Eris Santos, CEO
The move away from paper to tech-based products makes the average consumer consider the standardized way of paper-based or phone-conducted feedback surveys as mundane as it can be. A very low percentage of dissatisfied customers actually come forward, largely due to how businesses currently collect data, with methods ranging from slow phone surveys to old-fashioned comment cards. Several years of experience with customer-oriented startups and insights from the market research industry is what prompted the foundation of Benchmark Intelligence. “A lot of retailers have very little voice of customer data,” asserts Eric Santos, CEO, Benchmark Intelligence. “Our customer feedback tools help businesses have from 5 to 10 times more data each month.”
The inability to provide customer satisfaction due to outdated survey methods and inadequate data is a pain point businesses are often looking to alleviate. Originally aimed at the automotive niche, Fresno-based Benchmark measures customer experience in the restaurant and fashion retail industry. By using artificial intelligence, Benchmark collects data through various mediums including SMS, field visits, social media and more to analyze and identify the variables that affect the customer experience at any given location in a chain.
The distinction between these factors is achieved through the utilization of IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology, with Benchmark being one of the first companies to ever use it. “We might have a restaurant which is bad in service, but product quality might be good. With IBM Watson, we are able to distinguish those variables and provide analytics down to the location level, whether it be the region, state or brand level as a whole,” explains Santos.
We try to grab as much data as we can so that the retail chains can truly know what the customer experience is like at their locations
Benchmark’s offerings are marked by a unique customer experience. “Our SMS customer feedback tool allows customers to text in their feedback about their experience at a brick & mortar location and have a real-time conversation with a human or received automated text based off artificial intelligence,” explains Santos.
The Benchmark Intelligence field auditing product allows the team to conduct secret internal shopping visits, with Benchmark’s dashboard instantly summarizing and importing data into the platform. Moreover, Benchmark aggregates ratings and reviews from social platforms for a specific location through their social media listening product. Santos adds that “third-party social media information is important for analyzing customer feedback, but if you are using that data alone, it’s not enough. We provide a holistic view that defines a Benchmark Score for each location, along with analytics that shows the top and bottom performing locations.”
In one client instance, where they had realized they could not collect enough data from their paper-based surveys, Benchmark came in and was able to raise their Net Promoter Score (NPS) by over 15 points. Another example includes a client that kept getting negative reviews. With the simplicity of Benchmark’s SMS tool, they were able to reduce negative reviews by almost 50 percent across six months, which is impressive. “We try to grab as much data as we can so that the retail chains can truly know what the customer experience is like at their locations,” explains Santos.
Moving to the future, Benchmark is looking to carve automation into their software even more. “There is going to be a heavy pour into artificial intelligence,” says Santos. “Innovation is a big part of where we are today and we want to make sure our offerings get smarter and solve real pain points in regards to customer feedback before rolling them out as a product or feature,” he concludes.