Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why Mobile is a Game Changer—for Research and Dunkin’ Donuts

By David Forbes, Ph.D.

One of the things we love best about using our MindSight® technology via mobile is that it lets us capture consumers’ emotional responses right in the moment, while they are still fresh.   Research in memory consistently tells us that the passage of time works to distort our memories, so that remembering something for the first time – right after it happens, may look very different from remembering it hours or days later, because our memories change with each act of remembering.

One implication of this is that getting feedback about customer experiences right after they happen can be very important. So, for example, in our recent work for a large Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee, we took to the field and got consumers to tell us about emotions using their smart phones.This client was troubled by a few underperforming stores among his franchises. These franchises seemed very much like his high performing stores at first glance: they had identical offerings, were the same size and located in similar areas. They were even staffed by comparable crews.  And past measures of customer satisfaction indicated little difference between the stores.

To solve the mystery, we sent researchers to study the emotional experience of customers at a high-performing store and at a low performing one.  Over the course of the morning rush, we showed off the MindSight® “game,” and invited them to try it themselves on their mobile devices – what we learned was unexpected.

What wasn’t different between the stores were rational dimensions of performance like how long the line was, or how accurately the orders were filled.  Both stores did fine on those criteria.  What was different was the nature of the emotional experience in these two stores.

Both stores did well on some key elements of emotional experience – fulfilling a desire to feel empowered and achieved – to “start your engines and dive into the day.”  But the high performing store also did well in delivering another “softer” type of emotional experience — the desire to feel understood, and even a little bit nurtured.

At the high performing store, the crew greeted customers warmly, sometimes even by name. They frequently knew what “regulars” wanted, and would start on that hazelnut-light-two-sugars even before the customer had a chance to order it.

At the low-performing store, coffee transactions were less personalized and nurturing, more businesslike and anonymous. MindSight® images chosen by those coffee drinkers to capture the feeling of their customer experience made it clear that they didn’t feel nurtured here. They felt isolated, and in fact, they even felt incompetent (about their store choice.)  These results fit well with earlier work we’ve done in breakfast cereals, that shows us how people tend to be a bit infantile in the morning, and kind of vulnerable – almost as if they are “waking up like infants” and needing to be gentled.

The “no frills” satisfaction of timely, competent service reported in both stores did not reveal the important differences in service experience between the high and low performing stores.  Only a method focused on the emotional experience revealed the issue.  And a method using images to get “under the radar” was likely critical.  I doubt many of these consumers could have articulated the pleasure at feeling recognized and nurtured if we had asked —it’s like confessing that you wish your Mom could still cut your toast in little triangles and butter it just so.

Finally, a method that allowed us to get “in the moment” feedback was likely critical to the insight – measuring consumers emotions while they were still in that emotional mood of “morning vulnerability.”  Cognitive science tells us that memories of negative feelings tend to fade over time (the “Fading Affect Bias”) we suspect that feelings of incompetence, and of being isolated, during a morning coffee purchase are very good candidates to “fade” (as the day progresses).

Our client is in the process of coaching the staff in under-performing stores to add those warm touches, asking customers’ names and treating them like regulars. We’re betting that will be enough to turn those stores around, so stay tuned.

Want to learn more about this topic? Attend TMRE 2013 in Nashville, TN October 21-23. For details, click here: We hope to see you there!  

About the Author: David Forbes holds a Ph.D. in clinical and cognitive psychology from Clark University, and was a member of the faculties of Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry and the Harvard Laboratory of Human Development before beginning his career as a business consultant. He founded Forbes Consulting over 20 years ago as a strategic market research consultancy dedicated to creating business advantage through psychological consumer insights. He has since built Forbes into a major resource for scores of major corporations in the CPG, Financial Services, and Pharmaceuticals industries, domestically and internationally. David is the creator of the MindSight® emotional assessment technologies, a suite of applied neuropsychological methods for understanding consumer emotion and motivation, without the distortions of conscious editing and self presentation.  

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Customer Experience Geography: Map Out Your CX

Most companies have gotten the message that customer experience matters these days. As more organizations are focusing on the customer, they’re looking at how to improve customer satisfaction scores, but it’s not enough to improve call center performance or website usability. Today, we live in a multichannel world where channel-surfing customers hit all sorts of touchpoints before completing their task - it’s a journey.

