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Best Practices in Mystery Shop Program Launch: Post-Shop Communication

In a previous post we introduced the importance of proper program launch.

Self-Help Resources

Self-help resources typically take the form of a webpage housed on the mystery shop provider’s website or on an internal resource page.  These resources provide a tutorial in the form of either a PowerPoint or video, reinforcing to stakeholders many of the subjects already discussed: definition of the brand, behavioral service expectations, and a copy of the questionnaire.

These self-help resources are also an excellent opportunity to introduce the mystery shop reports and how to read them (both on an individual shop basis and on an analytical level), and introduce concepts designed to identify the relative importance of specific sales and service behaviors which drive desired outcomes like purchase intent and customer loyalty.

Shop Results E-Mail

Upon distribution of the first shop, it is a best practice in launching a mystery shop program to send an e-mail to the supervisor of the employee shopped advising them of a completed shop, and containing either a PDF shop report or access to the shop via an online reporting tool.

email

The content of this e-mail should be dependent on the performance of the individuals shopped.  If a shop is perfect, the e-mail should congratulate the employees on a perfect shop.  If a shop is below expectations, it should inform the employees, in as positive way as possible, that their performance was below expectations and set the stage for coaching.  It should remind employees that it is not the performance of this first shop that counts, but subsequent improvement as a result of the shops.

Depending on the timing of shop e-mails, some clients prefer the shop to be sent as soon as it clears the provider’s quality control process, while others prefer shops be held and released in mass at the end of a given shopping period (typically monthly). If the e-mail is sent at the end of a given period, this is an excellent opportunity to identify top performers who received perfect shops as a means of both recognizing superior performance, and motivating other employees to seek similar achievement.

Finally, this e-mail should reinforce superior shop performance by reminding front-line employees and managers of the rewards earned by successful shop performance.

This e-mail should be modified for all subsequent waves of shopping and be used as a cover letter for distribution of all future shops.

Additional e-mails may be sent to notify employees and their managers of specific events, such as: perfect shops, failed shops, shops within a specific score range, or shops which identify a specific behavior of an employee like a cross-sell effort.

Post Shop Call/ Presentation

Similar to the kickoff presentation, after the first wave of shopping, it is a best practice to conduct a post shop presentation, again by conference call or WebEx.  The purpose of this presentation is to present the reports available, discuss how to read them, and – most importantly – take action on the results through coaching and interpreting call to action elements built into the program.  Call to action elements designed to identify which behaviors are most important in terms of driving purchase intent or loyalty.

Mystery_Shopping_Page

Loyalty & Wallet Share

Loyalty. There is almost universal agreement that it is an objective – if not the objective – of customer experience management. It is highly correlated to profitably. It lowers sales and acquisition costs per customer by amortizing these costs across a longer lifetime – leading to extraordinary financial results. In retail banking a 5% increase in loyalty translates to an 85% increase in profits.

Loyalty

Loyalty is Emotion Driven

Banks often see themselves as transaction driven; delivery channels are evaluated on their cost per transaction. As a result, there is a lot of attention given to and investment in automated channels which reduce transaction costs and at the same time offer more convenience to customers. Win-win, right? The bank drives costs out of the transaction and customers get the convenience of performing a variety of transactions untethered by time or space. However, while transaction costs and convenience are important, loyalty is often driven by an emotional connection with the institution. An emotional connection fostered by interaction with actual employees at moments of need for the customers –moments with a high level of emotional importance to the customer – moments of truth.

Moments of truth are atypical events, where customers experience a high emotional energy in the outcome (such a lost credit card, loan application, or investment advice). In one study published in McKinsey Quarterly, positive experiences during moments of truth led to more than 85% of customers increasing wallet share by purchasing more products or investing more of their assets (Beaujean et al 06)

Impersonal alternative channels lack the ability to bind the customer to the institution. It’s the people. Effective handling of moments of truth requires frontline staff with the emotional tools or intelligence to recognize the emotional needs of the customer and bind them to the institution.

