Not always does the answer lie within – get to the “drivers of the drivers” for your brand

Posted on Friday, May 4th, 2012

Customer Loyalty - advocacy and customer experience managementGleanster, a best practices market research analyst firm focused on marketing, sales, voice of the customer, business intelligence and customer experience operations – has recently published a whitepaper, entitled “How Top Performers Use Outside Expertise to Improve Customer Experience Quality.”

The research analyst report explores the value for engaging outside resources with specialized expertise for help in improving customer experience quality and the benefits that Top Performers, particularly from multi-unit retailers and restaurants, are realizing as a result. In the third section of the report “Not Always Does the Answer Lie Within,” Gleanster points to the importance of identifying the “drivers of the drivers” that have the biggest impact on driving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Gleanster Report – Section 3 “Not Always Does the Answer Lie Within”

Are there any frequent restaurant goers, particularly ones who enjoy upscale dining, who aren’t familiar with the ubiquitous Zagat Ratings and Review guides? Many foodies refer to it as their culinary bible. The readability is unrivaled: a concise review, much of it derived from guest verbatims, and numerical ratings on four assessment criteria: food, décor, service, and cost. And, indeed, these four factors would seem to be the ones that would have the greatest impact on the overall dining experience, including the likelihood that a guest would want to pay a return visit and also recommend the establishment to friends and family.

What most guests don’t realize is that, from a restaurant’s perspective, each of these four factors is influenced by any number of underlying drivers, each of which must be meticulously identified, analyzed, and optimized on an ongoing basis. To succeed in today’s hyper-competitive restaurant environment, managers at the individual retail location or unit level as well as executives at the corporate level must be able to uncover and continuously monitor the causal antecedents that inform the customer perception of food, décor, service and cost. The drivers may be relatively easy to ascertain. The challenge is to get to the “drivers of the drivers.” Everybody knows that food quality is important. But what are the sub-attributes of food quality perception?

Consider: An important attribute of guest satisfaction with the food experience may be that the server “romanced” the menu by making a personal suggestion for a particular menu item (e.g. “my boyfriend and I love to come here on Saturday nights and he always orders the fettuccine alfredo – it’s his favorite dish on the menu”). This has a direct impact on how a guest perceives the food as they anticipate the dish will be good as it came from a server as a genuine, thoughtful and personalized recommendation.

How does a restaurant track and measure – and, importantly, improve – its ability to make people feel valued? These and other factors can be difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain from standard survey and reporting tools. Moreover, once identified, companies are often challenged to know whether they are putting the right emphasis on the right drivers.

Hence the value of outside experts, who are often in a position to not only uncover the business insights that a company would likely not be able to discover on its own, but also to prioritize the focus areas that will have the biggest impact on customer loyalty.

Uncovering insights means mapping the customer experience from the time a customer enters the retail establishment to the time they leave. Analytic modeling can assess the different factors that have the greatest impact on driving customer satisfaction and loyalty, allowing the company to then hone in on those categories and attributes that can be changed. “Products were well organized” may have been an important attribute that was uncovered during the loyalty model and a key driver of customer satisfaction with the retail store.

Dissecting customer drivers is especially complex in businesses built on in-person, on-site customer experiences and where high-touch customer service and the ability to understand the subtle nuances of one-on-one interactions can ultimately have a very direct impact on revenue, profitability, and overall shareholder value. Obvious examples include retail, restaurant, hospitality, insurance, and financial services.

The multi-unit nature of these businesses and the fact that many of them have independent ownership structures (e.g., franchises) means that the executives at the corporate level often lack visibility into customer experience performance. Clearly, to maintain brand consistency and to understand the specific performance areas most important to driving customer loyalty as well as the performance gaps relative to the brand as a whole, it’s necessary to provide a centralized and unified view of the customer experience that goes beyond a standard, horizontal, one-size-fits-all customer satisfaction survey.

To get beneath the surface and understand what really makes your brand stand out for your customers, loyalty modeling can help you determine what the cues and supporting elements of the experience need to be in order to improve your brand. Unlike market research studies that only reveal the obvious drivers of customer satisfaction, loyalty modeling also tells an actionable story of what elements of the experience require deeper understanding and attention.

While many factors can affect your brand’s customers experience, it is not realistic to focus on every single factor that contributes to an overall brand experience. Instead, find out the key drivers that have the most impact on your business. Once you determine the key drivers of your business, you can then optimize your operations and training efforts to improve the customer experience across all locations. In doing so, you can pave the way to creating a consistent customer experience for your brand.

To read the full report on how you can leverage knowledge capital to gain a competitive advantage in high-touch industries like retail, restaurants and financial services, download the Deep Dive Analyst Report “How Top Performers Use Outside Expertise to Improve Customer Experience Quality.

Download Whitepaper

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