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  • Writer's pictureMMR Research Associates


When we launched MMR LIVE Experience Design in 2017, our vision included solutions to help organizations close experiences gaps in-person and virtually. Our work to develop these solutions involved talking to people face-to-face in restaurants, stores, and innovation centers. It was intensively in-person.

When the pandemic forced us into social distancing and quarantines, we adapted and turned to digital tools like Zoom. We reimagined our consumer-facing experience audit approach to be virtual first, while remaining inclusive of all audiences (customers, employees, etc.) and including both observed and self-reported data.

The result?

Enabling retailers and restaurants in markets across the US to effectively change processes and adapt to the new normal - all from the comfort of our home offices.

While we adjusted our workflows for B2C companies, our work with B2B companies remained consistent, considering the shift to virtual in this space before COVID. Though we may have fewer frequent flier miles, we're thrilled with what we accomplished in 2020.

New Faces

2020 brought on an innovative period of growth for MMR LIVE as clients across the country required rapid adaptations to the respondent experience and expanded need for improved emotional connections.

Dan McDonald joined LIVE as a User Research Lead. Dan’s ability to adapt quickly to the challenges of virtual and in-person user research comes from previous experience gained as an Associate Research at Chadwick Martin Bailey in Boston, Mass.

In his own words:

“MMR LIVE has sparked my interest since graduate school,” said Dan. “It’s very apparent that their philosophy is thinking outside of the box. They are a small team with big imaginations that is truly unique to the industry. I am very excited to join the team and be part of the rapid growth they’re experiencing!”

Shelly Bouren joined LIVE as VP of Strategy and Consulting. Hailing from Oxford, Michigan, Shelly’s decades of business experience, coupled with her analytical skills, provide expanded support for business development and strategic consulting for clients looking to improve people relationships and experience development.

In her own words:

"It's exciting to join the LIVE team because of our shared belief in the foundational importance of experiences. I can't wait to bring this belief to life with their innovative focus and unique experience design frameworks."

The LIVE 5Q Monitoring System

With increased travel restrictions, our team adopted the concept of 'found time.' We accelerated the build of our LIVE 5Q Monitoring System, an actionable alternative to Net Promoter Score (NPS).

We finalized the emotional capture-powered algorithm that powers the system over the summer and launched the first pilot in the fall. The LIVE 5Q allows companies to target personalized responses based on recent experience feedback to guard and grow customer lifetime value. The survey and customer score itself is just the beginning. The magic happens when we activate personalized offers and messaging based on the scores.

Brands Become ExperienceBuilt™

2020 saw the official launch of the first annual ExperienceBuilt™ Brand Index. We fielded Wave 1 in late February, but we had to adapt before we could publish, as was the case for most pre-COVID initiatives. Data from May 2020 became Wave 1, while the February data became a pre-COVID reference point.

We talked to past customers across 70 brands, collecting 5,000 responses. With the results, we created a composite ExperienceBuilt™ Score to quickly understand how these industries stack up against each other within industries. The response has been exciting, to say the least. Our team spent most of 2020 educating stakeholders about where to look for experience gaps in their own business. Look for Wave 2 this summer.


Looking Forward in 2021: Change Remains the Only Constant

Even in pre-pandemic times, those able to adapt to change - both strategically and mentally - are well suited to succeed. But that is not as easy as it sounds… As challenging as 2020 was, we continue to see the positives in all the change.

Consumer Behavior: Choice Expectations Are Recalibrated

With the spread of the pandemic, we all had to adapt. Most of us fled online, where we first experienced a restriction of choice. What would we buy, how could we buy it, and what could we even get that was in stock?

But then we adapted. As we found our way, we found a system that worked for us. For many, what they ultimately found was simplification. Reduced access means reduced choices, which means less cognitive load.

Think about the cracker aisle in a grocery store. Physically you can walk down the aisle and scan very quickly. The same task online requires pages and pages of search results. Most people don't have the patience for that and will rely on the trusted options at the top of the page - not the obscure product line extensions at the bottom.

Over time, we browsed the digital aisles, driven by algorithms and not constrained by space and time. With this system, we uncovered new items we might have overlooked before.

So what happens when we return to the physical aisles… what if the placement isn't obvious? Will you search for it? Will you stand in the aisle and remember that it's easier to have the "personal shopper" find it for you with a few clicks?

As we look to 2021 and beyond, the MMR LIVE team will dive into these questions to better understand the Future Normal.

Business Strategy: Importance of Building the Digital Bridge

Digital transformation and omnichannel offerings were accelerated by COVID-19. Some companies expanded existing pathways for customers, while others put in place temporary or quick fixes. Either way, the evidence is clear. Behavior is not bouncing right back. People who were slow or unlikely to adopt online conveniences like BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) and internet delivery are unlikely to go back to pre-COVID behavior.

B2B businesses are not immune to this trend either. According to a McKinsey report, "only about 20 percent of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales" and "B2B decision-makers globally say that online and remote selling is as effective as in-person engagement."

As we head into a post-pandemic world, pay close attention to how customers picking up online orders interact with your physical space. Can customers use your online tools to navigate your stores or find products?

Assume all interactions will be hybrid in the next normal. Close your experience gaps with a bridge that spans your digital and physical space.


At MMR LIVE, we're excited to continue to adapt as the new year unfolds. Building on the lessons learned in 2020, we see a bright future for the next normal.

Interested in how MMR Research Associates designs and delivers optimal research solutions for your business goals in 2021 and beyond? Click Here.

Learn more about MMR LIVE Experience Design here.


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