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: 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.
  • Posted on: 03/06/2018

    What do we really know about Gen Z?

    The challenge with the Gen Z customer segment is understanding what kind of value they are looking for, and how to best interact with them digitally given their strong propensity to using mobile devices. Gen Z creates and consumes so much digital information every day that brands need to find a unique yet non-intrusive way of establishing relevance. Those brands that can navigate their way through the ever-changing preferences of Gen Z will be positioned for longer-term success. We've curated additional thoughts here.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2018

    Dick’s responds to Parkland teens – won’t sell AR-15s anymore

    I respect brands who are clear in their values, mission and purpose. Dick's Sporting Goods is showing brand courage and maturity in taking a strong position on such a polarizing issue. I applaud the company for very publicly showing what social responsibility looks like and how it informs their business decisions. As others have commented, retailers who choose to sell firearms need to take a side on this issue, and one that first and foremost reflects their core values. I believe Dick's is on the right side of history and other retailers will step forward with similar common sense policies.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2018

    Grocers hit restaurants in the gut with hot bars

    We are seeing a significant level of investment in the prepared foods areas across all of our grocery clients. Those with a particular focus on offering a broader selection prepared with organic and premium ingredients are realizing a marked lift in sales. Today’s grocery shoppers seek convenience, variety and healthy prepared options. High-performing retailers are now elevating the prepared foods departments into front and center in-store destinations.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2018

    Macy’s launches in-store pop-up concept for brands

    Provided The Market @ Macy's offers access to unique or emerging brands consumers covet, it should drive foot traffic from new and existing customers. I see this concept akin to the success Nordstrom realized with the Bonobos and Tesla pop-up shops. In the long run, the pop-up brands will likely see the most benefit from the arrangement with Macy's.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2018

    It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s an electric, driverless concept vehicle!

    The dynamic, customizable use cases for the e-Palette indicate Toyota is approaching autonomous vehicles in a bigger, more aspirational manner than any other auto maker. Potential retail applications for the e-Palette will only be limited by the imagination of the creative brands who adopt this as a means of customer engagement and brand experience. The e-Palette is a great example of bold thinking, enabling retailers to truly step out of the box and redefine what it means to fulfill customer needs.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2018

    Incentives drive web survey responses

    Our work consistently shows consumers prefer mobile surveys over responding by phone, and those with an incentive see higher response rates than surveys without. More importantly, for surveys with an incentive included, brand-sponsored incentives, such as a discount on a next purchase or a chance to win a high-value gift card outperform general sweepstakes. In countering survey fatigue, we advise brands on starting with Net Promoter Score (NPS) as the basis for the survey, then branching to just a few additional questions for those respondents indicating they are Detractors or Passives. The key is keeping the survey concise. Another important consideration is that of avoiding over-surveying customers, such as not inviting their feedback after every brand interaction. We've curated our thoughts around NPS surveys here.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2018

    Should grocers be teaching Americans how to eat?

    Consumer education around healthy eating options need not be an all-or-nothing position for grocery retailers. Without question, those with a primary focus on natural and organic products will find education a natural extension to their customer engagement initiatives. There is opportunity, however, with brands not typically associated with healthy eating as a core focus, such as Aldi and their new vegetarian and vegan offerings, where retailers can educate around a narrower, more curated product set and in turn establish customer goodwill.

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