A study of the impact of retail front line sales personnel behavior on customer 2

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A study of the impact of retail front line sales personnel behavior on customer 2

  1. 1. International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVANCED RESEARCH (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME IN MANAGEMENT (IJARM)ISSN 0976 - 6324 (Print)ISSN 0976 - 6332 (Online) IJARMVolume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013, pp. 56-64© IAEME: www.iaeme.com/ijarm.asp ©IAEMEJournal Impact Factor (2013): 4.7271 (Calculated by GISI)www.jifactor.com A STUDY OF THE IMPACT OF RETAIL FRONT LINE SALES PERSONNEL BEHAVIOR ON CUSTOMER BUYING EXPERIENCE IN CONVENIENCE STORES IN ORGANIZED RETAIL IN INDIA Vijay.R.Kulkarni M.Com, MBA Assistant Professor Sinhagad Institute of Management & Computer Applications Pune, Maharashtra, India ABSTRACT The retail business is characterized by high degree of service (experience) throughout the value chain in the retail organization. Needless to state, all things being equal, it is the store staff which is crucial in delivering the value and wow experience to the customers when they visit the stores. This study is about finding out the impact of retail store employees’ behavior on the customer shopping experience. The study is conducted in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (India) during February, 2013. Convenience Sampling Technique is used. Survey method is used for collecting the data. Structured questionnaire with close and open ended questions is designed and face to face interview are used for collecting the data. The interviews were conducted through intercepts at retail stores in organized retail chains. Due care was taken while framing the questionnaire so as to avoid any ambiguity The sample size for the study is 141 Respondents. Nominal Scale is used for all variables. The findings are 1) Well Groomed, Trained and Efficient store staff have positive impact on customer buying experience. 2) Eagerness to help & guide have positive impact on customer buying experience 3). Effective problem solving by store staff has positive impact on customer buying experience 4). Friendliness and courteous behavior of store staff has positive impact on customer buying experience 5). Satisfaction due to good staff behavior has positive impact on customer buying experience 6). Well groomed, trained & efficient store staff has positive impact on store staff solving customer problems effectively 7) Training, Grooming & efficiency of store staff results in professional attitude of the staff 8). Professional attitude of store staff results in friendly & courteous behavior Keywords: Problem Solving, Professional Attitude, Customer Buying Experience. 56
  2. 2. International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME1. INTRODUCTION Customer experience in a retail store is a multidimensional phenomenon. Retailstore is rightly called the front line of the retail organization since it is here-the retailstore-the customers visit and it is where the exchange takes place. It is the retail storewhere they either get WOW experience or a very frustrating experience. It’s the retailstore where the customer and the store staff are confronted with each other, exchangetakes place, & it’s where front line sales personnel of the retail organization swing intoaction. By the very nature of its business, a retail store requires all employees to be highlypassionate and service oriented. Since service orientation involves high degree ofinteraction with customers, it is therefore necessary that employee training, grooming,personally, professionalism, qualities like empathizing with customer, being a goodlistener, problem solving skills, displaying positive attitude, energy and body languageare par excellence so that these inputs and qualities get translated in effective servicedelivery, delighted customers, sales and finally profitability to the organization. In thelight of the highly competitive environment, especially in Indian environment, where theorganized retailer is pitted against the neighborhood small kirana stores, consistentdelivery of value and satisfaction to the customers is called for, and all things being equal,it is the front line sales personnel of the retail organization who alone can deliver thevalue and wonderful shopping experience to the customers and prove to be differentiatingfactor.2. LITERATURE REVIEW Today, retailers are competing on the customer experience. As we have discussed,this experience is more than a purchase decision. It is a journey made up of multiple“moments of truth”. As our survey results have shown, the