When Doug McMillon, Wal-Mart’s CEO, announced an increase in employees’ minimum wages, chances are you thought it was all a stunt to ward off the negative publicity that had resulted from the class-action suit filed on behalf of 1.6 million women for discrimination around pay and promotion. However, a closer look suggests otherwise.
Mr. McMillon calls it a ‘package of changes’ -within which change in compensation is just one of the many cogs in the wheel; training, work schedules, and on-boarding of new employees are some of the other tactics that Wal-Mart has adopted to improve customer service and retain employees. What’s more, the company announced committing more than $100 million towards career training for entry-level workers over the next 5 years, a sure way to ensure people who work at Wal-Mart feel invested in their organization.
Has the ‘package of changes’ strategy worked? You ask. Although Wal-Mart’s stock took a noticeable dip (3%) after the announcement, Mr. McMillon expressed confidence that the investment would pay off, a rather clear indication of the impact that customer engagement has on a company’s bottom line.
However, although wage increases sound appealing, it’s only a step towards better customer engagement. With a report from American Express Customer service barometer revealing that 99% of customers said getting a satisfactory answer is a vital prerequisite to great customer experience, it goes unsaid that a knowledgeable staff is central to a better customer experience.
Just think about it, when your employees are trained and knowledgeable of both changing market conditions and the evolving nature of your products, your customers get a sense of trustworthiness and competence, which then translates into them (customers) perceiving your brand to be less risky than what competitors are offering.
Having employees who are knowledgeable and competent inevitably leads to:
i) Increased sales – According to the 2013 Experticity Retail Buying Experience, company staff with strong brand expertise sell 87% more than peers without.
ii) Empowered employees who feel up to the task and ready to tackle any problem without the need to refer to a higher authority – Reports from Forrester (Understanding Customer Service Satisfaction to Inform Your 2012 eBusiness) confirm that 45% of U.S consumers will abandon an online transaction if their concerns are not addressed immediately.
iii) Enhanced customer trust one a more personal level – Studies undertaken by Peppers and Rogers Group reveal that 65% of companies provide tools and training to gain trust and retain their customers
iv) Faster resolution rates for customer complaints – A research from Esteban Kolsky, ThinkJar Principal and founder, reveals that 20% of your call agent’s time is spent researching information each day.
v) Positive customer reviews – Regardless of whether it is an impulse buy or a major purchase, passing on critical information about the product in question to the customer can make or break a sale; people only buy from people with good, if not the best, product knowledge.
In addition to quality and price, other factors like financing options, warranty information, and shipping always come in to play before a customer thinks about parting with his/her cash. Furthermore, whether or not a customer makes a purchase often hinges on such factors as familiarity, trust, and confidence. Therefore, at the end of the day, a huge part of your business’ success boils down to how knowledgeable and competent your employees are. Do you want to engage your customers? Empower them with the right information.