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The changing face of recruitment in retail: Part 2 - The importance of customer service and engaged employees

The importance of engaged employees

The importance of providing great customer service and keeping employees engaged

For a retailer to compete, a company has to employ happy, energetic and engaged employees who align with the company’s culture and values. These employees are your advocates who go above and beyond to spread a brand's message and ensure that their customers are receiving a positive experience, however, recruiting the right talent can be difficult. Retail as an industry, with its many entry-level positions, is accessible to nearly everyone. The skills that are required to succeed in retail are highly transferable, therefore applicants have no trouble finding work and are suitable applicants for many retail brands.

It’s often difficult to see if the people that are applying, genuinely want to work for you or not. If you’re not clear in what type of employee you want, you could also be at risk of putting off the candidates that are right for the role.

Retail is deemed for many as only a stepping stone into another career, meaning many employees are not interested in progressing other than to enhance their CV. As a result of low unemployment rates, candidates also have more choice when it comes to pursuing opportunities, making it increasingly difficult for retailers to recruit the much-needed talent that can help enhance customer service and drive growth. The problem here lies with company benefits; with the retail sector having low wages, little in terms of perks and a not very strong career path, many talented candidates are instead pursuing other more beneficial sectors and industries.

Providing great customer service and keeping employees engaged

In The changing face of recruitment in retail Part 1, we looked at the retail sector and how changes in consumer trends are forcing retailers to think outside the box on how they can increase their chances of becoming more attractive to consumers to help them develop and grow their business.

Retail has become a fiercely competitive industry with positive customer experience often being the main differentiator in whether a customer continues to shop with a brand or not. It goes without saying that if you have positive shopping experience, with a staff member that goes the extra mile for you, you will spread the word and continue to shop there and become that retailer’s greatest ambassador. With some retailers already doing this and more, the brands that are falling behind are therefore having to optimise and maintain their customer experience to remain relevant to consumers; with great customer service from engaged employees being key in making sure that they are meeting customers’ expectations.

In the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index, First Direct were voted as one of the best businesses in the UK for delivering high-quality customer service. Their knowledgeable, polite and friendly advisers do everything they can to look after their customers resulting in many people choosing them as their bank after having poor experiences elsewhere. Clearly the big-leaders at First Direct are on the ball with adding value and ensuring customers are happy. Every business needs a human touch and they have gone that extra mile.

Fantastic customer service usually comes as a result of engaged and motivated employees who are advocates for their own company and are willing to offer an exceptional service that is both knowledgeable and in tune with a customer's needs.

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How disengaged employees are affecting customer service

Good customer service is critical to retail success as it helps to create better relationships and leaves customers feeling valued and important, however, if a customer has a negative customer experience from a rude or a distracted employee, they are likely to feel disappointed and as a result, take their   services elsewhere.

Disengaged and demotivated employees are an increasing problem for retailers and are costing the UK a whopping £628 million a year in lost revenue! Employees who are not engaged are often lacking in awareness and understanding of brand values, thus failing to meet expectations.

Think back to a time where you received poor customer service and how that made you feel. You were probably very annoyed at the time, you may have even said something to the person dealing with you and more than likely went back home to tell family and friends about the ordeal. Now imagine that was your member of staff that had delivered that level of poor customer service to a customer. That customer may return but has potentially put other people off from even going there in the first place. Word of mouth is the biggest killer of a company’s reputation and with social media being the ‘go-to’ place for people to complain, the negative experience that customer experienced is now a permanent fixture on the internet for all to see; this dissatisfaction could easily reach, influence and deter many other potential customers from also making purchases with that brand.

By having disengaged employees, a retailer risks facing reputational damage that can drive customers away, impact upon company revenue and profit, and, ultimately, lead to store closures and redundancies. Retail organisations, therefore, need to find ways of improving employee engagement in their staff or face losing out on valuable customers.

To read part 3 in this series, click here.

To find out more on what your organisation can do to attract and retain the best talent click here 




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