Jeff Hall

President, Second To None

In the course of a 25-year career helping brands deliver consistent, authentic and intentional customer experiences, Jeff brings an innovative approach to customer experience measurement and analytics across diverse industries. His firm, Second To None, is particularly adept at helping leading brands realize their customer experience potential by fusing brand lens insights (operational measures) with the customer lens (feedback and perception) in order to drive business performance. Jeff brings a deeply informed approach to measuring and optimizing customer-centric retail and restaurant experiences.

At Second To None, he leads an experienced group of customer experience strategists and analysts in working on the design and execution of mystery shopping, voice of customer and operations/sales compliance solutions for such clients as Patagonia, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, Bose, UnitedHealth Group, Target, Staples, Harris Teeter and Citibank. Jeff also leads the firm’s strategic initiatives, including client solutions offerings, product/technology development and consulting services.

Jeff has appeared on MSNBC’s Your Business and his comment have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Nation’s Restaurant News. The firm which he founded, Second To None, has appeared in BusinessWeek while being recognized three years running as one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing private companies. Jeff is also a speaker on customer experience issues and trends. He has served as president of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association and is a founding director of the International Mystery Shopping Alliance. He is also an avid runner, biker and golfer.

  • Posted on: 10/16/2017

    Should Coach Inc. have changed its name?

    Given the apparent widespread confusion over the name change (the Coach brand remains Coach — it is the parent company changing names to Tapestry), this appears to be a lesson on the importance of communicating a parent company name change to all important stakeholders. Clearly stating the change doesn't affect the consumer-facing Coach brand. Otherwise, as has been the case here, the media and consumers become unnecessarily confused, leading to an unintended dilution of the Coach retail and merchandise brand equity.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2017

    Are retailers confusing customer service with the customer experience?

    The reason so many retailers mistakenly view customer service and customer experience as being one in the same is they've not taken the time to adequately envision and define what an ideal customer experience looks like for their brand.Customer experience should be an outcome of a retailer's brand promise -- of the expectations it creates in the minds of its customers, then delivered in a highly intentional and authentic manner.The key is to define a customer experience that can be delivered consistently across every channel and customer touchpoint, in such a way that every brand associate has the ability to effectively influence and control the experience being delivered. Another way to look at it is through the lens of brand authenticity -- is your retail brand promise aligned with both actual experience delivery and customer perception?Effectively measuring and understanding actual experience delivery (quantifiable operating standards) and customer perception (voice of customer feedback) are two exceptional tools for retailers to embrace in order to achieve customer experience objectives.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2017

    Can retailers be healthcare disruptors?

    Retail pharmacy brands were the first to recognize broader healthcare services as a competitive differentiator, as evidenced by the success of CVS Minute Clinics. We see grocery retail as well positioned to capture much more healthcare-related market share, though most don't yet recognize the opportunity at hand.One super-regional grocery chain with a clear focus on healthcare services is Des Moines, IA-based Hy-Vee. The employee-owned company offers a comprehensive slate of wellness services for customers, families and businesses to tap into, including dietitians, on-site flu clinics, diabetes education programs, pharmacist-led smoking cessation, and several other services.Hy-Vee recently announced plans to operate orange theory fitness centers as part of their healthy living/healthy communities initiatives. These types of creative moves make them distinct in customers' minds. In order for retailers to gain more traction around healthcare services, they need to be thinking holistically, with a commitment to customer convenience.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Will burger and fitness partnerships reinforce Hy-Vee’s mission?

    On the surface, burgers and fitness centers might seem odd, yet Hy-Vee is a solid example of the bold, sometimes counter-intuitive, yet innovative strategies an employee-owned company can pursue.Top-down, this retailer is laser-focused on its mission, while continuously looking for creative ways to retain and grow market share, delight and exceed customer expectations, and offer new experiential environments for all customer segments.At a time when so many grocery retailers are satisfied with maintaining the status quo, Hy-Vee is re-writing the retail playbook.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2017

    Can in-store experiences save retail?

    We believe the in-store experience remains an opportunity of differentiation for many types of retail brands -- specialty, luxury, niche, etc. Customer intelligence via data and analytics should be recognized as one increasingly important layer toward delivering a positive, memorable or even emotionally-engaged experience, however the data piece is just that -- one piece of an overall strategy and vision.Being intentional in creating the in-store experience is also important, by ensuring store associates are equipped with the proper training, resources and engagement capacity to acknowledge, relate to, assist and thank customers based on each customer need state -- essentially personalizing the experience by customer through a framework associates can understand.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2017

    Will Hy-Vee’s new c-store concept redefine convenience in the Twin Cities?

