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Dear Dr. Jay: Can One Metric Rule Them All?

Posted by Dr. Jay Weiner

Wed, Dec 16, 2015

Hi Dr. Jay –

The city of Boston is trying develop one key measure to help officials track and report how well the city is doing. We’d like to do that in house. How would we go about it?

-Olivia


DrJay_desk-withGoatee.pngHi Olivia,

This is the perfect tie in for big data and the key performance index (KPI). Senior management doesn’t really have time to pour through tables of numbers to see how things are going. What they want is a nice barometer that can be used to summarize overall performance. So, how might one take data from each business unit and aggregate them into a composite score?

We begin the process by understanding all the measures we have. Once we have assembled all of the potential inputs to our key measure, we need to develop a weighting system to aggregate them into one measure. This is often the challenge when working with internal data. We need some key business metric to use as the dependent variable, and these data are often missing in the database.

For example, I might have sales by product by customer and maybe even total revenue. Companies often assume that the top revenue clients are the bread and butter for the company. But what if your number one account uses way more corporate resources than any other account? If you’re one of the lucky service companies, you probably charge hours to specific accounts and can easily determine the total cost of servicing each client. If you sell a tangible product, that may be more challenging. Instead of sales by product or total revenue, your business decision metric should be the total cost of doing business with the client or the net profit for each client. It’s unlikely that you capture this data, so let’s figure out how to compute it. Gross profit is easy (net sales – cost of goods sold), but what about other costs like sales calls, customer service calls, and product returns? Look at other internal databases and pull information on how many times your sales reps visited in person or called over the phone, and get an average cost for each of these activities. Then, you can subtract those costs from the gross profit number. Okay, that was an easy one.

Let’s look at the city of Boston case for a little more challenging exercise. What types of information is the city using? According to the article you referenced, the city hopes to “corral their data on issues like crime, housing for veterans and Wi-Fi availability and turn them into a single numerical score intended to reflect the city’s overall performance.” So, how do you do that? Let’s consider that some of these things have both income and expense implications. For example, as crime rates go up, the attractiveness of the city drops and it loses residents (income and property tax revenues drop). Adding to the lost revenue, the city has the added cost of providing public safety services. If you add up the net gains/losses from each measure, you would have a possible weighting matrix to aggregate all of the measures into a single score. This allows the mayor to quickly assess changes in how well the city is doing on an ongoing basis. The weights can be used by the resource planners to assess where future investments will offer the greatest pay back.

 Dr. Jay is fascinated by all things data. Your data, our data, he doesn’t care what the source. The more data, the happier he is.

Topics: advanced analytics, Boston, big data, Dear Dr. Jay

CMB Lights the Night for Cancer Research

Posted by Catherine Shannon

Tue, Oct 06, 2015

CMB, Chadwick Martin Bailey, Light the NightThis Thursday, CMBers will participate in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) annual Light the Night Walk. My colleagues first joined the walk when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008 as a way to support me in my fight against cancer. The family friendly event starts at dusk on the Boston Common, and the walk is only 2 short loops around the perimeter. During the walk, everyone carries one of three kinds of lanterns: a red lantern shows support, a white lantern represents a survivor, and a gold lantern represents the memory of a lost loved one. It is a truly special event and an inspiring sight.

We at CMB, like most others, have colleagues and loved ones who have been touched by cancer. Every year, we walk to raise money and awareness so that research can advance. Including this year’s walk, we will have raised $80,000 over the past 8 years.  As a cancer survivor, it means so much to me that something as negative as a cancer diagnosis could result in such a positive movement by my colleagues.

LLS funds research with the goal of curing blood cancers, and many of the advances made in blood cancer research can be used to treat other types of cancer. It provides support to patients and their families, and I (as well as countless others) have personally benefited from this research. Due in no small part to the advances made from this very research, I celebrated five years in remission this May and am now considered cured. I was the recipient of a lifesaving stem cell transplant and proton radiation therapy…and these are just two examples of the advanced therapies now available because of LLS and other research organizations. Thanks to them, I will be holding my white lantern high this Thursday. I am one of the lucky ones.

From the LLS website: LLS has invested more than $1 billion in research since our inception. Over that time, survival rates for many blood cancer patients have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled. Moreover, we have learned how to cure certain blood cancers. And many therapies first approved for blood cancers are now helping patients with other types of cancers and serious diseases.

But more than one third of blood cancer patients still do not survive five years after their diagnosis. So more funding is needed to advance more research and to ensure access to treatments to help save more lives.

