The employee and customer experience are intrinsically linked. But are we equipping our retail staff with the right tools they need to take it to the next level? 

Our retail brand, and the way it’s experienced by the customer, is now recognised as one of the biggest differentiators in the business. It drives our footfall and website traffic, increases willingness to pay and consumer loyalty, sets us apart from our competitors and even helps us attract top talent. Brands mean business. 

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However, as any retailer will testify, it’s not a simple case of defining a brand architecture, visual identity, or store design and simply pressing ‘go’. Where we lose control over the overall experience is outside of headquarters and within our stores. 

Simply put, the point at which our customers interact with our brands is actually the biggest variable – and the highest risk point. 

Investment into branding and the customer experience is growing and after store doors were forced to close during lockdown, now is the optimal time to be refreshing and rethinking how we up our game. The answer lies in employee-first technology. 

A consistent brand experience, in every store

After investing thousands or even millions of pounds into building a brand and shaping a superior customer experience, how do we put it into practice – and keep it alive? 

Ensuring brand compliance and the same ‘look and feel’ across multiple stores is a tall order. However, consistency really is key. To get it right, our staff need to feel empowered to live and breathe our brands, and take ownership for them. 

At the same time, we also need to be driving real-time visibility for managers, designers and store merchandisers so they can grasp more of what’s happening daily, right on the shop floor. 

Daily store checks, secret shoppers, brand compliance, staff training: simple checks and balances, repeated often, are at the cornerstone of effective retail brand management. Add into the mix new hygiene and safety checks in the wake of the pandemic, and it’s clear checks are a vital tool when it comes to upholding our standards. However, they’ve historically failed to go far enough. 

Digitalising checks and empowering employees 

Traditional paper-based checks can create blindspots when it comes to managing the retail experience. Why? Because the information doesn’t flow the way it needs to in order to create that much-needed accountability, visibility, and culture of continuous improvement. 

Going digital ticks all those boxes. Employees on the ground can capture information that surfaces in real-time to those who need to be in the know. Add in rich media and regional managers and visual merchandisers can get true context and visibility over what’s happening: whether that’s a photo of a seasonal window display or the electrical test sticker on the fridge. 

Retail staff are also our frontline responders. Giving them a voice through digital channels means they can flag when things aren’t right. This empowerment gives them ownership and accountability: and stops small issues escalating into more serious incidents that could prove damaging to both brand and customer experience. 

When issues or knowledge gaps are surfaced, we need to take action. Digital training tools to remedy any failings identified during checks and upskill our staff to deliver our brand standards help create cultures of continuous improvement. 

Going digital is the first step, but it’s not the most important. When rolling out any tool, we need to focus on exactly who that technology is for. 

The experience chain 

They’re our brand ambassadors and guardians, with the power to take the customer experience from ‘poor’ to five-star in a single interaction – so, why aren’t we investing in digital solutions made for our employees? 

The employee experience of work has a direct impact on the experience they then offer our customers. When we make it difficult for them to do their jobs, get their voices heard or speak out when things aren’t right, that poor employee experience then translates into a poor CX – and, in turn, impacts on our brand. 

The user experience of the tools we roll out has a powerful role to play here. When tools are easy to adopt and use, mobile-first and designed for users to ‘pick up and play’ intuitively, it removes those barriers and drives adoption. Capturing information where it matters most and escalating it means employees feel heard, and take greater ownership and pride in their work.  

When we consider the value of that experience chain – from user experience, to employee experience and customer experience – the case for investing in employee-first technology is clear.

Explore how you can tap into employee-first tech across your stores, discover top retail checklists and training that you can start using today, all for free! Download SafetyCulture’s free eBook, Rewriting Retail: the power of the humble checklist.

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About SafetyCulture:

SafetyCulture is the operational heartbeat of working teams around the world. Its mobile-first operations platform leverages the power of human observation to identify issues and opportunities for businesses to improve everyday. More than 28,000 organisations use its flagship products, iAuditor and EdApp, to perform checks, train staff, report issues, automate tasks and communicate fluidly. SafetyCulture powers over 600 million checks per year, approximately 50,000 lessons per day and millions of corrective actions, giving leaders visibility and workers a voice in driving safety, quality and efficiency improvements.

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