Engaging retail associates has always been key to improving morale and productivity. However, there has never been a more important time to improve the employee experience and find ways to keep employees motivated and engaged.
As the retail industry continues to face a labor shortage, there is even more emphasis on retaining and recruiting new retail associates to meet demand. With an omnichannel strategy being crucial for retailers, creating a happy, productive workforce that can fulfill the need for services like curbside pickup, buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), in-store experiences, and one-to-one appointments is essential.
With a focus on employee engagement and creating a more productive work environment will ensure you are providing your customers with the best experience possible.
Why is it important to engage your retail employees?
Let’s take a step back and dive into why engaging retail associates is a crucial part of retail management, especially in the experience economy, where it’s all about meeting the unique needs of each customer. The stats don’t lie... having engaged employees matters:
Disengaged employees can cost companies between $450 and $550 billion dollars per year
Employee experience leaders have 40% less employee turnover than their competitors
Companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable
MIT research shows that businesses in the top quartile on employee experience have double the customer loyalty of those companies in the bottom quartile
When your retail employees are engaged, it makes all the difference for providing better experiences that increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. This is why it’s crucial to have an employee engagement strategy in place.
Ways to engage and motivate your employees
Retail employee engagement comes down to fostering a work environment where retail employees feel valued and supported. Here’s how to engage retail employees to remain competitive in today’s retail job market:
Offer hybrid or flex work options
With a large majority of employers adopting a hybrid work arrangement, the retail industry can also benefit from this approach for their store associates as well. While not every retail associate role is suitable for hybrid options, for some, it makes a lot of sense - and would give your employees more flexible, convenient work schedules! In fact, Apple is currently testing hybrid work-from-home models for their retail employees. Here are some ideas on remote work options for your employees:
Shopping consultations: Remote appointments provide the perfect opportunity for your employees to meet with your customers - still getting that face-to-face, one-to-one time, but from the comfort of their own homes! Virtual appointments have been driving additional revenue and online sales for several retailers, and has given employees the chance to build better relationships, earn more commission, and feel empowered to make the decision to work from home.
Product Q&A sessions: Your retail associates can also provide great one-to-many experiences for your customers through virtual events. This could be a series of several Q&A sessions going over your top products or a one-time event going into depth on one to two products. This is another opportunity for your retail associates to choose to work remotely while providing a high-level of customer service.
Customer service: Setting up a customer support line where you are using more of your in-store employees to answer incoming calls to specific brick-and-mortar locations is another great option to give more flexible working options. This could be a general question line or a technical support line. You can also find other alternatives to minimize downtime between calls.
Looking for an appointments solution? Download our eBook about the ROI of appointments to understand what appointments can do for your retail business.
Evolve your benefit offerings
With the current candidate-driven market, there’s never been a better time to review and evolve your benefits. This is also a great way to remain competitive and capture your employees’ attention to engage them further. Explore new options for how to improve your benefits across wellness programs, parental leave, health benefits, short-term disability, and more. Get creative in the way you communicate any new changes, whether an informal webinar or short video explaining the new perks.
If your retail employees are leaving due to benefits, now is the time to get employee feedback and address any further needs and do what you can to retain top talent with better offers.
Embrace technology that empowers associates
There’s no way around it. Technology is at the core of everything we do, and it is a major factor in the retail industry. Digital transformation has skyrocketed over the past year, making it the perfect time to evaluate your current retail tech stack to ensure your organization is up to par. But the focus should first and foremost be on your employees. How does this technology make their lives easier so that they can better serve your customers? After all, customers are craving human connection, even as technology improves.
A recent customer experience survey from PwC found that:
75% of consumers want more interaction with a real person as technology improves
82% of consumers want more human interaction when purchasing products and services
71% of consumers would rather interact with a human than a chatbot or some other automated process
So, as you can see, your customers want to interact with real humans. And your associates want to be successful in their roles. How can you accomplish this with the ever-evolving world of retail? This is where embracing technology to improve the employee experience in the workplace is a must. From appointment scheduling solutions to improving lines and wait times with intelligent queuing solutions, your employees will feel empowered to do more.
