According to Bob Thompson, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of CustomerThink.com, less than a third of all CX initiatives end up being successful(1) in terms of tangible benefits. Yet, the CXOs behind these less than successful initiatives seldom give up, because irrespective of the success or the lack of it, they continue to see CX as crucial to business outcomes. This is particularly true in the retail industry, whose CX rulebook is the most dynamic.

The most effective retailers in the contemporary marketplace continually rethink CX. Any potential initiative must work for both online and in-store retail experiences, as part of a larger omnichannel strategy — or in the words of Jason White(2), Retail Practice Lead at Pexip UK and Ireland, “Ensuring that your online and in-store offerings work in harmony has never been so important.”

Employee Empowerment is critical to effective CX

So, if a sizable number of CX strategies are ineffective, what constitutes a successful omnichannel retail strategy? There is no wrong answer to this question, as every strategy works in a certain scenario, for a specific timeframe, and with a particular customer base. Lately, for instance, user behavior and expectations have evolved considerably, requiring brands to invest more resources into the retail experience. However, for any such strategy to work, brands need to have a robust foundation. And employee empowerment is a critical pillar of this foundation.

 Educator and Author Stephen Covey, in his book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’(3), explains it best: “An empowered organization,” writes Covey, “is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success”. From a purely retail standpoint, this translates to the empowerment of frontline staff, customer representatives, marketers, and salespeople, through the right tools, in-house strategies, and skills.

CX falters without empowered employees

Imagine you formulate a terrific CX strategy to drive seamless experiences, but your employees are not well-informed about it; imagine you launch your most ambitious, laborious, and expensive CX initiative to date, but employees entrusted with implementation have no clear direction — you are set up for failure from the get-go.

 At MAST Consulting we’ve observed that such scenarios are not uncommon in retail. We often encounter retailers who disproportionately focus on external systems, overlooking the internal systems and processes associated with employees. In fact, retailers are often receptive to the adoption of new technologies, experimentation, and out-of-the-box strategies; only to downplay employee empowerment. When a small fraction of the total CX investment can enable employees’ upskilling and enhance their productivity, we believe it calls for retailers to rethink their priorities. Employee empowerment through full-stack solutions suite

MAST Consulting has formulated its Retail Employee empower solution (RIAA) to improve retail merchandising and marketing, while providing real-time value. RetailE includes employee empowerment-centric features such as:

  •  Scheduling and task management: Outdated in-house operations involving whiteboards and spreadsheets leave room for discrepancies, in scheduling and task management. Optimization not only depends on simplifying processes but also adopting cloud-based scheduling, which can help retail managers effectively designate tasks, define specific roles, and enhance accountability, in retail spaces.
  • Product placement management: Retailers must ask themselves: Why do shoppers come to the store if they can shop the same products online? It is to see, touch, and feel the products. Retailers must optimize the product placement to tap into this touch-and-feel factor. Insight-led product displays and layout strategies can exert a powerful influence on shopping decisions. Spatial analysis of shelving, the use of schematics and planograms, and collation of observational activity and sales data for analytics, contribute to effective insights.
  • Advanced reporting tool: Ready access to a suite of custom reports and graphs, relating to your business, can support retail decision making; while ensuring that the reportage is course-corrected and made more insightful for all future intents and purposes.
  • Market intel: The combination of AI and analytics can help employees turn massive amounts of operational data into actionable insights that can be utilized to create hyper-convenient retail experiences. Insights are the biggest empowering factor that employees lack, in contemporary retail operations.

MAST Consulting’s RIAA gives employees a degree of autonomy over creative and non-executive decisions, which can foster their decision-making abilities and productivity. Needless to add, empowered and productive employees have been linked to organizational bottom-lines and brand differentiation by many studies. Notably, when Harvard Business Review(4) examined the results of 105 studies, which included data from more than 30,000 employees from 30 countries; to establish a strong correlation between employee empowerment and multiple business positives. At MAST Consulting, we believe this impact is even more pronounced in the retail industry.

Original Post : Employee empowerment is the gateway to great retail CX (linkedin.com)

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