PROFILE

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.

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  • Posted on: 04/30/2020

    Will working remotely change how we communicate?

    Home-based work environments and remote communications are shifting behavior to focusing much more on only what is essential. Zoom meetings enable the work to get done, though the sense of being less connected than gathering in-person, I believe, stifles the random sharing of ideas and tangential conversations that often contribute to more meaningful meeting outcomes. A degree of face-to-face communicating remains important, with business partners and fellow colleagues. Our innate nature appreciates the power of relationships nurtured in-person.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2020

    Best Buy is getting back to business with scheduled appointments

    Consumers are wanting to shop, and there is plenty of pent up demand, although we are all now carefully observing which brands are first and foremost placing customer health and safety, along with sales associates, front and center. Best Buy has cleared the hurdle with the sales appointment approach. It will result in high levels of customer trust and likely be replicated by others.
  • Posted on: 04/27/2020

    Can grocers help sit-down restaurants stay afloat with to-go meal programs?

    This initiative by SpartanNash is a perfect example of a values-driven brand leading with empathy. Customers are intently observing how companies are behaving in the COVID-19 crisis environment, especially looking at how they're helping others. Offering local restaurant meal options is a triple win: it directly supports an industry most impacted by this crisis, it offers grocery customers new meal options from familiar local restaurants and it builds lasting good will. Hopefully this concept will continue to be embraced by more grocery brands in both the short and long term.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Target vs. Walmart

    Both spots are great in their own way. Target's messaging is right in line with what you expect from the brand, yet colorfully amped up for the holidays. Walmart's is much more unexpected and daring in its use of heavier emotional tone, empathy, thoughtfulness, connectedness -- a message you wouldn't expect from the brand, yet appropriate for the season. For this reason, my nod goes to Walmart.
  • Posted on: 12/18/2019

    How should grocery stores leverage unaffiliated influencers?

    Grocery brands are wise to embrace their social media influencers -- especially if they are not sponsored or otherwise compensated, as it makes their advocacy and recommendations much more authentic and believable. In fact, unpaid influencers with a substantial follower base may very well result in the type of online goodwill a brand would never be able to buy, versus the paid influencers so often seen as just another form of advertising.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2019

    Is the trade deal an early-Christmas present?

    Given the back-and-forth nature of our U.S.-China trade policy and tariff threats, retailers should be more cautious than celebratory. It is simply too early to know if and when a long-term deal easing or doing away with the current tariff environment will be realized. My bet is on the uncertainty to continue into the first half of 2020, at which point we may see more easing of tariffs as the election cycle gets into full swing.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2019

    Will Hudson be more than just a newsstand with a new look?

    It is great to see Hudson looking to keep pace with other forward-thinking in-airport travel retailers. Localized offerings have worked well with foodservice operators, so it will be interesting to see how well passengers embrace and interact with localized, digital retail content. Anything that nurtures engagement, experience and convenience has a high likelihood of customer adoption and satisfaction.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2019

    Amazon Go doesn’t want to leave cash on the table

    Amazon's change of heart and pivot to allow cash purchases is a lesson for all consumer-facing brands: If you wish to be relevant, you must do everything in your power to reduce friction, inconvenience and customer effort. Creating barriers around the purchase process will quickly result in consumers taking their spend to the competition.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2019

    Is trust the next omnichannel inflection point?

    Brand trust can certainly be an influencing factor in the customer purchase decision based on the type of product or service, though I see it as part of a larger set of considerations within the consumer mindset. If we're looking at brand trust through the lens of digital-first brands and the influence of social media, social channels enable brands to be a part of the conversation, though they need to recognize that in large part the consumer/customer significantly controls the dialogue and very often influences the purchase decision of family, friends and co-workers. Brands can leverage social media to more creatively and consistently convey their promise, values, authenticity and humanity -- in turn helping consumers determine if these qualities align with what is important to them, and if the brand is able to connect on these emotional levels in an authentic manner, then the element of trust surfaces.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2019

    The new boss is different than the old boss at Starbucks

    Howard Schultz has left a lasting and highly respected legacy at Starbucks. Companies are dynamic, human, living entities and so it should be expected that the next leader assumes the mantle with their own distinct vision and aspirations. Starbucks is firmly rooted in its underlying framework of values and ethos, and as one of the leading, most admired brands and operators, will continue to do well under Kevin Johnson's leadership.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2018

    Do grocery stores have a customer engagement problem?

    Given the intense competition coming from Amazon and meal subscription services, it really is puzzling as to why most grocery retailers are not more focused on the in-store experience. Failing to adopt an experiential mindset for engaging with in-store customers will continue to put many grocery brands at risk. Patricia's ideas are a solid foundational roadmap of where to start, and there are a handful of super-regional brands executing with a high degree of success around these concepts: Hy-Vee in the Midwest, Harris Teeter in the Southeast/Mid-Atlantic, Lucky's and Publix as well. Each curates inspiring in-store departments that support shoppers in discovering new products, staffed by friendly, enthusiastic associates. Focusing on a holistic approach to healthy living and fresh, organic and, when possible, locally-sourced items drives sales and engagement as well. The grocery sector has immense opportunity for consumer engagement, even at 1.6 store visits weekly. The key is for those retailers who are lagging to have the visionary courage to reimagine what grocery shopping could be and break free from what is has been for decades.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2018

    Walmart’s two-day shipping pledge comes with a caveat

    Dear Walmart, If you offer a two-day shipping pledge, you have a duty to honor it. Plain and simple. When you tell me the item I have ordered is "out of stock" when it is not, yet this is how you deal with not wanting to ship the item to me in two days, then you have broken my trust. Breaking the trust of your customers is not a good strategy. If I order and item and you realize the cost of two-day shipping is too high, then please let me know what other shipping options I have. Give me the choice, and in return you keep my trust. Sincerely, Your Customer
  • Posted on: 04/20/2018

    CVS gets real without retouching in new beauty campaign

    Consumers have an affinity for brands and retailers who are genuine, authentic and real. The "Beauty in Real Life" initiative smartly builds on the position CVS has taken as being a socially responsible healthcare company first and retailer second.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2018

    What are retailers missing about building a workplace culture?

    Building a culture of collaboration and high performing individuals starts with employees feeling valued, trusted and respected. Senior leadership and managers alike need to consistently model and nurture these key workplace attributes through both their personal interactions and communications. Start by working to support leaders with the training, tools and capacity-building experiences to help them succeed in creating a genuine environment conducive to collaboration and positive interpersonal communication. From there, enhanced productivity and better business outcomes can be realized. People know when their company values and respects them, and when it doesn't -- workplace culture can't be faked.
  • Posted on: 03/19/2018

    West Elm sees opportunity to sell local experiences outside its stores

    The LOCAL Experience offering represents the continued evolution of West Elm away from its positioning as a mass merchandise retailer into a brand focused on local artisan products. Although LOCAL is limited in scale and reach, the positive longer-term outcome is in leveraging the platform to create greater customer awareness around West Elm's commitment to selling local artisan works in their stores. It's a bit of an "Etsyfying" of West Elm and should benefit the brand through the unique differentiation and goodwill it will generate.

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