workforce has a far-reachingand tangible affect on the customer experience as a whole and the many of the individualmoments of truth along the way. To deliver a legendary customer experience, retailersmust challenge themselves. They must ask themselves, “Where in our workforce strategydo we consider how to deliver our customer experience strategy and how do we providethe agility to incorporate ever-evolving customer insights?” In other words, “are we doingall we can to facilitate and deliver a legendary customer experience at each store, onecustomer at a time?” The old tenants of a workforce strategy are sound: automation, costcontrol, speed, scalability — but alone they are not enough. It takes more to deliver anexperience that satisfies your customer’s needs, resonates locally, and positively changestheir buying behaviors. Ultimately, the customer experience must match the promises youhave publically made about what your brand stands for, to the point where the customersfeel emotionally invested. As advocates, they can become a powerful marketing force foryour brand, telling their friends and family about how their local store and their favoriteassociate went above and beyond, helping to acquire new customers, and firmly retainingthe ones you have. Yes, retailers have to do this cost effectively, and yes, they have to becompliant at all times. But, think about this idea in terms of your brand and how youdeploy your people1. Do you know how well your employees are handling problems? Aproblem that is handled poorly can lead to a truly disengaged customer, but a problem 57
  3. 3. International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEMEthat is resolved effectively can turn that disgruntled customer into a true advocate of yourbrand and services. By collecting customer feedback in real-time, you will have theopportunity to follow-up with at-risk customers, helping to enhance your overall problemrecovery process and, ultimately, to boost your retention rates.2 The social experience ofconsumers in the store include interaction with other customers as well as service staff; inmanagement of service staff, Kotler (1991) once suggested that “interactive sales” are askill possessed by service staff in making contact with customers. Such includes technicalquality and function quality of the service. Simply put, this refers to the professional andtechnical knowledge as well as the attitude of the service staff. This study demonstratedthat management of service staff appearance, professional knowledge, and numbers ofemployees will all influence customers buying emotion. As a result, besides havingregulations about employee dress, employees should also be trained in customer serviceknowledge as well as professional knowledge about merchandise; service should beguaranteed. Also, encouragement and periodic tests should be used to maintain servicequality. Because some service staff has sales target stress, the process of making sales tocustomers has generally been too hasty, creating pressure on the customer in productselection. In these terms, the psychological understanding of customer service should beimproved in service staff. The foundation of attitude can be used to improve the servicequality of service staff. 3 Retailers, reluctantly, have a ‘gut feeling’ that their customersare not getting a consistent in-store brand experience. Most executives are disappointed inthe customer interaction capabilities of store teams. At the same time, customerexpectations continue to increase as shopping options expand. Most of us can recall atleast one positive in-store experience. Apple stores certainly deliver them regularly. Thestore team focuses on you from the moment you enter the store. There is a governingmanager ensuring your connection is made properly. A skilled associate interacts withgenuine curiosity, not in a pushy way. You are provided relevant information about theproducts you are interested in. The experience adds value to the product and the brand. Atthe end of the day, customer experiences are most influenced by the behaviors of storeemployees. Over the past 20 years, store managers have been trained, and are expected, tobe operators. Today we need more than operational expertise. Using the ‘operational’approach, managers need to learn how to systematically coach behaviors that lead toconsistent customer experiences. This process approach allows managers to run stores ina more predictable and professional manner that enables store associates to succeed anddeliver better results overall.4 Companies are imprinted with either one of the two basiccustomer service attitudes - a positive attitude or a negative attitude. Where a