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CMB Researcher in Residence: UPMC Health Plan's Jim Villella

Posted by Amy Modini

Tue, Apr 26, 2016

jim_upmc2.pngUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Plan’s Director of Market Intelligence, Jim Villella, sat down with CMB’s Amy Modini to discuss the role of insights and market research at UPMC and the health insurance industry at large.

AM: Tell us a bit about your role as Director of Market Intelligence at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health Plan.

JV: I oversee all external and internal intelligence within the health insurance industry in our market. Our Insurance Services Division (ISD) includes a lot more than just health insurance. Within the ISD, there are health insurance products as well as a suite of workplace productivity solutions under the WorkPartners brand.  WorkPartners offers worker’s compensation insurance, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, and some business productivity solutions, such as FMLA and short-term disability. Primary research is obviously one of the services that my team offers to all of UPMC ISD. This research is often an assessment of where we are compared to our competitors as well as opinions and attitudes of our current members. We also manage our marketing relational database, which is built at the consumer and employer level, so that we can do targeted marketing campaigns. Overall, it’s a pretty broad list of responsibilities.

AM: It certainly is! As we know, it’s been a disruptive few years for the healthcare industry. Looking ahead, what challenges and opportunities do you see coming?

JV: One of the biggest challenges for many health insurance companies who don’t have a large direct-to-consumer business sector is the end of the extension of the allowance for small groups under 50 to keep the plans they had prior to the implementation of the ACA. When the allowance goes away in 2017, those groups are going to have to move to community-rated insurance plans. Many of those groups will have to evaluate their situation when rates change in 2018, so that’s a challenge that insurers will face: transitioning what happens with those groups. The insurance companies will have to meet that challenge and ensure that they continue to insure those same people, whether it’s through a group or through the individual process. 

There are a lot of constraints on insurance companies with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). There are limitations on profitability and also on mitigating risk, so it’s a little bit harder to make a profit. And, as you can see in some markets, some of the more profit-driven public entities have chosen to take themselves out of the individual market in many areas because they’re finding it hard to have a viable business model in the current environment. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the market about who’s going to be there to provide the insurance solutions that are part of the ACA. 

AM: Do you think being part of an integrated system puts UPMC in a different position than other carriers that are just health insurance companies?

JV: Yes, I do. Because we’re an integrated delivery system, we have a lot more dialogue between the provider and the payer, which gives us more opportunities to intervene and identify solutions that will help people get better and stay healthy. Different payment models also emerge out of this position, which allows us to move away from a situation in which someone is paying providers for a service and move toward compensating them based on the effectiveness of the care. That’s much easier to do in an integrated system where we have direct relationships with a big portion of our provider-base. 

AM: What role do you believe healthcare insights, in particular, could play with some of the challenges and changes in the industry you mentioned?

JV: At the end of the day, much of what we deliver in the insurance business is somewhat commoditized. You have to offer things, in addition to paying claims and providing access to doctors and hospitals that members want, so that they remain with you when they have the opportunity to evaluate options in open enrollment periods. Research helps us immensely in identifying those unmet needs or identifying how well we can meet their needs that go beyond the basics of health insurance. 

Carriers have to move toward having one-on-one relationships between themselves and the individuals that they cover. In the past, carriers have had more of a relationship with a group that covers hundreds or thousands of people at a time, so the model is narrowing to an individual-level, much like auto insurance. You don’t really have employer-sponsored auto insurance. Every one of those carriers is dealing with each individual person one at a time, and that’s what the future of health insurance appears to be moving rapidly toward. The employer model is still the foundation for most U.S. health care, but if the health insurance exchanges continue to be successful and maintain competition and lower premiums—depending on who’s elected—it could continue to become more of an accepted way for Americans to obtain health insurance. 

AM: Let’s shift gears a little bit. Let’s talk about the market share analysis work we’ve done with you over the past couple of years. Can you talk a little bit about this work, and why it’s so important now?

JV: The rapid change in market share, year over year, is something we need to assess as quickly as possible, and the secondary sources we rely on to give us our definitive market share take several months to report. So, when we want to know in January what the market share shift has been, waiting for our secondary sources until July is simply too long. We partner with CMB so we can get a very quick, but accurate, assessment of how much the share has changed. The change in market share used to move at a glacial pace, but now it changes several percentage points for some carriers in a single year. We need to know about those changes as quickly as possible. We also use that study to assess perceptions and opinions of brands as well as what’s important to decision-makers, which helps us do some strategic planning for marketing purposes. 

AM: You’ve already touched on this a little bit, but how does this work play into your larger insights strategy?

JV: It helps us position ourselves and try to identify which areas of the geography we’re in that we could potentially focus on more. We get a more robust view of that at the county level from our secondary source in July. If we were to find opportunities or weaknesses in that share data—such as gaining or losing to a particular carrier in a particular region—we could react to that. It also helps us understand where the national competitors have gained traction—which ones are winning out and where. We need to be able to respond and understand who our competitors are as quickly as possible. 

AM: As you think about the next challenges for your organization, tell us what you look for in an insights partner.

JV: Several things:

  • Experience with our industry is helpful if not essential. Health insurance is a very complicated industry. I think it’s very difficult to partner with a research vendor that has no familiarity with the business. Even the terminology is difficult, so it would be hard to have to explain things about the industry over and over again.
  • A partner that does independent preparation and doesn’t rely exclusively on us to provide everything because they’ve done their homework.
  • Good problem-solving skills. Marketing and market research is basically just problem solving, and that manifests itself in even trying to design a research study. We need a partner that’s constantly asking: what’s the best way to do this?
  • Creative sample design. We sometimes have difficulty reaching certain audiences because we’re limited by our geographic footprint in western PA. So, finding a partner that can suggest alternatives for reliable ways of getting the same level of information is a huge component of what we need in a partner.
  • Visual interpretation of data is another one. That’s an art and a science, and partners who know how to show you information in a visual way are extremely helpful because that’s usually how it gets delivered to senior management, which is much easier to access than large, detailed crosstabs. 

These are all things we have working with you, and of course, we’ve had many years working together, so you know us very well and that familiarity is very helpful.

Got a market research question that you're just dying to have answered? Ask our Chief Methodologist and VP of Advanced Analytics, and he might tackle your question in his next blog!

Ask Dr. Jay! 

