Powering Human Experience

Season 2 | Episode 2 - Reg Price, MirrorWave

Ray Poynter
August 11, 2021
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Episode 2, Season 2 has just landed! Tune in today to Reg Price from MirrorWave to discover how to strenghthen and create deeper, longer-lasting relationships with your customers.

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

Hi everyone, Ray Poynter here with another Powering Human Experience podcast. And I'm delighted today to have Reg Price with us, co-founder of MirrorWave. Number one question is what is MirrorWave?

Reg Price, MirrorWave

MirrorWave started off as a little experiment really. I've owned a couple of market research firms in the past, and had always been fascinated by the longitudinal method, which is really well accepted in science, pharmacology population studies - people might have heard of the Avon study or the Dunedin study - and just started to think about what the potential might be for setting up a company that commercialized the longitudinal approach into business. And so MirrorWave specializes in following experiences, or following relationships for an individual over time.

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

So this is sort of Voice of Customer or CX, is it?

Reg Price, MirrorWave

Yes, I think it's such a versatile and powerful process and mindset that it could be used for customers, it could be used for employees, even for partners, suppliers and franchisees. I think the interesting thing is that, when you really look at business, so much of business is a longitudinal process of one sort or another. An experience, for instance, is a longitudinal process. It's a journey that an individual takes over time. An experience is a journey that somebody takes over time as well. So almost everything in business is a data stream of some sort.

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

So what sort of use cases are we seeing with MirrorWave?

Reg Price, MirrorWave

So as I I said, I'm not sure that this is specific to verticals, I think that any organization that lives and dies by its relationships, or lives and dies by the quality of its experiences, can use a MirrorWave longitudinal program. So, this could be customers. And I think the absolute no brainer here is B2B. So almost every B2B company, or even a consumer company, like a telco or a bank, with business customers, these are usually deeper relationships. And so there's huge value from following these over time, and just emphasizing that you're following individual relationships over time, but like a medical history, like a relationship, medical history, and for me, that's the absolute, as I said, the absolute no-brainer for how you might use a longitudinal approach like this.

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

Could you describe how one of your customers is doing that, perhaps in the B2B space, not necessarily giving names away, but just the business sector and the sort of things that they're using this for and what they're getting out of it?

Reg Price, MirrorWave

Sure. I think, a good example of the B2B use case that I was talking about would be an insurance company client of ours. They have very deep and enduring relationships with their intermediary advisors. These are independent advisors. These are advisors who can choose between different providers, so it could be their insurance company, but it also could be others. And they follow the relationships, and follow the sentiment in the relationships of these financial advisors, over time.

We have one client who has been doing this for 13 years, for example, so there would be a pulse of just very few questions, twice a year in this case. And then of course, you can draw out comparisons about what that advisor was thinking last time, what they were thinking this time, and that relationship, medical history can be built over time.

I think the real value from this is that people tune in quite quickly. So the business development managers (‘BDMs’) that the insurance company has turnover quite often, so a new BDM can come in and they can see this amazingly powerful and rich relationship history over the 13 years if that advisor has been there that that long – so they can really start by getting up and running immediately, understanding more sometimes then the financial advisor can remember about the relationship.

It's a very simple program, quite regular contact, very few questions. Just getting into a mindset of understanding how that deep enduring relationship is changing over time. And most importantly, thinking really hard about what needs to be done to make sure that the score goes up next time.

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

So when you say really few questions, how many are we talking? 10? Or 15?

Reg Price, MirrorWave

I can't think of a MirrorWave client that has had more than four questions. This is a bit challenging for some organizations who have different divisions or departments, who want to ask questions for themselves, and they get multiplied up. But actually, I think you can ask three questions. It's almost like every time you ask this question, again, in each pulse, because remember, with the longitudinal approach, you're asking the same question quite regularly, just to understand what changes and to understand what you can do about it, it's almost like multiplying three questions by two by two by two. And by building up the story, you get you get a rich history, that doesn't require too many questions.