negativeattitude takes hold, the customer does not identify the individual employee as the cause ofhis bad experience; he blames the entire organization. For example, if he has a badexperience with a shop assistant in a given store, he thinks "the staff is terrible at thisstore and I wont be coming back."This judgment directly and negatively links to thebrand and everyone working for it. This is why it is vital that a positive service attitude isadopted by each and every one of a firms employees.5 Also suggested in the literature(Kotler 1973, Lovelock et al. 1981)-and corroborated by this study-is the importance ofinstitutional image and the use of tangible cues like physical facilities and personnelappearance to enhance it.. Additional investigation of such issues as the use of employeeuniforms, the role of architecture in the marketing mix, and the nature of building of 58
  4. 4. International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEMEcorporate image would be useful to many service companies. The emphasis placed onselection and training of service firm personnel in the literature, and by respondents in thestudy, raised provocative issues about marketing organization. Should the marketingdepartment control employee training? Does the entire human resource function belong tomarketing? Conversely, would it be more appropriate in certain service firms to considerfield managers as the chief “marketers “and decentralize marketing rather than addfunctions to a central staff ( Gronroos 1983)? These and other issues touching onemployee performance and marketing’s role in facilitating it are worthy of muchadditional work.63. OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY To find out the impact of various aspects of retail frontline sales personnelbehavior on customer buying experience4. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY The study is conducted in the city of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India.Exploratory Research design is used for the purpose of the study. Convenience SamplingTechnique is used. Survey method is used for collecting the data. Structuredquestionnaire with close and open ended questions is designed and face to face intervieware used for collecting the data. The interviews were conducted through intercepts at retailstores in organized retail chains. Due care was taken while framing the questionnaire soas to avoid any ambiguity The sample size for the study is 141 Respondents. NominalScale is used for all variables. The study is conducted during 01.02.2013 to 28.02.2013. Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy .830 Cronbachs Alpha .8855. DATA ANALYSIS TOOLSFor the purpose of the study various statistical tools are used viz. • Tables • Percentages • Mean • Standard Deviation • Cronbach’s Alpha for Scale Reliability, • KMO & Barlett’s Test for Sample Adequacy and • Chi Square test 59
  5. 5. International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME6. HYPOTHESISFor the purpose of the study following hypothesis has been formulated:Hoa: Well Groomed, Trained and Efficient store staff do not have positive impact oncustomer buying experienceH1a: Well Groomed, Trained and Efficient store staff have positive impact on customerbuying experience.Hob: Eagerness to help & guide does not have positive impact on customer buyingexperienceH1b: Eagerness to help & guide have positive impact on customer buying experienceHoc: Effective problem solving by store staff does not have positive impact on customerbuying experience H1c: Effective problem solving by store staff has positive impact on customer buyingexperienceHod: Display of positive body language by the store staff does not positive impact on thecustomer buying experienceH1d: Display of positive body language by the store staff has positive impact on thecustomer buying experienceHoe: Friendliness and courteous behavior of store staff does not have positive impact oncustomer buying experienceH1e: Friendliness and courteous behavior of store staff has positive impact on customerbuying experienceHof: Satisfaction due to good staff behavior does not have positive impact on customerbuying experienceH1f: Satisfaction due to good staff behavior does not have positive impact on customerbuying experienceHog: Well groomed, trained & efficient store staffs do not solve customer problemseffectivelyH1g: Well groomed, trained & efficient store solve customer problems effectivelyHoh: Training, Grooming & efficiency do not result in professional attitude of the staffH1h: Training, Grooming & efficiency results in professional attitude of the staffHoi: Professional attitude of store staff does not result in friendly & courteous behaviorwith customersH1i: Professional attitude of store staff results in friendly & courteous behavior withcustomers 60
