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Archive for January 19, 2015

Are You Measuring Relationship Capital?


Numbers are important to businesses – metrics help companies know what’s going well, where they need to improve, and a variety of other operational statistics. Making sure you are measuring the right metrics is a vital component.


I came across a great article written by Ekaterina Walker in Forbes that talks about one metric that is often overlooked; she termed this “relationship capital.” This measures the overall customer experience, and as she states, it is something that is not often measured, but should be.


She explains that relationship capital revolves around delivering consistently great experiences, which can lead to customer loyalty – after all, customers tend to stick with businesses where they feel valued and receive strong service each time they do business with a company.


One sticking point Ms. Walter talks about is consistency across channels and empowering staff across all channels to be able to handle customer inquiries. Long gone are the days of departments only handling specific tasks; customers want to be assisted quickly and efficiently, going through as few touchpoints as possible to have their issues resolved.


How can a company measure relationship capital? There are a few ways to effectively do this:


1. Ask your customers: when customers call, email, or live chat with your staff, follow up with them to find out how their experience was. When problems arise or issues aren’t met, use this information to find out where the disconnect happens. This insight can go a long way in learning more about what customers experience when they interact with your business.


2. Put your customers in the driver’s seat: sometimes the best ideas come from customers. If you ask for feedback from your customers, ask open ended questions to allow them the opportunity to offer suggestions on ways to make the process simpler from a customer’s point of view. What would make the experience better next time? What was the one thing that could have changed during the interaction to make life easier? Customers want to be heard, and incorporating this line of questioning into your feedback surveys offers the double benefit of letting customers have a voice and potentially learning ways to streamline your process for increased relationship capital.


3. Be a fly on the wall: by utilizing a mystery shopping program, companies can get objective, third party data on relationship capital. Mystery shoppers can contact the company in a way that mirrors a true customer in order for businesses to see how these interactions play out. From here, you can learn valuable information about your operational processes, what is working great, and where you can improve.


Relationship capital is a vital metric that companies need to pay attention to. Keeping customers loyal to your business is difficult, but the rewards are plentiful to the bottom line.


What Message Is Your Mystery Shop Report Sending?


One of the great things about mystery shopping evaluations is the scoring capabilities – at a glance, you can look at a report and tell how well each location is doing, what areas they need to work on, and see which areas need the most improvement.


Scoring of observation points is an excellent way of methodically reviewing performance. Clients have the opportunity to “weight” an aspect of the experience so that the point value more significantly impacts the overall score, or even add bonus points if a specific action is completed by your staff.


When meeting with a potential client recently, I discussed point values for their mystery shopping program as well as the impact it may have, not only on the actual score, but the message it may send to their staff. I got a few raised eyebrows, so I continued to explain.


I first asked them what they considered to be the most important aspects of employee performance. They indicated that employees should provide an excellent experience and gave criteria for this, they need to attempt to upsell every order, and they need to make sure that the condiment station was checked and wiped down every hour.


In looking over the draft report, they wanted to designate a higher point value to behaviors that they considered most important to the customer experience. Excellent idea. However, some of the point distribution options were set up in a way that it may send the wrong idea to their employees. On a typical 5 point per question report, they wanted to set the upsell and condiment station questions to each be worth 20 points. The question regarding employees providing excellent service was worth 10 points.


These three questions alone significantly impacted the overall score on the report. However, because there were more points assigned to the more operational questions than the employee performance question, it may tell staff that getting more in sales is more important than employee performance.
When weighting scores on a mystery shopping report, it’s always best to consider the end result – what message do you want to send to your staff? Mystery shopping is about measuring, monitoring, and shaping behaviors. While it’s great (and can have good impact on your program) to weight observations, it’s key to remember the overall goal for deploying your program, and making sure that the evaluation process, including scoring of questions, aligns with your overall objectives.