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Archive for the ‘Customer Satisfaction/Loyalty’ Category

mystery-shopping

Mystery shopping is a popular research method used to gather feedback from an audience. It’s common for mystery shopping to be conducted in-person, but can also be conducted via phone or by making online inquiries. Mystery shopping is not solely used for retail research, as it is commonly known for. During a mystery shop, a trained researcher evaluates several factors that impact their experience. If they are rating an in-person experience at a restaurant, retail shop, or event facility, the researcher will often evaluate factors such as food, staff interactions, and/or amenities. Telephone mystery shops are insightful for companies which employ customer service representatives that interact with clients/customers over the phone. Researchers can evaluate the experience by acting as a customer and investigating factors such as the friendliness of staff, knowledge of staff, and speed of resolution. Mystery shops are also valuable for companies providing an online service or product. Researchers may gather mystery shopping data by performing actions such as filling out an online inquiry form, making a purchase, or utilizing the online “chat” feature to evaluate the customer service experience. Regardless of the where the mystery shopping takes place, the researcher should be prepared to assess the factors most important to your company by developing an evaluation form. Results will allow your organization to obtain feedback regarding the customer experience and determine areas of opportunity to increase your competitiveness in the market. Below are three tips when preparing for a mystery shopping project.

Be Informed

A great market research firm will do their due diligence and ensure their mystery shoppers are informed on the company’s products, services, location(s), and other factors that may impact the research. To gather rich data, it’s imperative that the mystery shopper be comfortable with their surroundings (in the case of an in-person mystery shop), and be familiar with what the company offers so they are prepared to handle any unexpected questions from a customer service associate or staff member. Now that technology plays a large role in the guest experience for many businesses, it’s important for mystery shoppers to visit the company website and review social media accounts to get a picture of the company prior to conducting the research.

Create an Evaluation Form

In order to collect great data, the market research firm should create an evaluation form, including questions which address all factors that the client would like feedback on. This form should be created prior to conducting mystery shops, and is filled out by the researcher following the event.  Some mystery shops may also require a scenario which outlines the “role” that the mystery shopper should play when collecting data. The goal is to investigate potential paths of the customer experience by determining how the staff deals with the inquiry/issue. This is popular among banks and credit unions evaluating their customer service and banking procedures. RMS has also created in-depth mystery shopping scenarios for law firms investigating their competitors, and medical practices investigating the patient experience. With mystery shopping, the possibilities are nearly endless and can be customized to fit the needs of any business.

Ensure Objective Feedback

A third party is a key element to protecting the confidentiality of the project and ensuring the collection of quality data. If a company were to use its own staff, there is a risk that employees would recognize the employee and ultimately discredit the project findings. Even in large organizations where an employee could be pulled from another branch or location, there is a conflict of interest since the employee is invested in the success of the company. This makes it more difficult for them to provide constructive criticism which may ultimately be the information needed to make the company more competitive in the market. For the mystery shopping project to be successful, the researcher needs to be completely objective and take on the persona of a customer.

RMS is a full-service market research firm and has conducted mystery shops in a wide array of settings (hotels, banks, credit unions, law firms, medical practices, and retail environments). If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS).

Background: A school transportation organization recently partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct sales strategy research. The client wanted to better understand customer satisfaction and perception of services provided by the organization. The market research objective was to provide decision-making insights needed to determine how the client may better serve their primary client base in the future.

Approach:  The RMS Analytics team collected data from current, prospective, and former customers via a blinded online survey and in-depth telephone interviews (IDIs). During blinded research, the client’s identity is not disclosed to the participant. To hone in on the customer satisfaction with the services provided by the organization, RMS created an online survey script and interview guide which were reviewed and approved by the client prior to commencing fieldwork. Questions focused on how the respondent rated the satisfaction with particular services, customer service perceptions, satisfaction with the company’s sales strategy, as well as interest level in services that the client considered adding to their suite of offerings. Fieldwork lasted approximately two weeks for the in-depth interviews, and one week for the online survey. Following the data collection and analysis period, a comprehensive report was delivered to the client, which included a visual dashboard of the findings, as well as next steps and recommendations.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • The research identified the areas where the organization excels in serving its customers, including excellent customer service, and the dependability of the organization.
  • Top service needs desired by customers were identified, which included education and training, parts delivery, online parts catalog and ordering, and vehicle body repair service.
  • Since the client interacts with three distinct stakeholder groups during the buying process, RMS identified the most desired information by stakeholder group to streamline the sales strategy and improve the customer experience.
  • To further increase the satisfaction of current clients, as well as gain additional market share, RMS identified a niche market offering that the organization may offer to simplify the buying process and entice competitor customers.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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The following post was written by Mark Dengler, President at RMS.

dog (2)

As summer starts to wind down, I trust that folks are enjoying the sunny and hot weather. However, don’t be fooled by these hazy days. Companies can’t afford to be lazy. Summer is actually an excellent time to work on relationship marketing strategies with existing and prospective customers. It is an opportunity to reach out and touch base with key contacts and connections.