 

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Emotional Role in Sales & Acquisitions

Previously we discussed the concept of “moments of truth” where some experiences in the customer journey have far greater importance than others. These moments of truth represent increased risk and opportunity to leave a lasting emotional impression on the customer; a lasting impression with significant long-term implications for both customer loyalty and wallet share. The purchase and sales experience is one such moment of truth. One study published in McKinsey Quarterly has determined that the purchase experience of financial services motivated 85% bank customers to purchase more financial products or invest more assets with the institution. (Beaujean et al 06)

We also introduced the concept of defining emotions using two dimensions of mood: valence (positive or negative) and arousal. Again, as we previously observed, modern research into brain activity during the decision process suggests that decisions are made within the brain before we are consciously of them. Emotions provide a short cut to acting on decisions, and rational thought appears to justify decisions after they are made on the subconscious level.

So…given that emotions play a key role in financial decisions, what are the emotions bankers encounter as part of the sales experience?

The emotions financial service customers experience vary by customer, financial need, circumstance and product/service sought, however the emotions a prospective customer may experience include:

• Excited
• Convinced
• Enthusiastic
• Expectant
• Hopeful
• At Ease/Satisfied
• Distressed
• Anxious

These emotions map to the valance and arousal dimensions as follows:
Arousal_Valence_Map_Sales_Emotions

So…what do we do with this enlightenment?

First, knowing that people are motivated to maintain positive emotional states and change/mitigate negative emotional states, it is important for the banker to recognize the prospective customer’s emotional motivation and offer solutions which will achieve either of these ends.

Kinesis has conducted research into purchase intent as the result of financial service sales presentation which may be instructive. Click here for this research.

Time and time again, in study after study, we consistently observe that purchase intent is driven by two dimensions of the customer experience: reliability and empathy. Customers want bankers who care about them and their needs and have the ability to satisfy those needs. Specifically, our research suggests the following behaviors are strongly related to purchase intent:

 

Empathy

Interest in Helping

Discuss Benefits & Solutions

Personalized Comment

Listen Attentively

Express Appreciation

Reliability

Promised Services Get Done

Accuracy

Friendly & Courteous

Professionalism

 

Both empathy and reliability require employees with Emotional Intelligence.  These are employees with a positive outlook and a, strong sense of self-empowerment; self regulation; awareness of feelings (both their own and customers); master of fear and anxiety and the ability to tap into selfless motives.

Sales presentations are moments of truth with the potential to leave a lasting impression on the customer with significant long-term implications for both customer loyalty and wallet share – with obvious financial benefits for the institution.  We’ve found that branches with above average frequencies of behaviors associated with reliability and empathy experienced a 26% stronger three-year branch deposit growth rate than branches with low frequencies of these behaviors.

Next, we’ll take a look at moments of truth in the context of problem resolution.

 

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Changes in Word of Mouth Advertising Based on the Customer Experience – Part 2

Previously we observed changes in customer purchase behavior based on the customer experience. 

Every time a company and a customer interact, the customer learns something about the company, and adjusts their behavior based on what they learn.

To explore this proposition, Kinesis conducted a survey of 500 consumers asking them to recall an experience with any provider that they found to be particularly positive or negative, and determined how these customer experiences influenced customer behavior.

Here is how respondents told us they changed their behavior based on the experience:

Change in Cust Behavior

 

This post specifically addresses positive word of mouth as a result of the experience.

Respondents shared positive word of mouth a median 4.3 times as a result of their positive experience, compared to negative experiences, which were shared about 20% more often (median 5.2 times).  In fact, they were more likely to share negative word of mouth across all mediums:

Word of Mouth as Result of Experience

Positive Experiences

Negative Experiences

Friend or family (Excluding Online or Social Media)

69%

80%

Coworkers (Excluding Online or Social Media)

42%

54%

Online Social Media

28%

47%

Online Reviews

20%

33%

Customers are far more likely to share negative experience using online mediums.  While they are about 1.2 times more likely to share a negative experience with a relative, friend or coworker via an off line medium, they are 1.7 times more likely to share negative experiences over positive via online mediums.

