A recent article by CEO World reports that 90% of organizations believe employee engagement affects their business’s success. And despite technology’s increasing role in the shopping experience, a survey by PwC highlights that 82% of American consumers say they’re still influenced by the people they interact with in stores.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, these stats are telling: With more shopping options available to consumers than ever before, brick-and-mortar retailers need to master the in-person customer experience to stay competitive. And customer experience, in turn, is inextricably linked with the employee experience.
In order to help customers, then, retailers should first focus on increasing engagement among their frontline store employees.
Here are a few best practices for building a more engaged team that can improve the customer experience and boost sales.
- Create a culture of connection from the start.
Focus on building that sense of connection within your team from the start by improving your onboarding process. Are you providing the support new hires need to succeed in their roles? Do they understand your brands and products? Are you communicating how their contributions will add value?
A better onboarding experience will boost engagement among new employees because they will feel more comfortable in their roles and have a better understanding of the company.
- Communicate the ‘why’ behind the tasks.
Explain the why behind common in-store tasks like updating price tags or restocking shelves quickly. Store managers who communicate the deeper meaning behind employees’ daily responsibilities will help teams understand why their work is valuable, both to the customer and the business.
- Ask employees what they think (and listen to what they say).
Part of developing an engaged team culture is valuing your employees’ opinions. Provide ample opportunities for team members to share feedback on products, processes, and promotions.
For instance, after a new product launch, ask your team how customers are reacting to the product. Or ask for their input on improving promotions. Technologies like those offered by Retail Zipline can help create this tight feedback loop. Participating in conversations like this frequently will help team members feel heard, valued, and more engaged with the company.
- Recognize your team’s efforts and accomplishments.
Gallup recently reported that a lack of recognition is the reason most employees quit, and a separate Gallup study reported that only one in three workers received recognition for a recent job well done.
It’s clear that organizations have room for improvement in this area. Research shows that a people-centric employee recognition program, where team members receive frequent praise from others, is effective for boosting employee happiness, morale, and engagement. When retail company leaders prioritize employee recognition, everybody benefits.
- Balance the employee experience with the customer experience.
We all know the old saying, “the customer is always right.” While this is an important concept in retail, it doesn’t always ring true. Sometimes, customers may be in the wrong or acting disrespectfully to a team member. Employees need to feel supported in these cases.
To provide this support, retail leaders and in-store managers need to offer guidance to employees when difficult situations with customers arise. Proactive strategies like role-plays with managers and effective communication frameworks can help employees feel supported in their roles and armed with the knowledge they need if they’re faced with a challenging customer.
Communications expert Chuck Gose advises, “The employee experience defines the customer experience.” The numbers confirm it: Companies with engaged teams make approximately 2.5 times the revenue of those that don’t prioritize employee engagement.
Retail Zipline: One solution for improving both employee engagement and customer experience
Setting up your people for success involves providing them with robust communication tools. That way, they can understand company strategy as well as their role in accomplishing it; ask questions and give feedback; and share team accomplishments. Retail Zipline’s store communication solution can do all of those things and more.