Topics: healthcare research, health insurance research, Researchers in Residence

CMB Researcher in Residence: A Chat with Avis Budget Group's Eric Smuda

Posted by Judy Melanson

Thu, Apr 16, 2015

researchers in residence, avis budget group, eric smudaAvis Budget Group’s VP of Customer Insights and Experience, Eric Smuda, sat down with CMB’s Judy Melanson to talk about Customer Experience, suppliers, and his work as a corporate insights executive.

Eric, it’s always fun to listen and learn from you. I’d like to start by asking a broad question: why is managing the customer experience important for Avis?

Managing the experience is critical for us—and critical for the car rental industry as a whole—because it’s the only way we can differentiate ourselves. The products we offer are identical to the products our competitors offer. We don’t have a location advantage because our competitors are immediately next door. There aren’t no-show fees, so customers are free to choose any company. It’s solely customer experience that differentiates us from our competitors and that drives growth.

Tell me a little bit about your job.

My role is to identify customer pain points and to design improvements in our customer experience. My team gathers and shares customer experience measurement data and marries that data with our operational, reservation, and financial data to really understand what, why, when, and where something is happening. This helps ABG define improvement priorities and get executive sponsorship, funding, and resources for those priorities.

How does your team interact with your end-users—both corporate and on-site?  

We want to drive macro change at a corporate level and location-specific change at a local level. One of our newer initiatives is the customer experience governance council, which includes all of North America’s senior management as well as key customer touchpoint owners.

My analytics team shares their findings with the council on a monthly basis. That way, the council can prioritize the projects we want to invest in. We then align executive sponsors, resources, and funding with those initiatives. This monthly meeting also gives us the opportunity to report back on progress made on previous initiatives.  We’ll share those insights with the marketing organization and communicate any changes we make with the customer base.

As you reflect back on the years that you’ve been at Avis, what are some of the changes you’ve made that have had the greatest impact on the customer experience?

One change that stands out is in rental rate price consistency (RRPC). We learned that when customers made reservations on our website, the site wasn’t accurately taking the daily rate, combining it with any add-ons he/she might have (insurance, car seats, GPS, XM radio, etc.), and then correctly calculating the taxes. So customers weren’t getting an accurate final bill. Now they do with the RRPC project, and we’ve seen a significant decrease in our pricing and billing complaints.

Price and cost are such important considerations in the purchase decision because they can be dissatisfiers, so that’s great.

Absolutely. We now know from our text analytics program that billing complaints are the biggest driver of negative Net Promoter Scores. The RRPC project has been one way we’re reducing those pain points and the number of calls going into our call center, and it’s had a large impact for our customers.

Another thing I’d like to mention is the rollout of the Select & Go experience to our top 50 locations. Some customers want to have the option of selecting another car if they don’t like the one we assign to them. This program was born out of that customer feedback. Customers can now receive a notification on their phone about which spot their assigned car is in, come see the car, and either take the assigned car or go to the Select & Go exchange lot where they can exchange the car for free. We also have an upgrade lot where they can decide whether they’re willing to pay $20 or $25 more to upgrade to another car class. This has been a customer experience improvement, and it’s also actually driven $3 million to $4 million in incremental revenue for the company.

That’s fantastic!

It’s a win for customers and a win for ABG. Another thing we know is that speed of service is of the utmost importance. We get more comments about speed of service in our text analytics engine than we do about anything else, so we’ve been taking a look at the entire rental process. We looked at over 100,000 customer verbatims and broke them down based on where they sit in the rental process or in the customer experience. We identified 20 projects we can complete to impact the customer speed of service at different stages of the rental experience. About half of those projects are active now, and customers should definitely look for significant upgrades over the next year or two in our ability to serve them more quickly.

I love that you’re addressing the customer needs more globally. You’re not making a touchpoint-by-touchpoint improvement, but rather an improvement about the customer’s need for speed across his/her entire engagement and experience.

I think that's the biggest philosophical change we've made over the last couple years as it relates to our customer experience program. Rather than looking at it as location-specific and driving change at the individual level, we’re now evaluating customer experience much more comprehensively. We look at macro issues at a division level that impact customers everywhere, and we start to fund and drive change in those identified areas.

What’s going to be different in customer experience at Avis in the next two years?

We’re working on a flight disruption service, which is relevant given the winter we’ve had in the Northeast. This service proactively reaches out to customers whose flights have been canceled and asks them whether they’d like to keep the car another day, turn it into a one-way rental and just drive home, and more. We want customers to know we can get them home or wherever they need to be.

Great! Let’s move a little bit more into research, tell me: what insights get you most excited?

Our program is constantly evolving as we bring in new brands and continue to evaluate our business. CMB was with us at the beginning of this journey, and you guys know that our customer experience program started with roughly 150 to 200 of our top airports.

We’ve also expanded it globally through our partners EMEA and Asia Pacific. The bigger growth challenge for us from a learning standpoint is adding the relationship view of the customer to the evaluations of the transactions they have with us. That will let us know not only how we did in Phoenix yesterday, but also how we’re doing across all of the interactions customers have with our various brands. So all of this growth we’re making in our customer experience measurement program is absolutely something I’m excited about.

As far as things that excite me, it’s really when we can dive down and understand specific customer pain points that affect specific types of customers in specific types of situations. For example, we know customer satisfaction is lower for certain types of trips vs. others, so when we can start to dig and combine that knowledge with other information like pricing strategies, billing strategies, and other policies, you start to understand why. Then, we can begin to have conversations with business decision makers and explain to them what things are getting in the way of the customer experience so they can reconsider and change those practices and policies. My passion is always trying to make things easier and better for customers, so what’s most exciting for me is the possibility of accomplishing that through those conversations.

You’re the customer advocate. There might be pricing or revenue objectives, but you can speak for groups of customers, which needs to be done in order to build engagement with the brand.

That’s always the big challenge: trying to balance customer needs against revenue and profit goals.

What would you tell market research vendors about how they can best support the decisions you need to make?

What an age old question! I feel like the supplier side has always struggled with understanding our business at a level at which they can help us drive business decisions and not just simply provide information. We want suppliers to provide context, combine the findings and the context with our financial drivers, and use all of that to help us make a more informed business decision. That’s a true partnership. That’s where I’ve had the most challenges with suppliers in the past. It’s also why I value working with your CMB team.

Can you talk a little bit about your relationship and partnership with CMB?

You understand our business as well as our management’s priorities. We have a great, trusted relationship—your guidance, partnership, and advice have been wonderful. You’ve transcended from being a vendor to being a very key advisor and trusted partner.

