Last year, one major home-improvement chain made national news when it announced it would introduce a new sales associate, OSHbot, a customer-service robot that assists shoppers in finding the products they’re looking for in stores. The announcement prompted HBO’s Last Week Tonight show, hosted by John Oliver, to produce a segment on the importance of real, human sales assistants in home-improvement stores. Oliver’s argument was that sales assistants are not there to help people buy things; they’re there to “stop couples from tearing each other apart.”
What made the spoof so funny (apart from a guest appearance by the always hilarious, Nick Offerman of TV’s Parks and Recreation) was that the concept is really not that farfetched. Home-renovation projects can be very stressful, whether you’re married or single. Even the “easy jobs” can leave you frustrated and tense. Shoppers often look to assistants for advice, quick tips and direction with their do-it-yourself projects. Most of us expect and need great customer service at home-improvement stores, more than almost anywhere else.
So while robots might be the wave of the future for navigating your way through a huge warehouse of supplies, at the end of the day, they’ll probably never be able to replace the customer service that living, breathing employees provide.
Great Customer Service Starts with Employee Engagement
Experts predict sales for the home-improvement industry will steadily increase over the next few years, in part because of a rebounding housing market. In fact, in 2015, sales are expected to increase by at least 6 percent according, to the Home Improvement Research Institute. Businesses looking to gain more market share might start by taking a close look at their employee engagement levels.
For many years now, HR experts have closely linked employee engagement to employee performance and ultimately customer satisfaction. Studies continually show that higher levels of engagement lead to better job performance and in turn, increased retention and sales (not to mention decreases in on-the-job accidents). Employee engagement has become so important that according to the 2014 Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey, it was the second most urgent issue facing business and HR leaders.
The First Step to Engagement Is Measurement
No matter what industry you’re in, your employees are your greatest asset, and often your biggest expense. So finding ways to engage your staff so that they feel invested in your business and in their jobs is a very important part of managing and growing your top talent and your company.
Employee reviews and surveys are a good place to start when it comes to determining individual and overall engagement levels. It’s also a great opportunity to learn from your best employees. What makes them more engaged than other workers? Could they help you increase job satisfaction with underperformers?
The more you know about your employee engagement levels, the stronger your action plan can be for increasing morale and job satisfaction. Because the happier your employees are, the happier your customers will be.