    Hy-Vee is at the forefront of actively innovating in the grocery, wellness, c-store and prepared foods space. This larger format c-store concept may very well reshape perceptions and expectations around what a c-store offers, while better meeting the needs of consumers seeking fueling, grocery and dining options in one stop.The company has also launched a new "health market" concept, with its first store in greater Des Moines, complete with a health food store, pharmacy, clinic and fitness studio -- and, yes, groceries as well.Creative retail concepts such as these, meeting customer needs while delivering rich experiential environments, are exactly what is needed to stave off brick-and-mortar as well as online competition.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2017

    Are retailers measuring omnichannel all wrong?

    As retail brands continue to adopt an omnichannel mindset around customer experience and the importance of cross-channel touchpoints, the engagement-minute metric should become an ever more important KPI.Outbound customer communications, coming from e-commerce sites and branded apps, present a great opportunity to better understand and constantly measure engagement-minute metrics. What are the open and click-through rates on these marketing communications, and are they driving repeat site/app visits and purchases?Many brands feel a need to bombard their customers with email and branded app marketing messages on a daily basis, regardless of customer engagement, likely driving away a significant share of market that they should be more intentionally nurturing. Engagement-minute metrics could be invaluable to creating more personalized, frequency-appropriate communication touchpoints based on customer behavior.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2017

    Could ’embeddables’ in wearable tech give brands a clearer view of consumers?

    I view Under Armour as being at the forefront of wearables and embedded technology. The beauty of embedded tech is for the athlete/customer/consumer -- it hits the sweet spot of being non-intrusive. If I can go for a run, work out and even sleep in apparel that monitors and tracks my activity, without me even having to think about it, then it is easy to adopt into an active lifestyle.The more UA moves the customer from wearables to embedded tech, continuing to reduce customer effort, the greater the win for everyone.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2017

    Is ‘Building the New Blue’ the right plan to complete Best Buy’s transformation?

    Consumers are drawn to brands where the in-store and online shopping experiences are designed around consistency, simplicity and clarity. As Best Buy continues to innovate and improve upon the omnichannel experience, it is starting to pull ahead of the pack. Building the New Blue appears to be a solid strategy resonating with the retailer's core customers.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2017

    How should retailers balance personal versus impersonal experiences?

    Integrating technology within the store experience can be a good thing, provided the technology enhances the experience in such a way that it isn't perceived as being impersonal. The key is to give shoppers options and choices as to what their personal in-store experience is like and to let the shopper determine/control their experience.Ordering kiosks, self-serve checkout and order ahead apps are great for those who don't care much for conversation and banter with a store associate, while other shoppers prefer the interaction. So long as the customer can influence the store visit based on personal preferences, resulting in a customer-driven, desired outcome, everyone wins.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2017

    Will retailers get cut out by consumers in the future economy?

    I see direct-to-consumer growing in popularity for specialized, lifestyle brands looking to nurture satisfaction and customer advocacy (driving greater share of wallet) through the personalized recommendations, and convenient access to their full product line through DTC branded apps. Under Armour, for example, has a robust app enabling me to tailor suggestions to my preferred activities, and with the convenience of free shipping, encourages more frequent purchases. Outside of the handful of brands we are each most loyal to, and the degree to which we migrate our buying behavior to apps, its unlikely direct-to-consumer will have a significant impact on retail overall.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2017

    How can companies avoid the seven deadly sins of retail laggards?

    The majority of legacy brick-and-mortar retail brands suffer the effects of one or more of the seven deadly sins in two ways: 1.) The systemic inertia inherent in leading an established retail brand makes innovation and adjusting to competitive market realities incredibly difficult and makes it much easier to simply do things the way they've always been done and 2.) Many retail executives tend to move from brand to brand, bringing with them the learned preference to maintain the status quo. Start-up retailers aren't nearly as constrained by these forces and are therefore much more nimble in avoiding the sins of the laggards.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2017

    Is McDonald’s backpedaling on fast casual with a low-price strategy?

    In renewing its focus on low-price offerings, McDonald's isn't so much betraying its aspirational (and perhaps misguided) goal of being a progressive, fast-casual brand as it is learning the importance of staying true to who and what it is as a brand at its core. The McDonald's customer always has, and always will view the company as a quick-serve operator and expects pricing to be in line with this positioning. Though the company may have a grand vision of somehow shifting its go-to-market position and move a bit upscale, the very notion of this goes against everything its customers have grown up knowing and expecting. It is good to see McDonald's backpedaling to what it authentically is and should be.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2017

    Will growing competition in Florida slow Publix as it heads north?

    Publix has proven to be a stalwart grocery retailer for decades, and for good measure, given it being employee-owned and laser-like focused on offering an exceptional customer experience within attractive store environments. The rise of additional competitors in its core markets will be seen as more of a peripheral marketplace factor for Publix to be highly aware of, though I doubt these newcomers have a material impact on slowing growth.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2017

    How will Walgreens benefit from its FedEx drop-off/pickup deal?

    I suspect this will be a terrific partnership. FedEx gains a substantially larger footprint of service availability and Walgreens benefits from the additional customer volume. Given the favorable consumer perception and equity of both brands, this program has the potential to measurably impact both bottom lines while offering broader customer convenience.

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