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HOW A CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE STRATEGY HELPS SCALE REVENUE GROWTH

Business professionals were surveyed by a research report and asked what the top business priority is for the next 5 years – and the answer came out on top. Can you guess what the top priority for a business is? M  If you guessed ‘customer experience’ (or CX), you guessed right.

It’s no surprise that customer experience is so high.

Research by American Express found that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience.

Companies that successfully implement a customer experience strategy achieve higher customer satisfaction rates, reduced customer churn, and increased revenues. Surprisingly, less than half of all organizations will be investing in the customer experience next year.

What is customer experience?

The customer experience (also known as CX) is defined by the interactions and experiences your customer has with your business throughout the entire customer journey, from first contact to becoming a happy and loyal customer.

CX is an integral part of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and the reason why it’s important is that a customer who has a positive experience with a business is more likely to become a repeat and loyal customer.

In fact, a global CX study by Oracle found that 74% of senior executives believe that customer experience impacts the willingness of a customer to be a loyal advocate. If you want your customers to stay loyal, you have to invest in their experience! Happy customers remain loyal.

It makes sense, right?

The happier you are with a brand, the longer you stay with them. So, if you treat your customers poorly or ignore their customer service emails, then they are more likely to stop doing business with you. This is why companies that deliver a superior customer experience outperform their competitors – and this means they’ll be spending more with your business (and less in theirs!).

For example, here are a few statistics that caught our eye:

  • Customer experience is set to be the number one brand differentiator in recent years
  • 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience,
  • Customers are willing to pay a price premium of up to 13% (and as high as 18%) for luxury and indulgence services, simply by receiving a great customer experience,
  • 49% of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving a more personalized customer experience.
  • Customers who rate companies with a high customer experience score (i.e. 10/10) spend 140% more and remain loyal for up to 6 years.

So, it’s extremely important that you focus on the experience you deliver to your customers.

In most cases, a customer’s first point of contact with a company is usually by interacting with an employee (either by visiting a store or by speaking on the phone). This gives your business an opportunity to deliver great customer service. However, customer service is only one aspect of the entire customer experience. For example, if you book a vacation on the phone and the person you are speaking with is friendly and helpful, that’s good customer service. Yet, if your tickets arrive early and the hotel upgrades your room, then that’s a great customer experience!

Like most things in today’s marketplace, customer experience has changed – it’s more than person-to-person service, and thanks to technology, companies can connect with their customers in new and exciting ways.

For example, using CRM software, you can view customer purchase history and to predict future needs even before the customer knows they need it. Having the ability to predict a future need will let you be proactive and attentive and, it means you can do things like;

  • Provide related products based on purchase history
  • Create and deliver targeted email marketing campaigns
  • Understand the 360-degree view of the customer

Customer service is still as important as ever, but it’s no longer the sole focus of the customer experience. Now, the customer experience brings new ways to strengthen customer relationships through technological breakthroughs.

The challenge here is that even though it’s a high priority, most companies are failing to deliver a good customer experience.

Customer expectations are rising, faster than the speed that companies can improve their customer experience. Customers expect every interaction, end-to-end, to be the best experience they have with any company – not just yours!

Impact of bad customer experiences

If a great customer experience is focused on ensuring all interactions and touchpoints with your business is easy, enjoyable, and seamless, then the exact opposite is true when it comes to a bad customer experience.

More than $62 billion is lost each year to bad customer service. Meanwhile, another study found that 91% of unhappy customers leave a brand without complaining.  It doesn’t get any better. Only 10% of consumers say brands meet expectations for a good experience.

Some of the most common causes of bad customer experiences involve:

  • Difficult purchasing processes
  • Negative experiences with customer support
  • Compromising a customer’s personal security
  • Waiting too long on hold
  • Ignoring customer feedback

So, the question remains, how can your organization create a great customer experience strategy?

7 ways to improve the customer experience

Let’s take a look at seven ways to create a great customer experience strategy to help you improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn and increase revenues – including examples.

  1. Create a clear customer experience vision

The first step in your customer experience strategy is to have a clear customer-focused vision that you can communicate with your organization. The easiest way to define this vision is to create a set of statements that act as guiding principles.

Once these principles are in place, they will drive the behavior of your organization. Every member of your team should know these principles by heart and they should be embedded into all areas of training and development.

Often companies lack the required foresight and skills to develop a customer experience vision. In such a case, our company Ace Research with a hands-on experience profile can create a practical, target-oriented, and sustainable CX vision.

  1. Understand who your customers are

The next step in building upon these customer experience principles is to bring to life the different types of customers who deal with your customer support teams. If your organization is going to really understand customer needs and wants, then they need to be able to connect and empathize with the situations that your customers face.

Ace Research also possesses vast experience in customer profiling. With numerous projects successfully completed, our team of experts acquired sufficient knowledge to develop responsive and outcome-based profiles of existing and prospective customers.

  1. Create an emotional connection with your customers

You’ve heard the phrase “it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it”?

Well, the best customer experiences are achieved when a member of your team creates an emotional connection with a customer.

When a customer was late in returning a pair of shoes due to her mother passing away. When Zappos found out what happened, they took care of the return shipping and had a courier pick up the shoes without cost. But, Zappos didn’t stop there. The next day, the customer arrived home to a bouquet of flowers with a note from the Zappos Customer Success team who sent their condolences.

Research by the Journal of Consumer Research has found that more than 50% of an experience is based on an emotion as emotions shape the attitudes that drive decisions.

Customers become loyal because they are emotionally attached and they remember how they feel when they use a product or service. A business that optimizes for an emotional connection outperforms competitors by 85% in sales growth.

How you handle your customers and make them feel, at every step of their journey, has a huge impact on if and when they buy, how long they stay, if they go – and if they turn into raving fans.”

A positive experience for customers means a lot, as studies prove time and again:

  • 64% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to others if it offers simpler experiences and communications.
  • 71% of people recommend a product or service because they received a “great experience”.
  • 65% of all consumers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising
  1. Capture customer feedback in real-time

How can you tell if you are delivering a WOW customer experience?

You need to ask – And ideally, you do this by capturing feedback in real-time. Use live chat tools to have real-time conversations and when done, send a follow-up email to every customer using post-interaction surveys and similar customer experience tools.

  1. Use a quality framework for the development of your team

By following the steps above, you now know what customers think about the quality of your service compared to the customer experience principles you have defined. The next step is to identify the training needs for each individual member of your customer support team.

Many organizations assess the quality of phone and email communication, however, a quality framework takes this assessment one step further by scheduling and tracking your team’s development through coaching, eLearning, and group training.

  1. Act upon regular employee feedback

Most organizations have an annual survey process where they capture the overall feedback of your team; how engaged they are and the business’s ability to deliver an exceptional service.

  1. Measure the ROI from delivering a great customer experience

And finally, how do you know if all this investment in your teams, process, and technology are working and paying off?

The answer is in the business results. Measuring customer experience is one of the biggest challenges faced by organizations, which is why many companies use the “Net Promoter Score” or NPS, which collects valuable information by asking a single straightforward question:

“How likely are you to recommend us?”

NPS, which was created by Rob Markey and Fred Reichheld at Bain and Company, is a highly suitable benchmark for a customer experience metric because a lot of companies use it as the standard customer experience measurement.

And the fact that it’s simple to implement and measure makes the NPS a favorite with company boards and executive committees.

We’ve used NPS at Ace Research for several years now.

