I was recently in our local B&Q DIY store and followed a classic strategy of mine to solve our “sanding and varnishing” challenge.
- Research the product online
- Check product availability
- Check store location and opening times
- Go to store to get more information and purchase
This store certainly had a large range of products in the section we needed, some were fully in stock and some weren’t however it wasn’t until I was able to talk to a very knowledgeable employee that I was able to be confident that what I needed…
- existed and
- was in stock in this store and could therefore
- make a purchase.
We had, to be fair, been in another store earlier and not found what we needed… but in that store there was no-one knowledgeable to help us. We left confident that there was no stock of what we wanted to purchase… and went to another store (fortunately for B&Q another of theirs…)
So I was interested to stumble upon a Wharton Business School article which links the satisfaction of customer experience especially around stock availability and making purchases with… yes you guessed it… knowledgeable staff.
In short, customers get lower satisfaction from their shopping experience when stores have too few employees and, more importantly, when stores lack employees who are knowledgeable about what’s in the store.
Further more the study actually links increases and reallocations of payroll (around staff availability and knowledgeable staff) to increase in sales via increased customer experience scores. At times they were able to show an $1 increase on a staff member to a $4-$28 increase in sales!!!
So before you jump straight to your supply chain technology, or customer relationship database to see where you can eak out a better bang for your buck, may be this week have a look at where you are investing in some of your most valuable assets and see how you can better leverage your staff to deliver a consistent, excellent customer experience…
I would be willing to bet that the store we finally purchased from, whilst bigger, was not more successful because of size of stock availability but actually because of the range of knowledgeable staff it was able to support in guiding customers through their in-store experience.
The full report is available on Knowledge@Wharton (free to register) which is an excellent resource for all Business related research including the many ways in which customer experience is becoming more and more integrated into boardroom level decision making strategies.