Everyone has heard the old adage, “It’s hard to find good help these days,” but to me that’s somewhat of a cop-out. Painting all current or potential employees with such a broad brush speaks more about management than it does about the challenge of finding so-called good help.
In this particular case, the topic truly revolves around what makes “good help.” Obviously, the hiring process is important—personality, skillset, and so on—but what about after the hire? As a new person walks through the front door for their first day, what has management given them to help them meet their mandate?
As it pertains to office-based businesses, it’s usually pretty easy: a phone, a computer, access to files and software, etc. But what about those in the service industry? Many times, it’s not as cut and dried as the rest of the working world. There is usually no hardware or software to be doled out—maybe a name tag, maybe a uniform, then it’s off to work.
The bigger question is, should this void exist? Especially in this day and age. For instance, let’s use retail as an example. If the only traditionally delivered tools are a name tag, a short training session and POS access, the likelihood of that employee making a true difference is greatly diminished. An employee’s success is primarily based on personality and people skills—all of which belong to that individual and only that individual with no connection to the company.
But what if that could change? What if besides the usual accoutrements employees were also handed a tablet—one that connected to a system that enabled them to access product knowledge bases, sales tips of the day, search inventory in other locations, and sell items regardless of geography? And, best of all, what if that system told them who was in the store, what those people were like, what they don’t like, their buying habits and history—what if all of that were available?
Now, suddenly, your new employee (and every other employee for that matter) has a far greater connection to the business, a far greater connection to the customer and, as a result, a far better chance of success in meeting their sales goals—all while creating a far better personalized experience, resulting in increased customer loyalty and perpetuating a brand that distinguishes itself from the competition.
That’s what employee empowerment is all about. And it’s not just retail that can benefit. For instance, a new client of ours is a large and very successful grocer. Imagine the grocer’s new engagement and employee empowerment model in action. Now, as customers walk into the store, they are offered specials, recipes, shopping lists, and are given the opportunity to speak with employees who know them, who can suggest items, give advice on recipes and products, and more. Again, superior engagement, increased loyalty, enhanced brand.
Now, think of it at a restaurant. Servers and greeters will know exactly who is coming into the restaurant. They will know their eating habits, their preferred beverages, allergies, the possibilities are endless.
In all of these cases, the onus falls directly on the company to empower the employee—which begs the question: Are your employees helping or hindering your brand? In almost all cases, it’s really not the employee at all, but more the company holding back its own potential.
As we continue to race forward into the twenty-first century, it’s clear that data has become the new currency of the modern age. That data has also sparked a newfound belief that the customer is no longer generic. Customers of all types—shoppers or diners—want everything to be highly personalized. And why is that so prevalent? Because it can be.
Not to sound flippant, but the reality is that almost everything is based on data. Ads on social media, suggested and personalized playlists on music and movie platforms and, of course, eCommerce engines knowing who you are, what you like, and when you buy. All of this and more is about the habit-forming aspects of personalization and the demands that it creates as people get used to a new highly personalized reality.
Your frontline employees are the single greatest asset you have for your in-person customer experiences. Empowering them with every tool possible is what will catapult your brand to new heights and new levels of success. Or, there is the antiquated option that begins and ends with a shiny name tag and a hope for the best.