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Firstline employees are central to the retail customer experience, so establishing a culture of employee empowerment is transformative to how customers engage with your retail brand.

When the retail firstline isn’t empowered with the tools, information, and insights they need, customers and employees become frustrated together and resort to using platforms and resources beyond the brand’s control. This leads to employees seeking ad hoc information and using suboptimal systems and consumer-grade apps on their personal devices, and customers expanding their search to sources that may lead them to competitors.

In addition, firstline employees are spread across locations with variable exposure to corporate messages, and they don’t always connect with the company’s culture and goals. Technology can help magnify and measure the impact of efforts to remedy this issue, providing both an amplifier and a microphone—an amplifier to share messages, inspiration, training, and insights, and a microphone to measure employee engagement, sentiment, knowledge, and capability.

An empowered firstline will contribute in more meaningful ways to the ideal of a frictionless customer experience—one that deepens the customer–employee relationship, unlocking new value.  A few examples include:

  • Improved collaboration tools that help employees communicate, raise and solve issues, share insights on products and merchandising, and get the information they need to be more effective.
  • Better digital training tools that adapt to the employee, helping them develop skills to perform more effectively and provide better customer service. These tools include augmented reality (AR) interfaces that can be used to enhance safety training (e.g., forklift safety) and education on new products and services.
  • Better scheduling tools, driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to provide firstline employees more flexibility and help retailers plan their workforce more effectively.

Along with technology, a culture of empowerment hinges on employers enabling their firstline to be effective and connected team members, customer-centric advocates, and informed and confident employees.

To learn more about the importance of an empowered firstline in today’s retail environment, read Transforming customer service through empowered employees, a new e-book written by retail strategy and technology experts from Microsoft Services.

Interested in learning more about how can retailers can better empower their employees and front-line workers to delight customers? Watch our on-demand webinar, The Five Most Important Decisions Facing Today’s Retail CEOs, where special guest Doug Stephens, Founder of Retail Prophet, discusses this topic, as well as shares his experience meeting with brand leaders from across the retail spectrum at NRF 2019.  You can also watch the video trailer here.