Again, every time a company and a customer interact, the customer learns something about the company, and changes their behavior based on what they learn.  And, as this study shows, they certainly will share this experience with others.   But what about the recipients of this word of mouth advertizing?  How does one customer’s experience influence the behavior of others?

Approximately 90% of respondents said their purchase decisions were influenced positively (93%) or negatively (85%) by social media or word of mouth reviews.

With customer trust at an all time low,  and social media providing a much more far reaching medium of person to person communication, positive word of mouth is becoming far more important in terms of defining the brand.  Increasingly social media is becoming the media.  With 9 out of 10 potential customers saying their purchase decisions are influenced reviews of others, it is increasing important that managers manage their customer experience to support and reinforce the brand.


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Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design

The question was simple enough…  If you owned customer experience measurement for one of your bank clients, what would you do?

Through the years, I developed a point of view of how to best measure the customer experience, and shared it with a number of clients, however, never put it down to writing.

So here it is…

Best practices in customer experience measurement use multiple inputs in a coordinated fashion to give managers a 360-degree view of the customer experience.  Just like tools in a tool box, different research methodologies have different uses for specific needs.  It is not a best practice to use a hammer to drive a screw, nor the butt end of a screwdriver to pound a nail.  Each tool is designed for a specific purpose, but used in concert can build a house. The same is true for research tools.  Individually they are designed for specific purposes, but used in concert they can help build a more whole and complex structure.

Generally, Kinesis believes in measuring the customer experience with three broad classifications of research methodologies, each providing a unique perspective:

  1. Customer Feedback – Using customer surveys and other less “scientific” feedback tools (such as comment tools and social media monitoring), managers collect valuable input into customer expectations and impressions of the customer experience.
  1. Observation Research – Using performance audits and monitoring tools such as mystery shopping and call monitoring, managers use these tools to gather observations of employee sales and service behaviors.
  1. Employee Feedback – Frontline employees are the single most underutilized asset in terms of understanding the customer experience. Frontline employees spend the majority of their time in the company-customer interface and as a result have a unique perspective on the customer experience.  They have a good idea about what customers want, how the institution compares to competitors, and how policies, procedures and internal service influence the customer experience.

These research methodologies are employed in concert to build a 360-degree view of the customer experience.

360-degree bank customer experience measurement

The key to building a 360-degree view of the customer experience is to understand the bank-customer interface.  At the center of the customer experience are the various channels which form the interface between the customer and institution.  Together these channels define the brand more than any external messaging.  Best in class customer experience research programs monitor this interface from multiple directions across all channels to form a comprehensive view of the customer experience.

Customer and front-line employees are the two stakeholders who interact most commonly with each other in the customer-institution interface.  As a result, a best practice in understanding this interface is to monitor it directly from each direction.

Tools to measure the experience from the customer side of interface include:

Post-Transaction Surveys: Post-transaction surveys provide intelligence from the other side of customer-employee interface.  These surveys are targeted, event-driven, collecting feedback from customers about specific service encounters soon after the interaction occurs.  They provide valuable insight into both customer impressions of the customer experience, and if properly designed, insight into customer expectations.  This creates a learning feedback loop, where customer expectations can be used to inform service standards measured through mystery shopping.  Thus two different research tools can be used to inform each other.  Click here for a broader discussion of post-transaction surveys.

Customer Comments:  Beyond surveying customers who have recently conducted a service interaction, a best practice is to provide an avenue for customers who want to comment on the experience.  Comment tools are not new (in the past they were the good old fashioned comment card), but with modern Internet-based technology they can be used as a valuable feedback tool to identify at risk customers and mitigate the causes of their dissatisfaction.  Additionally, comment tools can be used to inform the post transaction surveys.  If common themes develop in customer comments, they can be added to the post-transaction surveys for a more scientific measurement of the issue.  Click here for a broader discussion of comment tools.

