5 Ways to Empower Frontline Employees and Upgrade Customer Interactions
Frontline employees spend time with customers in ways that either make or break the in-store experience. At a time when consumers have options about how and where to purchase goods and services, the in-store experience represents the one face-to-face brand experience where companies can distinguish themselves.
In fact, Gartner found that 89% of companies expect to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience. The stakes are large, too. When positive and consistent customer experiences are not provided, the potential loss is 20% of annual revenue.
However, given the lower wages and high turnover rates of this workforce, companies are facing some harsh realities when they look to this underserved group. With only 31.5% of the U.S. workforce feeling engaged in work and even lower percentages in the sales and services industries, employers need to find ways to engage workers.
Not surprisingly, the companies who are leading with customer experience have 1.5 times as many engaged employees as those who don’t. The benefits are huge for these employers, as “highly engaged employees are more than four times as likely to recommend the company’s products and services and do something good for the company that is not expected of them, 2.5 times as likely to stay at work late if something needs to be done after the normal workday ends, and seven times as likely to recommend that a friend or relative apply for a job at their company.”
How can your business stand out in this competitive environment and empower employees to provide excellent customer service?
To get you started, here are best practices and lessons learned from five visionary companies that use technology to empower their employees with mobile content. Discover how they elevated the in-store experience with higher quality employee-customer interactions by focusing on what employees need to do their jobs.
Lesson #1: Ramp up peak season employees efficiently
The holiday season represents a critical time of year for stores. Approximately 20-30% of annual sales are crammed into this short window when hordes of people descend on stores and panicked shoppers create an intense environment. While it’s no small feat for seasoned salaried employees to maintain control and order, imagine the challenges this scenario presents for new and temporary seasonal workers.
And yet, this time of year is exactly when it is most critical to deliver excellent customer service, maintain well-organized shelves, and arrange displays correctly. This perfect storm of store challenges raises the questions:
- So how do you bring short-term employees up to speed quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality?
- How do you ensure that temporary seasonal workers have the tools and information they need to answer customer questions, follow company policies, and uphold brand standards?
For one mega-retailer, the answer lay in providing its seasonal employees with mobile documents and reference guides. Rather than running for help with every shopper question that arises, seasonal associates can look up answers to questions on merchandise or policies right from their handheld phone or tablet.
This mobile enablement kept these associates (and their managers) on the floor and allowed them to be proactive and effective at providing customer service. With access to up-to-date job aids, tasks (such as arranging displays or organizing shelves) and face-to-face customer service can be performed right every time—even without full and proper training.
Lesson #2: Engage and motivate Millennial workers
Millennial workers are known for many qualities, including a drive to always grow in their role, up their game, and earn promotions. However, Millennials are also one of the least engaged groups of workers, with only 28.9% reporting engagement at their jobs. As a group, this generation wants to make an impact, and they want to use technology to do their jobs better. The key to improving their performance is placing answers in the palms of their hands—exactly where they are accustomed to finding information.
One quick-service restaurant chain is accustomed to dealing with younger workers, as their average new hire age is seventeen. To respond to this younger workforce’s expectations, the company transformed all of the static information (previously found in paper binders and PDFs) into dynamic content that is accessible on mobile. To help them learn how to do their jobs, each restaurant is now equipped with inexpensive tablets.
As a result, onboarding no longer takes place in a back room at a computer terminal; workers pick up a mobile device and engage directly with the content and each other with shoulder-to-shoulder training. These Millennial employees can also spend more time learning by using the videos, how-to guides, and other interactive content on their phone or tablet whenever they want.
This restaurant chain was so successful in engaging these young workers and getting them hands-on practice faster, they were able to decrease onboarding time by 66% and save millions of dollars. With a mobile enablement solution, Millennial employees feel right at home while at work.
Lesson #3: Provide faster and more effective onboarding
Everyone knows onboarding new employees is important to ensure quality customer service, maintenance of your brand, and compliance with regulatory and safety standards. The real question is: how do you know if your onboarding is successful?
One quick-service restaurant decided to conduct manual tracking of their onboarding and was startled by the results: more than 80% of its new hires did not complete the required training. This lack of compliance and the high employee turnover pointed to the need for a new training method that would engage workers.
The restaurant chain decided to implement a mobile workforce enablement platform. With quizzes and assessments built into the content, managers can now see exactly how engaged new workers are with the content, as well as comprehension levels. When a worker performs poorly on the assessments, managers can address learning needs in a more targeted way.
The training team is also able to refine and improve onboarding processes as necessary, now that visibility is provided into what is working and what may need improvement. Onboarding is now a dynamic process for this QSR that ensures happier employees and more consistent customer experiences.
Lesson #4: Drive operational efficiency
Employees want to feel important in their jobs and understand how they contribute to the bigger corporate picture. When operational documents are kept in paper binders or static PDFs, employees lack easy access to information they need. The inability to do a job well can lead to employee frustration and disengagement, not to mention operational inefficiencies.
One high-end grocery chain recognized their reliance on employees when they decided to implement new centralized procurement procedures. Workers across geographies needed to be trained on new techniques in order to achieve the expected outcomes, namely scale in ordering, reduce waste, and improve revenue.
To enable their employees and make this new initiative successful, the company turned to a mobile content solution. By providing employees with quick and easy access to critical information on mobile devices, management not only had complete visibility into employee engagement, but they could also track adoption of the new procedures and address issues in real-time.
The use of mobile-ready training proved to be a key enabler for driving operational efficiency with their large and distributed workforce, which ultimately led to a successful corporate initiative and significant financial savings.
Lesson #5: Enable employees to do their jobs better
When store associates are on the floor helping customers, the last thing an employer wants is to take a worker off the floor to go hunting for answers to customer questions. Employees need a method to access information while away from the back room or a PC so they can interact properly with shoppers, especially potential troublemakers.
One retail giant is focused on loss prevention and lowering theft incidences. Their yearly target goal was to increase the number of shoplifters caught by 300%. The retailer needed a method to enable their associates with dynamic loss prevention documents that could be accessed at a moment’s notice while on the store floor. They turned to a mobile enablement solution that allows workers to access operational content and reference guides at any time—regardless of wifi, bandwidth, or device type.
Because information updates can be distributed in real-time, these retail employees are always accessing the most accurate version of the store policies and procedures. Live updates are automatically pushed to all employees, which means that new information on how to prevent loss can be shared without delay. And because mobile content is searchable, the right piece of information can be accessed instantly.
Visionary retailers have used mobile-first dynamic content to improve in-store experiences by empowering employees. Ramping up seasonal workers, more effectively engaging and onboarding Millennial workers, driving operational efficiency—these are just some of the ways the customer experience can be impacted by enabling employees to deliver high-quality service each and every time.
Are you ready to up your game? Discover how Inkling can upgrade employee-customer interactions.
Check out all the benefits of using a mobile content solution for operational enablement.