Was The Curves Smart Program a Smart Choice?

Posted on November 25, 2008. Filed under: Customer Insight Portal | Tags: , , , |

Susan Collinge of Customer Crossroads blogged about on how Curves created a tailored customer experience for women. But then she noted a distressing development.  Many of the Curves members started venting on her blog about the new Curves Smart system and how frustrated they were by the lack of results. It raised a red flag for Susan that many women were struggling and they were using her blog to vent their frustrations without an official way to voice their complaints.

Using Leximancer’s The Customer Insight Portal, we analyzed blogs mentioning Curves Smart, 2008 Yelp reviews in select markets, comments from Customer Crossroads, as well as analyzing the Curves Forum thread dedicated to Curves equipment to find if struggles with the Smart system were a widespread problem.

Above is a high-level conceptual map generated by The Customer Insight Portal showing the frequent themes (the big circles) and concepts (the small dots) communicated by women from the sources mentioned above.  Because the concept map interactively allows us to interrogate the common themes across all these sources, we were able to quickly identify some very specific customer intelligence. As is visible above, the theme Curves Smart doesn’t overlap any themes or concepts related to negative words, like frustrated or bad. This is telling, and provided an initial visual indicator of what we were to find by clicking through the map.

In fact, clicking on the concept Smart shows that the word is most closely correlated to comments related to using the program and its efficacy. And since The Customer Insight Portal lets you see verbatim responses, a user can hone in on exact phrases used to describe Smart. Verbatims show the positive response to the Smart program.

•    “Oh man, the more I hear about people trying and LOVING the smart machines, the more anxious I get to get them at my own club. I have no clue if/when that will be, but I do know I will be doing it, without any question”.
•    “I love the smart machines, too. It’s always a competition with myself to burn more calories than last time, or to increase my PI.”
•    “I am having trouble on the smart machines achieving my green lights. The top one rarely comes on, and the lower one flashes or turns yellow.”
•    “I feel like the SM really push me too. I watch some of the people who arent using the smart equipment and they just don’t look like they’re doing much work at all.”
•    “We have the curves smart at our location and I love it. we’ve only been doing it for three days, but I truly am exhausted when I finish.”

Further exploring the concept map, other unknown insights were identified from the wide range of customer comments.  For example,  we were able to explore an interesting correlation between staff and training.
It seems that customers perceive that Curves doesn’t appear to have a consistent training program, and that not only are members not trained properly but staff members as well. In addition, there seems to be a significant lag between training and customer service.

Verbatims include:
•    “Our club just received ours a week ago but the staff is waiting for training. Our boss took only one staff member to training with her last week and the rest of us are supposed to be trained this week.”
•    “I must have not made my post clear; I’m not a owner nor a manager; I’m a staff member and I did not get to attend training. I was wondering if there is any way that staff members can attend training on their own?”
•    “Now I just have to wait for the machines to get outfitted (probably in about a week or so), the staff to get trained and then the training for the Curves attendees begins. I’m #6 on the list.”
•    “I went to the training, I believe what they said was 2 people per club were allowed to attend, but it was mainly to be owner and manager. they have a small training room and quite a few clubs at each training date to fit in.”
•    “But it should be part of the training for the smart machines that they make sure ALL members, local or travelers, understand how things work, even if they won’t be using all of the machines. it would certainly throw me off to not do a heart rate check.”

It appeared that Curves customers flocked to Customer Crossroads because Curves’ main failure was not giving its customers a way to voice their concerns. Yet our more thorough online analysis shows that many customers are embracing Curves Smart, and their frustration often focuses more on the lack of training or the lag time between receiving equipment and training.

Our take-away and the reason we continue to be happily surprised by the value of The Customer Insight Portal, is that preconceived ideas of customers’ experience prove again and again to be incorrect in significant ways.  And significant surprises create significant opportunities!

If you have a question related to your or another company’s customer experience that you think The Customer Insight Portal can help you answer, e-mail Chris Westfall (chris.westfall at leximancer.com) with recommendations for a future blog post.