“Relationship Marketing” is a marketing approach that focuses on building strong customer relationships and long term engagement. It is often associated with customer loyalty program development, but can prove very effective in prospecting and enhancing brand awareness. It is built upon communication strategies that encourage two-way interaction and engagement. Obviously, it is critical to be utilizing relationship marketing strategies throughout the entire year, however the summer is a particularly good time to connect with folks. For many, this popular vacation season slows the deadline-focused intensity in companies, and people are more willing to interact.

Over the next couple of weeks, it makes sense to consider implementing the following key marketing strategies to better position your organization for a strong fourth quarter and building strong relationships:

  1. Identify your top customers and make a personal inquiry as to their needs and satisfaction with your product/service. Your senior leadership should be involved with this activity. Simply by asking for customer feedback, you demonstrate to customers their value.
  2. Mystery Shop your organization. It was Maya Angelou who said “people may forget what is said or done, but they never forget how you made them feel.” This quote embodies the heart of customer relations. Companies need to look at their own processes from this perspective, making sure that customers and prospects have a positive interaction experience.
  3. Examine your “listening posts.” What are the ways that customers and prospects inform you of their needs and experiences? Do you have listening posts? Are these being used? Now may be the perfect time to enhance your tools of interaction. Refresh your website capabilities. Implement a customer survey. Conduct some key research in-depth interviews. Find effective ways to “listen” to your customers and prospects so that you can continue to meet their needs.
  4. Focus on informing rather than promoting. Companies that look to position themselves as knowledgeable experts in a particular area are able to build market followers. These followers include both customer and prospects. Establish your organization as a go to source for information. Look to offer free resources such as white papers, webinars, and podcasts.
  5. Optimize social media to depict your organization’s culture and values. In building relationships, people want to affiliate with those that are most like them, hence the term homophily. This is true with organization affiliation as well. Companies need to promote their culture, values and beliefs to help brand themselves. It serves as a means for individuals to identify and affiliate with. With evermore competition, this approach is a way to differentiate your organization and foster strong relationships.

Summer is definitely a great time to enhance your relationship marketing with customers and prospects. And it never hurts to take advantage of the sunny weather in the meantime.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a full service marketing and market research firm located in Baldwinsville, NY. RMS provides an array of research methodologies that result in actionable analytics and recommendations for the client to enhance decision making. RMS is also home to QualiSight, a premier focus group and interview research facility, and RMS ViewPoint, a leading consumer research panel in Central New York. Visit our website at RMSresults.com.

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This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS).

Background: An organization that provides services to K-12 school districts recently partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a customer satisfaction survey. The client wanted to better understand satisfaction and perception of services provided by the organization. The market research objective was to provide decision-making insights needed to determine whether the organization is meeting the needs of clients, and where they may be able to improve service offerings.

Approach:  The RMS Analytics team collected data from stakeholders via an online survey. To hone in on the customer satisfaction with the services provided by the organization, RMS created an online survey script which was reviewed and approved by the client. Questions focused on how the respondent rated the satisfaction with particular services, customer service perceptions, timeliness of project completion, among other items. Fieldwork lasted approximately three weeks, a longer data collection period than normal, in an effort to obtain a very high completion rate. Through an extended fieldwork period, RMS was able to obtain a 91% response rate. Following the data collection and analysis period, a comprehensive report was delivered to the client, which included a visual dashboard of the findings, as well as next steps and recommendations.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • The research identified the areas where the organization excels in serving its customers, including the friendliness and helpfulness of staff.
  • Areas of opportunity where the organization could improve the customer experience included the perceived value for the cost of the service, the ease of receiving an answer to a question, and timeliness of the service.
  • For areas of opportunity, RMS researchers probed deeper beyond what needed to be improved to determine how the organization can best improve the customer experience. This led to action items that the organization can address, in an effort to capture more of the market share.
  • Overall, more than 80% of respondents stated a very high level of satisfaction with the organization.
  • The research identified high-level perceptions by asking what comes to mind when thinking about the organization. Services offered and positive attributes were most commonly mentioned.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS). 

