Keeping an Analytical Eye on Customer Feedback

Employee Engagement
Employee Engagement
Tim Teran, senior vice president, consumer insights and strategy, Macy's, links improvements in employee engagement and customer satisfaction to key business drivers.

Most TV watchers have seen the "Magic of Macy's" ad-the ones where Martha Stewart is leading the charge in decorating a store for the holidays, Jessica Simpson is making Christmas tree ornaments, and Donald Trump is stringing lights.

The commercials highlight the brands that the retailer carries. While associating itself with such celebrated names is crucial to Macy's success, so is focusing on the real magic at Macy's: the employees and customers.

Tim Teran knows this firsthand. As the senior vice president of consumer insights and strategy, Teran's mission is improving Macy's customer experience through employee engagement. He believes he can do that through an extensive voice of the customer (VOC) program designed in part to inform employee training. Macy's uses customer feedback to help determine how associates can better engage with customers.

Since joining Macy's in 2006 Teran hasbeen pivotal in introducingseveral initiatives to help fuel the momentum for its VOC efforts. Two notable ones are the My Customer Engagement Program and the MAGIC Selling training program. My Customer Engagement surveys customers via email within 48 hours after they shop in the stores or online, create a wedding registry, or call the contact center.

Initially, Teran incorporated into the surveys the core Net Promoter Score (NPS) question: "Would you recommend us to a friend?" While that provided valuable insight, Teran knew that Macy's needed to do a better job of acting on its NPS scores. So he worked with the stores' management teamandindividual store managers to encourage them to read the verbatim comments in the surveys and to respond to customers who make both positive and negative comments. Macy's corporate now sends weekly trigger emails to store managers, alerting them as to which customers to call. "At first it was a scary thought for a store manager, especially if it's a detractor, but the customers are usually so thrilled that we did what we said we would do that store managers feel great," he says.

Also, by linking compensation and eligibility for raises and promotions to customer experience performance, Macy's made it clear that this initiative should be treated as a priority at all levels.Compensation alone, however, wouldn't be enough to sustain employees' long-term participation. So Teran worked with the stores' management team to develop metrics and a mechanism for tracking performance against increased customer engagement. This is the foundation for Macy's MAGIC Selling program, a program that is proving to be instrumental in changing employees' mind-set about engaging with customers, responding to their comments, and making changes in real time.

To date, more than 130,000 associates have undergone training for MAGIC Selling (meet and make a connection, ask questions and listen, give options and advice, inspire to buy and sell more, assist, and engage with customers, as well as on-the-floor training where employees observe each other working and then receive on-the-spot coaching. "We demonstrate the value of making the connection and good salesmanship with a more satisfied customer," he says.

Through Teran's quarterly financial linkage analysis, which looks at key metrics such as NPS and "greet and assist" scores, he's been able to demonstrate that these customer experience efforts are translating into improved results. Since kicking off the program,

Macy's jumped 7 percent to an American Consumer Satisfaction Index score of 76, an all-time high. In addition, sales grew 6.6 percent for the year. Teran says he will continue to find ways to serve customers on an individual level. "We're in the early innings of things," he says. "The journey to serve the customer will always change as our needs change."