Retailers face unique and unprecedented challenges in today’s market. Successful companies must be efficient, flexible and empowered to meet the needs of customers in an Amazon world. This means having customer-facing employees who are engaged, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about your brand. Beyond head offices, strategies are communicated effectively and create opportunities for teams to innovate and collaborate as well as promote a platform for employees to be heard as individuals with unique and valuable real-time insight.
This may sound like a daunting, even overwhelming task, but with a little help, you can start creating an intranet strategy which will decrease employee turnover as well as decreasing the cost of employee onboarding/training, increase employee engagement and morale, communicate brand values and interaction with customers as well as maximizing profits.
Onboard and train online
New hires, seasonal workers and long-time employees all need training. Sending employees to the corporate office or requesting Human Resources (HR) employees travel to a store to train new or existing hires is one of the most time- and money-consuming activities an organization can undertake.
How costly and time consuming is it? A study by the Center for American Progress found that, on average, the cost to find, hire and train a minimum-wage employee is $3,328 (or 16 percent of one year’s salary) per employee. This statistic doesn’t consider decreased productivity while a new employee is onboarding; the costs also don’t include increased workload for existing staff while they mentor a new co-worker, helping them through the learning curve which takes time despite how qualified a new person may be.
Instead, why not go electronic? 31% of all retail workers are under the age of 24. Nearly a third of your employees won’t just understand the web, email and social media as means of communication, they’ll expect it. They’ll know how to use a mobile device, too. Whether it’s a store kiosk running on a tablet or enabling employees to use their smartphones to review information, moving information online makes financial sense. It’s easily repeatable and prevents unnecessary travel.
Going online, such as using a SharePoint intranet, is also flexible, easy to understand, administer and can help them navigate the complexities of your retail operation.
Saving time, saving money with a more flexible and scalable solution makes sense.
Read customers’ minds by asking employees for feedback
Do you wish you could somehow see into the minds of your customers? Wouldn’t it be amazing to get real time feedback on store openings, new products or item placement? What would you give for a team of experts who know your products and can give invaluable feedback?
You don’t need to be a psychic to be able to know. In fact, you already have a network in place and working for your company, you just need to tap into the experts who interact with your products and customers every day.
According to a survey of 2018 Retail Winners from indoor.com, 90% of retail winners encourage direct feedback from their employees.
“Retail Winners collaborate with stores through seamless, two-way communication, enabling store associates to provide immediate feedback on each campaign and ideas for how to improve merchandising… Odds are six to one that those who don’t enable immediate feedback are Retail Losers.”
Capturing feedback will not engages your employees, as noted above, but motivates them to ask questions of customers and further improve the customer’s experience and empowering the employee at the same time.
If you’re looking for what to ask employees, try one of these questions:
- What was the product you were asked about most?
- Did you encounter a situation which was frustrating for you or the customer because there was no satisfying outcome?
- Was there something we could provide that would have helped?
- Are customers asking for something we don’t currently offer?
Make employees happy to make customers happy
Engaged employees, according to Gallup State of the American Workplace, experience 10% higher customer ratings. That’s especially important as more consumers are going online.
Let’s put the spotlight on one top-performing store: Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s has a much higher than average retention rate. Not only do they offer many programs to help employees (hourly flexibility, wellness programs, assistance quitting smoking or losing weight) but the employees truly believe in the programs. They have a sense of pride in working for a company that listens to feedback and responds in a timely manner. Trader Joe’s employees are even brand ambassadors; recommending their store to friends and shopping there themselves.
Trader Joe’s is the grocery store to beat. It’s not just the Hawaiian shirts and free samples, it’s an honestly happy and helpful workforce who appreciate a company that listens to and values them.
Engage employees with your brand and values on a regular basis, cheer on new team members and celebrate employees’ successes. Here are a few ideas on engagement using Trader Joe’s as an example:
- Make your store a place people want to work, where people want to give great customer service. Benefits and perks should match your values, such as flexible hours and wellness programs. Also, let your employees make customer decisions based on their relationships – give on-the-spot discounts, free samples, etc.
- Install a sense of community.
- Use your intranet to communicate information – your mission, vision, values, brand, product lines, pricing structures, etc. A great intranet with personal investment from head offices to retail stores can create a sense of community and a “stickiness” in employee retention.
- Listen to employees, including asking them to provide ideas. Watch social activity across pages or in relation to a specific question or news article. Some intranets, like ElevatePoint’s, have an ideation area where employees can even submit ideas. (Read on for more ideas!)
- Improve manager communication. Frustration with communication from management is constantly a top 3 in employee surveys and exit interviews.
- Train employees on your brand.
Not only do happy employees give better customer service, they stay at a company – reducing turnover. They attract more customers, too and may even become customers themselves.
Providing an interactive experience, making customers happy, listening to employees – this keeps employees engaged. It also counters the “Amazon effect.” The competition is steep. Brands such as Safeway and other chains are likely to face larger declines when Amazon rolls out Prime Now everywhere as well as providing self-service through Amazon Go.
You know at the end of the day, it’s about customer and employee satisfaction. You’ve no doubt had a terrible experience where you’ve sworn off a store forever. On the flip-side, you’ve probably had an unexpectedly, amazing customer service encounter where someone really went the extra mile. Either way, that sort of service stays with you, influencing your opinion of the store and maybe drafting you to be a brand ambassador as well.
The competitive edge you have as a retailer is the ability to deliver an exceptional in-person experience with your team of customer-facing brand ambassadors. A well-designed intranet can create an environment where your front facing employees can be informed, dynamic and create a brilliant buying experience for your customers.Imagine your employees being able to communicate anytime, anywhere to better serve customers. It’s possible with ElevatePoint intranets.