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GUEST COMMENT How employee experience leads retail success

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I don’t need to tell you that an effective, efficient, and seamless customer experience (CX) is imperative for the success of most brands. So, naturally, the majority of any retailer’s attention is laser-focused on ensuring that CX is achieved to a high level. However, one aspect which has an impact on CX, yet is often overlooked, is the direct correlation with the employee experience (EX). 

EX can impact everything from productivity to customer satisfaction, meaning getting it right can be instrumental to business success. This is increasingly being recognised amongst executives, with some 70% agreeing that improved EX leads to improved CX, according to a 2020 study from Forbes Insights. But if it’s something that seven-in-ten executives agree upon, why are so many retailers still struggling to achieve it?

The impact of technology on experience

Delivering a standout CX hinges on having a motivated and engaged team. Yet too often, leaders fail to empower employees to buy into their vision, presenting a challenge. After all, if executives can’t effectively explain what their objective is to the people creating the customer experience, how can they expect employees to be able to convey value to customers? To ensure teams buy into a shared sense of vision, EX and CX channels need to share the same content and architecture. But with many websites and intranets built on siloed and antiquated foundations, achieving this unified approach has historically been difficult. 

When intranets were first introduced, they were utilised primarily for companies to disseminate information to employees, while business websites were created to provide customers with basic information about a brand, what products they offer and how to get in touch. Each of these siloed systems only fulfilled a partial need, showing a piece of the puzzle but not representing the full context or providing a complete view of the organisation. 

Further silos were then created across individual departments, with sales, IT, marketing and customer teams utilising their own tools without an overarching platform. With the pandemic both accelerating digital transformation strategies and creating a dispersed workforce model, having technology that enables employees to seamlessly connect with one another, and with customers, has never been more important. 

The evolution of the EXP

To have a cohesive experience, teams need to be able to access information and content without the need to switch between multiple applications and log-ins – which is why the Employee Experience Platform (EXP) is coming to the fore as a solution. An extension of a Digital Experience Platform (DXP), the EXP brings together everything a person might need at the right time, and in the right place – not to secure a sale, but to do their job efficiently. This in turn fuels both team happiness, and team productivity. 

However, from static intranets and bulletin boards to employee intranets and information hubs, EXPs must evolve to meet the changing needs of the team. For a seamless working experience, the number one focus must be simplicity and cohesion. Moreover, as employees continue to grow and progress through their careers, an intelligent platform that supports their knowledge growth will be critical. 

Reaching new heights with low code

A platform’s ease of use is also key to enhancing both EX and CX. Platforms leveraging low-code tools and component-based templates, for example, give employees the ability to build and deliver customer experiences without depending on finite IT. Employees can use these low-code tools and support, such as intuitive drag-and-drop capabilities, to cut down on time to market. Ultimately, teams are empowered to work together in a way that is much more streamlined and delivers great ideas, products, and services to customers on demand, instead of getting stuck in a long queue of ticket requests. Tools that don’t require technical expertise also mean businesses can onboard new employees faster, free up technical teams to work on higher value tasks and choose from a broader talent pool – critical as we continue to face a skills shortage.

Prepping for the retail peak

As we move into the traditional annual retail peak and the last four months of the year, the “new normal” is so far showing that although high street footfall is increasing (well it had to go up from zero) online sales, which had boomed through lockdowns, are holding steady.

As the competition to win customers through the festive period hits its stride, this year we know that for many retailers it will be ‘do or die’. At the heart of retail success are going to be those who can adapt and deliver the most cohesive customer experience. And so, employee experience is more critical than ever: enabling employees to move faster and adapt to demand, at pace, so they can deliver a gold-standard of customer care.

EX x CX for the win

Retailers who take the time now to focus and optimise their technology stack to benefit both employee and customer experience are the ones who will undoubtedly reap the highest rewards. There has never been a bigger shift in customer needs and expectations than what we saw in 2020. Nor has the technology ever been so accessible to maximise the opportunities and meet the change in customer demands.

For retailers, focusing in on building a solid EX will ensure that your employees benefit from a more trustworthy, satisfying culture, while simultaneously becoming more productive. This culture will create a positive ripple effect, benefiting customers and ultimately boosting engagement at every level.  


Alex Dal Canto, director of product marketing at Acquia

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