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Store employee helping customer

Tension has always existed in each of the three key retail relationships: the relationship between customer and brand, between brand and employee, and between employee and customer. However, changes in customer and employee expectations have increased this tension. Fortunately, technology has evolved alongside these challenges, reaching new levels of sophistication and usability. When thoughtfully delivered in harmony with a retailer’s organization, new technologies can empower brands and employees to resolve this tension and deliver differentiating customer experiences.

Empowering employees to be effective, connected team members

Employees individually want to do the best they can, but together they can achieve extraordinary and unexpected things. The easier it is for employees to connect and work together toward common goals, the more value they’ll generate. Also, by eliminating redundant and paper-based processes and freeing the firstline from repetitive, automatable tasks, we can focus employees on work that most effectively drives revenue and supports customers.

Empowering employees to be customer advocates

Empowering employees to better understand and serve their customers creates tremendous value. Armed with better customer insights and data, employees can drive higher cross-sell, upsell, and conversion rates. Plus, when customers feel understood and enjoy a positive retail experience, they increase their trust in the brand and improve their perception of its products and services, leading to loyalty and ultimately advocacy.

Empowering employees to be informed and confident

Employees who feel heard will become more integrated into the company and be more excited about their work. To provide excellent customer service and retail operations, employees also need effective training and actionable information. This helps build the trust that will reduce turnover, increase brand advocacy, and improve productivity. The increasing pace of product and service innovation also means that employees need more and higher-quality training to stay relevant to customers as a source of information.

We are now moving rapidly into an era where retailers will primarily compete based on the experience they provide to customers and employees. Big data along with AI and ML will be used to personalize experiences at scale and reduce employee drudgery. However, people will always seek out authentic connections. Freed up and enabled by technology to become advocates with deep customer knowledge, the retail firstline can deliver a transformed customer experience made possible by empowerment.

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.