  1. It shows our customers that we care. We use the feedback to open up a dialogue and build relationships with our customers.
  2. NPS helps us understand common issues among our customer base so we can quickly solve them.
  3. We invite customers who participate in NPS to collaborate with us on projects, such as webinars, our ambassador program and to act as referrals for new customers.

The real value in NPS lies in having conversations with customers.

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Your Business Must Sustain Inflation, But How?

Businesses lacking a way forward for economic downturns are the most affected in times of crisis. Adequate analysis of the business environment, based on authentic data, validates your plan of action and steers your business in achieving its objectives.

Inflation and Risk Reduction

Inflation occurs when an economy grows due to increased spending without an accompanying increase in the production of goods and services. When this happens, prices rise and the currency within the economy is worth less than it was before. The currency essentially won’t buy as much as it would before. Inflation is a decline in the purchasing power of money over time.

Impact of Inflation on Startups

Lacking proper mentorship, a practical approach toward conducting business, and foremost important, experience makes, the life of startups short-lived. An overwhelming initiative become the victim of internal and external failures. Such failures, if managed and planned can be overcome very easily but lack of business insight, hesitation and unawareness to conduct pre-requisite research and analysis make things difficult with time.

Companies tend to deal with inflation by raising prices, accepting smaller margins, or reducing product costs (and often quality). Managers can upset their customers by raising prices, upset their investors by cutting margins, or upset practically everyone by cutting corners in order to cut costs. If customers are more price-sensitive than quantity sensitive, they are less liable to notice a price increase in the form of a smaller quantity at a constant price. It’s likely that consumers’ willingness to spend on discretionary items will diminish while costs remain high.

When inflation rises, the purchasing power of consumers erodes – in simple terms, they can now buy fewer goods and services than they used to. This means businesses will record lower sales, reducing the total revenue of the business. The pandemic has hit sectors differently, and the general inflation data and trends may not apply to all industries. For instance, sectors still recovering from the pandemic impact, like airlines and hotels, have not seen price levels fully recover to their previous levels. For businesses, it is important to reevaluate the current industry positions and the existing business dynamics within the sector. Some sectors were severely impacted, and now industry players are left with fewer competitors, while others face supply chain disruptions and need to source new suppliers. But here the question arises, who will be redefining business priorities? How to gauge changing customer perspectives and above all what actions need to be taken for improving growth and returns. Well, although these questions require the length of deliberation and analysis; both micro and macro but for this to happen, authentic information required to make decision making is very crucial. Here comes the role of market research agency and we here at Ace Research strive to provide the best possible solution to your business needs. Our panel of expert business analysts has worked with a handful of organizations for retracting the loss-making units and redefining business goals for optimum results.

Ways to contain inflationary pressure with proactive strategies

The most fundamental way of protecting against inflationary risk is to build an inflation premium into the interest rate or required rate of return (RoR), which is demanded by an investment. More serious inflationary risk occurs when the actual rate of inflation turns out differently from what is anticipated. Rising inflation means that the interest payments have progressively less purchasing power, and the principal, when it is repaid after several years, will buy substantially less than it did when the investor first purchased the bond.

To mitigate the impact of uncertainty, contingencies play a very vital role. Ace Research not only assess the market needs but also, analyses from various perspectives the risks associate with doing any type of business. We work on different strategies to keep our clients informed about various types of risk associated with your business and also, way to minimize and eradicate its negative impact on your operations and returns; both in the short and long term.

Our Role

Ace Research System is a market research firm that helps startups and businesses, capitalize on understanding the importance of data collection, and the interpretation and analysis of that data. Research is an essential component as it helps us find out which action works best, it also plays an important role in discovering alternate roles and solutions for the inflation in the market and making sure that the already existing solutions are utilized to their best capacity. Conducting research develops a better understanding and enhances decision-making capabilities in the firms. Research helps you understand what you are up against and then, it builds a foundation for your company to help you make better decisions.

We offer numerous models of analysis, based on business requirements such as;  pre/post product evaluation surveys, activation evaluation, and pre-launching surveys to check that the product being launched in the market does have any opportunity to survive in the market and if it is being demanded by the customers or not. With the help of this, you will make an informed decision along with a calculated risk. It helps you in understanding that your product has enough potential that if, one day you raise your prices a little and increase your profit margins, you will still be able to survive in that condition. But if you are unaware of the potential your product holds, or the features you can add to make your product better, then you are taking the risk of losing your potential customers. Ace Research help brands identify their substitute products and competitors so that you have ample of information next time they plan a move.

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Why Ethnographic Research?

Ethnography is the branch of anthropology that involves trying to understand how people live their lives. Unlike traditional market researchers, who ask specific, highly practical questions, anthropological researchers visit consumers in their homes or offices to observe and listen in a non-directed way. Our goal is to see people’s behavior on their terms, not ours. While this observational method may appear inefficient, it enlightens us about the context in which customers would use a new product and the meaning that product might hold in their lives.

The aim of ethnographic research
Ethnographic research is a qualitative study looking at the social interaction of users in a given environment. This research provides an in-depth insight into the user’s views and actions along with the sights and sounds they encounter during their day. It provides the researcher with an understanding of how those users see the world and how they interact with everything around them.
Ethnographic research include direct observation, diary studies, video recordings, photography and artefact analysis such as devices, which a person uses throughout the day.
• Observations can be made anywhere from the user’s workplace, their home or while they are out with family and friends.
• The length of the studies can vary depending on the research that is being conducted. They can range from a couple of hours of observation, to studies that last several months.

When to use Ethnography?
Ethnography is most useful in the early stages of a user-centered design project. This is because ethnography focuses on developing an understanding of the design problem. Therefore, it makes more sense to conduct ethnographic studies at the beginning of a project in order to support future design decisions (which will happen later in the user-centered design process).
Ethnographic methods (such as participant observation) could also be used to evaluate an existing design – but their true value comes from developing an early understanding of the relevant domain, audience(s), processes, goals and context(s) of use.

 

Ethnographic research

Organizational Ethnography

Ethnography is a study of culture, therefore, organizational ethnography looks at the culture of organizations.
Organizational culture exists within the minds of the people who make up that organization, while organizational ethnography is concerned with settings within which social relations take place between actors who are set on particular goals.
This culture evolves over time, contains dominant cultures and subcultures, and is subject to its own rules, rites, myths and symbols.
Corporate ethnography isn’t just for innovation anymore. It’s central to gaining a full understanding of your customers and the business itself. The ethnographic work at my company, Intel, and other firms now informs functions such as strategy and long-range planning.

Research Parameters
Ethnographic research are qualitative, inductive, exploratory and longitudinal. They achieve a thick, rich description over a relatively small area.
As the researcher, it is best if you conduct your data gathering on an iterative basis, with you taking on a “reflexive” role – in other words observing, reflecting, building up a theory and then going back into the field and testing it.
This process of testing is essential, because of the inevitable element of subjectivity in a research method where you, the researcher, is the instrument.
There are a number of practical considerations with ethnographic methods, such as:
• Time: Studies are time-consuming to complete.
• Place: You need to make sure that you can get the cooperation of the organization you wish to observe and decide whether you want to look at the whole organization, one part of it or a cross-section.

Data collection methods and triangulation
Most ethnographic research makes considerable use of participant observation, usually triangulated with interviews and/or ordinary “informal” conversations.
Triangulation is particularly important as one method on its own is not usually reliable.
You can also gain a lot of information from other sources, such as:
• Written documents, e.g. e-mails, policy documents, meeting minutes, organisation charts, reports, procedural manuals, “official” corporate material such as an intranet, brochures, press releases, advertising, web pages, annual report.
• Corporate events like the annual staff conference and Christmas party, etc.
• Branding – logo and how it is applied, slogan, etc. Branding is a particularly strong use of symbolism.
• Site location, built environment, design, etc.
Another method used is that of the diary, which participants are required to complete (you will also be completing a diary as part of your participant observation.
This may either have set categories as in structured observation, or the participant may be required to keep a record of their experiences (for example, their reactions to a training course) or of what they do.

