Our Thoughts

Latest Thinking from the Humm Team

The Story

Might Sound A Bit Fishy

Twelve years ago, Humm’s founder was having lunch with his sons at a Long John Silvers. He noticed satisfied customers would happily ring a captain’s bell on their way out, and in return employees would cheer with gratitude for the affirmation. The restaurant’s environment immediately changed, for the better.

Wouldn't the owners of this establishment appreciate the feedback as well? What if some days the bell rang more than others? What if the bells stopped ringing? With modern technology, there must be a way to capture all this feedback literally walking right out the door. 
It was from these initial questions that Humm was born.

Death To The Survey: Empathy Is Best Served Realtime

by Vincent Salvo

After 20 years in the healthcare business, I’ve observed that people love to share their opinions on just about everything—that is, unless it takes too much time or their opinion lands someplace in the middle, neither ticked-off nor ecstatic.

Obtaining people’s opinions is an exercise in what I call emotion gathering. If you gather enough instances of the same emotion, you can transform the subjective into the objective. Today, most companies gather emotion via retrospective customer satisfaction surveys and five-star rating systems.

Satisfaction surveys use a number of different modalities—email, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), paper, on-line, etc. Participation rates are mostly dismal. Case in point, when was the last time you left one of those big box home improvement stores, went online, typed in the 15- digit number and 11 digit password from the receipt and spent 10 minutes completing a survey? Exactly.

Five-star rating systems are usually quicker, but they tell you nothing about how the average person feels about a product or service. Look at app store reviews and you’ll see an app rated with 1.5 million 5-stars, one hundred thousand 1-stars and relatively few 2 to 4 star reviews. Why relatively few in the middle? Simple, the “It’s Okay” crowd is not emotional enough to expend the energy to tell you how they feel. They won’t complain, they’ll just switch to one of your competitors.

Why companies continue to spend boatloads of money to find out how their customers feel when they anticipate continually dismal response rates and know that they’ll likely only hear from the noisy few astounds me. Nonetheless, they go through the motions in hopes of “getting”  any customer’s point of view because executive teams know that leading companies who get it right (think Disney, Apple, Wegmans, and Whole Foods) outperform the laggards by 80 percent. Regardless of the poor results they’re getting with traditional means, they’re compelled to keep trying. Great intent, poor execution.  

But my question remains: if you’re going through the effort and expense of gathering customers’ feelings, why in the world would you add one more variable to the mix and gather them AFTER they’ve left? In today’s world of live and real-time everything, the use of retrospective, time-consuming surveys and its stepbrother, the 5-star rating, is uselessly quaint AND a huge waste of time and money.

“Getting” the customer experience transcends simple emotion gathering and goes into the realm of residing in the customer’s skin and feeling what they feel. Getting it means having empathy for the customer at every step of their experience. And empathy is best served realtime. Surveys and ratings don’t fulfill their intended purposes most of the time let alone provide customer empathy. I’ll go one step further and say that the use of retrospective survey devices is not empathic to the customer experience at all. Think about it. You’re trying to embrace customer empathy while simultaneously being totally unempathic by the means you’re using. It’s a bit circular and contradictory, isn’t it?

Healthcare innovators and their patients are suffering from survey fatigue. So the innovators have abandoned the use of the these outdated tools and now use approaches like design thinking, which places just as much emphasis on the emotional value of a product/service as the economic value. They’re also using live feedback platforms to collect and visualize the data they receive to help better understand how their patients feel at the “moment of emotion”.

The result of using these new tools is the ability to curate the most authentic customer emotions and then transform these emotions to design more innovative and loyalty-driven products and services that go beyond just fixing what’s broken. These novel approaches delight guests and brand the experience to create an increasingly larger gap between leading companies and slow adopters.

Where does your company fall on the patient experience journey -- Lagging/Retrospective, Exploring, Committed, or Culturally Embedded and Real-Time?

Psychology First, Then Technology

By Bernard Briggs

I often get asked what differentiates our real-time feedback platform from other seemingly-similar approaches to collecting feedback. The answer is rooted in my conviction that Humm is not just a technology company but even more so a psychology company. We offer rich technology, no doubt, but our fundamentals are based in the respect and understanding of the role psychology plays relative to feedback.

