By Hazel Morton, Head of Growth Marketing Global, Critizr
There is a direct, proven link between employee engagement and successful business outcomes – and brands ignore it at their peril.
That’s the warning from a group of retail experts in a new webinar, which calls for an urgent shake up of the retail business model to bring more investment, initiative and respect to retail staff, as a route to improving customer service.
In a session packed with insight and expertise, retail consultant and consumer expert Peter Cross, Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service and Sebastien Riolo, Head of Success UK at Critizr reveal how revenue and reputation are impacted by employee engagement – and why ‘EX equals CX’ will be retail’s most important equation in 2022.
Their call to action? If you want to better serve your customers, serve the people who serve them first. Here are eight great takeaways from the session.
- Show some respect: we clapped for frontline staff during the pandemic. They were even on the front cover of Vogue! Don’t let that be just lip service. We owe store staff, they’ve ‘kept the lights on’ in the past two years, and they can provide businesses with most of the answers when it comes to the complex creatures who are our customers. And why wouldn’t they? They’re serving them every day. So involve your staff, give them a voice, make them feel connected to the purpose and performance of the business, and show them just how much they are valued and respected in the organisation.
- Build the business case: there’s a hard economic rationale at the heart of this issue. For every 1 per cent increase in employee engagement there’s a 0.41 increase in customer satisfaction. Investing in frontline teams isn’t just a ‘nice to do’. It’s a route to better performing stores and increased revenues for the whole business. All the research shows that organisations that care and invest in their employees get better financial outcomes. On the flip side, the productivity gap – the amount of time wasted by disengaged staff getting it wrong – costs companies billions every year.
- Trust in retail’s ‘new frontier’: retail is in the midst of ‘the great resignation’. Part of the problem? Only 45% of staff experience training and only 15% feel they have any involvement in initiatives to make them more productive. Yet these staff are the face of your brand. They are retail’s ‘new frontier’, managing those precious, close interactions with customers. So trust staff to own their tasks. Build a frontline of properly trained professionals who feel valued and are able to manage the interface and connect with customers.
- Mind the gap: gaps are everywhere in retail – between staff and customers, customers and brands, and the often unspoken ‘them and us’ that exists between HQ and branch. But gaps aren’t good. They bring inconsistency and failed relationships – and from a distance, the view from HQ can be very different to the one on the shop floor. So take action to pull the people in your business closer together around everyone’s common cause: doing your best for customers.
- Challenge the old models. Retailers should think big and not be afraid to smash outdated models that are no longer relevant. In a business where everyone owns the customer, should ‘head office’ even be a thing? Should brands ‘reverse the pyramid’ to give staff more power and have them co-curate the retail experience? Shouldn’t the best jobs in retail be the ones that are closest to customers, rather than ‘up the ladder’ at HQ? Doing the same thing every year produces the same results – and it’s time for change.
- Set staff up for success: in retail, particularly in the digital age when 65% of the sale has happened before the customer enters the store, knowledge is power. Nothing is more uncomfortable in life than ‘winging it’. And nothing is more reassuring for customers than a staff member who knows their stuff. Your frontline staff need to be a step ahead, so set them up with the tools and training for success with customers.
- Understand engagement: do you really know what your staff want and what will make them perform better in their roles? If not, find out. For most it’s acknowledgement that senior management care about the customer experience, having a genuine voice in the business, bringing the organisation’s purpose and values to life, equipping frontline managers to engage effectively, providing a pathway for every employee – and of course, the simple act of recognition: saying thank you.
- Remember: retail is a great place to work: it’s not for everyone, and the last few years have been tough, but working in retail can be an absolutely brilliant job. Don’t forget to celebrate the positives, the achievements and successes with your team over the Christmas season.
To hear more from Peter, Jo and the Critizr team, you can watch the webinar on-demand using this link. Watch now