  6. 6. International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME7. DATA ANALYSIS Demographic Profile of the Respondents Table 1 Gender Type of Family Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage Male 33 23.4 Joint 37 26.2 Female 108 76.6 Nuclear 104 73.8 Total 141 100.0 Total 141 100.0 AGE Members in family Frequency Percentage Frequency Percent 20-25 25 17.7 1-2 16 11.3 26-35 37 26.2 3-4 77 54.6 36-45 62 44.0 5-6 41 29.1 46-55 14 9.9 7-8 6 4.3 56-65 3 2.1 8+ 1 .7 Total 141 100.0 Total 141 100.0 No of Children Earning Members Frequency Percent Frequency Percent 0 30 21.3 1 31 22.0 1 35 24.8 2 87 61.7 2 63 44.7 3 19 13.5 3 10 7.1 4 2 1.4 5+ 2 1.4 5 1 .7 9 1 .7 6 1 .7 Total 141 100.0 Total 141 100.0 Qualification Qualification Frequency Percent Frequency Percent 10+2 23 16.3 Student 25 17.7 Graduate 37 26.2 House wife 7 5.0 PG 40 28.4 Employee 68 48.2 PG+ 41 29.1 Professional 41 29.1 Total 141 100.0 Total 141 100.0 Family Income (PM) Social Status Frequency Percent Frequency Percent 20-50 79 56.0 Middle 95 67.4 51-70 26 18.4 Higher Middle 28 19.9 71-90 13 9.2 Upper Lower 4 2.8 91-110 13 9.2 Upper Middle 13 9.2 110-130 6 4.3 Upper Upper 1 .7 130+ 4 2.8 Total 141 100.0 Total 141 100.0Source: Survey Data 61
  7. 7. International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME Table 2 Descriptive Statistics Mini Maxi Std. N mum mum Mean Deviation VarianceStaff are well groomed, trained & efficient 141 1 5 3.58 .950 .902Eagerness of Staff to help and guide 141 1 5 3.38 1.019 1.038Staff had Professional attitude 141 1 5 3.60 .933 .871Staff wear uniform 141 1 5 3.52 .983 .965Staff effective in solving customer problem 141 1 5 3.55 .890 .792Staff listen to customer & empathize with 141 1 5 3.43 .973 .946customerStaff display positive body language 141 1 5 3.52 .883 .780Staff talk to customer with smiling faces 141 1 5 3.49 1.026 1.052Friendliness & courteous behaviour of staff 141 2 5 3.65 .863 .745Satisfaction due to good staff behaviour 141 1 5 3.65 .911 .830Good staff behaviour result in good 141 1 5 4.37 .778 .606shopping experience Table 3 Results of Chi-Square Analysis Pearson DF Signi- Table Alternate Alternative Hypothesis (P =0.05) Chi- Ficance Value Hypo Square (2 sided) thesisH1a: Well Groomed, Trained and Efficient store 35.851a 16 .003 26.30 Acceptedstaff have positive impact on customer buyingexperienceH1b: Eagerness to help & guide have positive 34.814a 16 .004 26.30 Acceptedimpact on customer buying experienceH1c: Effective problem solving by store staff has 43.972a 16 .000 26.30 Acceptedpositive impact on customer buying experienceH1d: Display of positive body language by the 28.549a 16 .027 26.30 Acceptedstore staff has positive impact on the customerbuying experienceH1e: Friendliness and courteous behaviour of store 51.630a 12 .000 21.03 Acceptedstaff has positive impact on customer buyingexperienceH1f: Satisfaction due to good staff behaviour has 56.738a 16 .000 26.30 Acceptedpositive impact on customer buying experience .H1g: Well groomed, trained & efficient store staff 59.038a 16 .000 26.30 Acceptedhave positive impact on store staff solvingcustomer problems effectivelyH1h: Training, Grooming & efficiency of store 54.187a 16 .000 26.30 Acceptedstaff results in professional attitude of the staffH1i: Professional attitude of store staff results in 44.587a 12 .000 21.03 Acceptedfriendly & courteous behaviour 62
  8. 8. International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME8. FINDINGS1. Well Groomed, Trained and Efficient store staff have positive impact on customer buyingexperience.2. Eagerness to help & guide have positive impact on customer buying experience3. Effective problem solving by store staff has positive impact on customer buying experience4. Display of positive body language by the store staff has positive impact on the customerbuying experience5. Friendliness and courteous behavior of store staff has positive impact on customer buyingexperience6. Satisfaction due to good staff behavior has positive impact on customer buying experience7. Well groomed, trained & efficient store staff has positive impact on store staff solvingcustomer problems effectively8. Training, Grooming & efficiency of store staff results in professional attitude of the staff9. Professional attitude of store staff results in friendly & courteous behavior9. DISCUSSION Delivering a customer experience in the stores resulting in loyal customers for the storesis optimal integration of merchandize, stores atmospherics and most critical the “people”. Thestudy succeeds in confirming