The strong battle between in-store and online retailer is forcing the first one to put a special attention to improve the customer experience at the store floor, as the way to differentiate of the last one. In addition the customers are becoming more and more exigent, and market more and more competitive, which is adding complexity to this goal.
The key questions are: How retailers can improve the shopping experience at store? Which tools retailers have in order to improve the customer buying experience?
Many retailers recognized that their employees are crucial to give their customers a exceptional shopping journey. A recent white paper revealed the significant impact employees have on the customer experience. Focusing Your Workforce On The Moment Of Truth showed that 80% of consumers said their shopping experience is improved when staff is eager to help; and 75% will walk out of the store if they don’t have access to knowledgeable associates.
The duration and quality of time spent by associates to each customer are key in a memorable customer experience, and actually this is a critical point to differentiate from the competence. Retailers are realizing that employees at storefloor are a strategic asset to offer an exceptional shopping experience.
“Aside from the instant gratification that comes from taking a product home after a purchase, it’s the store employee that can make the difference to the in-store experience,” noted Retail Systems Research (RSR) in a survey, titled: WFM 2013: The Store Employee in the Customer Age. “While most retailers agree, most have only just tapped the surface of employee education and empowerment.”
The vast majority (82%) of respondents in the survey declared that in the past three years, the role of the workforce in enabling customer service has become more important than ever. Respondents also revealed their most important business challenges — which directly correspond to the increasing importance of workforce effectiveness: meeting consumer demands for better service (58%) and driving sales through a more enjoyable shopping experience (58%).
Interestingly, almost half (43%) also cited pressure to reduce labor costs as a percent of sales as a principal business challenge. “This leaves retailers pulled in exactly opposite directions,” the RSR report noted: “Make [the shopping experience] better, which has traditionally involved adding customer-facing associates in stores – and make it more efficient by reducing head count.”
A number of industry-leading retailers are controlling this bidirectional pull with advanced WFM solution with advanced analytics capabilities. All this retailers are focused on schedule optimization for better use of in-store employee work hours, which improve profitability while enhancing the customer experience.
The emphasis on a performance based scheduling oriented to improve the customer experience is not surprising: Almost two thirds (65%) of respondents to the upcoming Retail TouchPoints/Workforce Insights benchmark study said current scheduling processes directly contribute to revenue growth. Most retailers (88%) said there is opportunity to improve profitability through better utilization of in-store employee work hours.
But even some retailers want to beyond further, and they realize that an exceptional shopping experience require more than just having enough associates’ to attend customer at peak times. They figure out that for closing the sales it is important attend each customer with the most appropriate associate who provide the most valuable insight and connect emotionally with him/her in order to convince for the purchase.
That goal requires, retailers must: classify in-store employees and customers recognizing their particularities for identifying the best match between them, and forecast each potential customer type flow in order to schedule the most appropriate associates in every moment. To walk in such fine line, it is essential to draw on the most sophisticated analytical techniques, and just the most innovative WFM Solution provided this advanced capabilities.
In sum, actually there are WFM solutions that can help to improve substantially the customer satisfaction, putting as the mains axis of this attention one of the most company assets: the employees at store floor.
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