusing on the tangible elements of your customer experience (our data indicates that outstanding service is a key driver here) you can connect with your customers in a truly ‘meaningful’ sense, without necessarily requiring a huge output in terms of costs.

Tip: Every interaction with a customer provides an opportunity to create an ambassador for your brand – be deliberate in your efforts to empower your staff so that they can make decisions that are right for your customers and business both.

Jeremy Watkin – Be Part of the Solution 

Jeremy Watkin, thought leader and co-creator of the Customer Service Life Blog, believes everyone is responsible for the customer experience: “Before we start beating the drum, let’s roll up our sleeves and be part of the solution. This means that whatever your level in your organization, you can start improving the CX right now.”

Whatever the size of your business, individuals should be given the chance to shine. A shift manager at one our partner merchants, noticed a dip in scores for product and service scores across the evenings in his busy urban location. After an inspection of the floor, it became clear that stock and staffing issues were affecting the customer experience.  Through a few simple measures – reshuffling the staff schedule and ensuring product layouts remained consistent across the day –  he was able to achieve a 22% increase in satisfaction with a 12% associated increase in customer spend.

Tip: ServiceChannel recently reported two-thirds of customers have walked out of stores because they were messy or disorganised.  Investing in a tool that helps measure service standards at the individual and store level can help you to avoid basic, but costly, mistakes.

Shep Hyken – Convenience is King  

For New York Times best-selling author Shep Hyken (The Convenience Revolution), the businesses that will lead the way tomorrow, are those that make it easy to shop with them.  To truly please your customers, you have to focus on ‘innovation that makes life more convenient for them’.

The rise of “Click & Collect” is one example of a recent retail trend, born as a result of businesses adapting to the needs of the modern consumer.  While overcoming limited retail space can pose a challenge in terms of fulfilment pressures, for those who can get it right, it’s been shown to be a winning formula.  UK retailer Next was able to see off the challenges of an increasingly difficult market, largely in thanks to its Click & Collect program, which grew by 15% following a strategic investment in fulfilment capabilities.

Tip:  Investment in operational capabilities like fulfilment can be just as important as the more obvious front-line aspects of your customer experience.  If you can anticipate your customers’ needs, it makes the choice to do business with you a much easier one.

Nate Brown – Voice of the Customer is Key   

Nate Brown, Director of CX at UL EHS Sustainability and co-founder of CX Accelerator, warns that in today’s environment, “Competition is too fierce to be asleep at the experience wheel”.  For Brown, the missing bridge from theory to action is the “Voice of the Customer” (VoC). Without having an accurate tool in place to help listen to and react to customer response, it can be hard to know if you’re focusing on the right priorities.

Retail Prodigy Group (master franchisee holders for Nike in Australia and New Zealand) utilized VoC technology to help them do just that.  By measuring the impact of a series of relatively simple service standards – asking for a customer’s first name, offering multiple product selections, smiling at checkout – the retailer was able to clearly demonstrate their value to staff, increasing compliance, and shortly thereafter revenues, in one fell swoop.

Tip: A Voice of the Customer tool can help you to make informed strategic decisions for your business.  When looking at providers, it’s important to consider both measuring customer satisfaction and the associated revenue opportunities. 

Brian Dennis – Show the ROI of your Initiatives    

For Brian Dennis, former VP Customer Experience at Kohl’s, one of the greatest challenges facing professionals today is the challenge to secure executive support for customer experience initiatives, “All the time and effort spent planning and designing a CX program will be for nought without an ROI that meets similar criteria to other areas within the business.”  While trusted sources like the Forrester Customer Experience Index have shown that incremental CX performance can be worth millions of dollars in revenue, external evidence isn’t always enough to make a business case.

Working with a large discount-retailer, we helped the operations team to deliver quantifiable proof that the cost of additional training to special ‘Service Champions’ was a worthy investment.  By providing a simple framework to measure the impact of their efforts (and a clear projected long-term ROI) a once seemingly complicated decision, became much simpler. 

