Five years ago, the title of this blog may have prompted debate. Yet today, especially as we emerge from the pandemic, the retail customer experience is essential – for grocers in particular. Naturally, as the industry searches for ways to improve the customer experience (CX) the focus is on enhancing employee training and engagement. Relevant, on-the-spot communications can ensure that store employees stay well-informed on products, processes, and their important role in delivering the branded experience.
The challenge is that while the CX can be a “moving target,” it is also considered “table stakes.” In other words, grocers cannot thrive without a strong CX. According to Kantar Retail, 91% of CEOs worldwide believe that customer centric strategies are vital to business growth. Why? Because customers typically spend more with the brands they believe deliver the best experience. Kantar also found that customers spent 35% more annually in “truly customer-centric grocery brands” than they did with the average grocer.
But the moving target doesn’t just involve consumer shopping habits. It comes down to the employees that deliver the experience. According to RSR Research, grocery employees must be able to pivot as quickly as customer expectations do. In fact, 70% of the brands winning in retail say that well-trained employees have a strong impact on annual sales. Additionally, 44% of that same group report that delivering an enhanced customer experience requires better-trained labor.
Unfortunately, many brands struggle to deliver the messaging and training needed to ensure a consistently positive customer experience. RSR’s research highlighted this challenge when it noted that employee engagement and service levels are a top three internal challenge to delivering good CX.
So, what does it all mean? Grocers need effective, consistent communications with staff, across a variety of channels and formats – from executive messages to new processes and product trainings to company news / HR updates to how-to videos. For example, brands such as SaveMart Stores utilize video communication to provide highlights of the weekly circular to ensure that employees can cross sell and upsell items appropriately. It is equally critical to have communications channels in locations where employees can consume content easily. Digital signage deployed in the backroom or out on the store floor can deliver relevant, real-time messaging and be seen throughout the day as employees pass by. Handheld devices help them access information even more easily. Recently, one of the country’s largest retailers announced they were equipping more than 700K associates with smartphones to make training, sales, and product information more accessible. These grocers and retailers are deploying convenient channels and readily available content to drive engagement and strengthen the CX.
Delivering a great experience and boosting revenue simply can’t happen these days without knowledgeable employees who understand the value of service. But imagine the potential business growth made possible by that extra 35% of annual spend, multiplied over time with hundreds or even thousands of brand loyal customers.