Why the Retail Service Journey Is Just As Important As the Customer Journey

October 5, 2016by Gregg ApirianEmployee EngagementInternal Communications

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It happens all the time. You walk into a popular athletic shoe store at your local mall. You already did a quick search online, so you know what you’re looking for, and you have a couple of things you are interested in checking out. After a few minutes, you’ve narrowed your choices down to two or three styles. You do some additional browsing, but only because you’re waiting to try on the selection that, by now, you’re almost certain you want. Finally, 15 minutes later, a store associate greets you with a lackluster “How can I help you?”

At this point, your inner monologue sounds something like this: “Leave me alone. I don’t need your help because I figured it out on my own while I was waiting for you.”

You wave your preferred shoe in the air and ask to try on your size. After another wait, the associate returns from the stock room to tell you the shoe isn’t available in the color you want. Drained and disappointed, you leave and head to a different store to continue your search for a suitable shoe.

Keeping the Customer Experience Intact

The sale died, but not necessarily because the shoe wasn’t available. If only the associate had greeted you sooner, gathered information about your needs and offered more selections or additional solutions, the sale could have been saved. The associate could have brought out the shoe in a different color and encouraged you to try it. “Let’s find you the right size,” the associate should have said. “Then, we can head over to my computer station and I’ll order them for you in the color you want. We’ll overnight them to you and you’ll have them tomorrow.”

Bang. The customer wins, the associate wins, the company wins. Everybody’s happy.

How the Service Journey Supports the Customer Journey

Why wasn’t the associate in the above scenario savvier? Probably because his own experience working for the company doesn’t reflect the one the company wants for its customers. He wasn’t empowered to provide better service, which, in turn, left the customer with a negative brand experience.

Most retailers spend a lot of time and resources perfecting the customer journey, but fewer of them think thoroughly enough about how deeply the service journey affects the customer journey. Considering the two equally would make for a more seamless, connected company experience. The benefits include greater brand affinity, increased conversion rates and, ultimately, higher profits. The risks of not giving the service journey proper attention are the opposite of all those effects.

Here are five tactics for crafting a high-quality service journey that supports a more holistic brand experience:

  1. Have a plan.
    Improving your company’s employee experience can be an involved process. It’s wise to dedicate ample time and resources to coming up with a road map that gets you and your employees the satisfaction you desire. First, define your goals. What would a successful employee experience look like? And how would it affect the company’s bottom line? Ask the hard questions and then formulate a strategy for getting them answered.
  2. Involve everybody.
    One reason why companies have inconsistent service journeys is that there’s a disconnect between levels and departments—otherwise known as silos. All those concerns and goals need to be consolidated. A positive employee experience will require working with a cross-functional team to understand issues across all touch points.
  3. Communicate effectively.
    Training is key, of course. But to align the service journey with the customer journey, you have to start approaching the process of educating employees as a true counterpart to the way you communicate your brand message to your customers. Experiment on how to reach employees in channels they enjoy and prefer, not just throwaway handbooks and boring training sessions.
  4. Be creative.
    The employee experience can and should be as inspired as consumer-facing campaigns. It’s a creative endeavor like any other. Engaging storytelling and beautiful design matter as much to those inside the company as they do to customers. Investing real resources in the creative aspects of the employee experience will reverberate to the outside world tenfold.
  5. Measure, learn and refine.
    Understand that this is a process. Much like a marketing strategy, an employee experience program requires vision, constant testing and adjustment. To bring the customer experience to life, you must continue to monitor and refine the service journey. You and your employees are learning as you go.

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Gregg Apirian

As the Managing Director of Vignette, Gregg is responsible for agency-wide vision and strategy, operations and finance, business development and engagement management. With nearly 20 years in entrepreneurial and executive-level roles, Gregg has been an instrumental leader at many distinguished agencies. Prior to Vignette Gregg was EVP, Digital Marketing at Trailer Park, EVP at Schematic (now POSSIBLE), and began his agency career as co-founder and CEO of BLITZ. Over the years Gregg’s leadership and combined experience drove growth, profitability and delivery of innovative and effective solutions for brands like GE, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Target, Verizon, OWN, Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Johnson & Johnson, HSN, Ann Taylor & LOFT, Nike, and Reebok.