Tip: If you can clearly tie your initiatives to revenue opportunities, it becomes much easier to earn support for CX goals with executive teams. Be prepared to justify your ambitions at both a customer and business level!

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No matter the size of your budget or team, there is never a wrong time to think about the ways you can implement CX best practices into your day to day operations.

Tools like TruRating, provide a simple and effective way to both manage and prove the value of your initiatives. If you would like to discuss how we could help you to get the most out of your CX strategy for the year ahead, we’d love to hear from you.

Email us at hello@trurating.com or visit our Let’s Talk page to find the direct phone number for your region.

Continue reading “How to put Customer Experience Theory into Practice”

CX Icon: Brian Dennis

This week, we were fortunate enough to speak to Brian Dennis, known throughout the country as the “the customer service guy”.

An internationally renowned CX innovator and forecaster, Brian has served as a Fortune 150 executive – most recently as VP Customer Experience at Kohl’s – alongside being the best-selling author of his newest book “If the Customer’s the Copilot, You’re in the Wrong Seat”.

Brian is one of the most requested keynote speakers on the topic of customer experience and we wanted to get to know a little more about how Brian got into CX, how the industry has evolved since he started, and where we’re heading next.

Hi Brian – thanks so much for finding the time to speak to us.  To get things started, could you give us the abbreviated version of how you got into CX and ended up where you are today?

My passion for customer experience started at an early age when I was selling seeds in my neighbourhood. There was a man on our block who all of the kids were afraid of by the name of Mr. Groshack – think old man Marley from Home Alone. Anyway, he stopped me to buy a pack of seeds. A few months later he stopped me again and said the seeds never grew.  Without hesitating, I reached into my pocket, took out a dime and gave it to him with the hope I would never run into him ever again. Fast forward to the following summer, I just began selling my seeds when Mr. Groshack stopped me and said he would buy them all.  I never ever forgot his words – “I like the way you do business kid.”

Ever since then I’ve seen the rewards both personally and professionally that come when you treat people fairly and deliver a great service experience. I have continued to capture those learnings and am now happy to be in a position to share with others around the world.

Retail teams sometimes struggle when it comes to proving the immediate ROI of customer experience – do you have any advice for showing value to busy executive teams?

Great question.  One of the biggest challenges I hear from CX professionals is how do I get the C-Suite to buy into my initiatives. They are passionate about their ideas and expected benefits but struggle to identify a hard return value. More simply, they struggle to get a budget approved because the ROI in most instances has not been quantitatively expressed. Soft benefits rarely work anymore.  All the time and effort spent planning and designing a CX program will be for nought without an ROI that meets similar criteria to other areas within the business.

A formula I like to use is CX ROI = 100 X (Benefits – Investments) / Investments.

An example of a commonly used benefit would be revenue. For example, Forrester Customer Experience Index showed that the largest companies in select industries can earn up to hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue for every one point of increase in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™). That’s a powerful metric and a great start. Other benefits such as customer satisfaction, margin improvements, retention, reducing customer service costs (remember – sometimes the best service is no service at all), loyalty increases and many more are now measurable components that allow you to formulate a return on investment.

Now, calculate the investments that are going to help you achieve the desired result e.g technology upgrades and development, training requirements, operating costs such as improving a mobile app… and you’ve got your ROI.

A recent client of mine was a call center who took over 3 million calls annually for a large retailer. They were able to identify almost 20% of their calls could have been avoided if the customer was just simply more aware of the self-help tools that were available to them and expand the offering to multiple platforms. So, the call center estimated they could reduce their calls at a cost of $6 each for a total cost savings of $3,600,000. They brought forward this ROI, got approval and over the course of the following year actually saved close to $4,000,000.

What is your take on the current landscape generally – do you believe in the feted ‘retail apocalypse’ or is that a misunderstanding?

Certainly, if one were to look at the last decade, you would hypothesize that a retail apocalypse is upon us. Heck, if you even looked at the 5800 store closures last year and compared that to the 5846 store closure announcements in just the first quarter of this year alone, one may be running for the hills. Let me give you one more stat – UBS is expecting the number of store closures to reach 75,000 by 2026.