Background: An advertising firm partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct image and awareness focus groups for their client, an international quick service restaurant. The end-client wanted to better understand consumer perceptions of the restaurant’s menu, products, pricing, facilities, employees, and the brand overall. The market research objective was to gather the insights needed for the restaurant to improve the customer experience.

Approach: The study consisted of three 100 minute focus groups. Focus group participants were selected from the RMS ViewPoint Research Panel based upon the frequency that they visit the restaurant. The first focus group included millennials who were either current or former restaurant users. The second group was made up of current restaurant users, and the last group included only former users of the quick service restaurant. RMS staff moderated the focus groups, which were held at the RMS QualiSight Focus Group facility in Baldwinsville, NY. RMS recruited 12 participants for each group, to ultimately seat 10 to participate in the discussion. RMS completed the project in approximately six weeks.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • Participants reviewed several commercials, identified their favorite, and provided feedback on how the commercials could be improved. This allowed the end-client to determine the appropriate message for each customer type.
  • Research revealed what the restaurant is known for among consumers, allowing the end-client to identify brand strengths and areas of opportunity.
  • Participants identified top competitors and reasons for choosing them instead of the end-client restaurant. Consumers noted that they are willing to pay slightly more for what they perceive to be fresher, higher quality ingredients.
  • It was clear that the consumer definition of “fresh” has evolved in recent years. Although the client was a previous leader in the healthy eating movement, focus group participants felt that the quick service restaurant has not evolved with the perception of fresh and has thus faced steep competition by newer restaurant entrants to the healthy eating movement.
  • Participant feedback revealed the need for the restaurant to update the quality and variety of ingredients, and refresh the restaurant facilities. One of the recommendations offered by RMS in the project report included the suggestion that the restaurant re-tool the commercials to demonstrate the improvements made in an effort to better meet consumer needs.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Baldwinsville, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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blog-share-of-wallet

Share of wallet is a metric which allows a company or brand to measure a customer’s spending within a particular category related to competitors. It’s important to note that a company with many brands and product lines may measure their share of wallet for each brand or product line. For example, if your company has completed customer satisfaction research and knows that your customers are very satisfied with product X but experienced a stagnant or declining sales quarter, measuring your share of wallet for product X will help identify how customers divide their spending among you and your competitors. Alternatively, a company which is the top choice for consumers for product X among existing competitors can benefit from continual monitoring of share of wallet to ensure the company remains the primary option.

Why Is Share of Wallet Important?

A satisfied customer and a loyal customer are not synonymous. This is why reliance on your company’s Net Promoter Score and other satisfaction metrics is not enough. Although your customers may be satisfied with your company and even recommend it to family and friends, that doesn’t mean they won’t do the same for a competitor for a brand or product of interest. The key is being able to identify how your customers allocate their spending among your company and competitors for that brand or product.

Let’s say your company has four known competitors. You know you want to be the first choice for a customer, but may not realize the financial impact of being second place.  Even if you tie your top competitor in terms of share of wallet that means for every dollar a customer could spend at your company you lose at least $0.50 to the competitor.

How to Determine Your Brand’s Share of Wallet

First and foremost – do not focus solely on customer satisfaction metrics.  Measure your company’s rank and associated drivers for a brand or product. A competitive assessment survey will allow you to gather customer feedback on similar brands they purchase for a particular product category (and why) to help determine areas of opportunity that will help boost your company’s competitive rank. When searching for a market research vendor, ask them how they intend to help your company improve your rank. A knowledgeable market research firm will construct a survey tool with the items necessary to identify satisfaction and loyalty scores for competitors in order to determine your company’s share of wallet. Next steps and recommendations will be a crucial component that should be included among the reported findings to provide insight on how you may improve or maintain your ranking if necessary.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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satisfaction-dial

Many companies measure customer metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), as well as other loyalty and customer satisfaction metrics through short surveys sent to their customers. In fact, many Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems integrate with tools to collect data and report on those metrics.  Data for customer experience metrics can be transactional or conducted periodically at regular intervals. Some organizations simply collect this data because they know they should, but are not sure where to begin with the data they have on hand. Other organizations take this a step further by reviewing all data that comes in, ultimately using it to guide operational management and measure the performance of front line employees on a case by case basis.