We’re a small company trying to make a big difference. If you’d like to join us in the fight against cancer, please donate here or join us on Thursday at 5PM on the Boston Common.

Help Us Kick Cancer's Butt!

Catherine Shannon is the Director of Finance at CMB. She’s a two time cancer survivor, and she looks forward to Light the Night Thursday. 

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, our people, Boston

99 Problems, but Project Execution Ain't One

Posted by Cara Lousararian

Wed, Mar 25, 2015

CMB, rock-solid executionAfter nearly a decade working on highly complex and strategic research projects, I’ve learned the one thing you can count on when dealing with massive amounts of data is Murphy’s Law—anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. No matter how much planning we do (and we take planning very seriously), the nature of market research means there’s bound to be a hiccup or two along the way.One of the best ways to deal with Murphy's Law is to accept that issues will arise but to make sure they don’t get in the way of the end goal—actionable insights. At CMB, our ability to seamlessly execute projects hinges on our capacity to adjust and course correct (when needed) to keep things on track. We put a lot of preparation and time in putting together solid project plans, focusing on business decisions, and conducting stakeholder interviews, but we also place a lot of emphasis on hiring and training strong problem solvers. We do this because we know that even the best laid out plans can still go awry, which is why it's important to manage problems proactively. For example, CMB firmly believes in conducting stakeholder interviews at the beginning of nearly all research engagements. This allows us to proactively re-shape/re-think the questionnaire design based on the information we’re hearing from the stakeholders. This helps prevent getting to the final presentation and delivering insights that are not relevant or useable for the key stakeholders.

Even the Patriots, as successful as they were this season and in the Super Bowl, run into problems and issues in each game that they play, regardless if they are playing the worst or best team in the league. If you read Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column the day after the Super Bowl, you'll remember that he highlighted Bill Belichick's pre-Super Bowl game meeting with his staff. Josh McDaniels, the Patriots’ offensive coordinator, summarized the meeting and said that Bill's main message was this: "This game is no different than any other one. It’s a 60-minute football game, and whatever issues we have, let’s make sure we correct them, coach them, and fix them. That’s our job." During that meeting, McDaniels, wrote two notes on his game play clipboard, "adjust" and "correct problems and get them fixed." Going into the game with those mantras was a reminder for him that the game is dynamic, and even the best laid plans need to be adjusted throughout the course of play.

While we can’t rely on Tom Brady, our approach to research engagements is no different. We encounter complex challenges day in and day out, and as our clients' needs change, we continue to think creatively and provide new and better solutions. When working with CMB, you can feel confident that we're putting together a solid project approach while simultaneously planning for the problems that may lie ahead. We might not be the Patriots, but we’re champions at execution just the same.

Cara is a Senior Research Manager. She enjoys spending time with her husband and dog, and she is STILL reveling in the "high" from the Patriots Super Bowl win.

Are YOU a strong problem solver? Come join our team!

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Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, Boston, research design

5 Things Boston's Snowpocalypse Taught Me About Customer Loyalty

Posted by Tara Lasker

Fri, Feb 27, 2015

snow, boston, customer loyaltyMaybe you’ve seen the news? This winter, Boston ushered in a new ice age. I’m joking (sort of), but you’ll forgive me since we have had six, SIX consecutive snowstorms, dropping over 90 inches of snow on the region. Commuting has become a game of strategy, and shoveling and “roof raking” have overtaken hockey as the city’s top winter sport. You know it’s bad when The New York Times’ editorial board tries to lift their city’s spirits by reminding New Yorkers that at least they don’t live in Boston. Ouch!Of course these storms have been no laughing matter for area businesses and employees, and customer loyalty is critical for surviving these stressors. So what can companies do to leverage loyalty when their customers are buried under 7+ feet of snow?

