A employee and a customer having an exchange over a blanket from a retail store.

How can scheduling software impact the employee and customer experience in retail?

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Revamping the scheduling process for exceptional customer experience

Businesses within the retail industry are known to have difficulties with scheduling, especially with an array of part-time, full-time, and seasonal workers. If a team is short-staffed the problem may even grow, with shifts scheduled at the last minute and a lack of planning that can lead to wait times or a block in customer flow. However, the retail industry must strategize and plan for ways to encourage customer engagement with new customers and loyal customers alike. In order to do so, well-trained, responsive and communicative staff members need to be present. The customer relationship will have a direct impact on the bottom-line; a recent survey showed that 75% of customers will leave the store if they don’t have access to a knowledgeable associate.

The best way to mitigate this risk is to implement a scheduling system that includes appointment booking and scheduling, has integrations with employee availability and empowers employees to select their preferred schedule to show up ready to provide personalized experiences for customers. This article will outline how scheduling can impact customer retention and how the functionality of scheduling systems can support the big picture when it comes to the customer journey.

How are customers’ needs impacted from the scheduling system?

When employees experience inconsistency in their work schedules on a regular basis, they are more likely to leave the company for a work opportunity that can honor their other commitments. Volatile schedules can increase burnout and decrease employee motivation. Moreover, when booking processes are not updated, employees may become fatigued without a general sense of when to expect business or how busy they will be during their shift.

If members of your team remain at your business but continue to experience distress related to scheduling, they may not be able to provide a memorable customer experience. However, if employees have a better expectation and understanding of how their work is scheduled, they will be more ready to arrive at work, engage with customers productively and have a better employee experience.

How can scheduling and scheduling software help?

Appointment or general scheduling software can support managers to have a broader sense of business workflow and strategically schedule the amount of optimal employees at any given time. Additionally, scheduling systems can optimize the scheduling process for employees. Many programs offer functions where employees can choose their shifts, trade their shifts or block off days they are unavailable. While sorting this information out may take more time for a manager, the return on investment cannot be understated if it means higher retention rates.

Software systems often include metrics that can provide data around peak business hours, demands for customer service, and departments that are in the most need for employee support. If your retail business provides a service, the ability to implement online booking will help you anticipate the amount of staff needed on a given day, eliminating the surprise element of being overloaded with bookings. Online appointment scheduling can also prevent no-shows and late cancellations since systems often send reminder and confirmation notifications to your customer base.

How will real-time scheduling support customer satisfaction?

Customer satisfaction begins the minute an employee enters your place of business. Their interactions with employees, products and the brand all can impact their overall impression of your business. This will also determine if they come back and become a loyal customer.

When you integrate workforce scheduling tools, you are prioritizing the employee-employer relationships while simultaneously enhancing the customer experience. Here are a few of the tangible ways that scheduling can directly (and positively) impact the customer experience.

  • Optimizing scheduling as a modern part of the workplace. With technology and enhanced systems, you can spend less time making your business more efficient. When doing so, you will have more time to dedicate to interfacing with customers and ensuring that your team has everything they need to be successful.
  • Work life balance. When you offer more autonomy and say within the scheduling experience, employees will feel more able to balance their work and personal obligations. Additionally, you are communicating that this part of the employee’s life is important and also matters.
  • Longer-term scheduling options. Retail businesses often schedule one week at a time, which can be difficult for employees to plan around. Releasing a schedule that covers more days will help employees know what to expect and anticipate the times that they will be on work-duty.
  • Schedule your best at peak times. Not only will scheduling metrics help you determine when you need more of your employees, you can also determine which employees to schedule. This will help provide your customers with the best team of people to have as a resource while they are shopping or engaging with your products and services.

The bottom line is that when retail workers have stable schedules, sales and productivity are able to rise. The conditions become more stable, and your business can operate at a proactive and steady pace.

Moving forward with new scheduling approaches

Scheduling strategically can be helped by technology as well as new approaches within the workplace. If you can model the importance of stable schedules, everyone stands to benefit. When using technology, third party scheduling software can support you to launch a new process, tool and approach with your team.

Researching the right tool is important; you want to make sure that your company adopts a tool that comes with all of the features that are aligned with your business needs. You also may need a specific type of scheduling tool depending on your business operation (for example, a salon may need something different than a clothing shop). As you begin to integrate the new technology with the collaboration of employees on schedule, you are bound to see positive changes within many areas of your business operation.

Next steps

Are you ready to take your scheduling system to the next level? Are you ready to integrate scheduling technology within your business model for better outcomes with customers and employees alike? Are you ready to optimize how your day-to-day business gets done?

Heartland is ready to help.

Heartland helps nearly 1,000,000 entrepreneurs make and move money, manage employees and engage customers with human-centered technology solutions that allow them to rise above the daily grind and lead their businesses into a brighter future. Learn more at heartland.us