Putting the Customer Second
Arming frontline employees with technology can pay more dividends than enabling customers.Last year, I had the privilege of editing a book called "Fresh Customer Service" by Michael D. Brown, a motivational speaker and career coach with extensive experience as a frontline retail employee and executive. Brown bases his customer service theory on the radical notion that by putting the customer second and the frontline employee first, you will likely create a frontline environment that is more comfortable and convenient for customers and employees alike. "Fresh Customer Service" is not a technology book per se and deals mostly with how to manage frontline employees in a way that lets them know they are respected, valued and taken seriously. But its theories and strategies can easily be applied to how you implement technologies that aid and enable frontline customer service.
When applying technology to frontline customer service, most retailers have at least one of two basic goals in mind: allowing customers to shop with minimal employee interaction, and reducing employee headcount as much as possible. After all, who needs a store associate to answer questions about product specs when that information can easily be provided via an interactive kiosk?