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

And do you add anything else to that data? So for example, somebody complains about something you promise to fix it? Is there any follow up to that process?

Reg Price, MirrorWave

I think this is the difference between a relationship-strengthening exercise and an insights program, I think there's a massive mindset difference here. This is particularly relevant with B2B. This is more than just gathering data and building insights from which action can be taken. This is about understanding the story of individuals, and then figuring out why the sentiment has changed, and thinking about what can be done about it. And then, of course, the next poll seeing if that score has gone up or not. Does that answer that question?

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

I guess it does. What you're saying, really, is you're responding to individuals, you're gathering insight data, like 20% of our customers are a bit less happy, but you're also dealing with individual customers, and seeing what needs to be done for them.

Reg Price, MirrorWave

Exactly! If you can imagine changing a mindset a little bit. Normal cross-sectional data that you would gather from, say from a CX program, is cross sectional, even if you have tracking data, very rarely, is anybody following that individual over time. If you're aggregating all of this, these stories over time, you can start to make generalizations about with whom things are changing, and in what direction.

Just to sort of illustrate the mindset that this encourages, we have some vocabulary. For those people who gave a low score last time and the low score this time, we call ‘Unresolved Angries’. But people who gave a high score last time and a high score this time, we call we call ‘Enduring Angels’. I think anybody who is interested in relationships would see that what you would do with an ‘Unresolved Angry’ would be really different to what you would do with an ‘Enduring Angel’.

We encourage thinking and managing relationships around the direction in which they're changing. Just to illustrate that further, I think this is so much more powerful than, say, a cross-sectional approach where you're just getting one ball number. If you imagine that a customer scored a 4 out of 10, for instance, you know how effectively they thought you were delivering the service, then you'd obviously be concerned, but you would be even more concerned maybe if they had scored a 10 last time. So the score has fallen from a 10 to a four. How would you act differently to diagnose and work on that relationship from, say, somebody who scored a two last time and now four? By changing that mindset towards a change scenario, which is what we call it, it gives you so much more latitude to manage that relationship even better.

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

So, a couple of questions about sort of logistics, who tend to be the key stakeholders?

Reg Price, MirrorWave

That's a really pivotal question, Ray. I would say the person who owns the budget, obviously, is a key stakeholder here, generally, in this kind of program, that's a marketer, right? So it would be marketing or insights. However, an insights department is mostly interested in insights. But for us, the other really pivotal key stakeholder is the person or the team that owns the relationship. They are the ones who are demanding more from insights teams, they want practical stories about how they're going with individual relationships, because that's something they can wrap their arms around and do something with. So we try and think of the people own the relationships as equally key stakeholders here.

I'm not sure that that's the case for all CX programs or Voice of Customer programs. I think the thing about this is that when we first set up MirrorWave, we saw a lot of B2B relationship managers, account managers, who felt like a typical cross-sectional insights program wasn't delivering for them. They felt like they'd inherited it from a consumer environment, and it wasn't particularly relevant for them. So I think there are a lot of people out there who feel under-served by the current approaches.

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

Is there a concern that it's going to take quite a long time before it starts to be useful, because it's longitudinal? When you get the first wave of data, there's nothing to compare it with. The second wave is six months later, and it's a year before you've got a year on year comparison, is it an inhibitor?

Reg Price, MirrorWave

There's no doubt that the stories get more powerful over time, like going back to those financial advisors who have been participating for 13 years, you know more about them than they do. The way that we overcome it, though, to get immediately into this change-based management mindset, is that we would generally ask a question about how that person felt, say, six months ago. Immediately, you can see whether they're falling, rising, or staying the same. It encourages that change-based mindset straight away.

I think that's a really good start, it's not as good as the third wave, as you say. But once you get into a third wave, you're getting into an even more powerful zone. For instance, we have some more vocabulary. We have ‘Ticking Time Bombs’, for instance. These are people who for three waves have given a low score. You know that they gave two waves of low scores, you tried to do something about it, but they've still given a low score. And we feel like this is a perfect platform for escalation into a sales leader or relationship leader or a customer success manager. Any company I would think would be worried about the Ticking Time Bombs and would love to read their stories just equally as they would their Sticky Angels, those people who love them and continue to love them.

