May 15, 2014
The Secret to Providing Better Customer Experiences: Staff Enablement
By TMCnet Special GuestPeg McGregor, CEO of Technovation Solutions
You’ve probably heard it ad nauseum, but I can’t say it enough: The customer is king. The success or failure of your business is in your customers’ hands.
While business leaders will collectively nod their heads in agreement at that assertion, many of them still operate on the principle that the product is king. Well, I’m here to tell you that the days of “If I build it, they will buy it” are long gone.
In a world where Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews, complaints on Twitter and check-ins on Facebook (News - Alert) rule the roost, businesses can no longer operate on their own terms to determine which aspects of their services will set them apart. Instead, customers are driving and dictating the relationship they want with brands. A company’s ability to connect with and satisfy the customer is what generates increased loyalty and incremental revenue.
Enabling employees to provide better customer experiences
Especially in industries like hospitality and retail, staff enablement is critical in this process and is largely composed of two key aspects:
- Providing devices and service applications which allow staff to do their jobs more efficiently, and
- Integrating available data about the customer into actionable, easily implemented solutions.
Giving staff the tools they need to be fully aware of customer interactions on a real-time basis provides several benefits. Having access to data empowers employees to make decisions that will improve customer satisfaction. But even more interesting is that it also increases employee satisfaction because it makes it easier for staff to be good at their jobs. In an era where loyalty between companies and their employees has changed dramatically, improving the ability of staff to perform provides an important component of employer-employee engagement with a concomitant positive impact on the guest experience.
Today, technology is playing the biggest role in staff enablement. Obvious solutions are mobile point of sale (POS) devices in retail, which help staff quickly and efficiently service a customer. But broader solutions involving “big data,” can, for example, give a hotel staff member the ability to know that their VIP patron is a big fan of the hotel spa and preemptively schedule a treatment for them. As another example, a customer relationship management (CRM) system can alert staff to a customer’s birthday, favorite products or names and preferences of family members to deliver a more personalized and intimate day of shopping. These tools empower employees to optimize each opportunity to interact with the customer.
Technology on its own is not enough
Staff enablement needs to be driven by the increased understanding of the guest’s needs and desires. Merely providing tools and devices is not sufficient for improving the relationship between staff and guest. Understanding the customer and what they are looking for is paramount and requires improved and more centralized, accessible data across diverse systems. The ability to provide actionable data to staff is what changes the dynamic between the store, restaurant, hotel, airline, aggregator – the list goes on – and their customer.
Given that employees are often the only real “face” of the organization, improving staff ability to satisfy customer needs quickly and efficiently will be a key driver of success going forward. Providing basic tools to the customer—in-room connectivity at hotels, mobile platforms for retail, ever-connected customer service—are important. Ensuring staff are able to determine customer needs and satisfy them in all environments make staff enablement tools critical to success, building customer and staff loyalty to the brand and ultimately increasing revenue.
Peg McGregor is CEO of Technovation Solutions, a professional solutions-lab/proof of concept setting where visitors can experience a simulated high-tech environment, and technology vendors can display their products as part of a larger vertical market solution without the pitfalls of complex, time-consuming and costly independent systems integration. Prior to leading Technovation Solutions, Peg served as a marketing and business strategy executive and worked for 18 years for the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Washington.
Edited by Maurice Nagle