Being successful at one touchpoint is good, but it doesn’t matter if you haven’t created a journey. In fact, 56 percent of all customer interactions happen across a multichannel journey.  A good customer journey map can be very powerful for your business, but can also become a huge project that sucks the life out of the team. According to Business2Community, here are some of the ways you can tackle learning about the terrain your customers go through just to buy your products.

Get Everyone Involved
Customer journey maps should identify each interaction a customer may have with your organization – meaning understanding what the players within the organization are doing is critical. Asking stake holders to participate and share what they think happens in the journey and what interactions are supposed to happen can enlighten even the most connected participant.  The mapping process can be low tech or high-tech. If it’s your first trip to the Customer Journey Mapping rodeo, try keeping it simple because you can always add to it.

Invite Customers to Join
Once you have a basic understanding of the customer journey, ask customers to come help you with their perspective. The types of customers and business can have a big impact on which customers you invite into this process and how many, but even one can give you some insight. Invite them in to comment on the journey as you’ve mapped it, and invite them to tell you about their own journey. Customers can provide lots of insight, but don’t bribe customers because they won’t give you honest feedback.  

Check Your Data
Most organizations are rich with data these days. Big data is the buzz word of the moment, but little data works, too. Use your customer feedback surveys, your website analytics, your customer service reports, to inform the nuances of the journey. Look for patterns and work backwards to determine where the journey breaks down. “Talk to the hand!” Most unhappy customers leave without providing feedback.

Listen to What They are NOT Saying
Many customers don’t tell you directly that they are unhappy. They go to the online forums, social media communities and blogs, so be sure to keep searching to see what they’re really saying.

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Retail Customer Experience Race

As the market becomes more and more crowded with new products and services, it is becoming more difficult than ever for companies to stand out from the noise. In the past, how you packaged your product was of paramount importance, along with the messaging around it. These elements are still critical, but in addition, now you need to offer your customer a unique experience.

Today, most retailers understand the inherent value of upselling, cross-selling and running specials—at the service level, these tactics maximize the marketing dollars spent getting that customer in the door. Yet small businesses are losing when it comes to capitalizing on these opportunities.

Software Advice, a resource for customer service technology reviews and comparisons, recently conducted “The Great Retail Experience Race: Local vs. National” to compare the customer experience of five Austin, Texas-based retailers and five comparable national chain stores. To gather this data, a team of 20 secret shoppers conducted 200 site visits, each lasting at least 15 minutes. One of the questions they had to answer was whether employees told them about sales or specials during their visit, or if anyone tried to upsell or cross-sell them. In every industry category but one, the national store outperformed the local shop. 

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

8 Stats Proving the Importance of Customer Experience

Is customer experience really that important? Well, the recent Fortune list of the world’s 10 most admired companies in 2013 includes seven that are renowned for excellence in that area: Apple, Google, Amazon, Starbucks, Southwest, Disney and FedEx. Here is some recent research by that proves customer experience should be a top priority for companies today.
  • Dell has published internal metrics showing that 97 percent of dissatisfied customers can be rescued with proactive intervention and more than 40 percent of those people become raving fans.
  • Siegel+Gale’s 3rd annual Global Brand Simplicity Index reported last year that nearly one third of American consumers would be willing to pay an average of four percent more for simpler brand experiences.
  • Gartner estimated last year that by 2014 “failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15 percent increase in churn rate for existing customers.”  
  • Research by Temkin Group last year reported that only seven percent of the 255 large companies it surveyed could be described as reaching the highest level of customer experience maturity, although 60 percent said their goal is to be the industry leader in customer experience within three years.
  • A July, 2013 Lloyd’s survey of 588 C-suite executives found that customer loss was their second biggest concern, exceeded only by worries about high tax rates. Respondents also indicated they are under-prepared to address this risk, with executives giving themselves only a 5.7 rating on a 1-to-10 scale. 
  • Sixty-two percent of B2B and 42 percent of B2C customers purchased more after a good experience, while 66 percent and 52 percent, stopped making purchases after a bad experience, according to a survey of 1,000 people who had had recent customer service interactions.
  • An Oracle survey of 1,342 senior-level executives from 18 countries earlier this year found that 97 percent agree that delivering a great customer experience is critical to business results, and that the average potential revenue loss from failing in this area is 20 percent of annual revenue. However, 37 percent are just getting started with a formal customer experience initiative, and only 20 percent consider the state of their customer experience initiative to be advanced.
  • A survey of 2,000 adults last year found that 83 percent are willing to spend more on a product if they feel a personal connection to the company. One-fifth said they would spend 50 percent more on companies that they felt the company put the customer first.

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 
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