How can retailers foster staff enthusiasm for better customer experiences?

Discussion
Photo: RetailWire
Mar 29, 2017
Doug Fleener

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Retail Contrarian, the blog of the Dynamic Experiences Group.

Staff enthusiasm is a key element of a great customer experience. Enthusiasm creates a more energetic, engaging location, and thus more interest and excitement for the customer. That leads to higher sales as well as customer loyalty and proactive advocacy.

But enthusiasm doesn’t just happen. It is the result of leadership.

Here are three ways to create a more enthusiastic staff and customer experience:

  1. Demonstrate your appreciation. People are more enthusiastic about their work and their customers when they feel appreciated by their employer. As a leader, you need to make sure you’re truly demonstrating your appreciation, not just thinking it.

Challenge yourself to do one or more things each day to demonstrate your appreciation. Consider writing them down at the end of day for an entire month. You might be pleasantly surprised how much you do, or you might learn that you’re thinking it more than showing it.

  1. Purposeful cheering. Encouraging your team is important to developing enthusiasm. Focusing your encouragement makes sure your team is enthusiastic about what matters to customers and helps create the desired results. You can never go wrong when you cheer an employee’s actions as they relate to the customer’s experience.
  1. Keep the employee experience fresh. Imagine if every time a customer came into the store nothing had changed from the previous visit. Same products. Same offers. Same everything. It wouldn’t be long before that customer got bored and started doing business elsewhere. The same thing can happen to your staff. Sure, products and offers change, but what is new and different for the people? Do you create new and exciting ways to grow and develop? Do you change up your Take Fives (staff huddles) and meetings to make them fun and different? (Or worse, have you drifted away from doing them?)

Norman Vincent Peale said, “There is a real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What tips do you have for fostering enthusiasm on retail selling floors? What are the most frequent causes of apathy?

Braintrust
"Much of this challenge reminds me of a perennial mantra, called “Shadow of the Leader.” Staff needs to see the store management take charge..."
"Unfortunately, a whole team of enthusiastic people would scare many leaders half to death because of its power."
"In an industry that has become obsessed with technology, it’s refreshing to be reminded of the importance of enthusiastic staff."

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19 Comments on "How can retailers foster staff enthusiasm for better customer experiences?"

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Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Doug always has great tips. I would add that you have to hire people who are more comfortable talking to people than comfortable doing tasks. From that you can model that the “party is in the aisles,” not behind the counter. Each customer is different and you never know who you could meet — a celebrity, spouse, vendor or business contact.

Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

In an industry that has become obsessed with technology, it’s refreshing to be reminded of the importance of enthusiastic staff. I would echo the sentiment regarding the importance of demonstrating appreciation as a key source for creating enthusiasm and add that a lack of appreciation is one of the surest ways to diminish it. In my experience, apathy can grow in a many of ways. Managers who are disinterested or inconsiderate about the personal situations of staff members can create a tremendous amount of apathy.

Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

The three ideas in the article are all important to fostering enthusiasm, but one key item should be added — pay a decent wage. Kudos and innovation don’t replace the need for sales associates to be able to support themselves. Benefits like health care and 401K plans foster loyalty and generate enthusiasm.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

I see two key elements. One is repeating the company mantra relentlessly from the top all the way down to the lowest levels of the organization (à la Starbucks). The other is for retailers to make an attempt to hire in their own image, that is, associates who already have an affinity for the product that the retailer is selling so there will be an emotional connection to the store, reflecting added enthusiasm for the job.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Max is right. The retailers that are consistently voted the best places to work also hire grownups at adult wages and experience minimal turnover. If you value your employees, you’ll pay a living wage and implement flexible schedules.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
Store associates are the face of a retailer’s brand! They can provide the single most important element to a great customer experience. This requires an investment in people, not just for training, but as one of my favorite keynote speakers, Bryan K. Williams (@bwenterprise) very plainly states — you have to provide feedback! We all crave feedback in everything we do and generally people want to do a great job in their work. Store associates have a really tough job and they want to hear feedback, positive and otherwise, from their managers so they can both know if what they’re… Read more »
Ian Percy
BrainTrust
One of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my speaking and consulting career was the production of a poster titled “11 Commandments for an Enthusiastic Team.” Gratefully, these have spread around the world. I’ll list them below. But first … “enthusiasm” isn’t some kind of behavior you can demand or train into people. It’s a state of being. The word from old French means to “be inspired or possessed by the supernatural.” What we all long for are supernatural retail operations! The word “inspire” means it’s something we breathe. Yes, leaders can create an environment conducive to that state… Read more »
Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Are the posters available to be purchased?