Got a market research question that you're just dying to have answered? Ask our Chief Methodologist, and he might tackle your question in his next blog!

Ask Dr. Jay!

Topics: travel and hospitality research, Researchers in Residence, customer experience and loyalty

5 Questions with GSP's Kelli Robertson on Positioning Cisco's "Internet of Everything"

Posted by Tara Lasker

Wed, Dec 03, 2014

800px Cisco logo.svgGS&P.logo.with.name.1Goodby, Silverstein & Partners’ Kelli Robertson talked with CMB’s Research Director, Tara Lasker, about a recent messaging study they partnered on for Cisco. This study aimed to determine the best way to communicate Cisco’s role in the “Internet of Everything.” 

TARA: There’s been a lot of buzz lately about using data to support strategic thinking. Can you talk a little bit about how you strike that balance between the two in your role?

kelli robertson, GSP, Cisco, CMB

KELLI: Well, I don’t think data just supports thinking—I think it also generates it. There’s nothing more exciting than a table full of data and going through that data to find ideas and the story. I think that’s one of the things we did with this study. I think you always have to start with hypotheses and use the data gathered to prove or disprove them, which is what we did. You also have to be open to the data giving you new ideas. For us, data isn’t just about validating—it’s about learning.

It’s also important to realize that data helps bring consensus. Marketing is hard today because everything is so uncertain, and I think it’s easy for clients to dismiss things you learn from eight or even thirty qualitative interviews. It’s a lot harder to dismiss data. So if you can combine the data with the new ideas, you’re more likely to create consensus and generate buy-in from the people you’re working with.

TARA:  That’s definitely true, and we see that throughout many of our client engagements. Moving on to our study, can you talk about how GSP and CMB partnered to help solve some of the challenges that Cisco faced?

KELLI: The first thing that CMB did really well was to quickly grasp the topic. This includes how technology influences business, the somewhat complicated concept of the “Internet of Everything,” and all of the product and technology solutions that create the “Internet of Everything.” There wasn’t a lot of explaining that I had to do because CMB just jumped in. I think that’s a testament to all of your experience with clients in the technology industry. You also recognized that the “Internet of Everything” might be a complicated concept for respondents to grasp, so you helped us craft a few different ways to talk about it in the survey, which allowed us to better measure true awareness and understanding.

Here’s another example. This was a global study, and CMB had a lot of recommendations including using max diff scaling to prioritize messages and alleviate any global scale bias. These recommendations allowed us to overcome a challenge that I wouldn’t have even known about if it hadn’t been for you. You also recommended that we test a few diagnostics within the top scoring messages. That helped us gain a better understanding of why messages were compelling instead of just showing us which ones were at the top of the list. Those diagnostics helped us feel confident in the messages that stood out.

TARA: We did a lot of secondary research on our end and asked colleagues at CMB with the most tech experience about the “Internet of Everything.” We tried to think from a respondent’s perspective when answering the questions to make sure that we were getting the most useful data we could possibly get and to ensure the respondents were reacting the way we wanted without misunderstanding.

KELLI: I think that background research you’re referring to was what allowed you to help us so much. I live in the “Internet of Everything” world. I have for the past two years. You allowed us to go deep into the “Internet of Everything,” but kept in mind the fact that people won’t view it with the same amount of understanding that we do. That helped us ask questions in a more broad sense and allowed us to have good juxtapositions regarding innovation, business, and technology.

TARA: Exactly. We also looked at the different roles within an organization and how they saw it. For example, the C-suite and technical decision makers understood and liked the more detailed messaging while business managers liked the broader, softer messaging. Speaking of, can you talk about what impact this research has had on Cisco’s brand messaging strategy? What’s happened since we’ve presented the results?

KELLI: Well, as you know, Cisco keeps coming back to get more data, and the study is really being adopted. It helped us form the messaging strategy for Cisco moving forward. For example, it helped us craft the right language to explain how Cisco is making the “Internet of Everything” possible. There’s been this question in the marketplace: what does Cisco do to make the “Internet of Everything” happen? The study helped us answer that question and address the skepticism our audience has had in the most compelling way.

The study also helped us define a sweet spot within our target audience. Prior to this, we talked broadly about C-suite executives, business decision-makers, and technical decision-makers. We summarize our audience as C-suite executives, but the study uncovered a very clear mindset that matched Cisco’s aspirations. Now we’re able to use that data to talk about our audience psychographically. We’ve found an attitudinal sweet spot because of the confidence in the data. Without the study, we could guess that C-suite executives and business decision-makers felt a certain way, but the data is invaluable in changing the way we think about who we reach out to, how we influence them, and the attitude Cisco needs to have. That’s been really invaluable, and it influences a lot of our decisions in tone and placement media.

The study also helped validate some of the Cisco product solutions that we should prioritize in our messaging. In the past, Cisco was primarily a networking company. Now, Cisco is offering a suite of product solutions way beyond networking. This study helped us uncover which of those product solutions triggered the most thoughts of innovation in our audience’s mind, which helped us prioritize where we should focus our product efforts.

TARA: Let’s talk a little more about the buy-in. This is the second time we’ve worked together on a project like this, and we’ve always had a great partnership. You understand your client and the questions they need answered, and we work through the research design and analysis. Ultimately, the goal is to get buy-in and adoption. So, can you talk about the adoption throughout Cisco?

KELLI: We’ve presented this countless times at Cisco, and we’re still getting requests to present it. We also just presented all of the work to the global regions in Cisco to help inform their work. They use a lot of the work we do, but they also do a lot of work on their own, so I’m sharing it with them so that they can use it to help inform what they do. Certain people within the organization are even using the data in their day-to-day work, which is amazing.

One of the things I’ve been most excited about is that we’re working with the thought leadership team at Cisco, who help set the agenda and public relations initiatives around key themes and topics. They’ve spent a lot of time pouring through the results, and they ended up coming back with a huge list of questions that are going to drive their thinking for the next year. So it’s helping set thought leadership, which is great.

One of the biggest things we tested is Cisco’s mission statement—“Changing the way we work, live, play, learn.” That is a statement that has always been on paper, and it has always been referred to as Cisco’s mission statement. The data we got back showed how compelling this statement was to our audience. It came back as one of the top messages if not the top message. I think that’s been giving Cisco a lot of confidence that they need to do more with their mission statement and that it needs to become not just words on paper, but something that drives all action within Cisco. I think this study is going to breathe new life into this big, bold mission statement and give them the courage to use it more overtly to make bolder decisions. There’s a difference between having a mission statement and being on a mission, and I feel like this data gave them the confidence to be a company on a mission—on a mission to change the way we work, live, play, learn.

