Editor’s Note: Our Consumer & Retail team is launching a blog series for the retail and FMCG industries. In the coming months, we’ll share our thoughts on recent advancements—backed by real-world examples—around the consumer journey from innovation and personalization to channel attribution/interaction and omnichannel marketing. Subscribe to FreshMR now so you don’t miss any updates.
The retail and FMCG industries face an uncertain marketplace where prior known certainties can no longer be relied upon. In that reality, there is nothing quite as exciting in product development research as helping clients discover the products of the future.
One notable example is the number of clients who have asked us to help them develop “company-specific norms.” Many clients have relied on ‘generic’ norms for their simulated market testing, but they’re now ready to move in a different direction. Why? One client responded quite clearly, “We’ve found ourselves developing concepts to ‘beat’ the testing process to move forward, rather than to actually meet consumer and market needs.” The tail was wagging the dog, and potential new products were being designed to beat the process. As a result, the process had become more important than the outcome. Changing the way they looked at normative data was just one way in which this company was trying to reassess their innovation journey to change success/failure outcomes.
The world is always changing, and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception.
The Way Things Were
Customer experience research in pharma used to be heavily centered on sales representative performance because they were the “face” of the pharma company and the primary touch point with physicians. They had significant opportunity to form close, personal relationships. Research studies focused on whether sales reps were knowledgeable and professional, respected the physician’s time and helped enable physicians to better take care of patients. But a lot has changed in the past few years…
I recently sat down Don Hodson, head of customer experience (CX) at Georgia Power (GPC), to discuss how GPC is maximizing the effectiveness of its CX program. For energy brands that are working hard to create a positive, seamless experience for its customers, Don’s insight might just spark an idea that can be applied to your company’s strategy. Enjoy!
Can you explain GPC’s customer experience goals and the specific issues you’re trying to solve with research insight?
Don: Georgia Power has a strong reputation with our customers already so there is little value focusing on improving a customer sat score from 8.5 to 8.6. Rather, we look at all the interactions customers have with GPC—the channels they use, the issues they have—to identify where there are barriers to resolution or where we force them to make extra effort. Then we focus on how to mitigate those issues to reduce customer effort. Not only does this improve customer sat but, in many cases, it also identifies opportunities to decrease operational costs.
Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once attributed his uncanny ability to read plays to, “I skate to where the puck is going to be.” That concept applies to utility chief customer officers and CX professionals; those who are tuned into consumer expectation trends understand where their “puck” is going to be.
Cogent Reports’ Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement (UTBCE) study is designed to understand customer engagement from a holistic perspective encompassing brand trust, product experience and operational satisfaction, but this blog post offers a simpler framework for customer experience. First up is marketing, which allows you to tell your customers what they can expect of you as a utility. Second, and just as important, is the actual experience customers have interacting with you—and where they judge whether your marketing was truthful or just blowing smoke.
We recently released our 2016 Utility Customer Champions, which awards gas, electric and combination utilities nationwide that have the highest scores on our proprietary Engaged Customer Relationship index. Among this list are 26 utilities that have “three-peated,” meaning they’ve been designated as a Customer Champion every year since we started these awards in 2014.
Here’s what sets these utilities apart, and what your utility can do to get on the path of enduring customer engagement:
Understanding How Consumers Make Healthcare Decisions
It’s day two of my eight-year-old niece’s fever and it won’t break. Before her parents went on vacation, I promised to take care of her. Sure, she wasn’t feeling well, but it was just a fever and we were doing all the right things: Tylenol, rest and fluids. But as day two progressed, she grew more despondent and refused to drink anything. Now what?
We’ve all had to make choices about where to seek care for an unplanned health event, but today we have more choices about where to go.
Whether it’s extended hours, virtual visits or money-back guarantees, choices are transforming care delivery. Understanding how these choices shape decisions will make or break marketing strategies seeking to increase usage. That is why Market Strategies focused its latest self-funded research study on how people choose where to go when someone is sick. What we learned will help answer a question salient in the minds of every health system professional: “How do we maximize the likelihood that consumers will choose us, when deciding where to go for care?”
Customers Will Advocate for, but Not Recommend, Utilities
Insights Powered by Cogent Reports™
As utilities continue to evaluate customer measurement scores, the most debated one I hear is regarding Net Promoter ScoresSM (NPS®). Promoters of the theory say that if a customer states he or she would recommend a company, then that company would benefit from a loyal customer base and third-party recommendations. For a retail company where customers can select a vendor, this makes perfect sense. Detractors of the measurement doubt NPS’s applicability to a monopoly where there is no choice but to use a utility for service. It is like recommending someone should use electricity.
How Accurate Is NPS in Predicting Actual Promoting Activity of a Utility?
The Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential study surveys 130 utilities and asks the NPS recommendation question. From that data you can calculate NPS in the normal manner (% of 9–10 ratings minus % of 0–6 ratings x 100). However, the following graph shows how NPS performance in no way predicts customers making positive comments about the utility. Continue reading →
Earlier this year, we provided a sneak preview into our Omnichannel Brand Index (OBI) at a couple of conferences. I’m glad to report that our approach was well received and has helped some of our clients solve part of the conundrum that is the omnishopper journey. More and more of our clients are looking to innovative research to understand this complex consumer, inextricably linked to the consumer and shopper journey that is already one of the most intricate of research problems. To be clear, the omnishopper journey adds a layer of complexity that pushes the boundaries of traditional research methodologies. Furthermore, traditional purchase funnels and loyalty loops do not always take into consideration the holistic understanding of the person making the decision, and this phenomenon is exacerbated when one of the guardrails we can use in our purchase evaluations is technology.
Our own research into the omnishopper journey has defined a clear decision-making ecosystem that takes into account the person—and not just the consumer—making the decision. Cultural beliefs, demographics and lifestyle choices form the gateway to our purchase decisions and these inform who the person becomes at the point of sale.
If you’re struggling to untangle the omnishopper journey web, this article will:
Reveal the three core needs of the omnishopper, as we believe it is impossible to understand one without the other
Share a few of the brands and sectors that omnishoppers believe are setting the standard, according to our self-funded research
Outline some of the research techniques you can use to untangle the web that is the omnishopper journey
Recent media coverage surrounding the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule and the market upheaval following the Brexit vote prompted us to consider just how many US consumers trust their current financial services providers. How many of us trust the promises being made by the same firms we pay to help manage our investment accounts, protect our savings or insure our cars and homes? We were surprised to discover in our recent survey that 31 percent of American households feel obliged to do business with at least one financial services company they distrust. Such a marketplace is highly attractive to disruptors and therefore represents a very significant risk to traditional companies relying on high renewal rates to sustain profitability.
Market Strategies’ national omnibus study explored trust in a variety of financial services product categories, including banking, credit cards, home mortgage, investment services, auto, home and life insurance. Additionally, trust levels among consumers for numerous services outside of the financial category (healthcare, electric utility, religious institutions, courts, police, federal government, neighbors and strangers) were also included in the study to provide a broad perspective on trust among American households in companies, individuals and institutions they deal with every day.
Editor’s note: Amanda Ciccatelli is a content marketing & social media strategist at Informa, New York. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “Insights as a Vehicle for Influence: Digital Reinventing Retail.”
Amanda recently sat down with Paul Donagher, managing director of the Consumer & Retail division at Market Strategies International, to discuss how omnichannel has impacted retail, how shoppers are shaping the future of retail and why it’s important to link digital and physical shopper marketing.