Talking With: Humm CEO Bernard Briggs on building the customer relationship

| by Judy Mottl
Talking With: Humm CEO Bernard Briggs on building the customer relationship

Every retailer knows it is important to build, enhance and nuture the customer relatonship, and most are seeking to do the best job possible. As one expert relates, it's not a simple or one-step effort. Retail Customer Experience asked Humm CEO Bernard Briggs for his insight as his company is helping retailers, across a wide range of indusries, shore up and bolster the customer relationship.

RCE: Obviously customer satisfaction is key for retailers and discovering if customers are satisfied or not, before they stop patronizing a business, is important. What are some initial strategies retailers must deploy to begin enhancing the customer relationship?

Briggs: Before you can build and maintain customer relationships, you have to develop a deep understanding of who your customer is. Retail is the obvious example, but any business that touches customers should first implement a strategy for listening to its customers, figuring out who they are and what they need, want and expect. Tapping into real-time feedback while the customer is still on premise will give you access to much larger volumes and much more authentic insight. That deep level of customer understanding should then inform -- and will ensure success across -- every other aspect of the customer relationship - from your loyalty programs to your communications strategy.

RCE: What are some misconceptions about developing the customer relationship that retailers may have?

Briggs: Companies have long understood the importance of customer feedback, but have the misguided perception that they can rely on traditional approaches like post-purchase emails or survey cards. That's steering brands in the wrong direction for a few reasons. First, the more time that passes between the experience and the feedback request, the less likely it is that a customer will provide it — that's why traditional feedback tools result in sub-10 percent response rates. Second, once the emotion of the experience has passed, customers are less likely to provide honest, authentic feedback, rendering it much less useful for brands. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if a customer has a negative experience that goes unaddressed, they are unlikely to do repeat business with that brand.

Real-time feedback is solving gaps left by traditional tools. It's garnering response rates of 85-90 percent, with more authentic information collected and in a way that enables brands to both trend and make adjustments over time, and also drive immediate improvements. It's the ultimate way to ensure that every customer walks out satisfied and likely to return.

RCE: Humm is helping a wide variety of clients who are seeking to enhance relationships while reducing costs. Can you share some customer results?

Briggs:  Direct customer feedback is one of the best tools for helping businesses understand and improve the guest experience, keeping customers satisfied and coming back so a real-time platform that leverages the ease and versatility of tablets to easily capture customized feedback can be a valuable effort. Nath Companies, which has utilized Humm in nine of its Axels and Bonfire restaurants for than more two years, attributes its double-digit revenue growth to its ability to better understand, in real time, how they were performing against customer expectations. Through questions that range from food quality, to server attentiveness and menu knowledge, Nath uses Humm data to help restaurant managers make smart, informed decisions about everything from staffing and performance levels, to menu items.

With K&N Management, the Malcolm Baldrige award winner in 2014, the company was seeking to drive operational efficiencies at its eight counter-service restaurants and one food truck for their two brands, Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes and Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ. Where managers previously spent large amounts of time walking the floor, speaking directly with customers and prompting them directly for feedback, only to gain limited insight on performance and satisfaction, Humm now provides the restaurants with much larger volumes of information and deeper, more-authentic levels of insight. A year after implementing Humm, K&N Management increased feedback by 790 percent, uncovering an average of 32,000 pieces of feedback each year per brand, compared to just 3,600 per year per brand in the past. By better pinpointing areas that need improvement as they happen, managers are able to focus on duties beyond the customer floor, and improve operations and performance.  

Healthcare providers, such as Yale New-Haven Health, are using Humm to turn patient interaction into an experience comparable to a four-star hotel. Using tablets through the patient journey, from the waiting room to exam rooms to discharge, Yale New-Haven Health collects feedback on varying aspects of the experience, from room cleanliness, to the patient’s understanding of aftercare instructions. Nurses are immediately alerted and able to respond and act in real time. The platform has had such an impact that it deployed the solution across 21 locations and a full team dedicated to its use and integration.

Topics: CRM, Customer Experience, Talking With

Judy Mottl

Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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