To fill retail stores with foot traffic, remember customer experience when hiring

When Hiring in Retail, Remember Your Customers

Dan Sines

CEO at Traitify | Star Wars & Superhero Fan, Adventurer, aspiring Renaissance Man | Inventor/Visionary in Work

For retailers, the fight for foot traffic and customer dollars is a game of hardball. Industry leaders understand the importance of cultivating a strategic Customer Experience (CX) to gain an edge over alternatives. Although the idea has deep roots (the adage “The customer is always right” was coined over 100 years ago), consistently achieving top-tier CX poses a real challenge.

It’s impossible to pin down a one-size-fits-all retail experience that produces equal satisfaction from one customer to the next. Think about it: one customer comes through the door eager for information, another hopes to come and go as quickly as possible, a third craves familiarity, and a fourth just wanted to get out of the house. What’s a modern retailer to do? Does the answer lie in entertainment? Personalization? Mimicking online platforms?

Many leaders rightly focus on people as the drivers of CX solutions. This means not only understanding the customer mindset but valuing a second set of people with influence: the employees. If you lack an engaged, satisfied workforce, those workers will struggle to deliver engaged, satisfied customers. Although that connection is undeniable, let’s try stepping back in time. A third group is worthy of attention: prospective employees. There’s no way around it. High-Quality Customer Experience depends on paying attention to what you’re doing with your talent pool before you extend a job offer.

Here, I’ll discuss two key methods by which your recruitment and hiring practices can become powerful agents for sought-after Customer Experience:

  1. Supporting your brand: Strategy-based hiring identifies people with the personalities best-suited to delivering what your brand demands in CX, whether it’s dialogue with customers, creativity, or knowing when to back off.
  2. Supporting your competitive advantage: Industry data about modern customer behavior helps you prioritize candidates who have what you need: the personality traits that leverage what makes the in-store experience valuable.




Use personality to build a brand army

Your organization spends time and resources developing its brand, then thinking about how to align the Customer Experience with that brand. If your efforts to achieve the desired CX are siloed from your talent acquisition processes, you’re likely to end up with a corps of workers on the payroll who will be hit or miss when it comes to achieving CX goals.

If you hire based only on work history and a brief interview, as many retailers do, you miss the opportunity to select for the personality characteristics that best fit your CX approach. Let’s say your brand values an edgy, risky sensibility. You nail your marketing. You nail the physical space. Then it’s time to staff that store and you...don’t nail it. Your managers hire crew members based on factors like availability or months of experience in retail. What can easily happen? Your brand values unpredictability, but your worker loves routine. Your brand is high-energy; your worker wants a nap. Your customer walks in and is energized by the store and products, but your workforce effectively acts as a drag on revenue because of a missed opportunity to “click” person-to-person with customers.

Don’t undermine your own message

Personality data is your ally here. Behavioral science tells us that high Extraversion, for example, is associated with higher energy and risk-taking, while high “Openness to Experience” is often found in individuals who like to do things a bit differently than the norm. If you’re the company with the brand example above and you have a means of finding candidates with this combination, then you can fill your locations with people who easily talk the talk and walk the walk. In retail, Customer Experience that fires on all cylinders is about the live experience in real-time with a real human being. That’s the advantage of retail, and that’s why finding brand ambassadors who not only “get” your brand, but basically are your brand, is so important.

Industry trends point to the need for personality know-how

Now on to my second point. Industry data helps us understand what today’s customers want. That in turn gives us great visibility into who should be on our payroll. Here’s an example. Salesforce produced a “Shopper-First Retailing” report in 2018 that tracked billions of e-commerce visits and sought survey responses from 6,000 consumers. They found that when consumers are looking to buy something they’ve never bought before, retail brick-and-mortar is their go-to. Let’s focus on the dynamics of that first purchase.

First-purchase shoppers are often on fact-finding missions. They want to see, touch, and compare options. They might not be sure what’s available. What does recruitment strategy have to do with this? An organization should recruit personnel who fit well with that first-purchase shopper -- individuals who have a high level of curiosity themselves, who tend to say sentences that start with “I wonder…”, who are oriented toward information and appreciate the hunt of finding a great product. Those are the people who have a higher likelihood of resonating with your first-purchase visitors.

There’s more industry data that again points to optimism for retailers. Research from PwC found that 82% of respondents in the US agreed with the statement, “I’ll want to interact more with a real person as technology improves.” Further, most customers (59%) agreed that companies “have lost touch with the human element of customer experience.” So here again, we’re back at the importance of hiring. These two stats suggest that your best bets for the retail floor will be candidates who are tuned into others, willing to engage, and adept at reading what others want. Certain personality profiles will be natural fits for those needs, and those should be where you focus your hiring energy.




Hire right, sell better

Overall, retailers must use a wide-angle lens to view their customer and employee life cycles, and should appreciate how the two continuously influence each other. Customer Experience is an opportunity for retail to cement a lasting distinction that keeps customers coming, year in and year out. With strategic hiring that uses data to find the best fits for workers who can meet customer needs, leading retailers will raise the bar on CX and ensure they have a base of satisfied, loyal customers.


If you’d like to learn about a platform that can help you hire candidates with the customer experience personality you need, schedule a demo with Traitify


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