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4 competitive benchmarks to help you rise to the top of your industry

Jen Grimes | Sep 26, 2019 Jen Grimes 09/26/19

Some say you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. This may be true in your personal life, but when it comes to your business, if you don’t know where you stand, how can you begin to get better?

Brands that are unclear about what their competitors are doing are operating in the dark. Benchmarks shed light on the competition, providing benefits that will help you:

  • Uncover actionable insight to drive meaningful change 
  • Identify gaps between top + bottom performing locations
  • Drive sales + growth through operational, product, + service improvements

There are 4 benchmarks every brand should expect from their customer experience management (CEM) provider. Let’s take a look:


1. Quantitative benchmark

Brands need access to a robust benchmark portfolio that houses billions of data points from hundreds of clients—spanning categories, regions, and consumer demographics. This information will show how you rank on different measures compared to the industry average and compared to others in your category.

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Make sure this data isn’t restricted to the brand level. It’s important to dig deeper, filtering the data by things like visit type, department, day part, and other attributes—zooming in on the data you need to answer your most specific, pressing questions.

Knowing how you compare to your competitors on a national level is helpful, but if you’re going to effect meaningful change, you need to know where to focus your efforts. A benchmark should let you know how each individual location is doing relative to its competitors, but also how locations are doing compared to each other across the brand.

This is how one of our specialty retail clients was able to identify a specific DMA that was lagging behind others and underperforming on service standards. With a targeted focus on improving front-line execution at locations in this bottom-performing DMA, the brand was able to improve those stores’ CX measures and increase comp sales (so much that they surpassed the system-wide average).

Quantitative benchmarks also let you know how your brand is doing over time. By drawing on data collected throughout the year, you can see how your strengths and weaknesses vary by seasonality, allowing you to track and address any emerging CX trends. And since year-over-year changes are some of the most important indicators of financial success, you can highlight the factors that play the biggest role in service execution and make sure you’re improving over time.


2. Text benchmark

Text benchmarks provide perspective on the data behind customers’ open-ended comments. You can use this data to gain a deeper understanding of the customer experience and to see what customers are saying about your brand versus the competition.

With text benchmarks, you can compare against other brands on:

  • How often customers are talking about important measures in your locations
  • How often customers mention an employee’s name and how that affects Overall Satisfaction
  • The percentage of your customers talking negatively about your staff
  • The categories (e.g., Staff Friendliness, Speed, Cleanliness) where customers think you’re better—or worse—than the rest

By being able to see what customers are mentioning as well as the sentiment behind their comments, you get some qualitative context about how they feel to help you round out the numbers from the core survey benchmark.


3. Branded benchmark

With the core survey and text benchmarks, you know everything about how your customers rate you compared to how customers rank the competition. But which competitors are you comparing against? With a cutting-edge market intelligence tool, you can answer that question by taking the blindfolds off the benchmark.

A location-based mobile research app uses precise mapping technology to detect when users visit you or your competitors and triggers a short survey to their smartphones. All of that data goes into a branded benchmark, which means you can see exactly where your brand falls on customer experience metrics and where you’re winning visit share.

With just a few clicks, you can get insights on:

  • Customer demographics
  • Variance throughout specific regions
  • Satisfaction by time of visit
  • Customers’ trip motivation

When a restaurant brand wanted to measure ROI on a limited time offer (LTO) to see if it was worth rolling the product out permanently, the client turned to our branded benchmark for answers. Data revealed that though customers ranked the client’s item above competitors, operational measures were underperforming. After making some adjustments and retesting, they determined keeping the item as an LTO would deliver the best ROI—and today it remains one of their most profitable LTOs.


4. Ratings + reviews benchmark

An online reputation management solution is becoming an important piece of a brand’s CEM platform.  Ratings + reviews are now an integral part of the customer journey and have potential to make or break your business. With access to location-level ratings + reviews benchmarks, you can uncover rich customer insights that drive intelligent interactions. These benchmarks provide:

  • An overall rating compared to local competitors
  • Drill-down functions + selection of specific competitors of interest
  • Volume of reviews you have from the most important review sites
  • Competitors’ performance across top platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and Google (including response rates, review volume, and individual review site volume­)

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Shed some light on the competition

You don’t have to be in the dark about how you compare to your competitors. With these four benchmarks, you can clearly see how your brand measures up, which factors are most important, and where to focus to win new customers.

To learn about how SMG’s robust portfolio of benchmarks helped Firehouse Subs put CX data to work, read the case study: Firehouse Subs blazes a trail to excellence with the help of its SMG partnership.


Jen Grimes | VP, Client Insights