It’s the time of year companies begin planning for the next budget year. Whiteboards are full of potential and ambitious initiatives conceived with the notion to reach company targets. Proposals, vendor presentations and ROI exercises fill conference rooms from May to October, followed by internal review and continuous debate on where to spend limited budget and resources.
All the while the execution of last year’s plan continues to plug along with everyone anxiously waiting with bated breath to see what the answers to “Did we get it right?” and “Will we do well enough to get the funds come February next year?” will be. Those answers come down to customer behavior, the likelihood they will come to your stores and make a purchase.
The NRF “Big Show” doesn’t make it any easier either. Advances in technology tempt retail executives with aisle upon aisle of shiny new toys, each with their own value and solution to the challenges faced each day by your business. It’s like that kid in a candy store with a few coins in his hand where everything looks so good. And what is at the top of the list when you enter can change based on what is a hot trend – the latest “Everlasting Gobstopper” so to speak. The result is often new directives and plan revisions come February when the senior executives return with new ideas driven by innovation and the success of their peers.
The debates that started in the fall will resurface: will new mobile point-of-sale cause your customers to be more likely to purchase again, recommend your stores or increase average purchase? Or are you better off investing in a training program for your associates to beef up product knowledge and customer engagement?
Wouldn’t you breathe easier if you had a customer representative sitting in that board room during those early fall meetings? Like an omniscient delegate armed with the collective input of your customers, they could validate that your plans would work before you even initiated them.
Sounds too good to be true, right?
It’s not an easy thing to do, yet with a scientific measurement of the customer experience, you can bring a representative voice of customer into those discussions. So where and how do you start? First, consider what is needed to support how you prioritize your limited resources:
- Look at the whole picture from the customer’s view. Effective store measurement should incorporate a holistic view of the customer experience and include both the strategic (corporate) and tactical (operational) elements of the customer experience. The customer is engaging your brand and doesn’t care which parts are controlled by the home office or field operations.
- Good measurement should uncover pockets of opportunity with granular segmentation, and also allow for testing proposed changes prior to committing to a chain-wide deployment. Solid methodology, inclusive of continuous measurement, will allow you to see if introducing new technologies, services or store design actually improves the store experience to a degree where it drives future customer behavior.
- Only a truly predictive measurement will help you set priorities with confidence. By utilizing a causal model of the store experience, you can see which levers to pull to drive overall satisfaction and future customer behavior. Such a proactive approach also allows store auditors to monitor what matters most by focusing on those execution points which actually drive overall satisfaction. Anyone can come up with a score to answer “How are we doing.” Predictive measurement takes it to the next level and answers “What should we be doing” and “Why should we be doing it?”
- A quantifiable view of satisfaction, one that you can rely upon as accurate and credible enough to be a basis for business decisions, isn’t easy to create. Linking that precise and sensitive measure satisfaction to financial performance is key. In-store measurement is enhanced by attaching transactional POS data (e.g. Units Per Transaction and Transaction Value) to satisfaction scores to illuminate opportunities and support decision making. By isolating segments of customers with lower satisfaction and lower transaction value and UPT, different strategic and tactical initiatives can be taken which drive scores up, and directly impact the bottom line.
The good news is that all of the points above are available from ForeSee Satisfaction Analytics for Stores. So as you enter the season of presentations, planning and prioritization for the new year, you can be well positioned to answer all three questions “How are we doing?”, “What should we be doing?” and “Why should we be doing it?” by leveraging a scientific and predictive measurement of the store experience. Go on, choose that new Wonka Bar with confidence that you’ll savor every bite. Who knows, you may even find a golden ticket.