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

So, what are the results that people are getting that you can share?

Reg Price, MirrorWave

We find that most of our clients want to improve the status, improve the satisfaction of their customers or employees or partners. We had a look recently at all of the programs that we've run over the 10 years that MirrorWave has been running and over all of those programs will have the number of dissatisfied customers. They have 35% who were ‘Unresolved Angries’. We find that when we track this over time, we can help a client to hugely reduce the number of dissatisfied clients they have. But equally on the other end, if we sort of use that delight scale, or that nine or 10 scale, and the advocate scale and NPS, then then we've generally improved that by 2-3 times across all the programs.

Obviously, this varies a little bit from one to another, and depends on the starting point. But overall, if you think of this as a relationship-strengthening program, and you do some simple things really well and show that you're listening, then you can get magnificent results!

Where we've had clients who are interested in the ROI, we have a particular way of measuring and putting a dollar value on quick wins. Some of our clients have achieved 24 x ROI. So whatever they've spent on a particular wave, they got 24 times that back in terms of new sales, or saved clients or reduced cost to serve or advocacy.

I really believe that if you can show customers really simply that you're listening then, you know, you will get a great relationship-strengthening outcome.

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

Thanks, I'm really keen to ask you one more question, which is where next, how do you see this sort of field and longitudinal research going forward?

Reg Price, MirrorWave

I would love for the longitudinal approach to be much more recognized. I'd love to see the market research industry move more towards us to see that there are more powerful, more suitable methods for certain sorts of use cases in their businesses.

I'd love to see banks focusing the longitudinal approach on their deep, enduring relationships over time.

I'd like to see FMCG recognizing that many of their brand relationships are deep and enduring, and that they might get some value out of following people over time.

I think there's a really good opportunity that for the future, if you think of longitudinal data, it's a stream of data, just like financial data is, or it's just like, CRM data is. Therefore, there's a potential for huge compatibility between these data streams. If somebody is happy, and they become dissatisfied, you understand the reasons, and that's recorded in a CRM, the contact making is recorded in CRM, and you can see the financial implications of this.

I think there's something missed in the way that co-mingling of data is done. Now, it's a mixture of cross-sectional and date data. I can see massive potential for doing this better for the future, and achieving what everybody wants, which is to have market research and feedback as an absolutely integrated part of how our business thinks about how it does business.

Ray Poynter, Potentiate

Absolutely Reg. It's been a delight talking to you. Thank you so much.

Reg Price, MirrorWave

Absolute pleasure, Ray. Thanks for this. Appreciate it.

About Reg Price, Director and Co-founder, MirrorWave

Reg Price is co-founder of two new generation feedback management companies.  

MirrorWave strengthens business relationships by following individuals over time, using the longitudinal research method.

Feedback Avatars uses a digital human interviewer to transform the survey experience into something more personal, fulfilling and effective than traditional on-line keyboard-based techniques.

Prior to founding MirrorWave, Reg consulted on customer strategy, customer experience design and strategic account management in such sectors as banking, telecoms, local government, utilities and industrial firms.  This work has been located in various parts of the world, including New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, UK, Germany and USA.

He has also founded several market research firms, including one that won the inaugural market research effectiveness awards in New Zealand.

Reg is also co-author with Prof Don Schultz of Northwestern University of the first book to propose a management framework for better managing promises, called ‘Reliability Rules’.  One of the key findings of the book was that half of customer dissatisfaction comes not from poor service performance but rather the inadequate setting and management of expectations.  He has also published several articles in leading marketing management periodicals including Marketing Management and Journal of Service Research.  

He has taught at post graduate level at University of Auckland and has presented at numerous academic and practitioner conferences around the world. He presented in Paris and Florida at the annual Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA) conference on next practice in voice of client for strategic accounts and partnerships.