Most retailers know that confident, knowledgeable frontline employees are critical to brand image, profits and customer satisfaction, and are leveraging sophisticated retail training tools to better prepare and support their associates. In a recent survey from RIS News, as many as 94 percent of retailers agreed that investing in associates as frontline contributors was either “extremely important” or “very important” to improving customer experiences and satisfaction and achieving business and financial goals.

The study from RIS News, titled “Making the Shift from Customer Engagement to Employee Engagement,” highlights a major shift on the part of retailers toward nurturing employees and the emergence of employee engagement as a top strategic priority. “As retailers seek to become more competitive and relevant to shoppers, they are leveraging workforce management and human resource tools” in an effort to find new ways to contribute to nurturing employee engagement, the report states.

Studies have shown that investing in employees increases their personal investment in the business, which helps create an environment that customers enjoy. Moving forward, many retailers will be adapting to a more customer-centric approach that recognizes the business value of using employees as frontline facilitators, rather than seeking new ways to reduce labor costs or diminish payroll. Giving employees these tools will help them enhance the customer experience, making the workforce an essential asset as well as a target for investment.

The Role of Mobile Apps

According to RIS News, one of the primary weapons in the battle to help retailers succeed with employee engagement plans is the mobile app — yet only 27 percent of retailers said they currently have employee-facing apps, and 15 percent said they would implement one within 18 months. Surprisingly, as many as 53 percent of survey respondents said they had no plans to roll out employee engagement functions through a mobile app. This group “risks putting itself in a dangerous game of catch up and when the light bulb goes off in the organization, it may be too late,” the report advised. These retailers need to “wake up and smell the turnover.”

Today’s more sophisticated mobile apps are specifically designed for on-floor associate retail training and communications. They replace laborious backroom book and computer training with interactive, video-based learning that appeals to, educates and engages on-floor associates. In between customer time, employees can absorb small snippets of brand training, take quick knowledge tests, discover new ways to cross- and up-sell, learn about upcoming product introductions, access corporate announcements and more. Furthermore, when mobile-equipped employees don’t know the answer to a customer’s question, they can simply tap and swipe to find the information instantly.

Investing in Employees

A well-informed team of associates is imperative to store success; “85 percent of consumers who come in to buy and do not get the right sales person with the right knowledge and expertise will go elsewhere,” according to a 2015 TimeTrade survey of more than 1,000 consumers. “This is why providing the right in-store service is so crucial.”

While many retailers are correctly focused on customer engagement, the foundation for delivering it is associate engagement and comprehensive retail training across mobile apps. The smartest retailers recognize this and are leveraging the business value of well-informed frontline facilitators trained to create strong customer engagement and satisfaction.

Learn more about technology solutions for retail that are improving employee engagement and the customer experience.