What is participant observation?
Participant observation is one of the main Ethnographic research data collection methods.
The essence of participant observation is that you, as the researcher, observe the subject of research, either by participating directly in the action, as a member of the study population, or as a “pure” observer, in which case you do not participate in the action but are still present on the scene, for example observing workers in a manufacturing plant or discussants in the board room.

Structured observation
Structured observation differs from participant observation in that it is more detached, more systematic, and what is observed often has a more mechanical quality. It is also a quantitative as opposed to a qualitative technique, concerned with quantifying behavior as opposed to obtaining a rich description.
Ace research is specialized in conducting all types of market researches and it is in core of our service provision that, quality and robustness is always kept intact, with highest priority. With the pool of specialized field resources across Pakistan, we promise information oriented and substantive research outcomes.
Our Experts, design and implement best research model in light of the latest research practices, in field globally.

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Exploring Log-Frame And it’s Crucial Role in M&E

In practice, a Logical Framework:

  • Gives a detailed description of the program showing how the program activities will lead to the immediate outputs, and how these will lead to the outcomes and goal (the terminology used varies by organization).
  • Could be used to complete the sentence “we plan to do X which will give Y result”.
  • Is normally shown as a matrix, called a log-frame. It can also be shown as a flow chart, which is sometimes called a logic model.
  • Is linear, which means that all activities lead to outputs which lead to outcomes and the goal – there are no cyclical processes or feedback loops.
  • Includes space for risks and assumptions, although these are usually only basic. Doesn’t include evidence for why you think one thing will lead to another.
  • Is mainly used as a tool for monitoring.

How to write a logical framework (Log-frame)

Love them or hate them, logical frameworks (Log-frames) have become a staple of international development programs. Most donors will require one as part of your proposal, and it’s the first things an evaluator will ask for.

There is no agreed standard for log-frames. Some organizations call the goal an outcome, while others call it an objective or an impact.

The purpose of a log-frame

A log-frame is a table that lists your program activities, short term outputs, medium term outcomes, and long term goal. It is supposed to show the logic of how the activities will lead to the outputs, which in turn lead to the outcomes, and ultimately the goal.

Should I start with the goal or the activities?

Many people wonder whether they should start filling the log-frame from the top (starting with the goal), or from the bottom (starting with the activities).

Some people would say to start from the top (goal) and work down. That way you state what you hope to achieve, and then you work backwards to decide which outcomes, outputs and activities are required to achieve it.

However, this is often difficult to do in practice. Many organizations have a fixed set of activities that requires them to go from the bottom up. Other organizations may go back and forth between the goal and the activities trying to balance costs against results.

So just fill the table in whichever order makes the most sense to you. For each row of the table (activities, outputs, outcomes and goal) you will need to complete the following steps.

log-frame

Describe the project summary

The first column in the table is the project summary. It describes each level of your project. For example, the goal of the project could be a “10% increase in the number of Grades 5-6 primary students continuing on to high school within 3 years.” The outcome leading to this could be “improve reading proficiency among children in Grades 5-6 by 20% within 3 years.”

When completing the project summary it is very important that the links between the different levels of the project are realistic and logical. Activities should logically lead to outputs, which should lead to realistic outcomes, and a sensible goal.

Choose indicators and means of verification

Once you’ve described each level of the project you need to choose indicators that will allow you to measure if it has been achieved. For example, if the goal is a “10% increase in the number of Grades 5-6 primary students continuing on to high school within 3 years” then the indicator is “percentage of Grades 5-6 primary students continuing on to high school.”

You can have more than one indicator for each level, but it’s a good idea to keep the total number of indicators manageable. For each indicator you need to describe how it will be measured – this is called the means of verification.

The indicators in your log-frame should match the indicators in your M&E framework.

Identify risks and assumptions

The final column in a log-frame is the risks and assumptions. This column lists things that must be true in order for one level to lead to the next level.

An easy way to check whether your risks/assumptions make sense is to look at the activities row and follow this logic: IF these activities are undertaken AND the assumptions are true THEN these outputs will be produced.

Then do the same with the outputs: IF the outputs are created AND the assumptions are true THEN the outcome will be achieved. And then the same for the outcome: IF the outcome is achieved AND the assumptions are true THEN the goal will be achieved.

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Understanding ‘The Monitoring and Evaluation Plan’

A monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plan is a document that helps to track and assess the results of the interventions throughout the life of a program. It is a living document that should be referred to and updated on a regular basis. While the specifics of each program’s M&E plan will look different, they should all follow the same basic structure and include the same key elements.

An M&E plan will include some documents that may have been created during the program planning process, and some that will need to be created new. For example, elements such as the logic model/logical framework, theory of change, and monitoring indicators may have already been developed with input from key stakeholders and/or the program donor. The M&E plan takes those documents and develops a further plan for their implementation.

 

Why develop a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan?

It is important to develop an M&E plan before beginning any monitoring activities so that there is a clear plan for what questions about the program need to be answered. It will help program staff decide how they are going to collect data to track indicators, how monitoring data will be analyzed, and how the results of data collection will be disseminated both to the donor and internally among staff members for program improvement. Remember, M&E data alone is not useful until someone puts it to use! An M&E plan will help make sure data is being used efficiently to make programs as effective as possible and to be able to report on results at the end of the program.

 

Who should develop a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan?

An M&E plan should be developed by the research team or staff with research experience, with inputs from program staff involved in designing and implementing the program.

 

When should a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan be developed?

Monitoring and Evaluation plan should be developed at the beginning of the program when the interventions are being designed. This will ensure there is a system in place to monitor the program and evaluate success.

Who is this guide for?

This guide is designed primarily for program managers or personnel who are not trained researchers themselves but who need to understand the rationale and process of conducting research. This guide can help managers to support the need for research and ensure that research staff have adequate resources to conduct the research that is needed to be certain that the program is evidence based and that results can be tracked over time and measured at the end of the program.

Steps

Step 1: Identify Program Goals and Objectives

The first step to creating an M&E plan is to identify the program goals and objectives. If the program already has a logic model or theory of change, then the program goals are most likely already defined. However, if not, the M&E plan is a great place to start. Identify the program goals and objectives.

Defining program goals starts with answering three questions:

  1. What problem is the program trying to solve?
  2. What steps are being taken to solve that problem?
  3. How will program staff know when the program has been successful in solving the problem?

​Answering these questions will help identify what the program is expected to do, and how staff will know whether or not it worked.

Example: If the program is starting educational skill uplift for girls, the answers might look like this:

Problem High rates of unskilled Girls
Solution Skill enhancement of girls in respective community centers
Success Lowered rates of unskilled Girls in locality

From these answers, it can be seen that the overall program goal is to reduce the rates of unskilled and unaware girls in the community.

It is also necessary to develop intermediate outputs and objectives for the program to help track successful steps on the way to the overall program goal.

Step 2: Define Indicators

Once the program’s goals and objectives are defined, it is time to define indicators for tracking progress towards achieving those goals. Program indicators should be a mix of those that measure process, or what is being done in the program, and those that measure outcomes.

