Can Businesses Measure Success? The Happiness Factor

Originally posted on the Bulldog Drummond Uncommon Blog


Written by Carl Boutet

Looking for new ways to engage customers? Earlier this year McDonald’s launched, to mixed reviews, a “Choose Lovin” campaign that gives customers free Mc’Grub in exchange for a demonstration of “Lovin”.

McDonald’s was known for consistently creating relevant and satisfying customer experiences that have been the hallmark of their business and success. Innovative customer engagement strategies like McDonald’s can provide learning opportunities for brands today. Specifically, how their effectiveness can be measured.

Forrester data indicates that improving the customer experience is a strategic priority for 73% of businesses, yet only 1% of companies deliver an excellent customer experience.”

Beyond anecdotal references, how do we know that our brand actions are getting the desired reactions—or that they were properly planned to begin with? What is the ROI on initiatives? Does there need to be one? My bet is that McDonald’s shareholders would say yes. Yet, although the Choose Lovin’ campaign was well received during the Super Bowl and beyond, according to The Guardian worldwide sales have declined by 1.7%.

It makes sense to show customers (and employees) some love as a way to increase  engagement with brands, and by extension, the bottom line. This has never been truer since technology has sparked a common obsession for crafting rich customer experiences and journeys. The science of business, retail in particular, has become an interesting mix bag of analytics-infused experiences and metrics.

Measurements are more than statistics and numbers

As I adhere to the “what gets measured gets done” school of thinking, my question is, how do we effectively measure the impact of these subjective initiatives? And although numbers are valuable, additional success metrics should be considered.

  1. Do we simply look at the cash register and attempt to correlate the outcome of our heartfelt initiatives?
  2. In cases of fulfilling core values, could we qualify it for a loftier goal of higher purpose?
  3. How do we measure the impact of happiness on the business?

Considering these questions, and the fact that McDonald’s Choose Lovin’ campaign has over 760 Instagram posts and 1,000s of tweets containing the #paywithlove hashtag, videos of customers “Shaking It Off” with employees and even love from Nascar racer Jamie Mac, perhaps the success of the campaign should be reassessed.

Measuring the happiness of your business

In an HBR article entitled The Ultimate Marketing Machine, the authors researched the positive economic impacts of attributes such as “purpose” within companies to demonstrate how they performed financially at higher levels than their industry average during a three-year revenue growth timeframe. Findings showed that brands that engage their stakeholders at a deeper level benefit from higher financial results. Within their Orchestrator Model of Think–Feel–Do, they discussed the need of organizations to go deeper into the data using more complex analytics (i.e. Big Data) to properly guide further actions.

Another discipline looking to crack the happiness code is Neuromarketing. This sophisticated science measures the nature of marketing components and their effects on our brain—and hence our behaviors. This works especially well in one-on-one focus group settings. With the increasing presence of wearables and their tracking abilities, expect to see further breakthroughs rapidly developing in this area. There will also be ethical questions associated with this technology.

Today businesses must look beyond Vanity Metrics. One way they can do this is by exploring the concept of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system by Fred Reichheld that attempts to correlate customer experiences with positive (promoter) or negative (detractor) experiences and the measurability of the likelihood of a current customer recommending the brand to future customers. The method is explained in depth in the Harvard Business Review article One Number You Need to Grow. In our agile and iterative business world, the NPS score is seen as a valuable measure to provide meaningful customer experience feedback to guide business decisions.

How do you measure customer happiness in a way that correlates to profitable business outcomes? Do any innovative engagement initiatives stand out to you? Regardless of your answer, the future of marketing and branding initiatives focused on engaging customer experiences will depend on their happiness.



Carl Boutet is a retail and marketing innovation junkie who is fortunate (ie. crazy enough) to be launching a new retail venture in Canada. He always enjoy learning from new people. He invite fellow curious minds to connect with him on Twitter @carlboutet or LinkedIn.