What’s Getting in the Way of a Good Retail Customer Experience?

What’s Getting in the Way of a Good Retail Customer Experience? image retail clothing out of focus 200411225 001 47 300x199What’s Getting in the Way of a Good Retail Customer Experience?Companies in the retail sector are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience and give their patrons more of what they want – low prices, good service and transactions that go off without a hitch. In an effort to improve their sales initiatives, businesses can turn to workforce management tools as a way to analyze their approach and find ways it can improve.

Improving service is a large piece of this puzzle. According to survey data from Retail Systems Research, 82 percent of business leaders in the retail industry say that improving customer service skills among their workforce has become more important to them in the last three years. Only 2 percent say it’s become less important. Unfortunately, delivering customer service is easier said than done, as service priorities vary wildly across different types of retailers. Often, working with customers requires advanced knowledge and specialized skills.

Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at RSR, recently joined with myself and Ceridian to host a webinar in which she discussed customer service in the retail sector. In the presentation, entitled “Retail Store Employees in the Customer Age,” we  attempted to answer a fundamental question: What’s getting in the way? Retail companies are looking to deliver a good store experience to their customers on a daily basis, so what’s stopping them?

Rosenblum and I agreed that the retail sector is an ambitious one, with average performers striving for greatness and great ones aiming to be the best. However, a few factors are getting in the way.

The Retail Paradox

The retail paradox is one that hamstrings merchants looking to improve the customer experience. On one hand, they want to improve customer service, but on the other, maintaining labor spend control is paramount to profitability. One way or another, each retailer must have a service level commitment strategy and from there it gets easier.

Execution is an issue
Retail corporations agree that they must do more to improve the consistency of execution of their corporate strategies and directives. Among “average performers” polled by RSR, 59 percent agreed that this was a top concern, while 42 percent of “retail winners” said the same. It’s easy for companies to draft plans for improving the customer experience, but actually executing them requires great operational leadership, good communication and reliable in-store staff.

Employee turnover persists
When employees are frequently leaving and new ones are coming in to replace the departed, it can be difficult for retailers to achieve any consistency. RSR found that 31 percent of winners, 21 percent of average stores and 40 percent of “laggards” say turnover has increased in the last three years. This makes it more difficult for businesses to ensure a steadily strong customer experience.

Trouble with process capabilities
RSR also found that retailers aren’t always capable of carrying out their processes. They have trouble with issues including employee attendance, budgeting, planning and training.

For all of these reasons and more, it’s important that merchants do more to improve the customer experience in their stores. Today’s human and workforce management solutions can help in this endeavor.

Click here to listen to the webinar. 

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