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Why the Meat Cutter Is the New Gold Standard of Customer Experience

Liz Alton
February 12, 2020

3 minute read

The customer experience is front and center in the retail experience, and brands are investing in unexpected ways. One way that received significant attention at the recent National Retail Federation 2020 Vision show was the increasing importance of investing in customer-facing staff. Whether it’s expertise at the butcher counter or beauty consultants offering in-store makeovers, the staff on your floor are on the front lines of customer experience.

Is the meat cutter the new gold standard?

In a speech at NRF 2020 Vision, Walmart’s CEO John Furner noted that the company has shifted the highest paying jobs from the back office to the sales floor, and are focusing on retaining team leaders who are involved in the community and know their customers well.

Supermarket News reports that Furner stated: “That’s a big topic for all of us, as the changing work and the changing workforce that we’re all facing. We had to move people from roles that were not serving members to a place where the technology of the day was moving to the sales floor. So today in that business, the highest-paid ‘golden glove’ is the meat cutter, the person who runs the meat department. Previously, it would’ve been an invoice or a clerk job.”

Today’s buyers are often looking for recommendations, preparation tips, and faster service. As a result, positions like the meat cutter, who often have deep knowledge of the product and their repeat customers, are quickly becoming an essential part of delivering a customer-focused, differentiated experience.

Investing in customer experience management talent

The New York Times recently reported that Taco Bell has begun to test manager salaries at $100,000 to attract talent, increase retention, and focus on the customer experience. In a fast food setting, the CX focuses on reliable, fast, repeatable experiences.

With a lot of turnover, it’s challenging to invest in the aspects of the CX that make that possible: staff training, retention, good systems in play on the floor, and responding to customer concerns. By empowering managers with larger salaries, they’re laying the foundation for management to invest in delivering the kind of customer experience that keeps food fans coming back time and again.

Turning a shopping trip into an experience

For beauty lovers, a trip to a store like Sephora is more of an experience than a transaction, and one way the retailer has driven that home is by investing in an important employee: the beauty advisor. Sephora’s retail associates know beauty, understand products, and often give makeovers.

In an interview with the Retail Gets Real podcast, Sephora’s EVP of Omni Retail, Mary Beth Laughton, says that the company designs their CX to delight customers no matter where they shop. Retail Gets Real notes that “Laughton says — Sephora uses a mix of technology and personalization to enhance the shopping experience. For example, a customer can get their skin scanned to find the perfect foundation matched for their skin color. Makeover sessions done in stores are electronically captured in a digital makeover guide, where store associates can scan each product used for later reference and one-click purchase.”

By having knowledgeable staff to help bring beauty alive and solve some of their customers’ most common pain points, like being able to find the right product for their desired beauty outcome, Sephora delivers what beauty fans need most.

Today’s customer experience is fast, frictionless, and personalized. But if the first thing that comes to mind is technology, you may be missing the most critical aspect of connecting with your customers: having people on hand who understand their needs and your brand, and can successfully bridge the two.

Liz Alton
Liz Alton
Liz Alton is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B technology, digital marketing, and the customer experience. Her clients include creative agencies, Fortune 500 brands, and venture-backed startups.
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