With retail, foodservice, and consumer expectations constantly evolving, it can be hard for businesses to keep up. While there are many resources and technologies companies can invest in that may give them a competitive edge, there is one resource that is infinitely valuable and often overlooked: your employees. Employees are the first point of contact for customers and leave a big impression throughout their buyer's journey. A poor employee interaction could cost you a customer for life. That is why it is vital to engage your employees, ensuring they are knowledgeable, empowered, and motivated to act as an advocate on behalf of your brand. Happy employees make happy customers, which in turn creates a happy bottom line.
It’s no wonder why 2018 is the year of the employee experience.
Here are five great examples of brands that are taking the employee experience seriously, and reaping the benefits of its impact on engagement, team performance, and customer satisfaction.
Arby’s is a company known for having great employee satisfaction and engagement. Even in tough situations, Arby’s looks to their employees for help. During a troubling time for Arby’s, CEO, Paul Brown, turned to his teams working in restaurants to find out what they would do to save the company.
By doing so, Arby’s gained a better understanding and perspective on the frontline experience and empowered their employees in the process. As a result, Brown made changes to improve the customer experience.
Arby’s continues to empower their teams and focus on the employee experience through various initiatives. Most recently, they introduced the Arby’s Brand Champ program, which aims to teach their teams how to engage more effectively with customers and to “better value and support Arby’s employees.” Since launching the program, they have communicated to over 70,000 employees that if they "take the time to understand Arby’s goals, Arby’s will try to understand their's as well". Arby's is going above and beyond when it comes to the employee experience, ensuring that their employees are not only successful at work, but also have the resources and guidance to achieve their dreams - whether they are related to further education or career development.
2. Best Buy
He explains that Best Buy enables this empowerment by communicating to employees that “[…] the only thing you need to know is to be amazing. Whatever you think that requires for our customers – we trust you”. Empowering the workforce like Best Buy does creates better employee morale and, as a result, a better customer experience.
Best Buy is also very effective at engaging their employees in idea sourcing. They recently opened their "Experience Store" in Montreal to create a more interactive shopper experience, where people can test out the latest technology, from VR to drones or new video game systems. The concept for the new store came from sourcing employee and customer insights and ideas. For Best Buy, listening to their employees and customers ultimately allows them to move with retail market trends more effectively.
Cerato also spoke on how cultivating a strong culture has been crucial to B.GOOD’s success.
In 2015, B.GOOD created an ordering app for customers to use in store. When co-founder Jon Olinto told employees that their pictures would be on the landing pages of the app, employees reportedly “reacted to the news with huge smiles and infectious chatter”. Showing employees that they are valued makes your employees feel like they’re a part of the bigger picture, which pays dividends in loyalty and hard work.
This sporting goods co-op consistently ranked in the top 10 companies for employee engagement, with some of the most passionate and happy employees out there. An REI Employee Engagement Index reports that 92% of employees go beyond what is required to help REI succeed and that only 18% of employees were seriously considering leaving REI at that time.
One of REI’s biggest efforts to improve the employee experience is through their “company campfire”. This initiative was launched to improve two-way communication between upper management and store clerks. REI also supports their employees through offering various efforts and benefits. Employees get an additional two days off throughout per year to “go outside and get inspired”, as well as third day off, when REI closes all of its stores on Black Friday for their employees.
5. Golf Town
Recognized as one of Canada’s 50 most engaged workplaces, Golf Town works hard to improve engagement and the associate experience across their stores. In the past year, they’ve collaborated with their store managers and associates to rebuild their core values: team, winning, adaptation and authenticity. One of their most recent efforts to improve staff engagement was implementing Nudge Rewards into Golf Town locations across. Golf Town’s Director of HR, Sue Gilpin, stated that “at Golf Town, we’re always on a mission to improve the associate experience. Since launching the Nudge Rewards app, we can proudly say 'mission accomplished'".
Using an employee app, Golf Town has improved communication between upper management and frontline workers and increased engagement on in-store initiatives, such as events, promotions, and new offers. Within five days of launch, Golf Town achieved 78% adoption across their entire frontline workforce and have been able to achieve a 75% response rate using the Nudge app.
With Millennials and Gen Z’s flooding the job market, forward-thinking companies, like Golf Town, are turning towards familiar, modern technologies that allow for a better experience across all employee touchpoints.
If you want to improve the customer experience, focusing your efforts on the employee experience should be your first step. After all investing in the employee and customer experience pays off - research by Forrester shows that, over a 5-year period, CX leaders achieved a 17% revenue growth compared to only 3% by CX laggards.
We're expecting that in 2018, we'll see major growth in the area of employee experience and will have more inspiring brands to add to this list!