2020 Retail Business Growth: How to Enable Frontline Success

Leading retail companies know that their frontline employees are key players in delivering outstanding customer service. If a brand fails to do so, even the most brilliant advertising techniques and high-quality products won’t save the day. Why?

Let’s get a closer look at PwC’s survey findings about the major role of customer service and experience to see the gravity of this situation. Respondents were asked to what extent customer experience influences their purchase decisions, and their answers speak for themselves. 

customer service in the retail industry

PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey: Customer experience helps people decide between buying options.

While in Japan, customer experience didn’t take the top spot (only 31% of respondents found it to be a key player), in the rest of the world, more than 62% of customers said that a positive customer experience drove their purchase decisions. But there’s more.

  • 65% of consumers consider a positive customer experience to be more influential than great advertising
  • 1 in 3 consumers will give up on a brand they love after just one bad experience
  • 54% of U.S. consumers believe that most brands have to improve customer experience
  • For 82% of U.S. and 74% of non-U.S. consumers, human interaction during their shopping experience is most valued 

To provide a consistent, frictionless customer experience and strengthen their competitive ability, retailers have to take care of two major aspects: company culture and frontline employee training. There’s one thing to keep in mind: these aspects have to support and complete each other, not developed separately.

Why company culture is essential for excellent customer service

Simply put, company culture is all about the way “things work over here.” This includes a company’s values, mission, reward systems, engagement programs, talent development, behaviors, communication, operations and processes – basically, every single daily activity. If any “cog in the machine” is out of place, the whole system collapses. This results in high turnover, a decrease in sales revenue, and customer dissatisfaction. 

This is the reason why 82% of executives see company culture as a potential competitive advantage, according to Deloitte. The study also found that brands around the world rate company culture to be really important.

customer service in the retail industry

Deloitte: ratings of culture’s importance across global regions and selected countries

The secret to providing great customer service lies in providing great employee service. “The best retailers understand that service is an end-to-end game and that it has to be engrained through the entire organization and not just at store level. This also includes how the company treats the staff. You can’t expect sales teams to give fantastic customer service if they don’t receive it and feel it themselves first,” emphasizes Mark Johnson, COO at Global Retail Academy.

Therefore, the company culture should be centered not only around customers but also around retail employees, creating a ‘caring loop’: a company cares about its employees, the employees care about their customers, who, in turn, care about their company. Bonobos fosters this type of culture. “When I became CEO I made three pledges to the organization: I said I will be a champion of the customer, the brand, the business and our people,” said Micky Onvural, CEO of Bonobos. These three pledges are realized through the company’s people-centric culture. “Through our commitment to operating with a people-centric approach, we provide impactful learning opportunities that meet the diverse needs of the Bonobos team,” added Tiffany Poppa, senior director of employee experience at Bonobos. By tapping into an individual’s needs and providing them with personalized learning journeys, the company unlocks the full potential of every team member, keeping them engaged and offering support right when they need it.

But how can retail companies provide such personalized journeys and ensure every frontline employee gets everything necessary for success?

How the right tools support a people-centric company culture

According to Deloitte’s Global Powers of Retailing, the top 10 retail companies are “more globally focused with operations on average in 13 countries versus 10 for the overall top 250.” Even with a people-centric approach of running a business, how can retailers be sure that every single retail employee gets on-demand support to deliver the same high-class customer service consistent with the company’s values and mission across all stores? 

A smart performance enablement platform solves this question.

customer service in the retail industry

Rallyware: integrating all key performance enablement tools into a single platform

Digital transformation has drastically changed the way people learn, work, and live in general. At the most basic level, we all want convenience, simplicity, seamless accessibility, and a personalized approach when it comes to any kind of experience. To ensure that every retail employee has their needs met, it’s crucial to adopt an integrated data-driven tool that can turn non-linear learning experiences into customized journeys to success.

A people-centric company culture implies the support of frontline employees right from their first day with a company, but week-long onboarding with tons of material to learn and follow won’t make a difference. To get people up to speed and make sure they deliver excellent customer service, it’s important to deliver granular learning nuggets and business activities that together solve a specific current challenge. This kind of support shouldn’t stop after onboarding. It should be weaved into frontline employees’ daily work routines and ‘be there’ right when they need help. This is where the AI-driven performance enablement platform plays a key role. By analyzing each individual’s performance in real-time, the system can predict possible areas of improvement or potential upcoming issues to ‘send help’ before the actual issue arises.

Along with learning in the flow of work and just-in-time support come data-driven engagement and incentives programs. By using the underlying principles of neuroscience to activate the brain’s reward system and recognize every small win instantly, companies will gain dedicated and motivated retail employees. And thanks to social learning, retail companies can reach their staff – no matter where they are – to maintain a streamlined communication loop and make it as optimized as possible without disrupting them from work.

Outstanding customer service is the result of a people-centric culture that recognizes every team member and supports them at every step, improving retail employees’ performance and unlocking their full potential. 

Get a demo of the Rallyware Performance Enablement Platform to see live how you can support every frontline employee on their way to delivering outstanding customer service!