Process indicators track the progress of the program. They help to answer the question, “Are activities being implemented as planned?” Some examples of process indicators are:

  • Number of training held with Girls
  • Number of outreach activities conducted at girls-friendly locations
  • Number of courses taught at girls-friendly locations
  • Percent of girls reached with program awareness messages through the media or WOM

Outcome indicators track how successful program activities have been at achieving program objectives. They help to answer the question, “Have program activities made a difference?” Some examples of outcome indicators are:

  • Percent of girls turning up for course in first round
  • Number and percent of trained peer leaders from that from local community  providing services to girls
  • Number and percent of new girls enrolling in course and also, those turning up for jobs with latest skills acquired

These are just a few examples of indicators that can be created to track a program’s success.

Evaluating the performance over time:

Usually a Quasi-experimental design of pre and post comparison of the same group is applied i.e. the treatment group. The individual score will determine the status of girls’ like in our example; score on a specific time i.e. the score at pre time or post time. The difference between the two will determine the progress of girls from the pre to the post situation. This difference will be calculated through single difference and will be considered as impact of the program.

Step 3: Define Data Collection Methods and Timeline

After creating monitoring indicators, it is time to decide on methods for gathering data and how often various data will be recorded to track indicators. This should be a conversation between program staff, stakeholders, and donors. These methods will have important implications for what data collection methods will be used and how the results will be reported.

The source of monitoring data depends largely on what each indicator is trying to measure. The program will likely need multiple data sources to answer all of the programming questions. Below is a table that represents some examples of what data can be collected and how.

Information to be collected Data source(s)
Implementation process and progress Program-specific M&E tools
Service statistics Facility logs, referral cards
Reach and success of the program intervention within audience subgroups or communities Small surveys with primary audience(s), such as provider interviews or client exit interviews
The reach of media interventions involved in the program Media ratings data, broadcaster logs, Google analytics, omnibus surveys
Reach and success of the program intervention at the population level Nationally-representative surveys, Omnibus surveys, community data
Qualitative data about the outcomes of the intervention Focus groups, in-depth interviews, listener/viewer group discussions, individual media diaries, case studies

Once it is determined how data will be collected, it is also necessary to decide how often it will be collected. This will be affected by donor requirements, available resources, and the timeline of the intervention. Some data will be continuously gathered by the program (such as the number of training), but these will be recorded every six months or once a year, depending on the M&E plan.

After all of these questions have been answered, a table like the one below can be made to include in the M&E plan. This table can be printed out and all staff working on the program can refer to it so that everyone knows what data is needed and when.

Indicator Data source(s) Timing
Number of training held with Community Girls Training attendance sheets Every 6 months
Number of outreach activities conducted at Girls-friendly locations Activity sheet Every 6 months
Number of course taught at youth-friendly locations Subject Sheet / teachers manual Every 6 months
Percent of girls receiving program messages through the media or WOM Population-based surveys Annually
Percent of prospective girls willing to take skill enhancement program population-based survey Annually
Number and percent of peer leaders providing trainings to Girls Facility logs Every 6 months
Number and percent of new enrollments population-based survey Annually

Step 4: Identify M&E Roles and Responsibilities

The next element of the M&E plan is a section on roles and responsibilities. It is important to decide from the early planning stages who is responsible for collecting the data for each indicator. This will probably be a mix of M&E staff, research staff, and program staff. Everyone will need to work together to get data collected accurately and in a timely fashion.

Data management roles should be decided with input from all team members so everyone is on the same page and knows which indicators they are assigned. This way when it is time for reporting there are no surprises.

An easy way to put this into the Monitoring and Evaluation plan is to expand the indicators table with additional columns for who is responsible for each indicator, as shown below.

Indicator Data source(s) Timing Data manager
Number of training held with Community Girls Training attendance sheets Every 6 months Activity manager
Number of outreach activities conducted at Girls-friendly locations Activity sheet Every 6 months Activity manager
Number of course taught at youth-friendly locations Course sheet Every 6 months Activity manager
Percent of girls receiving program messages through the media or WOM Population-based survey Annually Research assistant
Percent of prospective girls willing to take skill enhancement program population-based survey Annually Research assistant
Number and percent of peer leaders providing training to Girls Facility logs Every 6 months Field M&E officer
Number and percent of new enrollments population-based survey Annually Research assistant

Step 5: Create an Analysis Plan and Reporting Templates

Once all of the data have been collected, someone will need to compile and analyze it to fill in a results table for internal review and external reporting. This is likely to be an in-house M&E manager or research assistant for the program.

The Monitoring and Evaluation plan should include a section with details about what data will be analyzed and how the results will be presented. Do research staff need to perform any statistical tests to get the needed answers? If so, what tests are they and what data will be used in them? What software program will be used to analyze data and make reporting tables? Excel? SPSS? These are important considerations.

Another good thing to include in the plan is a blank table for indicator reporting. These tables should outline the indicators, data, and time period of reporting. They can also include things like the indicator target, and how far the program has progressed towards that target.

Step 6: Plan for Dissemination and Donor Reporting

The last element of the M&E plan describes how and to whom data will be disseminated. Data for data’s sake should not be the ultimate goal of M&E efforts.  Data should always be collected for particular purposes.

Consider the following:

  • How will M&E data be used to inform staff and stakeholders about the success and progress of the program?
  • How will it be used to help staff make modifications and course corrections, as necessary?
  • How will the data be used to move the field forward and make program practices more effective?

The Monitoring and Evaluation plan should include plans for internal dissemination among the program team, as well as wider dissemination among stakeholders and donors. For example, a program team may want to review data on a monthly basis to make programmatic decisions and develop future work plans, while meetings with the donor to review data and program progress might occur quarterly or annually. Dissemination of printed or digital materials might occur at more frequent intervals. These options should be discussed with stakeholders and your team to determine reasonable expectations for data review and to develop plans for dissemination early in the program. If these plans are in place from the beginning and become routine for the project, meetings and other kinds of periodic review have a much better chance of being productive ones that everyone looks forward to.

Zahid Hussain 1 Comment

Buy Now Pay Later – An Opportunity Unexplored

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) has quickly risen to prominence in the UK in the last decade, with Swedish challenger bank Klarna, which arrived in the UK in 2014, spearheading this exciting new form of credit. BNPL provider’s partner with retailers to give consumers the option of upfront credit which can be paid at a later date, either via a deferred payment in full or by splitting the payment across multiple fixed installments with any interest agreed upfront and built into the repayment plan. The rise in BNPL services has predominantly come around thanks to a series of fintechs coming to the table as payment platforms and partnering with leading e-commerce retailers to offer interest free credit at checkout. According to a 2020 Worldpay report, BNPL fintechs are growing at a rate of 39 percent annually in the UK, with expectation that they will double their ecommerce market share by 2023.

BNPL

Slow to the digital field in general; Pakistan’s e-commerce marketplace has hit a major growth spurt in 2020 and 2021, with revenue growing by over 35 percent in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021 alone. It is also a younger demographic: 40 percent of the population is under the age of 30. Also, the increased access to digitization – even rural areas have 3G at this point – has served to give commerce a massive shove forward.

Where does BNPL fit in the wider consumer credit industry?

BNPL is a ‘during purchase’ payment option which is predominantly present in ecommerce, although there have been products launched for face-to-face point of sale (PoS) transactions, such as Klarna In-store (by QR code), Klarna Card and Laybuy. Other consumer credit options include PoS finance, and revolving credit cards. PoS finance is typically initiated in-store when purchasing electronics and household goods, and such solutions have historically had socioeconomic status around them. The revolving credit card is perhaps most under threat from BNPL, although our Capco research shows that credit cards are here to stay for the time being.