So yes, the current landscape is changing and it’s changing fast. However, I don’t see a retail apocalypse but rather an industry that is navigating how best to compete both off and online. More specifically, how to blend these commerces into a unified customer experience that readily allows a very simple experience – on the customers’ terms.

“I don’t see a retail apocalypse but rather an industry that is navigating how best to compete both off and online.”

Despite the retail apocalypse chatter you read online and hear in the media, these closures are not necessarily bad. As I travel the country speaking on the topic of customer experience, most industry experts are in agreement that the US has too many stores. So, utilizing their stores to be more productive such as Click & Collect, Ship From Store and other revenue generating opportunities will be key in their survival. E-commerce is going to continue to grow at rapid speed. UBS, who I mentioned earlier, forecasts that e-commerce will account for 25% of all US retail sales by 2026 which is up from about 16% today.

It’s an exciting time as you are starting to see online players start to expand their businesses into offline. Look at Wayfair, the Boston based furniture retailer whose net revenue topped $2 billion in the 4th quarter last year, announcing its plans to open its first full-service retail store this fall. These businesses are getting smarter and testing the customer experience in pop-up shops in advance before spending large capital dollars on a physical store presence.

And it’s not just Wayfair pursuing this true omnichannel experience. Amazon, Rent the Runway, Casper, Madison Reed & others are now piloting these into these brick-and-mortar footprints. In fact, where I live in Milwaukee, TripAdvisor is opening up a store in our airport later this year.

I would say it’s one of the most exciting times I have seen to be in retail, but also one that requires an incredible conviction to keep the customer front and centre in the planning of every experience you are trying to deliver.

In your view, how have customer expectations ‘changed’ in recent years – are people harder to please?

Absolutely, customer expectations continue to climb and the ladder to please them is raised every day. You almost have to assume that customers are not going to be satisfied tomorrow by the same offerings as today. Customers now operate in this real-time digital and always-on world. As a result, their expectations continue to rise. In a recent survey released in 2018, nearly two thirds (59%) of survey respondents had higher expectations for customer service than they did just a year ago. That same 59% of respondents have also used 3 or more channels to get their questions answered and that’s why it’s important for businesses to convert multiple touchpoints into a single seamless experience.  But the good news is they continue to value great service and those businesses that can deliver on that will be rewarded.

“Customers now operate in this real-time digital and always-on world. As a result, their expectations continue to rise.”

A trend that I am starting to see growing in importance, is customers are now demanding more than ever before that their issues get resolved in a single interaction. In many surveys, it can be the single most important aspect of them rating an experience as good and themselves as more loyal. With video chat, social, co-browse, AI agents and converging in-store and online technology, customers now have a greater choice of servicing their needs on their terms than at any other time.

Ok, so what’s next in retail?

A leaner, meaner and faster retail is what’s next.  Seriously, you are already seeing major shifts in department superstores with the likes of Kohl’s, Target, Walmart and Nordstrom’s all experimenting with smaller store formats.  Ironic as it sounds, retailers are coming up with smaller footprints to help their growth. 

But perhaps the biggest change to happen in retail will be that (AI) Artificial Intelligence will become real. I am already witnessing prescriptive analytics finally overtaking predictive analytics, eliminating any opening for decisions based on intuition – which can never keep up with the changing speed of technology and customers. A barrage of voice-activated devices shipping to consumers is changing how they choose to shop and which brands they want to engage with.

Think about this, next year, up to 50% of Search is expected to be accomplished through Voice. What’s game-changing about AI, is that Search will be entirely up to the owner of the eco-system to decide the results. Specifically, Voice will turn e-commerce into a very unfair winner advantage for those who dominate the space. Think Amazon – already this year, more than 60% of Alexa’s results were generally found to be biased. Retailers are recognizing these challenges are finally embracing the need to compete with AI at the very front of this strategy.

A huge thank you to Brian for taking the time to speak to us, if you’d like to reach out to him for more information about what he’s up to email him directly or via his website

For more CX thoughts from Brian, why not purchase a copy of “If the Customer’s the Copilot, You’re in the Wrong Seat“.

