3 Ways to Fuel Employee Engagement through Exceptional Customer Experiences
Growing up in the early 90’s, my family shopping trips largely revolved around big-box retailers, like Macy’s. In the dark ages, before product information was readily available on the Internet, we relied on brand names and a familiar sales associate face to help us find the products we needed, at an affordable price.
I think back to this time and remember how much we depended on the sales associates. We’d ask them everything – where the product was located, when it might be on sale, when we could expect to find a specific color back in stock. They knew the answer to every question.
In those days, that exchange was more than enough for a satisfactory experience. Giving us answers to those questions added value, infused our brand loyalty and positively influenced our purchasing decisions.
Ahhh. If only we could go back to simpler times.
Fast-forward to where we are now and proliferation of online product information has made sales associates’ jobs increasingly difficult. Many shoppers enter stores with more answers than questions (46% of shoppers stated that they usually know more than the sales associate). Even when they have some questions left unanswered, many shoppers consult their mobile device for answers, even before asking a sales associate.
But this is only a small portion of the growing problem. Overall, consumers today are decreasingly brand loyal and dissatisfied with most customer experiences. Because sales associates are often limited to only impacting the in-store experience, and rarely have visibility into the consumer’s entire journey, they often lack the resources and continuity to create exceptional experiences that build loyalty over time.
Not surprisingly, these circumstances have led to decreased rates of employee engagement and ultimately, high retail turnover (35%). Trying to mitigate the cost of turnover AND dissatisfied customer experiences that progress from disengaged employee interactions can be expensive. Retail organizations can lose up to 236 million productive days to turnover and 20% of revenue from poor customer experiences.
Apart from other factors like leadership, working hours and recognition that play a role in overall employee engagement and satisfaction, there are specific capabilities that businesses can provide their workforce that will increase employee engagement while ensuring a better customer experience.
1. Destroy the game of catch-up with real-time customer profiles
Information is power – and it’s certainly true in the case of your workforce. Employees often lack the knowledge and insight to understand the entire customer journey. Customers have spent time browsing and purchasing online, only to come in-store to be met by an associate who has no understanding of their online behavior.
Without transparency into the customer’s digital journey, the associate has no springboard to join in the shopper journey – their only option is to try and play catch-up and hopefully stumble upon an area where they can add value. It’s an exhausting experience for the employee and the customer.
4-Tell’s Smart Commerce℠ Platform integrates transaction data from POS, CRM and ecommerce platforms and makes it viewable to your workforce through customer profiles. But we take it one step further. 4-Tell technology tracks real-time ecommerce behavior so in-store associates can see products individual customers have recently purchased, viewed and the items in their cart. With this digital transparency and actionable customer information, sales can actively assist every customer that comes in-store.
Destroying the game of catch-up should be the bare minimum in retailers’ efforts to increase employee engagement and provide a solid customer experience.
2. Create value-add opportunities with predictive recommendations
It’s simple. When employees are empowered with actionable insights that close sales, their engagement levels will automatically increase. And I’m not just talking about detailed customer information as I mentioned above.
Okay, I’m not trying to backtrack. Here’s my point. Yes, comprehensive customer information is necessary and great for getting customers and sales associates on equal footing. But that’s just a solid starting point. Customers expect more from an experience to invest their loyalty. And there is more that sales associates can and must do to fuel stronger customer relationships.
Queue: Personalization. It has the potential to rock businesses bottom-line. As a case for its potential, take these stats below that were recently published by Forbes.
- 49% of customers bought items they did not initially intend to buy due to a personalized recommendation from the brand they were doing business with.
- 40% of U.S. consumers say they purchased something more expensive than they planned to because of personalized service.
- 44% of consumers say they will likely purchase again after a personalized service.
Equipping sales associates with predictive recommendations that are generated from customers’ historical preferences and real-time behavior is businesses solution to bringing the impact of personalization to the in-store experience – all while driving employee engagement.
With predictive recommendations, sales associates can offer acquaintances the same level of tailored product suggestions that they could manually create for their own mother.
3. Support fluid customer relationships with digital collaboration
Many customers shop in-store to feel, see or try-on products, only to leave and ultimately purchase online. When there’s no way to attribute in-store interactions to the appropriate associate who influenced the online purchase, sales efforts to close sales and build loyalty are lost to the online world. That alone can be crippling to employee engagement and motivation.
It’s not great for customers, either. Even when employees do go above-and-beyond to cater to shoppers’ in-store experience, the interaction is linear. After they leave the store, all dialogue and personal connection are put to a stop. It’s a pretty uninspiring outcome that does little to build true loyalty.
Every interaction between sales and customers should build on the previous experience. Doing so requires sales to digitally collaborate with shoppers and receive credit for digital sales they influence.
4-Tell’s ‘Your Store’ opens the door to digital collaboration and allows sales associates to build fluid customer relationships through personalized, online selling. Through ‘Your Store,’ sales associates can leverage 4-Tell’s customer profiles and predictive recommendations to manually curate personalized product boards that are published to the native ecommerce platform for each unique customer.
Before I go on, let me state what many are thinking, “But we just don’t have the attribution model to support that kind of interaction.” 4-Tell tracks online behavior, so every associate who publishes a board for individual customers receives credit for the purchase. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Despite the rise of ecommerce, brick-and-mortar isn’t going anywhere. Consumers still want the personal and emotional connection that comes with in-store interactions. And in a time when retailers’ are separated by the experience they provide to their customers, unlocking workforces’ potential has never been more critical.
Now is the time for businesses to empower sales with the actionable insights and capabilities that will engage and motivate employees, while providing customers exceptional, personalized experiences.
Interested in learning more about 4-Tell’s Smart Commerce℠ Platform? Schedule a demo to see how our platform can drive businesses bottom-line, create workforce-wide impact and fuel strong customer loyalty.