• Case Study EE 'Showcase' Store

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Better customer experiences begin with better in-store staff journeys

The following case study presentation was given at the Retail Design and Branding Case Study Conference at the Retail Design Expo 2018

The customer is king, or so we’ve been told. Of course, the customer sits at the centre of our thinking, but you need to look at retail experience through a variety of lenses to create successful retail strategy. The task is too large and the risks too great to use a singular customer-centric approach.

Take into account the various skills and experiences of your workforce

At Quinine, we use an integrated approach called the ‘Happiness Circle’ that brings together viewpoints from business, brand, customers and staff to provide a well-balanced perspective. 

When creating the new store format for EE (the largest and most advanced digital communications company in Britain) we spent considerable time with staff to understand their problems, needs and wants. We took staff training, stocked storerooms and worked on the shop floor. By having this first-hand insight, we knew we could find a way to make the staff journey better, and ultimately, enhance the customer experience.

With so much emphasis on the customer experience, why focus on the staff?

We grouped our insights into several themes.

Staff reactions cannot lie Staff can create a contagious energy that’s noticed by customers. Their feelings come across through the looks on their faces, their speed of response and how they speak. Even their body language and posture convey messages to the customer.

Happy staff equals happy customers Did you know that happy staff are 12% more productive? A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10% less productive. So clearly, it’s worth investing in staff welfare and happiness in the workplace.

The rise of face-to-face retail One of the main reasons people go to a store is to talk to other people. In these digital times, staff have a big role to play in revitalising bricks and mortar retail. No algorithm can replace that magical moment when staff and customers have a meaningful, human connection.

Personalised experiences Staff, and only staff, can bring unique experiences to your customers. They can engage with customers in genuine ways to provide tailored selling and service experiences.

Brand reputation Staff are brand ambassadors, the greatest asset that a company has. They are an investment, not an expense, so it’s imperative to consider staff in new store designs to get the best possible return on your investment.

Creating opportunities for staff and customers to interact deepens relationships, and builds brand loyalty and trust

Better staff journeys

We developed these insights into guiding design principles, which influenced our new store design for EE. 

The store as a beautiful workplace It’s always worth remembering that the store is a workplace for frontline staff. Looking at the store more as an office space can prompt a new and insightful direction. There’s evidence that well-designed stores can raise staff morale, increase productivity, loyalty … and ultimately, create better customer experiences.

Make sure the store works A store format is basically an operational system to help staff hit their business, marketing and sales targets. We think long and hard about how the physical design of a store can help staff do their jobs better. Functional, everyday details should never be neglected. This is simple stuff, but it all helps make life easier for your staff. 

Staff/customer interactions We make sure there are plenty of cues for staff and customers to engage. This deepens relationships and builds brand loyalty and trust. To do this, we consider how staff and customers flow through the store. We then craft a range of in-store settings where customers and staff can get together.

Service without barriers Digital tablets mean that interactions and transactions between staff and customers can take place anywhere in store. Service is ubiquitous these days, so you don’t need a traditional service desk anymore. Which means that customers are building new habits and relationships during the sales and buying process.

A media-technology aesthetic with moments of warmth, and comfort to help democratise technology

With five stores completed, it’s early days for the EE showcase store format. But it’s clear that all the efforts we’ve made are having an impact on the customer experience. The Net Promotor Scores are on the rise and there is a genuine improvement in staff behaviour, engagement and morale.

You can download visuals from the EE showcase presentation we gave at Retail Design Expo 2018 here

Please get in touch if you have any questions, or would like to know more about designing good staff journeys that have a positive impact on your customer experience.

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