Friendliness in the retail business:
How to help employees to become friendlier
Positive customer experiences are mainly influenced by interpersonal interactions, where the emotional intelligence of the employees plays a crucial role to act in a friendly manner towards the customer. Therefore it is essential for an organization to understand the psychology of emotions to successfully develop its employees and hire the right people.
Shirin Schmid, 2018
Bachelor Thesis, Genossenschaft Migros Zürich
Betreuende Dozierende: Anne Jansen
Keywords: Emotional labor, Emotion regulation, Emotions at work, Emotional Intelligence, Customer Experience, Friendliness, Smile
Generally, companies in the service sector are facing growing challenges to maintain a continuous competitive advantage and to keep up with the changing customer needs and expectations. The current competition and cost pressure on companies, as well as the need for new strategies lead the focus back to the interaction with the client. Also, the interchangeability of the products and services led to the need for a positive customer experience to increase the retention rate.
In the given case, traditional supermarket chains in Switzerland are suffering from a customer churn to hard-discounters. This, due to their inability to compete with the aggressive price and cost optimization strategies of hard-discounters. Structurally, traditional supermarkets face higher personnel costs as they put greater value into well-groomed stores and specialized personnel, which in the end results in higher sales prices.
To overcome this competitive disadvantage, a supermarket chain plans to use the presence of more personnel as a competitive advantage, as the higher presence of personnel leads to more interactions with the customer. Therefore, it is seen as a chance to invest in these interactions. Specifically, through an increased friendliness of the employees towards the customer.
To research on how the employee friendliness can be supported and developed, interviews with selected regional departments of the organization were conducted. The interviews aimed at gaining insights on successful friendliness-related measures. Besides that, literature was reviewed to acquire the necessary knowledge of emotional frameworks to assess the measures collected in the interviews and to attain a wider understanding of the psychological processes behind a smiling face.
The interviews showed, that most of the measures from the interviewed parties focused on the behavior of the employees towards the customer. Their approaches were mainly based on the established service guidelines.
However, as literature identified the need for development of emotion related skills, namely emotional intelligence, to be successful in interpersonal situations, the measures collected in the interviews did not appear sufficient in the long-run. Therefore, measures were analyzed, which benefit the development of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, such as consciousness.
On the flip-side, however, the research showed as well that emotional intelligence is more difficult to develop in adulthood as it is mainly developed in early life, and therefore a skill that should be recruited for.
In conclusion, it is essential to consider an approach that takes the emotions component into consideration – both in the development of the existing employees as well as in the hiring process for new staff – to ultimately increase employee friendliness.
Studiengang: Business Administration International Management (Bachelor)
Fachbereich der Arbeit: HR & Organisation