A great customer experience is a highly orchestrated journey of retailer actions with the goal of maximizing their impact at the time the customer is going to make a decision of buying. While the buying decision is the decision retailers care about most, the reality is the customer journey is made up of many decisions points, each of these points are usually called a “moment of truth”. Just as there are multiple decision points, there are also multiple points where customer can be influenced by associates in order to increase the probability of buying.
This requires the retailer to define the customer journey as a whole, to manage the moments of truth along the way and to have a plan to staff the associates in the right place at the right time and skilled with the right knowledge to maximize the chance of conversion, upsell and cross sell. In simple words the associates could play a key role in the customer journey, it is a must to aligning the workforce management, and the customer experience management program.
The benefits of this alignment are significant. A recent retail survey developed by Empathica raise the following findings, some of them already published in our previous post Improve the customer experience with a better scheduling:
- Customers who were offered a helpful suggestion of an additional product to the initial product they were considering, experienced higher rates of satisfaction and had a basket size 31 % larger than those who did not receive a suggestion during their store visit.
- Over 80% of consumers indicate a positive impact on their shopping experience when staff appear skilled, motivated and eager to serve them.
- One in three consumers consider highly knowledgeable and well trained associates as the single most important element when purchasing a product at the store floor
- Three out of four consumers say that they will walk out or buy less if there aren’t enough knowledgeable associates in the store.
- One in three consumers noted that they regularly need assistance from associates and 40 percent of consumers noted that associates were not regularly available to answer their questions.
What does all of this mean? How is this relevant to reach an exceptional customer experience?
Seems clear, the retail associate could directly influences the customer experience. For a customer to have an exceptional experience, the associate must be skilled, engaged, educated, enthusiastic and available.
But not only that, to have the right associate, with the right skill at the right time is as positive for the customer experiences as negative is its absence Consequences of failure in this issue are dramatic. As the survey indicates, 75 percent of consumers will walk out or buy less if associates are not available to assist them.
How much labor is required to deliver a exceptional customer experience, and do we have the budget for it?
Many retailers cannot answer this question. This is because many retailers manage labor as a percentage of sales, considering future sales as a formula of historical sales. While this ensures that labor costs are constrained, it does not consider the sales potential of the store.
The reality is that this sales potential is just based on the future traffic of customers and their buying behavior, so in order to take advantage of the sales potential of the store, both must be considered when associates schedulers are done.The good news is that you can rely on data science to find the answers.
By using advanced analytics and artificial intelligence modeling, a Success Store Profile can be created that objectively describes the perfect instore staff sizing at any time, in order to take advantage of every sales opportunity generated by the traffic, and enabling to reach the optimal mix of a high conversion rate and a high average ticket with a constrained labor cost.
How schedules accurately align the available staff to customer demand?
As survey shows, when customers are effectively engaged by sales associates conversion rates and/or basket sizes increase. So it is important to predict when customers are going to visit the store, in order to have the right sales associates ready to serve them
Too often, managers use experience or gut instinct to estimate when customer demand will peak and how much labor is required to meet that demand. Usually, they receives some guidance as to sales, transaction and/or traffic volume each store should expect in a given week or even by day of week, although in many cases inaccurate. Yet, managers still have to guess when demand will flow throughout the day.
Predicting the details of customer demand is both difficult and time consuming when done by hand. So, many managers use the same schedule week after week making small adjustments based on new and departing associates, time-off requests, and corporate driven tasks such as inventory or training. They think, “we’ve met our sales targets before and we’ve worked this schedule, so it surely should work just fine.”
The reality is that customer demand evolves and changes. These changes mean that a schedule that met demand one week will not meet the demand the next. When this happen the result is a dramatic loss of sales opportunities. But again the good news is that you can rely on data science to find insight and help on that
Predictive analytics and machine learning can be used to model a Customer traffic forecasting that precisely identify the future store hourly demand. Using that and the Success Store Profile, the perfect instore sizing could be calculated for any time. As a second step, optimization models can generate the perfect schedule per each employee that match the perfect store sizing, taking into account their availability and particularities at each moment.
The advantages to deploying a in-store staff scheduling tool focused on sales improvement and not just distribute budget, are many. Most notably the improved ability to align in-store staff to real customer traffic, which will allow convert more sales opportunities. Additionally automated scheduling untethers your managers from the back office and gets them on the floor interacting with associates and customers. Reach out to a better customer experience.
Today, retailers are competing on the customer experience. As we have discussed, this experience is more than a purchase decision. It is a journey made up of multiple “moments of truth”. As our survey results have shown, the workforce has a far-reaching and tangible effect on the customer experience as a whole and the many of the individual moments of truth along the way. Alight the workforce management with the customer demand and customer experience program is the key to reach the higher store sales result. The latest and more innovative workforce scheduling software can help tremendously on this challenge.
If you desire to read more articles about customer experience and staff scheduling issues and how advanced analytics can help, you should register to our linkedin group “Performance Based Approach” or visit the blog section in our website (www.orquest.es)