We all know the customer is king. It’s an adage by which retailers have lived and breathed. In times past it meant doffing our cap and greeting our shopper by name. Now technology is breathing new life into customer insight, enabling a growing degree of personal service, expressed in new ways and delivered through the cloud.
Retailers are again getting to know our customers as individuals – and it’s something we applaud! But are we creating hidden risks by not doing the same for our employees?
The boom in personalisation, clienteling, customised delivery and other modern retailing ideas proves that e-commerce and traditional retail brands alike know just how vital it is to put the customer at the heart of everything. Retailers make every stride to put the customer first. Yet simultaneously, there have been many recent rumblings about UK retail worker/employer relationships.
One major supermarket hit the headlines around age and gender pay, a major online fashion retailer had to defend itself against warehouse working conditions, while the travails of a well-known sports retailer has brought unionisation issues front of mind for many brands.
Recent retail employment research in HR Director magazine suggests that high turnover in retail employment may be impacted not only by salary but also by management recognition and treatment.
It is entirely possible that by failing to engage and build great relationships with employees, retailers are compromising the very investments they are making to help them put customers first.
As we invest to inform and understand customers better, are we forgetting to inform and understand employees? Are the demands of competitive differentiation, profitability, and need to deliver ever faster and more flexibly to customers simply crowding out the needs of the staff on which we depend?
In today’s retail business, maintaining brilliant brand experience for customers depends on every interaction being easy and effortless. Success rests not just on the platforms we choose or the technical ease of interaction, but on the people interactions and perceptions that come along with that.
In order to avoid risk to one’s retail reputation, retailers must realise that their workforce is as central to brand success as their customers. We must ensure that our staff play an active and positive role in building our brand relationships with shoppers and customers. Here are the three keys to making that happen:
With high employee turnover an inescapable challenge for some parts of retail, factors such as enablement, a sense of trusted community, and personal development are the keys to keeping ahead.
If retailers are to reap all the rewards that we seek from business transformation and digital technology, it may be time to revisit the needs of employees as critical enablers of the customer experience.
Modern employee relationships for retail require a new approach, and an investment as serious as the customer experience. One thing is clear: creating the platforms and processes that help create an informed, committed workforce is as deserving of effort and investment as is the challenge of engaging with customers.
In our recently released Connected Shoppers Report, we found that 44% of consumers feel they know more about a product than the store associate - that doesn't sound like retailers are engaging efficiently with their employees. Download the report for more actionable insights.