However, what Pakistan is lacking, QisstPay Co-founder Jordan Olivas told Karen Webster in a recent conversation, is an easy way to access credit. Credit card penetration is low, and cash remains king when it comes to making payments. The market clearly needs another option, which is what Pakistani version of BNPL aims to offer as it introduces buy now, pay later (BNPL) as a tool to the Pakistani market.

“The problem in Pakistan today is that there aren’t a lot of ways to get formal credit,” noted Olivas. “So this is something very specific. We are not offering lines of credit. We’re not issuing loans. What we are doing is factoring invoices, in a sense. We’re essentially buying the invoice from the merchant and extending a partial net 30 to the consumer.”

As a result, the consumer gets a chance to split up their payments – paying 50 percent at the time of purchase and the other half 30 days later. That payment cycle was chosen to match up with typical Pakistani pay cycles, which are usually 30 days.

Like QisstPay, a conventional buy now pay later (BNPL) credit facility initiative; KalPay is a Shariah Compliant Buy now Pay later service. It allows customers to use credit and payback in installments or delay their payments.

WHAT IS THE CUSTOMER NEED?

The growth of digital wallets and mobile commerce will be at the forefront of future BNPL adoption, given the younger demographic focus and personalized user experience already available on BNPL apps. During the 2019 holiday season in Australia, Afterpay reportedly saw 80 percent of all their customer base using their mobile phones to BNPL, proving that convenience is still king, this can be validated through a Market Research.

Market research should never be underestimated. Many successful new businesses enjoy longevity because their owners conduct regular market research to understand their target market, identify consumer problems and pinpoint realistic competitors. In Pakistan, companies undermine the long term benefits of market research. Least weightage is assigned to market research when deciding relevant markets for products and services. Companies do have provision for market research but are reluctant to invest in getting a real-time market assessment and as a result, often their strategies and policies are ineffective in capturing a true market share of forecasted targets. This leads to inconsistency in growth, earning and customer retention in the longer run.

Market Research is the simplest way for entrepreneurs to keep up with market trends such as, BNPL and maintain a competitive edge by sizing up your business opportunity.

Market research can be carried out at various stages of a business life cycle, from pre-launch and beyond. Having a greater understanding of your marketplace from the very start will enable you to create a sound business strategy to establish and grow your brand into one that’s better than the competition.

Ace Research is one of the leading market research and customer experience management companies in Pakistan with a team dedicated to helping the client get the insights that they desire. Our years of experience speak of our keen analysis of customer preference and nevertheless, approach to identify and materialize market opportunity. Our team has an eye upon all the latest market trends and at the moment it is BNPL.

Market Research ‘Assessing BNPL need from the customer’s perspective’

  • It helps new startup BNPL businesses strengthen their position
  • It minimizes any investment risk involved in exploring new opportunities.
  • It identifies potential threats and opportunities for BNPL companies
  • It helps to discover yours and your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, n this context other local and regional competitors
  • It facilitates strategic planning
  • It assists businesses to stay ahead of the competition
  • It provides revenue projections
  • It focuses on customer needs and demands, the foremost important need for new BNPL startups
  • Identifies Target Audience ‘Core Essential for Business Growth’
  • It helps to evaluate the success of business against benchmarks

An International survey found that companies that benchmark achieve 69% faster growth and 45% greater productivity than those that don’t. Use market research to analyze competitors, employee engagement surveys and to highlight performance or knowledge gaps and areas for potential growth. This will open your company up to thinking about new methods, ideas, and tools to improve your business effectiveness.

WHO IS BNPL FOR?

Buy Now Pay Later has been stereotyped as a solution for people who live paycheck to paycheck, however, a series of consumer research carried out by multiple different sources has identified that it is in fact simply a great solution for the budget conscious and more ‘credit averse’ consumers. Indeed, our consumer research survey on BNPL found that almost 30 percent of BNPL users were well above the average UK individual annual income.

Furthermore, our consumer research indicated that consumers like the concept of BNPL as it gives them the flexibility to manage their finances, regardless of income level. For the majority of those who have used BNPL before, they even prefer it to other forms of credit, like credit cards or store cards20. At present, BNPL purchases are clustered around typically cheaper retail items but there is a clear appetite to pay for more expensive items using BNPL too.

TRUST & LOYALTY

To date, how a consumer selects a BNPL option has been driven by the merchants they shop with. Strong partnerships with a broad range of merchants enable Klarna, ClearPay, LayBuy and PayPal Credit to shape the UK’s BNPL and consumer credit markets. The branding of these BNPLs are also very much present on social media channels, and even Transport for London advertising spaces, such as on the tube and on sides of London buses. This begs the question; does the same amount of thought go into selecting a BNPL provider as you would with choosing a new bank? Loyalty plays a big role in consumer behaviors, but whether the BNPL era is driving loyalty amongst consumer’s remains to be seen. After that first purchase with a BNPL provider, does the consumer become more attached and loyal to that brand, or would they ‘cheat on them’ for their next BNPL transaction? We don’t know the answer to this exactly, but we do know that one of the biggest issues online retailers face is the dreaded shopping basket paralysis.

A CHANGING ATTITUDE TOWARDS CREDIT

The presence of BNPL providers is playing a key role in changing the buying behaviors and general outlook on traditional methods of credit. Our research shows, contrary to the youthful marketing image of BNPL, the biggest users of BNPL are in fact 35 – 44-year-olds (Gen Y and X demographics), followed by the over 65s (Boomers) according to our research26, which suggests more mature demographics are not averse to trying new types of credit; and as aforementioned, BNPL is the most preferable form of credit for those who have used it to make a payment before.

By providing a manageable way for consumers to borrow and repay with the interest (where applicable) built into the repayment plan with fixed-end date, BNPL providers are giving consumers more assurance that they can repay without falling into a revolving credit repayment.

IMPLICATIONS FOR BANKS AND CREDIT CARD ISSUERS

The rise of BNPL services demonstrates the need for banks and credit card issuers to act quickly in response to this demand for change. Unsecured credit is transforming, and credit card issuers need to consider new ways of offering credit to consumers; furthermore, with the cost of credit reportedly rising27, customers may be driven towards alternative lending solutions sooner rather than later. Banks have been considered a trusted source of lending, so it seems like a no-brainer to give customers the choice to pay by instalments. This would additionally give customers a tool within their existing safe and trusted banking space to manage their finances, avoiding taking on additional apps and new lenders. Almost half of our surveyed BNPL users would like this service (45 percent) from their bank or credit card provider28. We believe banks should be making a defensive ‘play’ in this space to maintain their existing market share by:

  1. Looking at investing in installments solutions
  2. Creating their own standalone BNPL products
  3. Partnering with a BNPL provider to provide either of the above.

Big Untapped Opportunity Lies Ahead

Banks with existing merchant relationships may have a competitive edge in entering the BNPL space. If they’re already partnering with merchants with credit card or other private-label credit card or other financial products, they’re really well positioned. This opportunity is wide open to all banks in Pakistan.

While there is much to be said for being the first player out on a greenfield – as QisstPay is in Pakistan – there is the massive challenge of getting both consumers and merchants on board and willing to use something new. While services like Afterpay might see their most avid users tapping into the service five or six times a month, a QisstPay superuser might use the platform once or twice.

But company management believes, they will see that change over time, particularly as they are able to recruit more merchants onto the platform, and as the new payment form becomes more familiar to customers. This has been the pattern as BNPL platforms have emerged elsewhere in the world.