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Using Social Media To Get to the Root of Customer Experience for Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Posted on November 20, 2008. Filed under: Customer Insight Portal | Tags: , , , , |

Meikah of Customer Relations: The New Competitive Edge visit to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in the Philippines brought up an interesting question about customer service. Should there be a limit to pleasing customers? Her visit made her realize that in its willingness to please, CBTL was allowing customers to perhaps overstay their welcome, meaning that new visitors were often unable to find seating.

To help Meikah answer her question and determine if finding available seating was a common problem for Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Leximancer’s The Customer Insight Portal analyzed Yelp! reviews from Los Angeles and San Francisco. The conceptual map is a starting point to viewing the data visually, and understanding the different concepts and themes that came up in Yelp! reviews. The Customer Insight Portal allows users to drill down all information and see the direct verbatims.

Above is a conceptual map of the data analyzed by Leximancer’s The Customer Insight Portal. The circles represent frequent themes found within the reviews. The file icons on the far right and left represent feedback from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Note how the theme tea is more closely correlated to San Francisco, and coffee is more closely correlated to Los Angeles. The theme parking is also very prevalent in Los Angeles reviews, which makes sense because of how car-centric Los Angeles is. Many of the comments related to feedback on how awful the drivers were in the parking lots and how customers had to pay for parking after more than an hour.

The Conceptual Map Breaking Down the Concepts by Themes

Above is another snapshot of the conceptual map of the data analyzed by Leximancer’s The Customer Insight Portal. This time the concepts, which help determine the themes, have been filled in. As you can see Starbucks is closely aligned with Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL).

Yelpers Feel Parking is Important for Coffee Bean & Tea Leafs in Los Angeles

Yelpers Feel Parking is Important for Coffee Bean & Tea Leafs in Los Angeles

As Meikah noted her blog post, seating was a concern as many people are prone to settle in, which makes seating scarce for new arrivals. For the San Francisco and Los Angeles branches of CBTL, seating did show up as something that was on the minds of their customers. See the seating concept within the outdoor theme above; clearly customers are talking about outdoor seating—which we found by selecting some of the ‘evidence’ links in The Customer Insight Portal.

The majority of references related to seating were related to available outdoor seating, which makes sense in warmer California, especially Los Angeles. For CBTL, this creates actionable customer insight as they’ll know to the patio seating preference of their Califormia customers.

Leximancer’s The Customer Insight Portal let us drill down to the specific feedback given. Below are excerpts of the 47 reviews related to seating:

•    Kudos for outdoor seating so i can sit outside with my smoker friends slowly killing myself breathing in that lovely second-hand smoke. Thanks guys…i love you too. and for always getting my drink right. and for being right next to my work. and always having room for me to sit.
•    Outside seating means great people watching, if you consider the people in this neighborhood remotely interesting.
•    This is a good one because it’s pretty big inside and there’s outside seating for all the hot-body watching.
•    Solid drinks, nice Baristas and plenty of outdoor seating. I absolutely love sitting outside on a windy and chilly later afternoon enjoying a smoke, a nice cup of whatever, and some good ol’ free wi-fi.
•    Not so much seating inside, but lots outside, including a big fun firepit!
•    And, it’s right in front of a nice big park that you could relax in. Or, there is outside seating, and a firepit.
•    They only have about 4 tables outside and no indoor seating. .. but it’s the grab and go location I visit anyway.
•    Unlike most Coffee Beans in West LA that are generally located on busy streets corners, this location is in a residential area and thus you are not sucking in diesel fumes from the Blue Bus while seating outdoors. The patio alsk has a fire pit that provides cozy heat during winter months.
•    Seating is horrible, as there are a couple tables and an overstuffed chair, and the place is constantly moving.
•    This CB & T along the Market St.-strip is the busiest in terms of crowds and location. The outdoor seating area is not great and becomes a toxic-wasteland section for smokers.
•    This location is nice for the outdoor seating, assuming it’s not another one of the San Francisco bone chilling days.
•    This is one of THE best corners for people-watching and celeb-spotting in all of L. A.. Lots of outdoor seating where people and pooches soak up the sun.
•    There is plenty of seating tho, especially welcome when the rain is falling, which I suppose is the main draw.
•    The location is very central on Fillmore St so it is very tough to find outdoor seating on a nice day
•    The indoor seating is very limitied – like 2 small tables. They have a huge patio area with a fire pit that keeps you warm in the winter months.

