At Shoptalk earlier this year, Jim Donald, CEO of Albertsons, said, “The most important element of a successful retailer is the employees. Next is the customer. Then comes the investors and the management.”
While this thinking doesn’t run counter to the industry maxim for the past several years, it does rightfully shine a spotlight on the importance of employees when it comes to the retail experience. The customer should always remain at the forefront of every executive decision, whether it be online or in-store.
Invest in employee training to invest in the customer
The emphasis on staff is especially true given the dramatic move to omnichannel commerce over the past few years, which will only be successful if retailers engage staff early in the process. When employees are involved and able to provide adequate feedback, they’re more likely to support the required organizational change that in turn benefits core retail operations.
When you invest in employee training, it also helps staff become brand ambassadors, establishing a more informed company image. In the same way dissatisfied customers will tell far more people about their negative experiences compared to positive ones, it will take several highly engaged employees to offset the impact of just one toxic employee.
Growth is a valuable incentive
The most effective way to get the team engaged is through incentives, both at the monetary level and growth potential – employees want to feel they can grow in their current position.
Old fashioned KPI’s should be updated to ensure that your staff is rewarded for embracing the omnichannel vision and using technology in-store to improve the overall customer experience. Employees should be able to see a direct correlation between the way their hard work drives positive impacts for the company on a larger scale.
Thus, employee action should be further rewarded when certain quotas are met after crucial growth periods. This not only encourages a positive report with how employees view the company, but also retains highly sought-after talent.
The most effective way to get staff to the place where they can claim their incentives is through technology. Deploying technologies like virtual reality and A.I. in the actual training of front line employees yields positive results.
At the NRF Big Show in New York, Macy’s former chair and CEO, Terry J. Lundgren, stated that continual training using technology ensures employees see more of a future in their role. Also, putting mobile devices in the hands of employees is the best way to help keep them engaged with shoppers. These devices can have apps covering everything from product and promotion details to customer data and POS.
Employee empowerment benefits everyone
In the current retail environment, retailers should stay competitive by empowering their staff with the proper training and tools necessary to get the job done.
Employees need to think omnichannel in everything they do so they can efficiently upsell, cross-sell, and secure sales in ways never before possible. Retailers need to not only teach them how to use the technology, but also how to understand and use valuable customer insights across channels to offer an enhanced customer experience.
Above all, retailers should ensure technology practices and training development programs that benefit the customer in the long-run, and ensure an even more positive employee-customer relationship.