 

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How to Counter Fraud in Market Research?

Fraud and misrepresentation of reports is the common norm, which erodes elements of transparency in research activity. If proper checks are not set in place, such loopholes can be catastrophic in decision making phase because it relies upon data gathered during the research process.

In Pakistan, research ethics and professionalism is the salt sold very cheap. No standards are in place to guide and curb such sheer violation of research basics. Data is infringed with biased, wrong and irrelevant responses. Least efforts are made to ensure data verifiability and authenticity. According to an estimate, 25-30% fraud rate is obvious in all the research activities.

By reviewing data conformity to objectives on each level can mitigate unwanted practices but this idea is not practical where scope is too high.

Some of the common survey frauds

  • Same surveys are performed multiple times by one respondent – Duplicate respondent error

Unique IP address and link to email accounts can minimize this error also, using one single platform to submit responses will help us in getting unique submissions. Also, at times it can be accidental, Accidental “fraud” occurs when survey participants are not aware they are taking the same survey multiple times. This happens when online surveys do not block duplicate entries. Another source of accidental errors can occur when a survey respondent is a member of multiple online panels that are all sending respondents the same survey. But in all cases, these respondents are not actually committing fraud. They are simply good people accidentally participating more than one time in the same survey.

On other hand, there is this group committing Intentional fraud, it occurs when a survey participant deliberately tries to complete a survey multiple times, or provides inaccurate answers to survey questions. The motives are either to alter the results of the survey or to reap extra financial incentives. These individuals routinely join and participate in as many online panels as they can. They have their browsers reset browser cookies and history after each survey attempt, make common use of “incognito modes,” and utilize VPN services (commercial and free) to circumvent any geographic restrictions. Online surveys that offer bigger incentives tend to attract more intentional fraud. These are individuals you definitely do not want in your online surveys.

Minimizing Fraud – Protection mechanism

  • Research targets such as, households or retail branches when not visited, or doubted as not visit for this purpose – Geo Tagging is used. The first component of a fraud defense is geo-location. Geo-location can be provided by the device itself (mobile devices, etc.), by a previous data point created by survey participants when signing up, or via their computer’s IP address. Geo-location or tagging results are generally trusted and acceptable at the country level.
  • Another widely used method that is used to track survey participants is a device/browser fingerprint. This “digital” fingerprint is built up from components and properties of the browser, such as fonts installed, plugins registered, screen size, color depth, and many other variables that uniquely identify a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Another strategy is to put questions (i.e., cheater traps) in an online survey with nonsensical answers that might trap a participant who is rushing through a survey.
  • Cookies are also used to track respondents across and within online surveys. Cookies are widely used to prevent duplicate survey entries and are easy to implement.
  • To reach right audience or diffuse chances of fraud, random calls are made to assess the authenticity of online and offline surveys.
  • At the same time, Ace research has devised one of the most comprehensive Quality check process. This ensures optimally the integrity and accuracy of data at all levels. It minimizes human errors by putting in place review mechanism.
  • All the reports and submission if cross checked with underlined instruction shared with shoppers and surveyors – with zero tolerance policy for any deviation also helps in mitigating fraud.

Other ways to minimize fraudulent responses

Two less common and more difficult to interpret components of a fraud defense are survey metadata and open-end verbatim analysis. Survey metadata includes details like how long survey participants took to complete a particular survey or question, how long they spent writing an answer to an open-end question, or how many times they changed their answers. Consequently, determining what constitutes fraud from metadata requires some human legwork and tends to vary survey by survey.

The same is true of the analysis of open-end questions. While sentiment analysis is commonplace now, it is fraught with misclassifications for anything but the simplest of cases. Going a step further and performing more sophisticated analysis of open-ends to identify fraudulent responses is even more difficult. However, there are some simple things that can be done to help check for fraudulent open-ends. Checking for gibberish, repetitive answers, and off-topic responses can help identify fraud.

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COVID-19 AND CHANGE IN CONSUMER PREFERENCES

COVID-19 is having a lasting, worldwide impact on consumer preferences and behaviors, according to a new report from KPMG International, “Responding to consumer trends in the new reality.” The report tracks the opinions of 75,000 consumers in 12 markets to examine the changes and how businesses need to think and act differently in response to these trends.

Since May 2020, research has seen four key trends that have impacted consumers and have ultimately changed their purchasing patterns and consumption. Consumers expect these changes to last longer than 12 months.

The trends across the globe are

  • economic impact,
  • erosion of trust,
  • rise of digital and
  • Home is the new hub.

These themes highlight the pressures consumers are under, their feelings towards brands, and their changing behaviors in the new reality. Retailers will need to better understand the needs of the customer groups — via segmentation driven by AI and psychometrics. Personalization not only of communications, but also of developed products, will be key to meeting the needs of the new consumer. Besides, consumers are gravitating toward brands that are empathetic and supportive of their values. Consumer Commerce is the future. Bricks and mortar will remain an important channel although we know channel agnostic and customer centric is key and the competition will be much broader than today’s retail.”

Nearly half, 45 percent, of respondents do not feel a strong financial impact, which could mean opportunities for businesses that are able to meet the new consumer’s expectations. All consumers predict they will spend less in the next 6-12 months and all are prioritizing savings. Perhaps not surprisingly, ‘value for money’ is ranked as the key purchase driver.

Key trends include:

  • Two in five (43 percent) of consumers are worried about their financial security in 2021
  • More than one-third (36 percent), are prioritizing savings over spending
  • 37 percent are working from home more, and 60 percent plan to do so more in the future
  • One in five (20 percent) want to stay at home as much as possible
  • Confidence in public transportation has declined 37 percent compared to before COVID-19
  • Net spend is expected to be 21 percent less over the next 6-12 months, versus pre-COVID-19
  • Close to half (45 percent) predict digital channels will be their main connection to brands
  • “Value for money” is ranked by 63 percent as the top purchase criteria

Consumer brand relationships are likely to permanently change as a result of COVID-19 and businesses need to reexamine how they build trust with their customers in this new reality. The brands that can demonstrate and articulate their value and adapt to rapidly changing customer demands as they spend more time at home and rely more on digital, are the ones that will be most successful.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON PAKISTANI CONSUMER PREFERENCES

According to the Survey, 62.3% of respondents confirmed that their overall spending had decreased; 19.4% were of the opinion that the lockdown had not made much difference and 13.3% that their spending had increased.

  1. Groceries, Disinfectants and Sanitizers on the Rise

Although consumers may have been spending less or very little on non-essential items they used this amount to stock up on other items instead. These include groceries such as packaged food, fresh food, beverages (58.7%) – not surprising given that the lockdown led people to throng supermarkets and stores. Groceries most stocked upon on include daily essentials such as bread, flour, pulses, rice and sugar (53.4%), fruit and vegetables (44.7%), snacks (36.3%), meat/poultry (33.4%), and frozen foods (21.7%). Other items that consumers have been spending more on include personal protection products, such as sanitizers, gloves and masks (54.5%).

  1. Dining Out On the Dive

Respondents stated that they are spending less on clothes (74.2%), fuel (75.3%), and recreational activities (69.3%). A category that has also been in the red is the food business (restaurants, eating out/ordering and takeaways), as 79% said that they are ordering in and dining out less due to the lockdown. Prior to the lockdown, 59.6% ordered food at least once a week or less from a restaurant, 25.3% ordered once or twice a week, 9.7% twice or thrice a week and more than 5% four or more times a week.