Social Monitoring:  Increasingly social media is “the media”; prospective customers assign far more weight to social media then any external messaging.  A social listening system that analyzes and responds to social indirect feedback is increasingly becoming essential.  As with comment tools, social listening can be used to inform the post transaction surveys.  Click here for a broader discussion of social listening tools.

Directing our attention to the bank side of the interface, tools to measure the experience from the bank side of bank-customer interface include:

Mystery Shopping:  In today’s increasing connected world, one bad experience could be shared hundreds if not thousands of times over.  As in-person delivery models shift to a universal associate model with the branch serving as more of a sales center, monitoring and motivating selling skills is becoming increasingly essential.  Mystery shopping is an excellent tool to align sales and service behaviors to the brand. Unlike the various customer feedback tools designed to inform managers about how customers feel about the bank, mystery shopping focuses on the behavioral side of the equation, answering the question: are our employees exhibiting appropriate sales and service behaviors?  Click here for a broader discussion of mystery shopping tools.

Employee Surveys:  Employee surveys often measure employee satisfaction and engagement.  However, in terms of understanding the customer experience, a best practice is to move employee surveys beyond employee engagement and to understand what is going on at the customer-employee interface by leveraging employees as a valuable and inexpensive resource of customer experience information.  This information comes directly out one side of the customer-employee interface, and provides not only intelligence into the customer experience, but also evaluates the level of support within the organization, solicit recommendations, and compares perceptions by position (frontline vs. management) to identify perceptual gaps which typically exist within organizations.  Click here for a broader discussion of employee surveys.

For more posts in this series, click on the following links:


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis' Bank CX Research Services

Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design: Customer Surveys

Post Transaction Surveys

Many banks conduct periodic customer satisfaction research to assess the opinions and experiences of their customer base. While this information can be useful, it tends to be very broad in scope, offering little practical information to the front-line.  A best practice is a more targeted, event-driven approach collecting feedback from customers about specific service encounters soon after the interaction occurs.

These surveys can be performed using a variety of data collection methodologies, including e-mail, phone, point-of-sale invite, web intercept, in-person intercept and even US mail.  Fielding surveys using e-mail methodology with its immediacy and relatively low cost, offers the most potential for return on investment.   Historically, there have been legitimate concerns about the representativeness of sample selection using email.  However, as the incidence of email collection of banks increases, there is less concern about sample selection bias.

The process for fielding such surveys is fairly simple.  On a daily basis, a data file (in research parlance “sample”) is generated containing the customers who have completed a service interaction across any channel.  This data file should be deduped, cleaned against a do not contact list, and cleaned against customers who have been surveyed recently (typically three months depending on the channel).  At this point, if you were to send the survey invitations, the bank would quickly exhaust the sample, potentially running out of eligible customers for future surveys.   To avoid this, a target of the required number of completed surveys should be set per business unit, and a random selection process employed to select just enough customers to reach this target without surveying every customer. [1]

So what are some of the purposes banks use these surveys for?   Generally, they fall into a number of broad categories:

Post-Transaction: Teller & Contact Center: Post-transaction surveys are event-driven, where a transaction or service interaction determines if the customer is selected for a survey, targeting specific customers shortly after a service interaction.  As the name implies, the purpose of this type of survey is to measure satisfaction with a specific transaction.

New Account & On-Boarding:  New account surveys measure satisfaction with the account opening process, as well as determine the reasons behind new customers’ selection of the bank for a new deposit account or loan – providing valuable insight into new customer identification and acquisition.

Closed Account Surveys:  Closed account surveys identify sources of run-off or churn to provide insight into improving customer retention.

Call to Action

Research without a call to action may be informative, but not very useful.  Call to action elements should be built into research design, which provide a road map for clients to maximize the ROI on customer experience measurement.