That’s a wrap from us for the immediate future for the CX Icon series.  It’s been a blast for us and we hope you’ve enjoyed it too.  Fear not, we will be back soon with more from some of the best minds working in retail today, till then, stay Tru! 

Unlocking the Value of Customer Experience (CX) Initiatives

Putting a Value to Customer Experience

While it’s easy to pay lip service to the importance of customer experience, for those in charge of CX initiatives or Voice of the Customer programs, proving the value of investing in Customer Experience to the wider business can be a challenge.  While a commitment to exceptional service values is commonplace, understanding what that means in a given context, at a given time, is not as simple as it might seem.

Strategic goals tend not to map neatly to the complexities of the retail environment and identifying which aspect of the in-store experience is actually impacting customer spend can be an incredibly complicated task.  When you add the hurdle of proving a quantifiable ROI to the mix, it’s not surprising that while many businesses are saying the right things, they’re not always able – or willing – to provide the support needed to see things through. 

TruRating works with retailers to help them understand – in plain and simple $ terms – which aspects of the Customer Experience are adding genuine value to their business and are therefore worth focusing on.  Here’s a recent example of how we helped one of our clients.

The Context

As part of their 2018 CX program, a national discount retailer wanted to test the introduction of specific service-focused staff across their stores. The purpose? To test whether the staff, known as Service Champions, would enhance CX in stores during the busiest hours and establish a business case for investing in additional training and resources across their entire store network.

As a retailer with a large and varied store footprint – from busy urban locations to remote mural stores – part of the challenge was establishing a fair measurement standard for each of their locations.  Previously used services such as mystery shopping had turned out to be inconsistent, while a receipt based survey program drew so little responses as to be essentially useless.

By asking simple, fast and anonymous feedback questions using the payment terminal itself, we knew we’d be able to gather a statistically relevant data sample in just a few weeks, so we came up with a plan.

Setting up an A/B Test

After meeting with the retailer, we established a selection of pilot stores from both rural and urban locations (to ensure a representative cross-section of their overall store network) and set out to run a simple A/B test approach.

Having identified our test stores, we implemented 3-service related custom questions we knew to be associated with a strong spend uplift.  These were selected to provide clear and measurable goals for the Service Champions and offer a clear way of seeing how impactful they’d be.

With custom questions in place, we established a baseline for performance by measuring TruRating scores and ATV across test control stores before and after Service Champion recruitment. The Service Champions were scheduled during the busiest shifts of the week – Thursday afternoon to Sunday mornings – to ensure that their impact on service would be truly tested.

The Results

In our post-trial analysis, we found that 75% of stores in the test group where Service Champions had been in place saw an increase in Average Transaction Values compared to previous periods.

The biggest impact occurred on the busy Friday afternoon shift when a 6% increase to average transaction value was measured. While the impact on spend for Friday and Saturday mornings was relatively low, these periods saw a much lower volume of transactions, helping the retailer to qualify that their greatest ROI would be during their busiest shopping periods.

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As well as validating the impact of Service Champions on CX and average transaction value by the time of day, TruRating was able to identify differences in response by store type e.g. small-town stand-alone outlet vs urban shopping centre environment, providing a rich area for further segmentation analysis in the future.

By capturing thousands of responses from customers over the course of the trial period, accommodating for contextual analysis based on store size and location, this discount retailer was able to conduct a truly controlled experiment unaffected by external influences. In a short time, TruRating was able to quantify the impact of the Service Champion initiative, across multiple CX drivers, identifying clear ROI for both customer sentiment and spend.

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We’d love to hear from you too!  Get in touch with one of the team to find out how we can better help you implement your 2019 CX Initiatives at hello@trurating.com or head straight to our business page to find out more today.

If you’d like to read more… 

Why not see check out how New Balance used TruRating to reinvent its store layouts here

For a more general introduction to the concept of Customer Experience, you can find the first in a series of posts on the subject here.