  1. Online Shopping and Banking Booming?

Surprisingly, while the rest of the world saw a spike in online shopping during the lockdown (groceries mainly), in Pakistan 53.4% still purchased groceries from physical stores. Only 10.6% used an online channel to buy an item for the first time although 18.7% said they are ordering more online now; 16.8% said they regularly used e-commerce channels for their purchases even before the lockdown. Nearly 12% said they were willing to try online shopping for the first time but had not done it yet. (7.5% said they did not have the option to shop online in their respective cities or areas).

While the lockdown has seen a surge in internet banking globally, in Pakistan only 5.9% downloaded banking apps or used online banking services for the first time during the lockdown; 22.5% said they are not using online banking channels while 4.7% said they would like to try in the near future.

  1. Brand Loyalty Compromised?

The last two months have seen a shift in consumer priority, with the focus moving towards availability, due to shortages as a result of panic buying, stores and supermarkets running out of stock (33.8% said that they have been unable to source their preferred brands). This demand and supply gap has led to consumers trying alternate brands (21%) while 8.8% purposely opted to buy cheaper brands in order to economise. Consumers who stayed loyal to their brands constituted 31.3% and 38.6% said they were not brand loyal.

Business exists for customers and the way you deal and respond to your customer will determine how productive is your business as well as its ultimate impact on customer retention. Ace Research proposes that the information you acquire from your customers, help you grow your business. The research method you will opt will depend upon the type of your business and the kind of information you need to acquire. And it can be done internally by assigning a task to some individuals or you may hire a consultant to conduct perhaps more transparent research for your organization.

  1. Are Brands Communicating Effectively?

When asked if brands have created advertising/communication messages relevant to Covid-19, 35.8% stated yes; when asked to name these brands, the ones mentioned most frequently included soap and telecoms: Lifebuoy (12%), Dettol (4%), Safeguard (3%), Jazz (1%), Telenor (1%) and Ufone (1%). “Brands have molded their ads and product line-up according to the onset of Covid-19; telecoms have made recharging balances much easier.

The top three brands mentioned included Lifebuoy (5%), Dettol (2%), and Safeguard (1%). As to whether any brands stood out because of a CSR initiative, 24% named a brand – Jazz (3%) followed by Asim Jofa, EBM, Telenor, Engro and Unilever (1 to 2%). One respondent remarked “I read that many brands are actually donating money to the Prime Minister’s Ehsaas Emergency Cash program, which is good to see but more efforts need to be made by other brands as well.”

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Why Retail Audit is Crucial for FMCG’s Success?

Retail auditors are those professionals that basically asses the stock at the retail outlets, in relation to company records and set requirements. They analyze everything about the company’s stock in a retail outlet. They provide information about the brand’s sales volume, the trending sales techniques, in store display effectiveness and overall stock management. Thus, retail auditors are important for any company but more so for FMCG companies which depend highly on retail stores for their product sales.

What key functionalities retail auditors perform:

  • Assessment of the various stocks in all the retail stores allocated to them.
  • Matching the stocks with the company’s records.
  • Checking for any damage or wrong stock.
  • Realizing any issue with a particular stock.
  • Clearance of stock in a timely manner.
  • Documenting and proper reporting.
  • Informing and reporting to the higher authorities

Who shall perform this activity for FMCGs?

As we can see, these professionals need to be very efficient and good at their work. Hence, conducting interviews and hiring these professionals is a tedious task for any company. So what can companies do? They can seek services of a market Research companies that conduct interviews and takes care of the entire hiring process.

All they need to do is contact such  companies and share their requirements. These research companies will carry out the retail auditing on their behalf. This is very effective and saves the company huge costs and the tedious process. Few companies like Ace Research not only perform retail audits for you but also facilitates your management with action oriented reports and in-depth analysis of whole activity thus, helping the company to perform retail audit’s hassle-free.

Types of information that brand retail auditors gather include:

  • Sales volume
  • Stock levels (shelf and back stock)
  • Descriptions of in-store displays and promotional materials
  • Competitor activity
  • Planogram compliance (shelf location, number of facings present, number of SKUs present, missing/inaccurate shelf tags)
  • Pricing
  • In-store location of products
  • Product damage

Importance of Retail Audit

retail audit

The benefits of conducting retail audits are twofold. On the one hand, they serve as a tool for suppliers to ensure that retailers are complying with pre-established agreements on product placement, pricing, and promotion. On the other hand, they allow brands to accurately measure their success in the retail environment.

Types of Retail Audits

With so much variance in the information that can be recorded in a retail audit, it makes sense to segment audits by data type. Different audit forms should be used to reflect the respective data being collected at a given store visit. Examples of the types of retail audits that a supplier might employ are listed below.

Retail Market

In some cases, brands might simply want to know the placement, where their products are being stocked (or could potentially be stocked in the future). Retail auditors might document the following:

  • Consumer sentiment towards the brand and its competitors
  • Store appearance and location.
  • Qualitative and quantitative information about other brands present in the store.

Merchandising Report

This type of store audit is primarily concerned with the brand’s performance. Retail auditors use merchandising reports to analyze:

  • Inventory levels
  • Stock outs
  • Condition of products
  • Amount of available shelf space
  • Units ordered
  • Retail price
  • General shelf appearance

Promotional Report

If a brand is holding a sale or other type of special promotion, it is important to track its success so as to know, how it’s performing in the short-term and how to improve in the future.

  • The type of promotion being used (tasting, demo, price reduction, etc.)
  • The duration of the promotion
  • The featured products
  • In-store position
  • Sales results
  • General effectiveness of the promotion.

Competitor Survey

One audit that brands shouldn’t overlook is the competitor survey, which can reveal invaluable insight into how your brand stacks up against others in its category.

  • Who your direct and indirect competitors are in the store
  • Competitors’ pricing strategies
  • How many facings competitors have on the shelf. Is your brand being significantly overshadowed?
  • Where competitors’ products are located in the store.
  • Any promotions competitors are running

Steps in the Audit Process

After realizing the inherent value of retail audits, how can your company guarantee that it’s executing them properly? Consider the following procedure to help your team make the most of every store visit.

  1. Articulate your goals

Determine the main objectives of your retail audit. Are you primarily concerned with monitoring competitor activity? Or do you care about how quickly your products are moving off the shelf?

  1. Design audit criteria

Select the exact questions you will be asking in the audit and the acceptable answer types. Will you use “yes/no” questions, have retail auditor’s write-in responses, or use a scale such as 1-5?

  1. Schedule Appointments

Once you know what you’re trying to gain from the retail audit, it’s time to make it happen. Aim for consistency in terms of who you send to which accounts. This way, individual retail auditors can become extremely knowledgeable about their stores and build a rapport with store management. Recognize that some retailers might want to be notified before retail auditors will be visiting their store. Also be mindful to schedule retail auditors for an appropriate number of audits as determined by their assigned territory.

  1. Gather data and photos

Make sure auditors collect data that directly corresponds to the goals and criteria you’ve laid out. Including photos in audits is a great way to depict exactly what’s happening in a store at any given time, and promotes accountability and compliance.

  1. Evaluate results.

Once audits are completed, organize your data in an easy editable format. Numerical values can be depicted graphically. Check to see how the results you’ve achieved stack up against your pre-determined KPIs.

  1. Implement changes.

After analyzing the findings, execute on what needs to be done in the short term. For example, you discover that a particular SKU is performing significantly worse than others, across several locations and you decide to pull it from shelves immediately.

  1. Repeat the process.

After conducting several retail audits, you’ll be able to make adjustments to your retail audit process as needed to tailor it to your company’s unique needs. Regularly conducting audits will allow your business to be as agile and rapidly adjust to the ever changing retail landscape.

