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: 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.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2017

    Will 2017 be the year retailers start making their stores relevant again?

    Retail relevancy starts and ends with brand leaders understanding the role physical stores now play within the entire omnichannel shopper journey. Relevancy today requires an absolute focus having a clearly defined and articulated brand promise, having an intimate understanding of who your customers are (including how they prefer to shop and what is important to them) and effectively aligning the entire organization around delivering a consistent, intentional and seamless shopping experience across every channel and touchpoint. The physical store has an important role to fulfill, so long as it is viewed within the context of the entire journey and related brand channels.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2016

    Will the newest Walmart c-store concept be the one that sticks?

    The first question in my mind: "Is the typical Walmart customer one who wants to buy their groceries online?" I'm not convinced they are, or do, and so the downstream behaviors of them then driving to the c-store to have their groceries loaded into their vehicle really comes into question.I have confidence Walmart can operate c-stores and do just fine. I just really question if their customer base is looking for the grocery BOPIS service. According to today's poll, half of the respondents doubt this concept will see continued growth.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2016

    Has Best Buy solved the Amazon riddle?

    It's always a bit of a risk to say that anyone has solved the Amazon riddle, as it is such a moving target. I will say that Best Buy is one of a handful of retailers, including Target, that have noticeably improved their game in going head-to-head with Amazon.I recently purchased a 60" flat screen TV from Best Buy, first researching, selecting and purchasing through their website, then picking up in-store two hours later. The entire process was straightforward and incredibly convenient. The associates at the pickup counter were friendly, engaging and even loaded the box into my car. This, along with a couple of other in-store sales associate experiences over the past two months, gives a sense that the brand is much more focused on executing well across every customer touchpoint.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2016

    Patagonia to donate all Black Friday profits to green groups

    At its core, Patagonia is an authentic, do-good company. This Black Friday initiative is just one more great example of how the brand lives by its values and knows how to do the right thing. Others would be wise to take note of how it is possible to be decisively values-driven and still highly successful in the competitive retail sector. Consumers reward brands with a strong social and/or environmental mission and my bet is this will pay off tenfold for Patagonia in customer goodwill.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2016

    How important is convenience to motivating online holiday shoppers?

    It's not much of a surprise to see convenience rising in importance with online shoppers. Now that consumers have integrated online shopping as an increasingly regular part of their buying habits, lower prices, free shipping and broad selection have become a normalized set of expectations. And so we move downstream to the intangible, yet highly valued aspect of convenience. I suspect this to be the one factor to continue to rise the most in importance going forward, though online retailers shouldn't believe their customers will pay a premium for it.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2016

    American Express doubles down on ‘Shop Small’

    As a company embedded in the heart of Ann Arbor, we've seen firsthand just how successful the shop local/shop small movement can be, not just on Small Business Saturdays, but throughout the year. The sustainable small businesses are those whose owners create consistent visibility on social media, are actively involved in promoting the region and who collaborate together to create a genuine sense of community and destination, through an ongoing calendar of special events and community gatherings.These small businesses are also educating customers on the importance of shopping local and of the positive impact it has on the economic health and diversity of businesses in our community. We see Small Business Saturday as continuing to grow in momentum.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2016

    Gillette suffers nicks from Harry’s/Target’s partnership

    Harry's and Dollar Shave Club are prime examples of category disruptors. In making it incredibly convenient and less expensive to purchase these commodity grooming products online (and offering auto-replenish programs), they'll continue to grab greater share of wallet. Just from personal experience, Harry's has won me over as a loyal customer through their quality products and focus on ease and convenience. This tie-in with Target is a great way to increase brand visibility with consumers who are as yet unfamiliar with the brand.

Contact Jeff