TARA: Over the years, you’ve been one of my favorite clients for several reasons—one of them being that you really approach the relationship like a true partnership. We really work together. We get to a place where you know the client, challenges, political environment, and research questions that need to be answered. CMB brings research expertise, which allows us to design the study in a way that is going to answer your questions, so you don’t have to worry about the technicalities. I feel like both times we’ve partnered, we’ve ended up in a good, clear place at the end because of the way we work together throughout the process.

KELLI: I agree, and I will say that who we chose wasn’t necessarily my decision. I worked with the head of our research group. When we were going through RFPs, it became clear that few research companies are so thorough. There’s just this reality that not a lot of other research companies are as strategic, bring the breadth of experience, dive in, and ask questions of other experts in the organization the way you do….and these were things we noticed from the first RFP. There’s just something special you have bottled over there.

TARA: Thanks, Kelli! Hopefully we’ll get the chance to work together again in the future.

Tara Lasker is a Research Director at CMB and Kelli is a Group Brand Strategy Director at GSP. They both enjoy good beer, good music, commiserating over the trials and tribulations of motherhood, and telling a great story with primary research data.  

Topics: technology research, strategy consulting, big data, B2B marketing, internet of things, B2B research, Researchers in Residence, brand health and positioning

6 Questions with Allstate's Bob Pankauskas

Posted by Anne Bailey Berman

Wed, Aug 13, 2014

allstate, innovation, Bob Pankauskas  Allstate Insurance’s Director of Consumer Insights, Bob Pankauskas, sat down with CMB President Anne Bailey Berman to talk innovation, mobile, and what clients need to expect from market researchers.

Anne: Innovation isn’t a word people typically associate with insurance, yet the industry’s changed drastically in the past 5 years. How has that impacted you as a Market Researcher?

Bob: Innovation is a big part of what my team is charged with supporting. We’ve been doing a lot more exploration in terms of coming up with new products and services. This also means we need to broaden our toolkit with more exploratory and discovery work. For example, we’re rediscovering the world of ethnography to try and provide products and services for the future. We’ve done several ethnography projects, and we’re using new tools. We even had one of the ethnographies we did turned into a video that was used by the board of directors to showcase some interesting pain points consumers have with their cars. We’re also doing more and more concept testing and developing and exploring ideas.

Anne: So when you’re talking about innovation, you’re talking about two types of innovation. You’re talking about innovation for products and services for Allstate, but you’re also talking about the innovation of information tools in your bucket. How do you determine if the tools you’re using for innovation are really helping you more than traditional tools?

Bob: The thing we’re always searching for is that insight—that visceral reaction that consumers have. Consumers are behaving in a certain way. Why are they behaving that way? Anything that helps us get to a good insight is really useful, and a lot of the nontraditional ways seem to be more useful than the traditional quantitative approach. You have to work a little harder to get insights out of a quantitative approach, so using qualitative helps a great deal. Our CMO will say, “Great, what’s the consumer insight? What is the pain point?”  We need to focus on the problem we’re solving for the customer. It’s very easy to ask, but often we find we’re solving a problem for Allstate and not really solving the problem for consumers.  We work hard to address that.

Anne: What research challenges are keeping you up at night?

Bob: A really pressing topic of the day is the migration to mobile. It’s only a matter of time before we migrate all of our research platforms to mobile devices. We want our respondents to be able to choose when, how, and where they answer our questions. At this point, we do optimize our surveys for mobile. We pay a lot of attention to question length, simplifying response options, and usability. Our goal is to make our surveys engaging and rigorous.

Of course, trackers are a bigger challenge—it’s painful to live through that period when you say, “. . . and then we changed everything and our numbers are different.” But there are incremental opportunities that mobile provides—being in the moment, getting a real-time view of sponsored events, and just the ability to capture insights when customers are in the midst of an experience. We’re also really excited to utilize consumer-generated images to get more color and context from mobile cameras and not just words and numbers.  The shift is inevitable and the opportunities are there. We just need to be mindful of what we lose and what we gain as we make trade-offs in terms of trending.

Anne: What about target markets?

Bob: We’re trying to go after Millennials like everybody else. Everybody is chasing them, and it’s hard to crack the code. Going after a target means going after them well—understanding their motivators and having a product or service that is tailored to them. I think we have found how they liked to be talked to. They want to be treated with respect. They do want to research things online, but they still want to talk to somebody and touch base with them. It’s more about the “how” and less about the “what.”

Anne: What consumer insights get you most excited? Which tools?

Bob: It isn’t necessarily the tool that gives you the best insights. It’s creating receptivity and listening carefully. One of the most powerful insights we had at Allstate was the need for tangibility. Insurance is an intangible product or service. When you’re getting it, you really don’t know what you’re getting.

The thing is that we’re trying to solve the same problem again and again. So the issue is, how can you—as a smart marketer, researcher, or innovator—change your perspective just a little bit and look at the same thing you’ve been looking at for a long time and say, “Oh! Wow! Look at that! That’s new!” Now maybe it wasn’t new, but you changed your perspective and suddenly saw it. Many of the new techniques allow that change in perspective, and that’s pretty powerful.

Anne: And finally, what would you tell market research vendors about how they can best support the decisions you need to make?

Bob: Partner with your clients. Experiment as often as you can because you’ve got to make changes. You don’t put all your bets on the stuff, but you do have to test and learn. And then the second thing is TLDR—too long, didn’t read. It’s a great feeling to know there’s a 100 page deck of tables to support whatever the project is and that you’ve got your money’s worth. But that’s not at all what we pass on to our internal clients. We live in an ADD world. We’re all time starved, so we need to get to that 1 page summary. Tell me the 2 things I need to know—what’s your recommendation and how this is actionable? The ability to do that is what I’m looking for in a partner.

Check out our new case study to see how we helped a top 25 global bank develop a new value proposition and evaluate perceptions of various service channels and transactions.


Topics: insurance research, mobile, consumer insights, millennials, Researchers in Residence, growth and innovation

Shopper Segmentation Research: 5 Questions with Electronic Arts

Posted by Josh Mendelsohn

Mon, Jul 12, 2010

shopper insightsAs we get ready for this year's Shopper Insights in Action Conference, we are taking a look back at last year's co-presentation by Stephen Day of Electronic Arts and CMB's Brant Cruz on research to help with the launch of EA Active, EA's entree into the fitness gaming market.