Finally, post-transaction surveys support other behavioral research tools.  Properly designed surveys yield insight into customer expectations, which provide an opportunity for a learning feedback loop to support observational research, such as mystery shopping, where customer expectations are used to inform service standards which are in turn measured through mystery shopping.

For more posts in this series, click on the following links:

 

[1] Kinesis uses an algorithm which factors in the targeted quota, response rate, remaining days in the month and number of surveys completed to select just enough customers to reach the quota without exhausting the sample.


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Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design: Mystery Shopping

Bank Mystery Shopping

“You can expect what you inspect.”

This management philosophy is as true today as it was 50 years ago when W. Edwards Deming used it.  Mystery shopping is more than a pure measurement technique conducted properly; it is an excellent motivational tool to motivate appropriate sales and service behaviors across all bank delivery channels.

Unlike the various customer feedback tools designed to inform managers about how customers feel about the bank, mystery shopping focuses on the behavioral side of the equation, answering the question: are our employees exhibiting appropriate sales and service behaviors?

It is the employees who animate the brand, and it is imperative that employee sales and service behaviors be aligned with the brand promise.  Actions speak louder than words.  Brands spend millions of dollars on external messaging to define an emotional connection with the customer.  However, when a customer perceives a disconnect between an employee representing the brand and external messaging, they almost certainly will experience brand ambiguity.  The result severely undermines these investments, not only for the customer in question, but their entire social network.  In today’s increasingly connected world, one bad experience could be shared hundreds if not thousands of times over.  Mystery shopping is an excellent tool to align sales and service behaviors to the brand.

So…what behaviors, channels and employees should be shopped?

Sales channels and sales behaviors offer the most ROI relative to other types of shopping.  In terms of prioritizing mystery shopping resources, shops of sales channels and sale behaviors should be the first priority.  With the increasing use of universal associates and transforming tellers into sellers, it is incumbent on managers to measure and motivate these higher level sales skills, in both branches and contact centers.  After sales behaviors have been prioritized, if resources remain for mystery shopping service scenarios can be included in the mix.

As for the specific measurements, the best practice for mystery shop design is to focus on empirically measureable employee behaviors captured with objective questions.  (Was a specific behavior present or not?…Yes or no).  The best methodology for deciding which questions to ask is to start with your brand promise, and determine which sales and service behaviors animate the brand.  Once you have developed a list of expected behaviors, the next step is to map each behavior to a specific question.  Avoid compound questions which ask about two different behaviors, unless you expect both behaviors to be present at the same time, and you are not worried about distinguishing if one is present without the other.

For more information about a process to align behaviors to the brand, click here: “5 Steps to Make Frontline Employees Authentic Representatives of the Brand”

Open-ended questions, either in narrative form or qualitatively asking what shoppers liked or disliked about the experience, add valuable context for understanding the customer experience.  Many clients consider these qualitative observations the heart of the shop.

While the core of the mystery shop is objective measurements of specific behaviors, there is a place for subjective impressions.  Rating scales are used to capture shopper impressions of various dimensions of the customer experience, as well as the overall experience itself.  These subjective ratings provide valuable context for interpreting the customer experience, and specifically the efficacy of the objective behaviors measured.  For example, purchase intent ratings calculate a correlation between the objective behaviors measured and purchase intent, identifying which behaviors may be more important in terms of driving purchase intent, and which investments in training, incentives and rewards have the most potential for ROI.

Finally, given mystery shopping measures employee behaviors against bank service standards, it is a best practice to calibrate and align service standards with customer expectations by constantly feeding information uncovered with the customer surveys back into the service standards and mystery shopping.  Such an informed feedback loop between customer surveys and mystery shopping will ensure the behaviors measured are aligned with customer expectations.

Call to Action

Research without a call to action may be informative, but not very useful.  Call to action elements should be built into research design, which provide a road map for clients to maximize the ROI on customer experience measurement.

For more posts in this series, click on the following links:


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis'; Bank Mystery Shopping


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