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: 10/13/2020

    Has Walmart come up with an answer to Best Buy’s Geek Squad?

    This initiative, once scaled, could prove to be a superb second-mover advantage to Walmart. The market is already primed, with Geek Squad having led the way. The demand for these types of tech services will only continue to grow and with the ability to significantly undercut what is really the only national player, Walmart can leverage its footprint to establish massive price advantage. If the new service can execute as well as Geek Squad then yes, Walmart has come up with the right formula to perhaps not displace the market leader, but be a solid alternative choice.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    Staples to accept returns from other stores

    I posit this is more of a win for Optoro, as it dramatically expands their footprint of returns-processing locations. The assumption of increased foot traffic translating into a meaningful sales lift for Staples will be more difficult to realize. The Staples retail environment isn't particularly experiential and by and large, their merchandise offering can be purchased just about anywhere. Connecting the dots of an in-store return transaction then becoming a compulsive product purchase is a bit of a stretch.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2020

    Patagonia wants to ‘Vote the a**holes out’

    Patagonia knows their core customer and this messaging will have little, if any, downside to the brand. The company is bold, courageous and unapologetic.
  • Posted on: 09/15/2020

    Could Authentic Brands be the lynchpin in J.C. Penney’s turnaround?

    There is definitely a consensus in today's comment thread: J.C. Penney is a brand that has lost its way and its soul. In the absence of a clearly articulated and executed brand promise, inclusive of knowing who the customer is and compelling reasons to shop there, I'm afraid the company will soon be the next Sears. Getting the brand off life support will require bold thinking -- an entire re-imagining of what this retailer is and how it will effectively compete in today's retail environment. Simon and Brookfield, more than anyone, have a vested interest in making it happen. The question is, do they have the courage and the time to pull it off?
  • Posted on: 09/14/2020

    How can grocers help ease home cooking fatigue?

    The biggest pain points of meal planning, prep and clean up can be quickly remedied through a creative in-store focus on meal kits as a supplement to ready-to-take prepared foods. I subscribe to a national meal kit delivery service for our dinner twice weekly. If my local grocer offered an interesting and rotating variety of quick-prep oven ready dinners, or ready to heat meals, they'd have me as a more frequent customer. It would be great to stop by, choose that night's meal, and be on my way; plus I like the idea of reducing the wasteful packing and shipping materials associated with the national meal kit service.
  • Posted on: 08/21/2020

    Culture is the key to creating a company that people want to work for

    Strong, lasting workplaces start with leaders having the courage and maturity to embrace a mindful, empathetic approach when defining values, behaviors and ultimately, culture. The course of our work has identified six key traits to sustainable, healthy cultures: purpose, belonging, achievement, autonomy, balance and voice. Organizations who successfully integrate these elements into the foundation of their culture not only attract solid talent, they correlate to sustained workplace satisfaction, employee retention, and have a positive downstream impact on customer experience and satisfaction.
  • 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.

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