Speaking with many organizations, it is clear that in many circumstances this data isn’t being used to its full potential. While it is useful to ascertain customer feedback and follow-up in some cases, organizations may be selling themselves short by only monitoring these metrics on a day to day basis. Customer experience metrics are extremely valuable when examined at a high level, looking for overall trends in the data, as well as the driving forces behind low or high experience ratings. Metrics are important for strategic purposes and long-term goal development, allowing organizations to ensure a continually engaging and positive customer experience. The data needs to be tabulated and analyzed to establish context. It should also be reviewed in intervals, allowing organizations to spot trends and measure the effectiveness of changes in strategy.

Ask yourself larger and more exploratory questions when analyzing the data. Here a few example questions that you may consider:

  • What factors are the driving force behind customer satisfaction and loyalty?
  • How does customer experience vary by audience?
  • What are the top reasons for customer dissatisfaction?  How can we correct those issues?
  • How do customers think we can deliver a better experience?
  • Does customer experience vary over time?  Is there a seasonality to the data, or does it correlate to internal changes?

The goal of this high level analysis is to find opportunities to improve the organization and deliver the ideal customer experience. In some cases, organizations may not collect enough information to answer all the questions they may have. In those situations, they may opt to conduct a full customer experience study. This will give them more in-depth reliable results, and set a benchmark for future customer experience studies.

Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. has experience working with organizations to delve into the customer experience, and ultimately identify actionable findings based off that data. If your organization is looking for further guidance on this topic, or looking to conduct a customer experience study, please contact Sandy Baker by e-mail at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by phone at 315-635-9802.

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This blog post was written by our guest blogger Mark Dengler, President of Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS).

Marketing is an ongoing effort within an organization. In our current economy, marketing innovation often trumps product/service technical innovation. What makes it tricky is the fickleness of consumers. In this world of rapid change and the continual need to create a customer experience (CX), companies often forget the fundamental task of continuously measuring existing customer expectations and satisfaction. Satisfaction is a key driver to loyalty and ultimately it is wiser to keep existing customers than having to continually secure new ones. However, satisfaction alone does not dictate repeat business. Rather, customers need to feel that their expectations are being met.

Ongoing market research among a sampling of customers is one of the best ways to monitor customer expectations. Customer research needs to involve both quantitative satisfaction measurement and qualitative expectation discussions. It is not only critical to keep your customers satisfied with your given product or service, but also to continuously exceed their expectations. Provide something of value that the customer did not expect. This is considered delivering an augmented product/service.

Examples of product or services providing an augmented benefit include the following:

  1. Purchasing a gas grill from your local home improvement store and having it pre-assembled and loaded into your vehicle.
  2. Purchasing pool supply chemicals and receiving a personalized instruction sheet tailored for your application.
  3. Scheduling a college advisor visit and receiving a text message reminding you of the appointment and on the day of the visit, being updated as to the timeliness of the advisor (e.g. running 15 minutes late).

Qualitative research such as focus groups, shop-alongs, and in-depth interviews (IDIs) provide insight regarding expectations. The augmented product needs to be something that the customer finds of value. Failures of augmented products are easy to identify – remember the 2001 Pontiac Aztek that offered a pop out camping tent option that attached to the hatch of the car?

Customer Experience Survey

Value-added? Yes. Value-needed? No.

It is important that companies do not just focus on the promotional aspect of marketing, but also look at the fulfillment component. Customer loyalty means greater revenue with less marketing dollar effort. By producing a product or service with augmented enhancements that exceed customer expectations, companies can stay ahead of the curve.

Unfortunately, augmented enhancements are quickly adopted by the competition and become expected, leaving companies in the position of having to continuously identify and offer new augmented enhancements that exceed customer expectations.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm in Syracuse, NY that specializes in customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and customer experience studies. If you are interested in conducting market research to define customer expectations contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

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First the big hype was all about “Big Data” but now there is some buzz generating for “Small Data”.  The concept of big data has caused strain at many companies as they realize their databases lack both the size and sophistication necessary to analyze large amounts of data and produce actionable next steps.  Ultimately, utilizing big data is not feasible for many companies, and likely will never be.  Companies need to work with what is available and focus on deriving insights from the data it has on hand.

As a market research and marketing consulting company, we’ve been familiar with the concept of small data for a while. However, we simply refer to it as just plain old “data”.  We’re in an age where it is becoming easier than ever for small to medium size businesses to collect data on their customers and the usage of products of services.