Following last year's session Stephen was kind of enough to sit down for a quick interview on the topic.

CMB:  What were the big takeaways from your presentation?

This segmentation really helped us define and refine what we are doing on this specific product (EA Active) in the marketplace.  For this product in particular, we didn’t have a whole lot of data about who we should market to, who these people are, etc., so it really helped us not only really understand this marketplace and market to them in a way that makes sense.

consumer segmentation for ea sportsCMB:  One of the things you talked about was using in home ethnography on the front end and the quantitative ethnography on the back end, how did you merge those two information sources together?

The qualitative was really used more to guide the product development and refinement phase, along with some demographic information.  We used the data from that to help our product development efforts.  With the segmentation we incorporated some product development components but really looked down the line at the product development road map to match key segments with new innovative products once we’re out of the gate with this initial offering.

CMB:  Was there anything in particular you think made this segmentation particularly successful or useful?

The segmentation for us, at a holistic level, was exactly what we needed.  We didn’t know a lot about the fitness marketplace in general.  We had ideas and hypotheses but this helped us clarify the internal thinking about where we need to go and what we need to do.  And it really helped us map out the future of this product line.

CMB:  Now that you’ve launched EA Active, how will you use this information?

We’re definitely going to use it.  Going forward we’ll be looking at some of the specific segments you (CMB) recommended as high priority segments that we can develop products for, and market to effectively.   It is definitely going to help us clarify the road map for future product development and product market strategies.

CMB: As we wrap up here at the Shopper Insights in Action Conference, any big takeaways you can use?

The one big takeaway for me and for us as a company is that we really need to do a bit more research that enables us to get into the mind-set of the shopper.  We haven’t done a whole lot of work in that area.  Our work is primarily focused on product development and product marketing, but given the status of the economy and changing times I think it is more critical now to understand consumer behavior at the point of purchase so we can design the best products and services for them.

CMB:  Thanks Stephen!

Posted by Josh Mendelsohn. Josh is our VP of Marketing and loves live music, tv, great food, market research, New Orleans, marketing, his family, Boston and sports. You can follow him on Twitter @mendelj2.

Consumer Spending Report 2010

Topics: product development, Researchers in Residence, conference recap, market strategy and segmentation, retail research

Market Segmentation at Dell: 7 Questions with Dell's Barry Jennings

Posted by Chris Neal

Wed, Jan 13, 2010

Chris Neal and the CMB team recently completed a segmentation of the server market for Dell.  The following is a brief Q & A with Dell's Chief SMB Researcher, Barry Jennings, discussing his thoughts on segmentation and working with CMB.

CMB:  Based on your experience, what are the key determinants of a "successful" segmentation project for Dell?

The key to successful implementation for us has been a very early commitment to change. I have been at Dell way too long and I have done segmentation a number of times. When it comes from the perspective of "this is a great idea, we should go do it and then figure out what happens," it usually fails. When it comes from a perspective of "we don't understand what's going on, but this will help us frame things out and better deal with it," that does not work either.

But when you go into a segmentation exercise saying "there are a lot of unknowns out there and we need to better understand and check out the market, we don't know how we're going to change, but we are very committed to change based off of what we learned in these key areas," that makes a very meaningful difference.   It allows you to bring people to the table who may not really care as much about the research, but they absolutely care about what the research drives.  That is how you get through to the organization and get people to take action based on what you've learned.

We did that with this segmentation working with Chadwick Martin Bailey and it worked out quite well.  There is a strong cross organizational commitment to embracing these segments. It didn't matter what the segments were, or what the agenda was to begin with, we are now committing to this framework.

CMB: Clearly there has to be a real connection to the business- not just conducting segmentation for segmentation sake, have you seen people make the mistake of running segmentation too frequently?

In the past, there have definitely been times when we used segmentation way too much or in too niche a way, and we have also at times done it too frequently or done it for the wrong reasons, so absolutely. Yes.

CMB:  What are some of the internal challenges of coordinating segmentation and what advice would you give in managing those challenges? What role can partners such as Chadwick Martin Bailey play in that process?

First up is commitment, just getting the executive to say, "This is going to be our new gospel."  We had a senior management team that really held the organization to the fire in doing this. We quickly brought in the CMB team to be a part of the process very early and very broadly.  We had kick off meetings with folks from engineering, from environmental design, from product development and from marketing and advertising. Many of whom who won't utilize the results for a very long time and not in their initial form but whose input and commitment was needed. 

For example, the raw segmentation was interesting to my advertising people, but segmentation with the personas and with the perspective around messaging is what they really need.

Bringing them into the very first kickoff allowed the CMB team to hear how we were going to deploy and implement the findings, or hoped to, and we factored that into how the segmentation was built. That way we didn't have to crash through any walls to get people to accept it later on.  You are still going to have to explain it but you're not going to have to bend the arms of people to accept it. We have had issues with that in the past because they didn't have any sense of contribution or ownership of the process. Having the CMB team come here and spend a whole lot of time In Austin to help figure some of these things out and do the working sessions, while exhausting at times, led to a very good result.

CMB: I would imagine that goes much further than designing the questionnaire, it’s really thinking through the whole project and its implications?

Absolutely.  CMB had to learn our business, or at least learn how we learn our business, which is key because like other server manufacturers, we work with parts from Intel and software from Microsoft so we need to know how everyone else works and act accordingly. That said, Dell operates the business with our culture, our focus on the customer, certain geographical focuses, certain ways we choose to build our product, certain channels we use, etc. When you factor all of that in it creates a whole lot of variables that needed to be thought through and considered as we designed the segmentation.

CMB: You talked about doing a lot of segmentation over the years.  What do you think are the biggest differences between conducting business to business and business to consumer segmentation?

I mainly do B to B and I like it a little more because in my opinion it is more real, more grounded and I believe that it is easier to see the actual usefulness within our organization.  I think on the consumer side, it can be more fun, sexier, more foundational in nature, and it is definitely something that you build off of, but it’s a little bit further from the direct action.

Usually in a consumer segmentation you have way more segments.  You have so many variables to consider and you are trying to reduce your focus.  In the B to B world we generally end up with fewer segments and probably have a solution that fits in every segment.  It is then more a matter of modifying your tactics and strategies than fundamentally changing your business.

