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Poorly Engaged Employees Just Aren’t That Into You … or Your Customers

BY CSA STAFF

By John Orr, [email protected]

Passive-aggressive, unengaged employees just aren’t that into your customers. Worse, they might be taking it out on customers, whose experience sends them to competitors. Contrast that with the upside of having an engaged staff happy at their jobs and going out of their way to treat customers well.

On the store floor, improving the customer experience is often a matter of improving the employee experience through engagement. Your organization’s success or failure largely hinges on your employees’ relationship with your customers. Fortunately, for employers to improve their workforce’s engagement levels on the job, the way forward is straightforward. By tweaking processes and technologies for human capital management (sometimes referred to as HCM) and implementing programs that assist in employees’ work-life balance, retailers can improve profitability and retention.

The evidence and the understanding: Intuitive and long-established
That a good customer experience underpins retail success is intuitive. Business leaders have sensed that for a long time: “The State of Customer Experience, 2010,” a survey by Forrester Research, found that 90% of retail executives think customer experience “is very important or critical,” and four-fifths indicated that their organizations try to use the customer experience as a way of differentiating themselves. More recently, 82% of CEOs across several industries were planning to make some or major changes over the next 12 months to their strategies for customer growth, retention and loyalty, according to the “16th Annual PwC Global CEO Survey,” conducted in fourth quarter 2012.

The evidence and understanding that an engaged workforce contributes to the customer experience are long-standing and intuitive, too: In 2010, a report by Retail Systems Research, titled “Enterprise Workforce Management: Redefining the Boundaries of Customer-Centric Retailing, Benchmark Study,” found an undeniable link between higher workforce productivity and an increase in the time these employees have to satisfy customers; the CEO Survey aforementioned stated, in fact, that improved employee engagement also improves performance by up to 34% and effectively drives 20% growth in year-over-year output.

Savvy customers, savvy employees
How much of a difference your organization can achieve in its employees’ engagement is the open question. A confluence of the online shopping experience, social media networking and more has left consumers savvier. For instance, 69% report that they’re now smarter about shopping, and 63% claim to be more demanding — all according to a 2010 report by EURO RSCG Worldwide titled “The New Consumer in the Era of Mindful Spending.”

Customers can sense when your employees — themselves savvier, too—aren’t into their jobs, and employees today understand when their work experience is clunky or inefficient. The need to invest in improvements in the employee experience is urgent. Again, CEOs across several industries agree — 77% of them were planning to make some or major changes to their talent management strategies over the next 12 months, according to the same PwC survey, conducted during fourth quarter 2012.

It is incumbent upon retailers’ senior leadership to recognize and acknowledge that the experiences of customers and front-line employees go hand in hand. The approaches to bettering your organization’s relationship with the employee and customer, simultaneously, are many. Following are three categories where improvements in your human capital management can help:

Human capital management technology: The majority of technologies for core HR, workforce management and payroll are severely lacking in efficiency — i.e., in their ability to perform as one, cohesive system. Published in August 2011, “Next Generation Retail Store-Level Workforce Management Strategies,” an Aberdeen Group study of retailers, found that those with old workforce management technologies were 76% more likely to rely on manual processes or spreadsheets than those who have implemented a modern solution. Manual processes and spreadsheets leave organizations unable to plan, schedule, monitor or track labor in a modern way. Employees take notice — and they disengage.

Self-serve, mobile accessibility: Employees, especially the millennial generation apt to constitute the majority of front-line retail staff, expect the basics of their employment to be self-serve, accessible via mobile applications. When employees can manage the fundamental aspects of their employment (e.g., tax withholding, benefits, etc.) via handheld devices, the resulting efficiency translates to their having more time to focus on the customer as they enjoy the peace of mind of control over their livelihood. Better yet, modern technology for human capital management technology may also enable employees to make adjustments to their preferred work hours via their mobile devices. According to another recent report by PwC, “PwC’s NextGen: A Global Generational Study,” 66% of the Millennial generation would like that option.

