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How retail employee satisfaction affects the bottom line

Last updated April 15, 2016

Retailers take the long view, always working several seasons ahead of the curve. That’s why each January, post-holiday rush, it’s prime time to re-evaluate software and hardware technologies, and to dial into industry and customer service trend reports.

At this year’s National Retail Foundation (NRF), Eric Feinberg of ForeSee presented a session about one trend that’s more likely to become a mainstay: the convergence of customer experience and employee engagement. These are no longer two individual talk tracks. Instead, they’re intrinsically related (and, arguably, always have been).

Feinberg shared data that “validates the causal relationship between retail store employee engagement and customer satisfaction.” Employee engagement, he claims, is the critical link to a better customer experience. The main factors that influence retail employee engagement are receiving recognition from supervisors, and receiving up-to-date and regular communication from company leadership. And not surprisingly, one of the three main elements that impact customer satisfaction is the service they receive from store employees.

Employee engagement can be especially tough for retailers who employ tens of thousands of people. What follows are examples from two retail customers using Zendesk internally to improve internal communication, increase employee satisfaction, and measure success.

L’Oreal’s help desk brings transparency to the distribution center
Many retail employees aren’t found on the shop floor. They’re a vast network of people who work behind the scenes, and in distribution centers around the world. Each distribution center is its own ecosystem. In Germany, for example, L’Oreal’s distribution center employs 350 people and uses a help desk to answer questions and address concerns about health and safety risks. Originally, the help desk team tracked everything in email, using Microsoft Outlook, but in 2011 made the move to Zendesk.

The transparency Zendesk brought to the workplace was immediately beneficial, as there was no risk of an email about a health or safety risk getting lost in an inbox. “Understandably, people wanted to know what action we were taking to resolve the issue they had raised,” ”said David Desinger, an ETNEHS technician whose team manages the help desk.

Now, the team is able to better manage questions, track their status, and provide regular updates. “Our team can now stay on top of every issue and it’’s easy for us to get an overview of all the tickets raised,” Desinger said. Using Zendesk’s reporting, Desinger now monitors trends across the business and is able to report back to the ’L’Oréal head office an accurate number of declared ‘safety improvement opportunities’.

Satisfaction soars with John Lewis’s internal benefits system
The John Lewis Partnership operates 46 John Lewis shops and 346 Waitrose supermarkets across the United Kingdom, employing over 90,000 people. To say that’s a lot of employees to satisfy is an understatement. But John Lewis is an employee-owned business, built on a foundational belief that employee happiness matters.

For a company of this size, communication can be a challenge. That’s why the internal benefits team looked for a customer service platform to support their internal Partner Choice benefits website. The website replaced communication by printed brochure and factors support and communication into the employee experience.

The team uses Zendesk to offer support to employees through a variety of channels, but one of the biggest wins was the introduction of a help center, which receives over 28,000 views each month. Remarkably, only 1 in every 192 searches results in a ticket. Despite the size of John Lewis’ employee base, the small team of six is able to respond to employees same day, resolving 88 percent of their total volume in a single reply. How does it all add up? To an average employee satisfaction rating above 90 percent, which they can now easily measure through Zendesk’s satisfaction ratings feature.

The next trend in employee satisfaction
Looking ahead, retailers using Zendesk to support their large employee bases can take advantage of Zendesk’s new Satisfaction Prediction feature, which uses machine learning to read cues the moment a ticket comes in and predicts how likely the customer—or the employee—will be satisfied. It’s a new era of employee satisfaction—and if we believe Feinberg (we do)—it follows that the future of customer engagement is looking bright.

Sound good? Read more about how global brands like Rapha, UGG®, Everlane, Cotton On, and Lazada use Zendesk to provide better service in our Bright Ideas: Retail ebook.

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