CMB:  I know the server segmentation was a pretty recent project, but have there been things that you have been able to do already that have put that research to use?

Yes, we have already used the segmentation in product design decisions and we are using it in targeting decisions as well. We have also taken the profiling questions and scored them against the database of current customers and are using that to improve how we approach customers.

CMB:  Last question, if someone was considering or if you are considering a segmentation provider what do you think are the key things to look for?

It’s all about the people. 

I have been in research for 21 years.  I have been at Dell for 14 of those years and it almost always comes down to the people. Everybody is smart.  Segmentation is as much art as it is science. And generally speaking, everyone uses the same tools. Take that away and it just comes down to what type of team is going to show up, how well we are going to work with them, how well are they going to listen to us, how well they factor in our quirkiness, etc.

And in reality, we have worked with vendors that say, “Here is this other segment, you guys should really have a Dell branded store and have a Dell branded store on every corner to capitalize on it.” That tells me you don’t understand my business, you don’t know our legacy and it’s not that it’s a stupid idea but a recommendation like that would have to have a massive caveat.

You need to understand who we are and what our heritage is.  I think having people like Chadwick Martin Bailey who listen, who spend the time, and who are more than just methodological  purveyors understand your business is key.  Because at the end of the day, the methodology is very necessary and it yields a result.  What I’m really paying for is the result and a whole lot of other things factor into that beyond the methodology.

 CMB: Thanks Barry



Topics: technology research, Chadwick Martin Bailey, B2B research, Researchers in Residence, market strategy and segmentation

5 Questions with Electronic Arts' Stephen Day

Posted by Brant Cruz

Tue, Jan 05, 2010

t the 2009 Shopper Insights in Action Conference, CMB’s Brant Cruz presented alongside Electronic Arts’ Stephen Day on how EA has adapted their strategy to the changing “gamer” marketplace.  This session explored the rapidly changing dynamics of the gaming market and how Chadwick Martin Bailey and Electronic Arts worked together to build a foundation for developing new strategies.

   •  What the gamer market looked like 5 years ago and how it looks today

   •  The impact of the Wii on the gaming category as a whole

   •  What EA is doing to adapt with EA Fitness

   •  The role of research in developing their new strategy

Following the session, Stephen was kind of enough to sit down for a quick interview on the topic. 

CMB:  What were the big takeaways from your presentation?

This segmentation really helped us define and refine what we are doing on this specific product (EA Fitness) in the marketplace.  For this product in particular, we didn’t have a whole lot of data about who we should market to, who these people are, etc., so it really helped us not only really understand this marketplace and market to them in a way that makes sense. 

CMB:  One of the things you talked about was using in home ethnography on the front end and the quantitative ethnography on the back end, how did you merge those two information sources together?

The qualitative was really used more to guide the product development and refinement phase, along with some demographic information.  We used the data from that to help our product development efforts.  With the segmentation we incorporated some product development components but really looked down the line at the product development roadmap to match key segments with new innovative products once we’re out of the gate with this initial offering. 

CMB:  Was there anything in particular you think made this segmentation particularly successful or useful?

The segmentation for us, at a holistic level, was exactly what we needed.  We didn’t know a lot about the fitness marketplace in general.  We had ideas and hypotheses but this helped us clarify the internal thinking about where we need to go and what we need to do.  And it really helped us map out the future of this product line. 

CMB:  Now that you’ve launched EA Fitness, how will you use this information?

We’re definitely going to use it.  Going forward we’ll be looking at some of the specific segments you (CMB) recommended as high priority segments that we can develop products for, and market to effectively.   It is definitely going to help us clarify the roadmap for future product development and product market strategies. 

CMB: As we wrap up here at the Shopper Insights in Action Conference, any big takeaways you can use?

The one big takeaway for me and for us as a company is that we really need to do a bit more research that enables us to get into the mind-set of the shopper.  We haven’t done a whole lot of work in that area.  Our work is primarily focused on product development and product marketing, but given the status of the economy and changing times I think it is more critical now to understand consumer behavior at the point of purchase so we can design the best products and services for them.

CMB:  Thanks Stephen!

Topics: product development, Researchers in Residence, market strategy and segmentation, digital media and entertainment research

5 Questions with Wachovia's Dan Gilbert

Posted by Jim Garrity

Wed, Sep 10, 2008

Wachovia approached CMB in 2006 with a strategic goal of learning more about how to best tap into the small business market. The result was not just a research project, but a partnership that created a Small Business Advisory Board. Responsible for helping to support the strategic direction of the company, Wachovia’s Insight & Innovation team’s primary objective was to conduct frequent ongoing market research with a prequalified target audience who could provide behavioral data. Originally, the team wanted to recruit between 800 and 850 people, approximately 550 customers and 280 prospects, to participate in the online panel. The following is a brief Q & A with Wachovia’s project leader, Dan Gilbert.

What drove you to launch this project?

We recognized a need to better understand the small business market; the challenges they faced, what they wanted and what they needed from a financial institution. We wanted to hear the opinions of small businesses, understand their use of financial services channels, and use those insights to develop new products and services to meet their needs.

What was the outcome? Was it successful?

Overall this has been a very successful, very effective project. We’ve been able to make better decisions as a result of this work. We continue to gain insights from this project, and have been improving products and services for our small business customers.

Can you describe your role within Wachovia? How important is market research to the company?

I work in the company’s Insight & Innovation department, which is part of Wachovia’s Marketing division. Insight & Innovation is responsible for providing insight, and really foresight, to senior management. We are proud of the fact that we are a trusted source of information to help drive the strategic direction of the company. The need for the information we provide has become more and more critical in our business; an increase in the rate of adoption of new technology is one example why. So, we need to stay at the forefront of these changes and our work helps the company do that.

What about your relationship with CMB?

CMB was new to me. My colleagues have worked with the firm but this was my first experience. I was aware of their reputation for strong quantitative work, but this project gave me the opportunity to work with them on both quantitative and qualitative projects. I would say the relationship was and is a very good one. I challenged CMB, pushed them at times, and they challenged me as well. It was a very good thing. The give and take allowed us to learn from each other, resulting in a better outcome for me. I really appreciated the way CMB was a true partner in the process, not just a vendor, but a resource for ideas. CMB was flexible and delivered well thought out proposals. They are a valued resource for Wachovia.

Do you have any advice for others who might engage in this type of project?