Work-life balance: Front-line employees could stand to benefit from better work-life balance, and any employer that provides a structured program for that is bound to score points with its workforce; for example, affording employees time off to tend to family care responsibilities. Providing not only the flexibility and communication, but, also, a formalized employee assistance program can further reinforce engagement. If done properly, that provision of caring is then likely to be extended by the employee to the customer during that magic moment of truth — in the store, where conversion takes place. It simply makes good sense, as many companies have reported a greater than two times return on their investment in employee assistance programs.

Human capital management: The place to start
Most retail organizations’ leaders understand that their relationships with employees have a direct impact on those with their customers. The trick is in taking the right steps to improve those relationships, and in recognizing that straightforward changes can make big, positive differences. Human capital management is the place to start.

John Orr is senior VP, retail strategy & execution at Ceridian HCM, a leader in human capital management delivering trusted results and transformative technology. Offerings include the award winning, cloud-based Dayforce HCM, LifeWorks and International Payroll. He can be reached at [email protected].


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Lawsuit halts HanesBrands bid for Maidenform

BY CSA STAFF

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The Shareholders Foundation has announced that an investor who currently holds Maidenform shares filed a lawsuit to halt the proposed takeover of Leap Wireless International by HanesBrands for $23.50 per share.

Investors who purchased shares of Maidenform Brands prior to July 24, 2013 and still hold them are being asked to contact the Shareholders Foundation at [email protected] or 858-779-1554.

The business deal between Maidenform and HanesBrands appears to make a lot of sense given their respective product offerings. However, the price HanesBrands offered and the Maidenform board accepted represented a 30% premium to the average closing price of Maidenform over the past 30 days. While those deal terms may have resonated with newer shareholders, longer-term holders are looking at a price that is several dollars below Maidenform’s 52-week high price of $26.37.

As such, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties owed to stockholders by agreeing to sell the company at an unfair price via an unfair process. The plaintiff claims that the proposed transaction is patently opportunistic and does not reflect the intrinsic value of the company as a takeover candidate. Shares traded in April 2012 as high as $23.77 and in April 2011 as high as $31.66 per share. The plaintiff is also pointing to Maidenform Brands’ financial performance, which went from $466.25 million for the 52-week-period ended Jan. 2, 2010 to $600.28 million for the 52-week-period ended Dec. 29, 2012.

The Shareholders Foundation is a professional portfolio legal monitoring and settlement claim filing service, which does research related to shareholder issues and informs investors of securities class actions, settlements, judgments and other legal-related news to the stock/financial market.

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Kohl’s woos BTS shoppers with sweepstakes

BY CSA STAFF

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. — Kohl’s is planning to hold a nationwide Win Great Things sweepstakes from Sunday, August 4 through Monday, September 2 — the final weeks before the school year starts for many students.

“Kohl’s has always been the trusted source for moms and families to get everything they need to go back-to-school,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief customer officer. “This year, in addition to providing just what our customers need at the value they love, we will surprise shoppers with a chance to win great prizes from sought-after brands, such as Keurig, JanSport and iTunes, through our Win Great Things Back-to-School Sweepstakes.”

Customers who shop Kohl’s — in-store or online — between Sunday, August 4 and Monday, September 2 will receive one game piece for every $30 spent for the chance to win a variety of prizes, including Keurig mini-coffee brewers, JanSport backpacks, iTunes gift cards, movie tickets, Shutterfly prints and Kohl’s $5 or $10 promotional gifts. Each game piece also offers the chance to win one of 50 prizes of $1,000 in Kohl’s gift cards. In-store customers can scratch off the game piece to immediately learn if they have won. Online customers will receive a separate email with their unique codes to enter online to determine if they are an instant winner. The retailer is encouraging winners to share their news via Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #KohlsWinGreatThings.

Kohl’s is also leveraging a partnership with Staples to further entice consumers to hit Kohl’s and Staples stores during the busy shopping season. Starting August 4, every Kohl’s customer making an in-store purchase of $30 or more will receive one coupon at checkout for $5 off a $50 in-store purchase at Staples, valid for in-store redemption through September 22. Similarly, Staples’ in-store shoppers will receive a coupon at checkout for $10 off a $30 purchase at Kohl’s 1,155 stores nationwide, valid for in-store redemption through September 23. The move positions both retailers to reach out to potential new shoppers.

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