Four Seasons, Texas Roadhouse Tops in Customer Engagement

By Abigail A. Lorden | March 10, 2008

When it comes to customer engagement, the Four Seasons Hotels and Texas Roadhouse achieve the highest ratings in the hospitality industry according to a new study by PeopleMetrics, a customer and employee research firm.

The PeopleMetrics (www.people-metrics.com) study looked at 100 brands across four sectors (hotels, casual dining restaurants, retail stores, and banking) and ranked customer engagement based on feedback from approximately 10,000 customers throughout the United States. The Toronto, Ontario-based Four Seasons Hotel ranked first overall across all categories in the study, and Louisville, Kentucky-based Texas Roadhouse, a casual dining concept operating 288 restaurants in 44 states, topped the casual dining sector. Also performing high was the Ritz-Carlton; in non-hospitality sectors, J.Crew, Merrill Lynch, Williams-Sonoma and Costco ranked well.

PeopleMetrics' customer engagement ranking is determined by behavioral and emotional elements. Engaged customers, according to PeopleMetrics, do the following:

  1. promote the company or brand,
  2. intend to return in the future,
  3. go out of their way to do business with the company, and 4) feel passion, even love, for the brand and experience.
Executive vice president of PeopleMetrics, Kate Feather, who led the study, notes that PeopleMetrics' customer engagement measurement is "very stringent," and, as a result, "it is a strong and reliable predictor of customers' behaviors and attitudes." 

Links to Financial Performance
The study also looked at possible links between customer engagement and financial performance. Overall, companies with more engaged customers outperformed those with less-engaged customers in terms of gross margin, earnings per share and return on equity. The study included only publicly traded companies with the exception of the Four Seasons, where historical financial data was used for comparison purposes.
 
The study also considered what national chains can do to build a more engaged customer base. In particular, the study revealed a strong link between engaged customers and engaged employees.

"We know customer engagement matters in terms of financial performance," notes Feather, "but it's interesting to see that the high performing companies in our study are also deeply invested in building more engaged employees...they see that more engaged employees are creating better customer experiences and, as a result, more engaged customers."

PeopleMetrics will be a speaker at Hospitality Technology's 2008 Point of Service summit in New York City, June 11-13. To learn more, visit www.htmagazine.com.

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