Appointment scheduling empowers employees to build deeper relationships
Appointments, both in-person and remote, are a surefire way for employees to build deeper customer relationships, sell more products, and gain more opportunities to cross-sell and upsell. If you aren’t offering appointments yet, this is a way to give your employees more options to succeed and be more flexible with their work schedules through remote options.
Additionally, having the right appointment scheduling software in place will make the scheduling and managing of appointments a simple and intuitive process from both the customer and employee side of things. With an automated online appointment software, employees can focus on what matters most, preparing to provide an exceptional customer experience, rather than wasting time scheduling and rescheduling appointments manually.
The right tool will give your associates the insights they need to properly prepare for their one-to-one engagements with customers. They can review past appointments, communications history, and past outcomes to provide a unique and personalized experience tailored to the customers’ wants and needs versus providing generic recommendations or advice.
For your employees, a robust online appointment solution will:
Empower them: Having a pre-scheduled time to meet with a customer one-on-one puts your employees in control.
Make them more efficient: They can spend their time working on what matters and engaging with customers who are more likely to make a purchase.
Boost their morale: Customers who schedule appointments are more likely to transact and are looking for help - employees can easily be prepared to exceed their needs and feel confident they provided the best solution.
More connection with customers, the ability to manage their own appointment process, and ways to properly prepare will all lead to an improved employee experience.
Learn more: Using JRNI, Harry Rosen was able to empower their clothing advisors to run their businesses as entrepreneurs, managing and scheduling appointments with customers. Download the Harry Rosen case study to see how JRNI helped put Harry Rosen’s 250+ clothing advisors in control of managing the in-store and virtual appointment process.
Virtual queuing solutions to anticipate capacity, manage traffic flow, and automate curbside processes
Many businesses have implemented a virtual queuing solution to mitigate the need for physical lines and to improve the customer experience, including retailers. With virtual queuing, customers can choose to wait in their car until it’s their turn to enter the store to shop, come inside to pick up their order, or to meet for a one-to-one appointment.
While virtual queuing systems provide great benefits for customers, your employees will also reap the benefits. From managing traffic flow in and out of your store to helping automate the curbside and in-store pickup process, virtual queuing solutions empower your retail associates to take control.
Capacity management and traffic flow: Virtual queuing can drastically improve a retail associates’ experience during their shift. Instead of worrying about capacity limits or being overwhelmed at busy times, virtual queuing technology can allow them to predict traffic flow and manage it as needed.
Curbside pickup: It’s also a great way to alert employees when someone has arrived for a curbside pickup or in-store pickup order. With the recent uptick in curbside popularity, this technology could have a positive impact on the experience customers have when arriving at a store to pick up an order. An automated approach improves this for both your employees and customers.
Learn more: Want to know what results customers are seeing with JRNI Virtual Queuing? One homewares retailer implemented JRNI to improve the customer shopping and pickup experience. Customers are able to join a virtual queue via their phone or using a QR code, and are then notified when their items are ready for collection.
When your retail associates know they are valued, and you give them the tools they need to succeed, they will work even harder for your business. With a true focus on a great company culture, you can improve job satisfaction and employee retention across your workforce. All of this leads to increased productivity, profitability, and customer loyalty.
Want to learn more about how JRNI improves the employee experience, empowering your team to easily prepare for appointments and provide unique, personalized experiences? Then be sure to request a demo to speak to an expert!
About the author
The JRNI team is made up of product, customer, and technical experts who are focused on driving personalized experiences - for our customers, and for theirs. The JRNI blog enables us to dive into how retail and financial organizations can use personalized experiences to grow profitability, build stronger customer relationships, and drive customer loyalty.
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