I’ve been studying customer feedback for a long time. What I’ve observed is a set of tendencies consumers show when giving or considering giving feedback. Based on this discovery, our team created a set of functional principles to address each behavior:

1. Diminishing Emotion—If you don’t receive feedback at the time of experience, you probably never will. Emotion in the moment, driving the desire to provide feedback will dissipate once the consumer leaves your premises. By receiving instant feedback before a consumer leaves, offers your greatest chance of capturing honest, sincere feedback.

2. Actionable Trends—Negative feedback can leave you with a lot of questions. But once you identify a trend, versus a few anecdotal opinions, you are able to take informed action and make positive changes to your business.

3. Empowering Anonymity—Most people avoid confrontation and will not provide the level of specific, constructive criticism (if any at all) that your business may need to hear in order to grow. By giving consumers a voice to provide real-time feedback with a degree of anonymity, you empower them to confidently engage, which will give you the most authentic feedback possible.

4. Eruptive Behavior—When angry, people need an outlet, they want to vent and they want to be heard. If you give them an opportunity to vent on premise, they’re magnitudes less likely to experience the desire to vent again. Thereby avoiding and heading off a potential blow up online in view of millions.

We created our Humm technology platform to recognize and address these psychological principles. With our feedback tablets, customers can integrate our platform into their organization in an organic way that works best for them. For example, some nest our tablets in a lobby kiosk, others make them available as guest check presenters after a meal, others leave them in other strategic locations throughout their business. Regardless of the modality, the feedback comes quickly, comes big, and is presented to the business in a way that allows our customers to make instant decisions, effectively transforming their businesses in real-time.

Consumer psychology drives our technology. We have leveraged our expertise very successfully in the hospitality sector including but not limited to restaurants, country clubs, and hospitals. As we continue to evolve our platform, we commit to giving customers in all  industries the feedback platform they need to reach their full potential.

From faster food to better healthcare: feedback's critical role

By Bernard Briggs

At the front of every Long John Silver’s is their iconic Captain’s Bell. The ringing of the bell is the sound of excellence for the brand’s store managers and their staff. But when I heard the bell, I heard more. I imagined it ringing a lot when certain cooks were on staff, and less when others were. I imagined it ringing during some manager’s shifts and not others. I heard this and I thought how useful it was to have that feedback so quickly, almost before a customer was even out the door.

But this was 12 years ago - there were no quick-build mobile apps. Software was expensive to build and even more expensive to scale. So I moved onto other things while I witnessed technology evolve. Eventually the idea resurfaced and the timing was right.

We launched Humm as a real-time feedback platform in 2012. Our concept was to press rewind on that Long John Silver’s bell idea to better capture feedback while diners were still in restaurants. Then, make that feedback fast, scalable, and actionable, all while giving customers an easy-to-use, sleek experience. By doing so, we believed we could help restaurants better uncover exactly what caused satisfaction and dissatisfaction in a way that allowed them to both act in real-time and track trends over time.

Restaurants loved the idea, and from our home base in Austin, TX, we started to grow. Today, we've helped hundreds of restaurants use real-time feedback to refine their menus, and improve everything from front-of-house and kitchen processes to the overall ambiance and atmosphere of the restaurant itself. The proof was in our clients’ results -- one cites Humm as the key to a double-digit revenue increase -- and our early success showed us that we were onto something.

From day one, we knew the use cases for our technology were massive. What worked in restaurants could surely be translated to hotels, airlines, and retailers. But with a call two years ago from a Dean of Yale’s School of Medicine, who had just interacted with a Humm feedback tablet while dining out on a vacation, we were quickly answering a different question: could Humm also impact hospitals and clinics?

For the past year, Yale New Haven Hospital has helped us pioneer Humm in healthcare, and we’ve continued to add a growing number of healthcare partners. In hospitals, clinics, and urgent care centers around the country, we’re implementing Humm. We are collecting thousands of feedback sessions every month at bedsides, in lobbies, exam rooms, and during discharge. These efforts are driving critical improvements like helping ensure patients understand discharge instructions and how to take their medications before they leave the hospital. With that information, nurses and doctors can intervene while patients are still on-site, better protecting patients and preventing readmission.

Today, we’re proud to have patients interacting with Humm at nearly one hundred health care facilities across the country. We’re inspired by healthcare providers’ commitment to using everything in their power to improve the patient experience. This new chapter challenges us to constantly innovate on our product so that, alongside our partners in the space, we can join the important work of improving the healthcare system from the inside out.