Yes: be prepared. The panel had our name on it, which was the right thing to do, but it did expose us to a bit more risk. We had to be ready to deal with complaints, service inquiries, and other types of customer service requests because Wachovia’s name was on the door, so to speak. Wachovia is very proud of its reputation for excellent customer service, so the expectations were high, as they should have been. I would also recommend that you have a plan for refreshing the panel membership before you begin. We created a plan later, but the results would have been better had we started that process sooner.

Topics: strategy consulting, financial services research, Researchers in Residence

Segmentation at eBay: Reaping the Rewards

Posted by Brant Cruz

Sun, Sep 09, 2007

Segmentation has traditionally been a key component of eBay’s business strategy. Through segmentation research, eBay has continuously identified opportunities to introduce new services and products based on an in-depth understanding of customer needs. What follows are 5 questions with Meg Sloan, former Director – Market Research at eBay, about the benefits of effective segmentation.

CMB: Over the last few years, you have done a lot of segmentation work. Why is segmentation so important to eBay?

Meg: Segmentation is important to eBay for a variety of reasons. eBay is a very big ecosystem – in the U.S. alone we have around 26 million active users of our Web site. Realizing that nobody who comes to eBay is the same, we need to have an understanding of how our customers are different and then tailor the experience to them. Precisely because eBay is such a huge ecosystem, we recognize that we cannot be successful trying to be everything to everyone. Segmentation, in combination with our own internal data, allows us to understand and think about what we are for whom, how we are going to move the business forward, and what we choose to do in terms of changes to the site or the business model in general.

Segmentation is also very important to our sellers. We recognize that as a marketplace our sellers are the people who deliver great experiences to buyers. So at our ecommerce forumin 2007 we shared our segmentation data with our top sellers, in return empowering them to then deliver experiences that our customers really value.

One of our goals was to have the ability to take our attitudinal segments and apply these, with a scoring, to our internal data. I am happy to say that with the help of Chadwick Martin Bailey and great analysts at eBay we were able to get this accomplished.

CMB: Can you describe how segmentation has evolved at eBay over the past few years?

Meg: Certainly. Segmentation has definitely evolved over the past few years, and it will be a constant evolution for us as we get more and more sophisticated in terms of how we use segmentation. If we go back to 2003, we really had a single basis for segmentation, focusing mostly on behavioral-based, survey-based segmentation, as well as industry standards like VALVE and RFM – and because of this its shelf-life was limited; it just wasn’t stable over time because the way people use the web is ever-changing . Over the years, we have recognized that one basis for segmentation is not enough of a view for such a complex business in order for us to make the segmentation actionable. So one of the things we have done with Chadwick Martin Bailey is to understand segmentation across multiple bases. The goal now is to create the most relevant and actionable segmentation for our business by combining internal and external data (such as behavior, attitude and value) with multiple survey bases.  

CMB: How has segmentation changed the way that eBay currently conducts business? 

Meg: It has definitely changed the way that we think about our customers. A few years ago we thought about them as a more homogenous set. We thought about what people came to eBay for and what they did – but we did not have a complex enough understanding of who our customers are and what motivates their purchase and what kind of attitudes people have about shopping in general.  Now we have a much deeper understanding of our customers and this knowledge informs many aspects of our business, ranging from thinking about new ideas, proposing new initiatives and implementing service standards. The majority of our employees, and especially our most senior executives, also know what segment they personally belong to and will frequently reference this information when putting forth their thoughts.
One significant result of the segmentation work with Chadwick Martin Bailey is the understanding that a large portion of our customers absolutely love to shop and view the experience as a form of entertainment. Our site will increasingly cater to this group of shoppers who view shopping as fun and love to get great deals. Customers can get a preview of things that are coming at www.eBay.com/playground, which reflects our understanding that for many of our customers shopping is a fun hobby. We have introduced a new feature called “DealFinder” that allows people to find great deals that are ending now on really popular items – something else that segmentation clearly tells us that our target customer values.

CMB: eBay has a wonderfully large database of customers – and one of the big benefits of a large database is the ability to map people in the database to membership in a particular segment. How are you using the information in the database today and how do you plan to use this information in the future?

Meg: One of our goals was to have the ability to take our attitudinal segments and apply these, with a scoring, to our internal data. I am happy to say that with the help of Chadwick Martin Bailey and great analysts at eBay we were able to get this accomplished. Now we are beginning to incorporate the analysis into a variety of different aspects of our business. For example, we will be able to analyze our customer support data including the attitudinal segments, so that we understand the type of customer who calls, the type of problem that he or she is experiencing, the resolution that we provided and how this relates to the customer profile in our segmentation. In the end we will be able to tailor our response to our customers in a way that strikes a chord with them based on their specific shopping profile. 

CMB: If you could think ahead a couple of years, and reflect on the segmentation legacy at eBay – what would your biographers say about the role of segmentation at eBay and, in particular, your role – and the role of Chadwick Martin Bailey – in driving it? 

Meg: The one thing we have not touched on and that I am very proud of is the approach that we take to segmentation. From the beginning, we took a “do it right vs. do it fast” approach. We started with the end objectives (i.e., specific business decisions we wanted to make) in mind and certainly calculated every decision based on that. We also approached the project in a very global way – with a global team – making decisions that made sense for our biggest markets. Because of the approach we were able to expand segmentation beyond the original set of 3 countries to a set of 8 countries.
The success of the approach has meant that we could apply it not only to buyers, but also to the other major components of our company: sellers and the motors business. It has taken us about a year to feel the full impact of the segmentation and the scoring of the data warehouse – and we are only beginning to feel the true impact. The results are telling though because our approach is careful, decision based and global.  And, last but not least, we have a lot of fun on the way, which is very much the eBay way of doing things.
Thank you very much!

Topics: Researchers in Residence, market strategy and segmentation

The Truth about Loyalty Programs: Five (or so) Questions with Adam Burke, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Hilton HHonors

Posted by Judy Melanson

Sat, Jul 28, 2007

CMB: How would you describe the importance of the HHonors program to the Hilton Family of brands?

Adam: I think there are two ways of looking at it. First is the historical competitive reality of the market and second, how you most effectively utilize a loyalty program.

Over the past few years, loyalty programs have become a key differentiator that gives customers a reason to consolidate their stays with us no matter what market they are in. So its a function of being a competitive necessity, but ultimately what makes it important is how cost effectively you can leverage the program to generate incremental stay activity. And that to me is central to it.

