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Last Best Experiences: How Empowered Frontline Employees Help Differentiate Your CX

More often than not, customer experiences are also human experiences. Whether it’s an agent on the phone, a cashier in store, or another employee encounter in between, these 1-to-1 human experiences have the power to define customer satisfaction. Think about the brands and moments that immediately come to mind when you consider your recent last best experiences—it’s likely an employee played a pivotal role in making that experience standout.

For Kassie Houseman, Account Executive at Avtex, quick thinking by one Hy-Vee employee saved a recent trip to the grocery store—turning what could have become a frustrating experience into one that now represents the gold standard every other brand must hope to replicate. Let’s take a closer look at what made this interaction so memorable.

What Happened During Kassie’s Experience with Hy-Vee?

When Kassie arrived at Hy-Vee, her goal was to get in and out quickly. She had plans with her husband to go on a boat ride later that evening, and she wanted to pick up dinner and wine that they could enjoy while they were out on the water. After selecting a bottle of wine and pasta salad for dinner, Kassie made her way to the self-service checkout. On her way, she spotted wine mugs that would be perfect to help reduce spills on choppy water and added them to her basket.

As she began to scan her items at checkout, she soon found she was unable to scan and price the wine mugs. A Hy-Vee employee quickly noticed she was having difficulty and came over to investigate the issue. When he was unable to locate the item in the Hy-Vee system, he took a picture of the barcodes on his phone and told her the mugs would be free of charge to make up for the inconvenience. As a result, Kassie was in and out of the store in 10 minutes and back on her way to the lake—on time and on track to watch a beautiful sunset from the water.

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What Made This Experience Stand Out?

The best customer experiences demonstrate an understanding of the customer’s needs. In this case, speed and convenience were crucial to Kassie’s shopping experience. Throughout Kassie’s brief encounter with the Hy-Vee employee, his approach to customer service acknowledged this expectation and sought to make her checkout experience as quick and seamless as possible.

Just as critical to the positive outcome of this customer experience were the discretionary decision-making powers the Hy-Vee employee had at his disposal. Because he was empowered to compensate customers for pricing issues, he was able to read the situation, assess the possible service options, and select the best one for this unique circumstance. In this case, offering the product free of charge helped avoid customer frustration at a relatively low cost.

The people who are on the frontline with customers can make a huge difference in the experience.
Kassie Houseman, Account Executive at Avtex

How Empowered Frontline Employees Help Differentiate Your Customer Experience

No two customer interactions are exactly the same. So, while organizations may try to build customer journeys and experiences that are friction free, they need to also have a flexible service strategy in place to support customers when issues do arise. In this case, a nearby employee was empowered with compensation policies that allowed him step in and support Kassie’s in-store customer journey.

In an increasingly digital world, this same interaction might take place in the form of a text chat or a quick call to customer service. Empowering frontline employees in these situations to effectively support digital customer experiences requires a different set of strategies. For one, contact center agents require more information-gathering tools to help them quickly create context and understand customer challenges. Connecting customer data streams together to create 360-degree customer profiles can help agents pull up the relevant services and products in question and allow agents to move to the solution-building stage much more quickly. Additionally, supporting common customer issues with simple chatbot prompts and self-help tools can help empower agents to focus on the high-touch interactions more complicated challenges require.

In a competitive marketplace where the last best experience is king, it’s important to remember that simply having customer service channels isn’t enough. Leading CX organizations support these channels with adaptive CX strategies to capitalize on the opportunity, wow the customer, and win their loyalty.

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