What Does Talent Have To Do With Customer Experience?

As digitization changes the face of the retail space, there has been a shift of power to the consumer, which has completely changed the equation


Digitalization has changed the face of retail business irrevocably. Customers have burgeoning expectations around integrated and seamless experiences, whether it is online or offline. Retailers need to change the way they think and innovate to remain ahead of the curve. This has affected the HR teams of these companies the most. In the US Fortune 500 list, the largest employers are retailers. The question is how will HR teams of these companies cope up and adapt at such scale?

The relationship between digitalization in retail & HR?

As digitization changes the face of the retail space, there has been a shift of power to the consumer, which has completely changed the equation. We are living in a connected world, where we can be keypad happy and access product prices, ratings, and availability that affect our buying decisions. Customers swish out their phone, compare or most of the cases, they have already done their research. They have answers to all their questions. All these things put a lot of pressure on the retail staff. 

Another big shift is customer expectations for a consistent, convenient and personalized experience across channels. For example, online food order and online shopping are becoming more and more rampant. The implementation of such a set -up would require mobile experience and training of the employees – log in the orders, assemble, ship it and then deliver it all in specified time. Not just that, even after the delivery, they have to be ready for return, replace or any other concern from the customer. All these pieces together constitute a good customer experience. If anyone of these pieces fails, it will hamper the complete experience. 

What are the HR teams doing to adapt?

All these factors put HR teams in a spot where their contribution becomes critical to driving the team effort. They need to empower their employees, to make them smarter than the customers and ensure success. 


Investing in training can't be overstated. Successful retailers are those who are concentrating on training their field staff instead of closing or downsizing their businesses. Some retailers have started using virtual reality in their training in order to enable the field staff to experience the pressures of high shopping days like Black Friday or holiday shopping.


While not a solution by itself, technology, like in every other organization function, plays a critical role in enabling employee success. For instance, providing the sales team with smartphones that can enable them to give correct and precise information to their customers.  This simple gesture will allow the team to do things like scan the barcode of a shoe box and not only get key product information but also available in other sizes and colors, in-store location and ETA on next arrival if out of stock, which will add a lot of value to the customer experience. All these measures will fail if employees aren't trained on how to effectively use technology.


The digitalization of retail has opened up new opportunities because of automation and efficiency. For example, robots are being used in the stores for scanning the inventory on shelves and ensuring that it is in the right place—this is an activity which is very necessary and very yet tedious and error-prone, if done manually.  Such innovations empower the sales team to provide better service to today’s highly knowledgeable consumer. Successful retailers have leveraged this trend and shifted organization structures in such a way that it allows the sales team to be empowered with more visibility and authority on the store floor. 

The key point is that as retail organizations are scrambling to provide outstanding customer experience, the importance of providing the same level of satisfaction to employees can't be understated. Most importantly, a holistic approach is needed as well as a commitment is required for investing and trusting in each individual.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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customer experience hr employees Automation


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