The importance of it to the Hilton Family is several fold. First of all, contextually it puts an umbrella over all of our brands and gives people a compelling reason to choose a Hilton Family brand no matter what market they are in.

Second, it is important because they have been able to quantitatively demonstrate there is sizable incrementality associated with members of the program so we know we are capturing incremental market share.

Most important is that the program is really a device by which we can enter into a relationship with our customers and we want to know about them as much as they want let us to know about them. So it is very much customer driven but to me it is vital because the competitive battle ground of the future is that all of the hotel companies are trying to cultivate relationships with their best guests. It is not just what information we have learned, it is how effectively we use that information to truly personalize the guest experience across every touch point. Thats why the program is so vital because it gives us a platform to really engage and deliver a customized experience for our best guests.

CMB: In past strategy sessions, we have talked about the need to set the term loyalty program aside and challenge people to focus on best guests, and think about the role of the HHonors program in providing for them.

Adam: Thats right, absolutely. Were not just focused on a program anymore. The biggest change is that I dont think that you could say that the program exists separate and apart from the branding work. The program is now a core brand attribute, just as any other feature of the brand value proposition is. And that our focus internally is best customers, not just best guests or members, many of whom are part of the program, but there is a sub-segment of those who are not. The objective is to utilize an engaged customer strategy across all best customers

CMB: Regardless of whether or not they are members.

Adam: Correct.

CMB: How has the program evolved over the past few years?

Adam: It is really a continual evolution. The biggest shift has been away from any singular message points and toward a customer-drive approach. Historically, I think that all of the programs relied on one key selling message. For Hilton HHonors it was points and miles. I think that as technology has finally caught up with customer expectations to the point now where can now deliver against the personalized choices that our customers make that yes, there are still some broad consumer facing messages that we use, but we have definitely moved away from a mass market general media approach towards much more of a segmented, direct communications approach including the offers that we make to different customers.

CMB: For example?

Adam: Whereas five or six years ago, we might have put out a promotion that would be – for a certain period of time there would be double points for everyone. The challenge with that is invariably that when you offer that across the board there will be some degree of cannibalization, because youre going to offer it to people who would have stayed anyway, you have no ability to really target it, it is difficult to really measure the incrementality of that offer, and it is very expensive to run. What we have been able to do instead is to develop a very rich segmentation model that allows us to say, Okay, lets offer different offers to different customer segments through direct channels where the offers that were putting in front of different segments are particularly relevant to them. The result is that we have seen a substantial return on our investment because were able to differentiate the offers by audience.

CMB: Looking towards the future, you talked about an evolution of the program, where do you see it 3-5 years down the road in terms of customization? Or are you reaching a point where it is more as an issue of execution than evolution?

Adam: You hit the nail on the head when you talked about the importance of execution. I think the programs that are going to be the most successful are those that are able to consistently and exceptionally deliver against the customer promise. Rather than our customers having to try to weave through the maze of information that is out there in our industry, which – lets face it, is very cluttered in terms of what all the programs offer I think that youll see that the HHonors program is going to be very differentiated by virtue of three things – simplicity, flexibility, and acceptability to our audience.

CMB: What role has research played in the evolution of the program?

Adam: I think research is absolutely fundamental to our efforts. We are very much driven by the voice of the customer and that it has been at the heart of how we have refined our program continually over the past decade. I would also say that there is a balancing act here. Research has been absolutely central to our strategic and tactical decision-making. Increasingly, however, we have relied on both traditional research methodologies and virtual communities to try to strike a balance between using research as a means of validating assumptions and learning about customer preference, while at the same time being more aware of emerging trends and trying to be at the forefront of innovation. Hopefully we can provide customers with things that they might not have even envisioned yet.

CMB: What challenges do think programs like HHonors will face in the future?

Adam: To be honest, remember that famous quote from Walt Kennedys Pogo Weve met the enemy and he is us? The biggest threat to ourselves is ourselves. It comes down to delivery and execution. I am confident enough in our strategy that, if well executed we will be highly successful. I think the greatest challenge by far is consistency and quality of execution.

CMB: Given that all of the big players have relatively viable programs, how do you steal market share? Does another company have to fall down on the execution to create opportunities for HHonors?

Adam: I dont think it is just about execution. It is about having the vision to stay with a long-term strategy based on who your core audience is. There is an inherent danger that in trying to personalize you can also try to be all things to all people. If you talk about additional challenges, one is that the clutter in the industry lacks a common currency across programs. Other than the most frequent travelers, a lot of people are still confused as to which companies offer what. We need to simplify the message to the point where customers are very clear on what differentiates us from the competitive set and in terms of a longer term strategy – it is ultimately a share of wallet game among the audience that is already out there and it will be a function of how we address emerging geographic segments like China and India and emerging demographic segments like the Baby Busters, Gen-X, Gen-Y. I think its going to be a matter of how adaptable we are in addressing those audiences in a way that doesnt take our eye off of our core audiences.

CMB: You talked about simplification and sticking to a strategic plan, what additional suggestions do you have for someone managing or setting up a loyalty program?

Adam:  First and foremost… Measure. Measure. Measure.

CMB: Good Answer!

Adam: Thats the biggest issue. If you want to maximize the return you should only field initiatives for the most part – I say the most part because you should be willing to accept some degree of risk taking and some qualitative, gut-feel initiatives but anytime you are going to try something you should be merciless about committing up front to what metrics will determine if something is successful.

Part of that also is being adaptable enough to recognize that as we go into a more personalized strategy it gets more difficult to determine which attributes of a program are specifically driving the decision. Because it is wonderful to say that factor x is most important to someone, but for most people it is going to be a combination of factors that make up the value proposition. You have to have a willingness to see your metrics evolve over time, see what is most appropriate to measure, and also look to methodologies like Discrete Choice analysis. Because if you rely on directly asking the customer what they want, it is going to be very difficult to come up with meaningful, directional input.

So, Id say its measure, measure, measure, have an openness to revalidating and modifying your measurement over time as necessary, look at Discrete Choice analysis as a key means for identifying what is most important, and make sure that you are continuously letting your owners, operators, whoever your key constituent groups are, look under the hood and know exactly what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. Ultimately, loyalty program managers depend on execution. If they dont have both support and more importantly, understanding of why we do what we do, youll find that there is not much commitment and buy-in to doing the necessary things to execute flawlessly at the business unit level.

Topics: strategy consulting, Researchers in Residence, customer experience and loyalty