Here are 4 basic types of small data to review that does not require a sophisticated database, tracking tool, or staff hours:

  • Loyalty Data – Collecting loyalty data is all about uniquely identifying your customers or clients (through loyalty cards, customer IDs, usernames, etc.). Once customers are identified, you can collect longitudinal data recording purchasing habits, as well as comparing purchasing data to demographic data to create niche buyer segments.
  •  Satisfaction Data – Many companies collect satisfaction data, but ultimately don’t do anything to aggregate and analyze it. This is a great place to start for understanding customer satisfaction. This can be collected through a simple customer comment box, survey posted on your website, or through a Quick Pulse telephone survey.
  • Lead Data – Tracking the source of leads can be hugely beneficial for a company. Asking all new customers, “How did you hear about us?”, and analyzing those results can be quite eye-opening, yet many businesses fail to collect this information. Tracking the source of new customers will help with optimizing your marketing budget by letting you know what is working, and what isn’t.
  • Product and Service Usage Data – Tracking which products and services are being purchased and how frequently they are being purchased can provide lots of insights. While this ultimately might lead to more questions (like why a product is or isn’t being utilized?), it is certainly a step in the right direction to understanding what your customers want from your company.

While every company is at a different stage with data management, companies need to become experts on garnering actionable insights from the data it has and look for ways to acquire data it needs. Technology is making it easier than ever for companies to get started with data management, whether it be big data, small data, or any data. CRM systems (Customer Relation Management) and POS (Point-of-Sale) systems are two great examples of systems that allow you to track, report, and analyze customer and transaction data.  Additionally, businesses that have a web presence have a variety of different website and social analytic tools at its disposal. 

Utilizing and making sense of your company’s available data can provide the insights necessary to successfully market, operate, and grow a business.  Are you a company looking to analyze data, or trying to bring of all your data and findings together in a productive manner?  Feel free to call our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker, at 1-866-567-5422 or email her at SandyB@RMSresults.com.

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Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research vendor in Syracuse, NY. Our company strives to mitigate any predisposed client frustrations they might have with market research. Many of our clients come to us with past experience with other market research vendors and they tell our team that we are better than the rest. Or at least that’s what our anonymous client satisfaction survey data says over the years. As a market research firm, of course we have to conduct market research on ourselves right?

So when new clients come to RMS, we often have to ensure them that the experience they will have with our team will differ from other vendors. It starts with the business development team before a proposal is even started. Even our kickoff meeting agenda point-blankly asks our clients “what are your expectations from the research?”, and “what would you like to learn from the market research?” Through these discussions about previous vendors and expectations, common themes and frustrations emerge.

Via AONetwork.com

“We should have used RMS.”

Here are 3 client frustrations with market research vendors:

  • Research vendors too often see potential clients as undifferentiated. Example Quote: “They do not even know what our company does or what my position within the organization is.” Many market research firms specialize in specific industries and nothing else. So that works if your organization is in that industry but doesn’t if you are not. Fortunately, as a smaller market research firm, we offer the best of both worlds for our clients as we have extended knowledge in the healthcare, education, and financial services industries but we also have a large base of clients in other industries as well. This extends our breadth of knowledge across many industries and chances are your new project will benefit from insights and knowledge gained through our team’s past work.
  • Research vendors jump to offering solutions, without really listening to my needs. Example Quote: “Their biggest mistake is not asking me what I’m looking for.” They start talking about what they will do and what they offer without knowing what is on my plate.” Our company motto is Ask. Listen. Solve. So it is ingrained in our team to ask and listen to your needs before offering solutions. The RMS Analytics team fully believes in customization and creating research processes that deliver results. A firm should view itself as a market research consultant and not your market research vendor. As a consultant you should listen to your client’s needs and work on a solution that benefits them.
  • Too many vendors don’t treat us as people, but potential accounts. Their focus is on sales not assistance. Example Quote: “Understand what my needs are a little better instead of one size fits all.” Our Analytics team views each new client’s project as just the first step in a long-term relationship. This is a testament to the number of repeat clients that come back to RMS after their initial project is complete. Developing a solid client relationship and understanding is the key to a successful project. Relationship building is often one of the most, if not the most important skill in consulting.

What are some other frustrations you have with market research vendors? Tell us about them in the comments section below. If you are interested in contacting RMS to be your market research consultant, send an email to our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or call her at 1-866-567-5422.

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