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: 12/15/2017

    Are micro influencers better for retailers than macro influencers?

    In our work with specialty retailers, we've witnessed a higher lift in social media influence and online impact among brands working with micro-influencers. The most significant contributing factor is to identify an influencer whose followers/fans/readers best align with the brand's core and ideal customer. In most cases, these will be micro-influencers. Savvy brands amplify ROI by working with a carefully curated set of micro-influencers rather than a single macro-influencer, then consistently monitoring social impact and modifying their set of influencers over time.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2017

    Will late deliveries mess up Christmas?

    It is almost certain that a higher percentage of deliveries will arrive late this year, given that online sales have increased exponentially and, more importantly, consumers have grown accustomed to same-day/next-day/two-day delivery and simply expect the carriers to keep pace regardless of it being the holiday season.Retailers are learning that shifting consumer expectations around reasonable delivery timetables is an uphill battle, and one they'll likely not win. Shipping status transparency and setting earlier deadlines are all good and well, however customer expectations are likely to remain fully entrenched around quick, reliable delivery. Anything less and it is the retailer who suffers.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2017

    The new NYC Nike store will have a members-only floor

    As one of the early innovators in the space, Nike has done well over a long period of time in creating flagship experiential retail. This move signals yet another way in which the brand is adept at creating positive public relations and media coverage. Establishing a members-only space within the new flagship location will drive curiosity among Nike fans, in turn lifting membership in the loyalty club program, creating downstream opportunity for more meaningful customer engagement, and more importantly, burnishing customer goodwill.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2017

    Customer data is grocery’s new battleground

    Whether regional or national in reach, those grocers with loyalty programs and/or branded apps can very definitely transform the shopper experience, provided they invest the time and talent into understanding from their customers what is most meaningful in the way of a tailored in-store experience.Locally-sourced product mix, shelves stocked with the most sought-after items, personalized communications that nurture trust with customers, presented at the right time and in the right manner, and a very intentional in-store experience can in tandem uniquely position grocery retail as a destination consumers will desire to spend time and dollars. The key is building trust with judicious use of the new analytics and insights.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2017

    Walmart’s online prices drive customers to its supercenters

    Though it seems counter-intuitive, the online vs. in-store pricing transparency makes practical sense, ideally driving more customers into Walmart stores, either for items priced less in-store or to take advantage of the savings offered through buy online pickup in-store. The potential downside surfaces should consumers adopt the perception of Walmart's online pricing being higher than Amazon and higher in general. For those where convenience outweighs price, Walmart may unintentionally drive away online sales.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2017

    Are these the best or worst of times for consumer brands?

    We view this as being a great time for brands. Direct-to-consumer opens up a world of opportunity to establish deeper, more personalized relationships with customers. Online and digital sales channels allow brands to reach more customers in more places, more often and without the constraint of traditional brick-and-mortar channels. Those brands that best execute around the customer experience in both the omnichannel ecosystem and direct-to-consumer will be handsomely rewarded.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2017

    What would acquiring Aetna mean for CVS retail?

    The prospect of Amazon entering the pharmacy space and driving down prescription costs will spark insurers and pharmacy retailers to rethink their relationships in innovative ways. The CVS/Aetna talks are the first signal of potentially profound shifts coming to consumer health care.With insurers are taking a larger role in negotiating drug prices, the combined purchasing power of joining forces with nearly 10,000 retail stores could result in lower prices at the register, creating an effective hedge against Amazon. An equally significant consumer benefit may come in Aetna driving its policyholders to CVS for its broader offering of health care services, leveraging CVS's experience in nurturing close customer/patient relationships and care coordination.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2017

    Nike turns its back on ‘undifferentiated, mediocre’ retailers

    Nike is doubling down on its direct-to-consumer strategy and with 100 million members, is smart to do so. Honing its remaining retail partners signals the continued yet diminishing importance of traditional sales channels. Retail will compete more and more with the closer customer relationships, personalized merchandise recommendations and exclusive offerings to be found only within the Nike digital and app ecosystems.
  • Posted on: 10/23/2017

    Apple opens invisible hangout in Chicago

    Apple's town square flagship stores elevate the brand to a new level of fully immersive, experiential customer experiences. In creating a gathering place first and retail store second, Angela Ahrendts is skillfully tapping into our needs and desires as social beings, placing customers front and center on Apple's retail stage while letting the products play a supporting role.
  • 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.

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