Also, related to customer experience is the correlation between the concepts friendly and service. While not everyone rates their service highly, many of the customers felt the baristas were very friendly. The proximity to the themes of service and location are telling, as it shows that Yelp reviewers feel that service depends on the location.

Another important thread of review comments that we found was Starbucks. It was easy to find a direct correlation between reviews of Starbucks and CBTL. And we can see the most reviewers prefer CBTL to Starbucks.

•    Okay, I used to refuse to accept that Coffee Bean could possibly be better than Starbucks, but then I really gave it a chance one day and realized that it actually IS much more satisfying.
•    I love everything about the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, far better than Starbucks and any other competitors. I drink in and buy my own for home and work.
•    Coffee Bean can kick Starbucks ass any day of the week. However, my local CB is not up to par on the classy coffee joints I’m used to.
•    Coffee Bean has the best vanilla lattes. They actually still have baristas unlike Starbucks.
•    You gotta hand it to Coffee Bean despite being a chain, it feels oh-so-local compared to the corner Starbucks, and in Los Feliz, the locals do come out for their coffee here, and many leave their laptops at home in favor of a newspaper, or (*gasp!*) actually talking with other people!
•    I love everything about the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, far better than Starbucks and any other competitors. I drink in and buy my own for home and work.

While this blog post only provides a brief overview we hope that readers can see that using The Customer Insight Portal can result in actionable insight that can be used to increase customer retention and satisfaction.

If you have a question related a company’s customer experience you think The Customer Insight Portal can help you answer, e-mail Chris Westfall (chris.westfall at leximancer.com) with recommendations for a future blog post.

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Analyzing Yelp! Reactions to Dunkin Donuts

Posted on September 12, 2008. Filed under: Customer Insight Portal, Leximancer | Tags: , , , , , |

The Conceptual Map Analyzing Yelp Reviews of Dunkin Donuts

The Conceptual Map Analyzing Yelp Reviews of Dunkin Donuts

Yelp, a social networking site, makes it easy for users to review restaurants, bars, shops and other places. If you’ve got only one brick-and-mortar location, it’s easy to analyze customer feedback. But what if you’re a mega-chain with hundreds of locations in multiple cities? No one wants to comb through that much data piece by piece. That’s where The Customer Insight Portal makes data analysis more effective.

Case in point – The Customer Insight Portal was able to take Yelp reviews from the East Coast cult-favorite Dunkin Donuts in key cities like New York and Boston. The analysis of the reviews provided key concepts and themes around price, service, etc.

For a company called Dunkin Donuts, the number one theme Yelpers associate with the brand is coffee. This creates actionable insight for Dunkin Donuts in that if they decided to do a targeted offer or advertising to Yelp, a site that attracts more than 4 million unique visitors a month, that they should focus on promoting a coffee offer.

Pathway Analysis of How Yelpers Assign Stars

Pathway Analysis of How Yelpers Assign Stars

Yelp reviewers assign stars to each location based on their overall perception of the location. Using pathway analysis, we can find that the biggest factors Yelpers use when assigning stars is time (related to time it takes to order), staff and their perceived level of friendliness. Again, this creates actionable insight for Dunkin Donuts in knowing that when customers consider the overall perception of each location, that providing fast service and friendly customer service will be at the forefront of customer minds.

Correlation Between Locations and Service for Dunkin Donuts

Correlation Between Locations and Service for Dunkin Donuts

An important correlation to note is the connection between people (essentially customer service) and location. The conceptual map and pathway analysis shows Yelpers find that service depends on the location, which makes sense since Dunkin Donuts is a franchise model. Unlike Starbucks with its comprehensive customer-service training program for all of its store units, the customer service at Dunkin Donuts is more likely to vary by location and be dependent on the franchise owner.

Finally, as a company looking to aggressively expand in a down economy when its biggest competitor –Starbucks – is shutting down locations left and right, The Customer Insight Portal provides valuable actionable customer insight on the current strengths and weaknesses, according to online customer reviews.

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