In recent years, retail, foodservice, and hospitality brands have strived to improve the customer experience. From loyalty programs, to voice of customer initiatives, to the digitization of customer experiences, we have assumed that by investing in our customers, we will become a category leader. While these efforts have resulted in some progress, they fail to address the most critical part of a customer’s experience - the human interaction that takes place between frontline employees and customers. By empowering frontline teams, brands can inspire true brand loyalty and deliver the exceptional in-location experience customers have come to expect.
At the Future Stores conference, Nudge Rewards’ Chief Customer Officer, Jordan Ekers, addressed this problem head on by discussing how investing in the employee experience can be an incredible way to deliver a more effective customer experience. “The experience gap is that we’ve created great programs that have raised customer expectations, but we haven’t empowered our employees to meet these expectations,” Jordan said. “We believe that employee experience is the next big transformation in the world of retail."
Frontline employees still play a vital role in the buying experience of customers, especially in speciality stores. Samsung recently shared that that 85% of their consumers will go elsewhere if they are not helped by an associate with the right knowledge. “If you walk into a location and an associate does not understand how to deliver on your brand promise or what the new promotion is, that’s a missed opportunity to drive a transactional behaviour,” Ekers explained.
In his talk, Jordan highlighted three ways you can work with your employees to improve frontline performance and supercharge your CX plan.
1. Gather Behavioural Data - Using frontline employee-facing tools that promote engagement and collaboration, you can understand the performance and execution at your top performing locations. This helps to understand the key employee behaviours that are driving location success.
2. Replicate Proven Behaviours - Once you know which employee behaviours are driving success, then you can find a way to replicate them across locations. Leveraging top-down, bottom-up and peer-to-peer communication, you can help frontline employees adopt best practices and solve challenges in real-time.
3. Mobile Evolution - To improve the employee experience, brands need to provide their employees with the tools, resources, and support they need to do great work. This starts by reaching employees where they already are - on their mobile device. Using a familiar channel, brands can better engage their employees and help them feel more connected to organizational goals and brand.
“I want to inspire the retail industry to care more about their people. We know that associates want to do an exceptional job, yet the tools that we’ve put in their hands to date have not empowered them to do that,” Ekers noted. To close the experience gap, retailers must find new ways to communicate with and engage their frontline associates to meet elevated customer expectations and deliver memorable customer experiences.