Promoting a positive employer experience not only improves recruitment and retention but also strengthens a company's bottom line. Thanks to technology, it's easier than ever to develop a positive employer experience while still ensuring customer satisfaction.
Employer Experience vs. Customer Experience
"Employer experience" encapsulates everything management and employees encounter and observe during their time with a company. It drives employee engagement, or the emotional commitment staff has to a company’s organization and its mission and goals. It is also often referred to as "employee experience" due to the overlapping elements of employers and employees.
"Customer experience," on the other hand, focuses on the relationship a company has with potential and current customers. It is measured from the customer's perception based on their experience with a brand or business. It includes every aspect of their experience, including navigating a website, talking to the customer service staff, shopping in a store, checking out, etc.
Using Technology to Ensure a Positive Employer and Employee Experience
Technology has transformed the customer experience. However, what is often overlooked is how technology has also transformed the employee and employer experience. The resources it provides and the insight from data collection that it offers have improved all aspects of running a business. Here are some popular technologies relied upon today used to ensure a positive employer and employee experience.
Occupancy control tools, such as Ombori Grid Occupancy Control, are used to detect, count, and manage the presence of people within a store. These tools include people counters and entrance controls.
People counters tally the number of individuals entering and leaving. "Even if customers can enter or leave through more than one doorway, it automatically counts the total number of people in the building." Entrance controls allow companies to automatically close entryways when a location reaches maximum capacity and reopen them when occupancy levels decrease.
Occupancy control tools enhance the employer experience by:
- Reducing stress: Managers can shift staff to checkout lanes when occupancy increases, which prevents cashiers from feeling overwhelmed.
- Ensuring staff safety: Because occupancy is continuously monitored, employees can maintain a safe distance between themselves and customers, reducing the risk of coming into contact with viruses like COVID-19.
- Reducing costs: Business owners no longer need employees to control the entry by standing at the door, reducing costs.
- Making staff feel appreciated: Research shows when employees feel valued, they're more productive and less likely to leave the company.
- Building manager-employee relations: Ensuring a safe and stress-free workplace builds trust between managers and staff.
- Increasing accuracy: Since entryways are centrally monitored, the risk of an occupancy breach decreases due to more accurate data and better communication.
- Analyzing peaks and troughs: Managers can see which days and times are most popular and increase staff accordingly.
- Examining external factors: Business owners can see how demand is affected by external factors such as weather or local events.
- Optimizing staff levels: Managers can modify staff assignments in real-time in response to the number of people on the premises.
Occupancy control tools also benefit the customers by:
- Ensuring customer safety: Visitors feel confident that the business complies with fire, insurance, and COVID occupancy requirements.
- Mitigating visitor frustration: Locations can display current occupancy levels, allowing visitors to see what is happening if they have to close temporarily.
- Maintaining visitor flow: Customers can choose to visit during low occupancy times, which allows them to enter and exit more efficiently and have a more pleasant experience.
- Providing smart queue management: Visitors can enter at will if capacity is available, but they can also join a virtual queue if the location is full.
"Described in broad strokes, the concept of self-checkout refers to the process of paying for one's items in a retail setting via a self-service methodology, often supported wholly or partially via smart technology." It typically involves a 3-step process: the customer scans items using barcodes, pays using a credit/debit card, cash, or mobile app, and then prints or exports a receipt.
Self-checkout technology enhances the employer experience by:
- Decreasing workload: Less waiting time for customers means less time at the cash register for store associates, which allows them to focus on more interesting, satisfying tasks.
- Curtailing complaints: Customers appreciate the ability to avoid long lines, and satisfied customers complain less. Fewer complaints lead to happier employees.
- Reducing stress: Streamlining the checkout process creates a less stressful environment for everyone.
- Increasing safety: Because self-checkout is contactless, staff are less likely to contract viruses such as COVID-19.
- Optimizing staff deployment: By allowing customers to use self-checkout, managers can redeploy staff to deal with other customer queries.
- Promoting upselling opportunities: Using guided selling tools, sales associates can recommend additional purchases during checkout (e.g., an extended warranty for electronic goods).
