First off, a personal experience to help illustrate my point around rewarding staff, bear with me.

A recent retail journey I undertook was sourcing a new home internet package, where I had two unique service interactions. A laborious task made more challenging with my 2-year-old in tow.

I had done the online homework, so I knew what I wanted, so first up was telco A. A busy store meant hovering patiently, in the right spot before being seen. I did my time and was next up… my 2-year-old was not loving the process at this point, but was hanging in there. I explained my need to the rep and without being given the chance to explain at what stage I was at, I was summarily pointed towards a self-service research terminal to browse the available package options… they lost my business there and then. I don’t blame the salesperson; the retailer processes were focused on driving volume. A culture where the more customers you serve the greater the revenue, no matter the level of interaction. You could infer from this that the salesperson was rewarded by this metric alone; speed and volume, reducing wait times for the next potential prospect, but with no heed for the close.

Telco B did by no means excel initially, but then telcos are rarely held up as the posterchild for customer centric retailers. My experience here was slightly more supportive by way of a print-out of selections and a few qualifying questions as to my needs. This narrowed my choices, based on my need and thus felt like a more personalised package. A veritable leap forward from the earlier encounter. The sign-up was where Telco B impressed the most. Here the rep seamlessly flowed into a process of evaluating my needs properly. She grabbed a few pieces of information and then advised me that there was a toddler play area outside the store and, by the way, did I want to wait there while she set everything up. This was a godsend!

Once everything was processed, she advised that following our interaction I would be sent a satisfaction survey. She asked me, pleaded with me, to give her full marks, since it reflected directly on to her performance. Although it made me question her helpful nature and unearthed the cynic in me, but it was clear to me which company of the two were focused more on customer engagement and success outcomes. This comes from good sales training programmes as well recruiting individuals who have that all-too-rare quality of empathy. In a world where customer offerings are homogenous, its how you get treated as a human that will often make not just a difference, but the difference.

So here’s 3 key points to look at when designing to engage staff and reward for consumer centricity:

  1. Understand the importance of the sales person

    If your retail store is doing more than simply transacting, which any website can do, human interaction is key. Mood, emotion and curiosity is contagious – how a salesperson feels is passed on to the customer and the most authentic way to ensure a positive mood in your sales people is to operate with the understanding of their importance. They are the face and voice of your brand.
    – Home Depot recognise this in their reversed pyramid, see here
    – Farfetch define them as a retailer’s best asset, being the forefront of the customer experience, see here

  2. Reward via what you hired for

    If you run an extreme sports store and want active people in your store, create staff rewards with offers of heliskiing or a version of this.
    Popular entertainment venues, Holey Moley, reward their staff via a monthly themed party, thus rewarding them in the environment in which the core offer is.
    The biggest determining factor for being hired at Apple is how much of an Apple evangelist you are. Therefore, not surprisingly salespeople are motivated by the reward of an all-expense paid vacations to Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California.

  3. Match reward metrics to the ideal consumer experience

    What to reward on, once again we start back at the customer, what is the area of dissatisfaction you are designing for and therefore should place reward around. In my case the retail task was functional and burdened with process and contracts, lighten this load and track this satisfaction – that may not be high door counters.

Feel free to leave any questions of comments you have below!