A CX Day Reflection: Unlocking the Synergy Between CX and EX in Retail
We're now in the afterglow of Customer Experience (CX) Day, a day when organizations roll out the red carpet for everyone involved in customer experience. Yet, for those in the retail game, CX Day stands as a reminder that it’s not just one day but really every day that should be dedicated to addressing and celebrating customer experience.
At a time when customers have instant access to a variety of purchasing channels, retailers cannot afford to fall short of CX standards. Surviving in a landscape where e-commerce is often the easiest option and, as such, dominant, requires a relentless commitment to offering excellent customer service every day and in every interaction. To achieve this, retailers must first flip the coin. Acknowledging the asset value of frontline staff, retailers should first look to sculpt their customer experience vision by investing in employee experience (EX).
Understanding the alignment between CX and EX has always been the backbone of any great retail business. Simply, satisfied employees create satisfied customers. In turn, this equilibrium generates customer retention and a higher return on investment. Acknowledging the constant change in customer behavior, coupled with a global economic downturn, today’s employees are in need of educational support to uphold and improve their customers’ retail experiences. It's therefore crucial for physical stores to invest in leadership, culture and employee support through training initiatives that will enable their workforce to better connect with customers. Ultimately, this will harness the synergy between CX and EX.
Harnessing Real-Time Feedback for Employee Training
Improving CX and educating employees starts with active feedback monitoring. When a store collects lots of real-time feedback, managers can identify pain points and understand customer satisfaction trends. This information translates into actionable insights for employees as it enables them to comprehend customers’ needs and gives them the right tools to address improvement areas. Without a well-trained workforce capable of delivering exceptional service and assistance, customers may become frustrated and opt for alternative vendors or channels. One of the primary goals of employee training is to enhance the customer journey, which in turn promotes conversion and in-store purchases.
Identifying CX issues early on is also crucial as it not only prevents the accumulation of a flood of complaints, but also provides a strategic advantage for management. Tapping into data enables retailers to foresee potential issues in advance, allowing them to predict bottlenecks and address problematic areas proactively. In doing so, retailers can prevent employees from experiencing stress or disengagement, ultimately safeguarding and optimizing their performance levels. Learning from real-time feedback is also essential because it enables the prompt resolution of issues before they can impact customer satisfaction. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of displeased customers negatively impacting employee morale. When we consider the upside of empowering employees, it becomes evident that CX and EX are inextricably linked. Acknowledging that it's a two-way street, retailers must prioritize staff training to facilitate a better dynamic between employees and customers.
The Relationship Between EX and CX
The correlation between CX and EX is exemplified with data collected from the Smiley-faced feedback terminals in retail and service sector locations. In August 2022, customer satisfaction reached its lowest point of that year in the retail and services sectors, with a positive feedback rate of 89.2 percent. This month also marked the least happy period for employee feedback, registering an 83.3 percent positive feedback rate. On the contrary, January was the standout month for positive customer experiences, boasting a 90.9 percent positive feedback rate. Interestingly, January also secured the top spot for positive employee feedback, recording an 85.5 percent positive feedback rate.
Looking at the data, it's clear that happy and content employees are better equipped to provide outstanding customer service. It’s also reasonable to deduct that positive interactions with frontline staff elevates customer experience, too. As such, investing in personnel is key for transforming shoppers into buyers. This emphasizes the importance for retailers to support their employees by providing them with ongoing training. Doing so guarantees that the workforce is prepared to skillfully handle customer inquiries or product-related issues, and manage service challenges with agility.
The Role of Employee Well-Being in Elevating Customer and Employee Experiences
Another vital aspect when it comes to strengthening the CX and EX relationship is employee engagement and well-being. A happy workforce creates a positive ripple effect through the entire organization as they are more motivated to shine in their roles and build strong customer relationships. Staff members with higher job satisfaction are also more likely to stay with the company, leading to lower turnover rates. According to a recent study, there's $20 million of opportunity lost for every 10,000 workers due to low well-being and its drain on performance. Additionally, a high turnover rate may lead to less efficient operations.
Retailers must invest in programs that improve leadership, company culture, and give staff insights into customer behavior, preferences and trends. Educational initiatives of this nature empower employees to both make informed decisions and provide personalized assistance, as well as work proactively to avoid situations that might cause stress or anxiety. Providing employees with the skills needed to navigate the store’s everyday situations will also reduce frustration and increase job satisfaction, as they will feel more confident and capable in their roles. Additionally, by tracking performance metrics, managers can acknowledge the achievements of their staff, which fosters a positive work environment and motivates employees to strive for excellence.
In today's evolving retail environment, it's essential for physical stores to focus on initiatives that equip their workforce to meet the demands of tomorrow's customers. Through well-serving leadership and investing in employee training, staff members will feel valued and be able to maintain and improve their customers’ experiences. This nurtures a balanced connection between CX and EX, which, in the long run, drives a higher ROI for any business.
Miika Mäkitalo is the CEO of HappyOrNot, a leader in data analytics and customer experience improvement solutions for emerging and enterprise businesses.
Miika Mäkitalo is the CEO at HappyOrNot. Prior to this, they worked at Guidin, Teknologiateollisuus – Technology Industries of Finland, Tampere University, Microsoft, and HappyOrNot. Miika has also been the Chair of ICT Committee at Tampereen kauppakamari, and a Board Member in Advisory Board at Tampere University of Technology. Mäkitalo has over 10 years of experience in leadership roles, including Chief Operating Officer / President of EMEA at M-Files Corporation and Transport Director at Finnish Transport Agency.