Self-checkout technology also benefits the customers by:
- Reducing waiting time: Instead of waiting in line for manned checkout, customers can go to any vacant self-checkout device and immediately complete their transaction, reducing the likelihood they'll leave without making a purchase.
- Creating a flexible store layout: Self-checkout stations can be placed throughout the store, allowing customers to complete payment wherever they are. This reduces queues near manned checkout lanes and the time customers spend in-store waiting to pay.
- Improving manned checkout: Redirecting customers to self-checkout reduces the line for manned checkout. This results in fewer frustrated customers and creates a more pleasant checkout experience.
- Integrating with online sales: The integration of self-checkout with Ombori's Endless Aisle allows customers to browse and purchase items that aren't in stock and arrange to have them delivered or collect them later.
A queue management system (QMS) allows businesses to "replace physical queues with virtual queues, using a modern ticketing solution that incorporates mobile phones or paper tickets. Notifications and digital signage allow visitors to do other things while waiting, and extensive analytics enable efficient staff planning."
Queue management systems enhance the employer experience by:
- Improving performance: It can reduce the workload for store associates by automating processes and streamlining traffic flow, enabling them to serve more customers in less time.
- Boosting satisfaction: Poor queue management can lead to unhappy customers, leaving staff feeling frustrated and exhausted. An effective solution gives staff a greater sense of control and satisfaction with their work.
- Decreasing stress: Research shows employees value well-being, and employers who respect this are more likely to retain high-quality staff. An effective QMS can reduce the stress that comes from drawn-out appointment-setting and checkout.
- Improving communication: Such systems can promote greater interaction among staff. When employees don't have to work hard to communicate, they're more likely to stay engaged and work together.
- Boosting productivity: Adjusting staff levels based on queue size and waiting time allows businesses to serve visitors faster.
- Providing accurate data: Real-time and historical data on queue size, wait times, and abandonment allows managers to respond to situations as they occur and predict future demand.
A QMS also benefits the customers by:
- Mitigating frustration: Visitors don't have to wait in line to enter the premises. Because they can do something else until it's their turn, they don't feel like they're wasting time.
- Improving the queuing experience: In wet, cold, or hot weather, visitors no longer have to stand outside. They can wait in another location, such as their car or a coffee shop.
- Reducing walkouts: Eliminating long physical queues makes a business seem more efficient and reduces the likelihood visitors will walk away.
- Decreasing no-shows: Signage can be displayed in multiple locations, so visitors can see current queue information even if they decide to wait elsewhere. Voice-based calls attract the attention of those who aren't looking at signs and reduce missed turns.
- Increasing sales and customer satisfaction: If the expected wait is long, visitors can do something else instead of standing in line. In retail stores, this often results in increased sales.
- Promoting transparency: A common complaint about queues is that people don't know how long the wait will be. With a QMS, visitors can see at all times how long the line is and decide whether to stay based on up-to-date information.
- Fostering customer loyalty: Customers are more likely to return to a business if they don't have to stand in line.
Benefits of Focusing on the Employer Experience
Most business owners believe that a successful business is all about the customer experience. However, there are also numerous benefits to focusing on the employer and employee experience.
- Less turnover: A business is more likely to retain employees when they feel like they're actively contributing to its mission and goals.
- Greater engagement: Staff who feel valued are more likely to contribute to the company in other ways: working additional hours, volunteering, and mentoring new workers.
- Increased productivity: Employees emotionally invested in a company are motivated to work harder and perform better.
- Decreased absenteeism: Feeling like a respected team member can motivate staff to show up every day and contribute to achieving mutual goals.
- Positive word-of-mouth: Satisfied employees are often willing to share their experiences and encourage potential employees to apply for positions with the company.
- Improved recruitment: When word gets out that a company is a great place to work, it’ll attract a new caliber of candidates. High-quality prospects want to work for high-quality organizations.
In today's job market, employee and employer experience matters more than ever. However, incentives and promotions no longer cut it. Companies need to find creative ways to enhance employee and employer experience through the use of technology.
Björn is Chief Experience Officer of Ombori Grid. He spent the early part of his career in the music business before moving into retail design and video production. His passion is for creating unique and memorable retail experiences that excite and delight customers. He spent 6 years at Visual Art in Stockholm before joining Ombori in 2018.