Advantages of Retail Audit Software

Historically, businesses have used pen and paper for retail auditing, which presents a number of avoidable challenges, such as:

  • Need to transcribe findings into a digital format after the fact
  • Risk of losing or damaging paper
  • Higher risk of human errors
  • Delayed transmission of data from the field to decision-makers

To combat these issues, companies can make use of technology.

Ace Research online dashboard offers ONE-STOP RESEARCH PLATFORM supported by data collection team all across country. Our dashboard is equipped to support your business in the following ways.

  1. Ability to easily collect data through digital forms.

You’ll want to be able to customize your survey questions to accommodate specific product families or retailers. Moreover, you’ll want customization of the allowed answer types. Ideally, some questions could be marked as “mandatory” so that brand retail auditors cannot submit the audit without filling in a response for those questions.

  1. Synchronization of data to brand managers in real-time.

The primary reason for using a technological solution as opposed to paper is so that managers can receive data from the audits immediately. The faster data is available for analysis, the faster changes can be implemented. To automate your process further, we offer a solution that readily transforms data into graphs and charts for easy visualization.

  1. Image capturing capabilities

Photos illustrate what words alone cannot express. They’re especially useful for revealing details about competitor packaging, shelf appearance, store tidiness, and promotional displays. Pictures are also great for depicting “before” and “after” scenarios.

  1. Barcode scanning

To save time during auditing, brand retail auditors can scan the UPC of a particular product using a smartphone camera, which in doing so will populate their screen with more detailed information about the product.

  1. Time stamping and/or geo-tagging

For organizational purposes, it’s helpful to know the precise location and time that an audit took place.

  1. Electronic signature capture

Getting a signature from a store manager lets your company know that the audit has been done.

A retail audit can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your overall retail execution strategy. However, the insights gained from retail audits are only as strong as the quality of the audits themselves. Moving forward, Ace Research helps you in planning how your business can augment its retail audit process by streamlining data collection and its analysis. Supports you in evaluating your findings to make the auditing process worthwhile and enable your company to make agile, informed decisions.

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Customer Loyalty: Building solid customer relationships

A good marketing strategy generates revenues from both new and existing customers. New customers provide the necessary injection of fresh blood for a healthy, growing company. However, it is the existing customers that provide a solid foundation.

Nearly all businesses have the opportunity for a continuing relationship with their customers and, over the years, the revenue generated becomes a “customer lifetime value (CLV)”.

The lifetime value of a customer depends very much on what is being sold. People do not move house often and so an estate agent could believe that the lifetime value of customers is low. However, the word-of-mouth associated with the move could be significant. In a completely different line of business, a baker sells a loaf for very little but repeated sales over 20 years could run to a cumulative value of many thousands of dollars from a single customer.

A focus on CLV is vital in order to increase satisfaction and instill loyalty. Good relationships developed with sales and technical teams are the strongest drivers of customer loyalty in business-to-business markets.

Lifetime value

Customers can be divided into three groups:

  1. Those who stay loyal and are unlikely to shop anywhere else
  2. Those who have moved on and will never come back
  3. And those who regularly shop around and may well return in the future.

Our concern is particularly to keep the loyal customers loyal and to stop other customers defecting.

How Ace Research help you in assessing your Customer Loyalty?

Loyalty can be assessed by asking people how likely they are to recommend a company, using a scale from 0 to 10. It has been determined that there is a strong correlation between people giving a score of 9 or 10 out of 10 on this scale and their likelihood of becoming loyal customers. It is quite exceptional to have more than 30-40% of customers give a score of 9 or 10.

The problem for most companies is not the number of customers that give a low score of 6 or below but those who simply believe the company is satisfactory, scoring 7 or 8 out of 10. The group giving a “middling” score often makes up the bulk of the customer base. It is this group who award mediocre scores that are of greatest concern as their heads could easily be turned if some other supplier arrives on the scene with what seems like an attractive offer.

Ace Research offers specialies consumer surveys and research activities to assess the level of customer loyalty, across all industries.

How to build customer lifetime value (CLV)

Loyalty is hard earned. It does not come from a bunch of flowers or a nice smile, though this can help. It is earned in small servings, over time, and can so easily be lost by one false move.

True loyalty often arises when a company does something extra ordinary to get a customer out of trouble. There will be times when a customer requires an urgent delivery or a machine stops working and a supplier who solves the problem will be remembered.

Loyalty – How To Win Devotion from Your Customers

Everybody is talking about loyalty nowadays. It is not that customer satisfaction has fallen by the wayside; rather businesses recognize that, a satisfied customer isn’t necessarily a loyal one.

Why Customer Loyalty Is So Important

Let’s think about that for a minute. Why may a satisfied customer not be loyal?  There could be a number of reasons.  Firstly they may not be that satisfied.  Ace research measure satisfaction on scales and, on a scale from 1 to 10, most companies achieve a score of around 8.  This is right in the middle of what we call a “corridor of average satisfaction” which spans from 7 to 9.  In other words, 8 out of 10 might sound good, but it is only OK.  If you want your customers to stay loyal, you have to have scores of 9 out of 10 on the things that really matter.

The Zones of Customer Satisfaction:

Customer loyalty

We should also recognize that for some customers, it is not that difficult to switch suppliers.  A tempting offer from a competitor could easily turn the head of a non-committed customer. There may of course be shortfalls in your own supply that encourage people to seek another supplier.

How to inculcate Customer Loyalty?

Past history of our research assessment indicates that, customers defect for two primary reasons: their need for a product or service has ceased, or the product/service they are buying has failed to satisfy their needs in some way. And, when we say that the offering has failed in some way, it means that they were let down or their expectations were not met.  Being simply OK is good, but not good enough in this highly competitive world, when others are prepared to do anything to win and keep the business.

It is important to emphasize that one of the most important factors that builds loyalty is the high quality of the product and service that is being offered.  There is absolutely no substitute for this.  Any compromise on quality carries a huge risk.

Examples of Causal Models of Drivers and Customer Loyalty

Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty is driven by small things, the softer things that are harder to measure, and the little things which in isolation seem inconsequential.

Three important steps to achieving devotion from your customers

In conclusion, there are three steps to ensure loyalty from our customers:

Step 1 – Make Sure That the Basics Are Right

It is no good thinking that you can build customer loyalty if there are any failings at all in the basics of your offer.  The quality of your product and service in particular has to be unquestioned.  Deliveries must be on time, in full, every time.  The price of your offer must be good value but it is not necessary that it is the cheapest.  Indeed, we know that low prices do not engender loyalty because in general low prices mean low service and this in turn means low loyalty.

Step 2 – Work on the Softer Issues

Loyalty is based on the strength of the relationships that are built up with the sales and service teams.  It is the result of many little things that often go beyond the expectations of the customer.  It is the accumulation of these little things that create trust that will not be jeopardized by a move to a new supplier. Recognize that from time to time things will go wrong and when they do, fix them quickly and where possible, give something extra to make up for the failing.

Step 3 – Measure and Control

Finally, measure everything.  Measure customer churn, measure complaints, measure customer satisfaction, measure the frequency of introducing new suppliers, and measure the likelihood of recommending.  Through measurement will come an understanding of the degree of loyalty of your customers and the tools to ensure that it is driven to the highest possible levels.

Ace Research with years of experience and research insight has catered many projects involving customer retention and loyalty track. Consumer surveys, mystery shopping’s, churn rate assessment, etc. to name few are the research models we employ to identify, measure and propose areas for enhancing customer lifetime value.