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Yup, a paltry $17 for a package of 50. Contact me through BrainTrust link, Ed, or directly at [email protected] Thanks for your interest.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust
While I am all for enthusiasm and motivating the in-store staff, as we all know, in order for your talent team to provide a superior customer experience, retail organizations need to make strides to provide an equally if not more superior employee experience. Aside from the motivational tactics, a proper compensation package, performance-based incentives and opportunities for growth will go a long way to sustain a satisfied and passionate in-store team. All the technological enhancements are unable to replace the human component. Having a fully motivated, empowered, educated and well-compensated team will be a key differentiation strategy for the brick-and-mortar… Read more »
Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

Human interaction is the only, and single most important, differentiator between the physical store and the Internet experience. Your store staff are brand ambassadors and as such are the most valuable asset in your store. Making sure they are motivated and valued will pay dividends for all of your marketing and merchandising channels.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Much of this challenge reminds me of a perennial mantra, called “Shadow of the Leader.” Staff needs to see the store management take charge of the shopper experience and get involved with every shopper they pass in the aisles. Once the staff sees that the management is doing exactly what they are asking the staff to do, then that will be the first step toward staff adoption of the policies.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust
I agree with Max. All the points mentioned in the article are important. But at the end of the day you have to be able to pay your bills. Now let’s move on from that point. The Container Store is the best example I know of a retailer that is doing the right things — correctly and consistently. They take time to insure that they are hiring the best people available to them. Then those employees are extensively trained so the right things are continually done. Honoring the customer and the importance of the customer getting what they need so… Read more »
Sky Rota
Guest
8 months 13 days ago
Hiring the right sales people! The ones who are socially and emotionally gifted, they know how to sell and how to welcome your people. They are the only ones you want greeting and taking care of your customers. You don’t need to make it a party. If you would just have someone hiring the right people. But it looks like the hiring was done wrong from the top because if the management isn’t right, then the wrong management hires the wrong people for the sales floor. Retailers need to have the kindest, most welcoming, informed people on that floor to… Read more »
Thomas Becker
Guest
8 months 13 days ago
I am going to build on Bob Amster’s comments. Hiring people with a genuine passion for the business is a key component of enthusiastic retail employees. For example, an employee at The Vitamin Shoppe or GNC probably did not run around town filling out applications at McD’s, Chipolte, and Target. They targeted employers that reflect their lifestyle and it shows in their enthusiasm — and others with whom they work share that lifestyle. However, the challenge is higher where involvement is lower (tedium/boredom higher) such as at a general/mass merch retailer, like a grocery store. In those cases, I believe,… Read more »
Jeff Miller
BrainTrust

I find it so interesting when I read articles about how brick and mortar retailer can survive and compete with Amazon, pure play e-tailers and hybrids. Often times the answer is more technology in stores. But the number one way they will survive is by hiring, investing in, training and creating retail experiences led by intelligent, enthusiastic and passionate employees.

The key to fostering enthusiasm is to treat your employees as the fellow owners of the business. Open up about goals, new products, introduce them to new vendors and get their opinions.

Doug Fleener
Guest

This is what I absolutely love about this community. We start with a premise from one of us or an article, and then a lot of really smart people with incredible experience builds on it. Thanks everyone for taking a topic that I’m enthusiastic about (pun intended), and making it that much better.

Maurice Fitzgerald
Guest
8 months 8 days ago
Good tips, though I have recently proven one potential issue. I matched American Customer Satisfaction Index and Glassdoor ratings for 366 companies serving US consumers. There are three retail categories in the ACSI data. Supermarkets have a strong correlation between employee and customer satisfaction. The relationship is much weaker for specialty retail stores and non-existent for the group of 14 department and discount store brands covered. Now, employee happiness and employee engagement are quite different concepts. Employees can be happy with their commute to work, their pay and the food in the company restaurant. None of these do anything for… Read more »
Cristian Grossmann
BrainTrust
Cristian Grossmann
CEO, Beekeeper
6 months 23 days ago

Upper management tends to forget the importance of employee engagement and cheering on your team. It’s a simple thing to do, yet so many forget to recognize their employees since we get caught up in day-to-day business operations. If you go out of your way to recognize your staff, they’ll be much happier and transfer that enthusiasm to customers. Happy staff = happy customers which translates to a strengthened bottom line.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Much of this challenge reminds me of a perennial mantra, called “Shadow of the Leader.” Staff needs to see the store management take charge..."
"Unfortunately, a whole team of enthusiastic people would scare many leaders half to death because of its power."
"In an industry that has become obsessed with technology, it’s refreshing to be reminded of the importance of enthusiastic staff."

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