  1. Make me love you so much I’ll go out of my way to get to you. Loving a brand can help a customer look past inconvenience. For example, I have been using a service to help me decorate my house. The appointment when we were going to make some final decisions just happened to fall during one of the many snowstorms. I should have rescheduled—it was snowing and the roads were awful. But I was so excited that I just couldn’t wait, and I drove through the snow to make the appointment. Are your customers willing to drive through a raging storm to get to you?  That’s an example of the true love and loyalty we strive for.
  2. Build a strong foundation of trust and confidence. Between commuting nightmares, school closings, and travel bans, much of our work was being done outside of normal business hours. When I explained our situation to clients and coworkers, they understood. Communication and transparency are critical—be honest and upfront, and your loyal customers will respond. But. . .
  3. Even the most loyal customers have a breaking point. A few weeks ago, my husband and I had highly anticipated dinner plans, but we ended up not going because we knew we wouldn't have the patience to handle the parking challenges. We weren’t alone, and because of this, restaurants in particular have suffered. Businesses can use this time to find other avenues to connect with customers, e.g., doing competitive research or communicating to your (snowbound and captive) customers via social media, getting them excited about when they can come and see you next.
  4. Alternative online experiences are critical. Even though I couldn’t get out, I still needed things to do, and the snowpocalypse gave me the opportunity to beef up my online purchases and explore new websites. This is just one reason (of many) it’s important for businesses to have a functional and enjoyable online and mobile experience for customers who can’t get to you.
  5. One man gathers (shovels?) what another man spills. Customer loyalty is truly tested during times like these. Our public transit system has been having major problems. It’s been over a week since our last snowstorm, but our service is nowhere near back to normal. My colleague, who just couldn’t take it anymore, called an Uber and paid $50 for a 3 mile ride to work. It is unlikely the MBTA will lose customers over its spotty service, but will Uber or Lyft gain new and loyal customers as a direct result from the MBTA’s limited service? It’s surely possible.

The fact is, we can’t control the weather, and we can’t control every touch-point in the customer experience. But we can make sure we’re prepared by building a strong base of loyalty that can see through stormy weather and won’t melt come spring.  

Tara Lasker is a Research Director at CMB who is a survivor of 7 school snow days in 3 weeks, limited bus/train service, and severe cabin fever. She is looking forward to a family ski trip to North Conway, NH where she'll actually be able to enjoy the snow.

Topics: Boston, customer experience and loyalty

4 Things I Learned at the 2015 Pinnacle Awards

Posted by Caitlin Dailey

Thu, Feb 19, 2015

Originally posted on the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce blog


CMB
In January 2014, my colleagues from Chadwick Martin Bailey and I attended the Greater Boston Chamber’s Annual Pinnacle Awards. I was so inspired by the stories of success from the honorees and felt so proud that the president and CEO of my company, Anne Bailey Berman, had herself been a recipient of a Pinnacle Award back in 2007. While I went there to support the women in our community and hear about their journeys toward achieving their goals, I left with a new personal goal I was committed to working towards.You see, during the ceremony, a group of women were asked to stand up as the room applauded them. These women were members of the Chamber’s Women’s Leadership Program—women who were selected from a large pool of applicants who were given the chance to attend seminars, workshops, and networking events to grow their leadership skills. I wanted to be part of that group.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago – when I achieved that goal, sitting among the new Women’s Leadership class being recognized at the 2015 Pinnacle Awards. And once again, it was an incredibly inspiring event.

Using my experiences from the program, I examined the honorees’ speeches through a new lens. I listened to identify how the skills and tenets I had learned myself helped this amazing group of honorees achieve their success. Four great insights left a lasting mark in particular:

1). Embrace every opportunity that’s presented and don’t shy away from something that’s outside of your comfort zone. When Emily Rooney, Host and Executive Editor of Beat the Press, was interested in creating Beat the Press, she learned that Arianna Huffington wanted to pitch something similar with the same name. Emily wasn’t afraid to take a risk when the odds may have been against her, and she came out the victor.

2). It’s ok to be emotional and passionate. Deb Re, CEO of Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, said it best: “If something doesn’t make you emotional and passionate then it probably isn’t worth your time.” As women, showing emotion does not make us weak. We’re likely to produce better work when we care about what it is we are doing.

3). Having a good support system is just as important as having a good idea. All of the honorees had family and friends in the audience who helped them get to where they are today. I loved hearing the loud cheers from sections of colleagues who play a role in the honorees’ every day successes – and in turn, the honorees acknowledging the importance of these partnerships in their speeches.

4). Pay it forward. Many of the honorees were also members of volunteer committees. As we move up in the working world, it’s easy to succumb to the pressures of the job, but also important to make time to give back. This was illustrated best by honoree Cindy Laba, Founder and Head of School at Beacon Academy, when she made every person in the audience take out his/her cell phone and say hello to someone who means a lot to them.

I was so inspired by these amazing stories of success and look forward to attending the Pinnacle Awards in the years to come.

The Chamber has created so many opportunities for women in the Boston business community and continues to serve as a support system by helping women in our community achieve their goals. It’s an honor to be part of that.

Caitlin Dailey is a Project Manager for Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB). CMB is a Boston-based Gold Top 50 market research and consulting firm, partnering with a select group of the world’s leading brands to deliver critical insights for confident, strategic decision-making. 

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, our people, Boston