CX is king in retail but WX is the power behind the throne

  • Posted on May 20, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

Retail has always been an ultra-competitive industry. But now, “traditional” brick-and-mortar retailers are fighting on two fronts. They must find ways to keep their physical stores relevant (and profitable) and they must go toe-to-toe with online rivals in the digital arena. The pressure to compete – and the price of failure – have never been greater.

Staying competitive isn’t easy in a retail environment where profitability has always been under attack:

  • The expense of operating physical stores, which continues to rise, and footfall continues to shrink.
  • Staff turnover remains high, and a constant stream of new hires has a knock-on effect on productivity and service delivery.

In answer to these challenges and more, retailers have invested heavily in customer experience (CX) enhancements during the last decade to create retail destinations that give customers experiences they can’t get online. 

But what about the employee experience?
The trouble is, delivering these CX improvements depends on employees in the store – employees who are often undervalued and undermotivated, and lack the tools and information to deliver on grand CX promises.

For all the investment in customer experience, investment in employee experience lags way behind. And that’s really a false economy, as the quality of your employee experience will have a direct impact on the quality of your CX (and your ability to profitably generate revenue). In fact, research shows that employee experience leaders achieve double the NPS score and 25% higher profitability than their competitors.

Retail needs a workplace revolution
What does it take to become an employee experience leader? At Avanade, we work with retailers using a holistic approach we call Workplace Experience (WX). It combines technology, operations, culture and employee experience to create workplaces that are more cost-efficient, productive and profitable.

In our WX approach, three key enablers come together to create workplace experiences that drive better CX – and deliver sustainable business value:

  1. Modernized platforms
    Cost-effective, evergreen platforms can underpin new retail workplace models. You can choose to augment human intelligence with technology. For example, by giving employees the tools to take the point of sale to the customer, wherever they are in the store, increasing customers’ propensity to buy and making it easier to complete the purchase.

    Or you could go down the route of full automation. In-store bots, for example, can answer routine FAQs, freeing the human workforce to focus on higher-value tasks like providing personalized service.
  2. Reimagined culture and employee experience
    Recognizing that employee experience is just as important as customer experience involves a big culture shift, but it’s a critical step. Creating a culture and employee experience that is on a par with CX encourages capable, motivated talent to stick around and you can delegate more authority to the store level to increase responsiveness. 

    That can have a dramatic impact on CX, as you put decision-making power into the hands of the people who are closest to your customers and create feedback loops that enable great ideas and insights to surface.

    It’s also essential to take a long, hard look at every aspect of the employee experience. That includes making investments in improving the physical workspace to increase motivation and aid productivity.

  3. Optimized operations
    Shopfloor operations are where technology, culture and employee experience come together to re-engineer CX. With the right tooling and information, staff can deliver more responsive, personalized, high-quality CX in a profitable manner.

    It could be as simple as providing frontline employees with mobile, real-time insight into accurate inventory, so they can give customers a faster, more seamless in-store experience. Or it could be more advanced, using mobile apps and artificial intelligence tech to know each customer as they enter the store, so employees can understand their preferences, predict their likely reasons for visiting, and offer the personalized service and recommendations that help increase customer loyalty and wallet share.

An integrated approach at every level
For WX to work, the business groups within retail organizations can’t work in silos. There must be close collaboration and communication between IT, HR, Operations and Channel leaders to set the WX strategy, pilot and prove the impact on CX and profit, and then scale it out to the entire store estate.

It’s only by working together across business functions that you’ll create workplace experiences that engage and motivate employees to deliver outstanding (and profitable) customer experiences. 

Get started today
In today’s cutthroat retail world, staying competitive means attracting, developing and retaining the best people – the ones who truly deliver on your CX promises. And that means giving your employees the workplaces, experiences, tools and decision-making power they need to give every customer the best possible experience.

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