retail stores employees’ behavior has direct bearing on the customersatisfaction. They are the catalysts, who can, by their passionate and professional behavior bringperceptible changes in the consumer behavior. Like the retail organizations need to create a magical buying experience for the customersto buy and be life time customers, so also it calls for creating a work culture in the organizationwherein the store employees feel appreciated and motivated and resultantly work in a passionatemanner towards the ultimate goal of cultivating customers for life time. For this to happen withstore staff on continuous basis, it calls for various measures like rewarding employees for goodbehavior, activating healthy communication channels laterally and vertically in the organization,bringing in transparency, open door policy, recognition on monthly basis for e.g. ”employee ofthe month”, etc. These measures will definitely result in creating a vibrant, positive and energeticatmosphere in the store which customers also sense and feel and enjoy shopping in the store.Such motivated store employees by their behavior make the customers feel valued and enhancecustomers self esteem. The store staff will walk that extra mile in empathizing with thecustomers, listening to & solving problems which results in positive customer buying experience. The findings of the study clearly demonstrate that there is a direct relationship betweentraining and professional attitude, training & friendly and courteous behavior, & training &problem solving ability etc. This calls on the part of the retail organizations to invest optimally intraining on various aspects like listening skills, problem solving skills, attitude, grooming,mannerism etc. One of the potent tool for overall development, particularly in the context ofservices including retailing, Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), an very effective approach tocommunication, personal development, and psychotherapy. This research aptly demonstrates, customer experiences are most influenced by thebehaviors of store employees. In Indian scenario, in the light of the escalating competition bothfrom organized and unorganized retailers, motivated, passionate and result oriented employeesonly can contribute to a great extent in retaining the customers & prove to be a differentiator.The retail organizations therefore need to look at their employees as assets, invest in them, andcreate healthy work culture and environment which will inevitably result in highly motivated andpassionate employees eager to deliver outstanding experience to the customer resulting in loyaland life time customers leading to achievement of organizational goals. 63
  9. 9. International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME10. REFERENCES1. Focusing your workforce on the moment of truth: Deliver a legendary customer experiencethrough your workforce. Focusing Your Workforce On The Moment Of Truth_Whitepaper-FINAL_2012_01.pdf-Adobe Reader2. Kate Feather & Yvone Chun. People Metrics. Enhancing the Customer Experience andEngagement in Retail. PeopleMetrics_Most_Engaged_Customers_Study_Retail.pdf-AdobeReader3. Gou-Fong Liaw. The Influence of Multiple Store Environment Cues on Shopping Moodand Patronage Satisfaction. 7th Global Conference on Business & Economicswww.gcbe.us/7th_GCBE/data/Gou-Fong Liaw.doc4. Toni Yacobian. A New Strategic Growth Opportunity. the robinreport.com/a-new-strategic-growth-opportunity/5. Beatriz Navarro. Customer experience:A multidimensional vision ofexperience marketing: Employees / The role of employees in customer experience.http://www.esadealumni.net/ea/alumni_today/description_future_events?id_evanto=2377426. Valarie A. Zeithaml, A.Parasuraman, & Leonard L. Berry. Problems and Strategies InServices Marketing Journal of Marketing Vol. 49 (Spring 1985), 33-46 http://areas.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/marketing/faculty7. C.R.Kothari, Research Methodology, Methods & Techniques by, Second revised edition,2010, New Age International (P) Ltd, New Delhi, India.8. Schiff man & Kanuk, Consumer Behavior, 9th Edition, , Pearson.9. Anantnarayan & Jayashree Nimagadda. A Hand Book of Research Process - 2009 edition,Macmillan Publishers India Limited, New Delhi, India.10. S.C.Gupta, Fundamentals of Statistics, sixth revised and enlarged edition, 2010, HimalayaPublishing House, Mumbai, India.11. Richard I Levin & David.S. Rubin, Statistics for Management, Seventh edition, PearsonEducation.12. Levy Michael & Weitz Barton (2008), Retailing Management, McGraw Hill.13. Lamba A J (2003). The Art of Retailing. Tata Mc Graw Hill.14. Philip Kotler (2002), A framework for Marketing Management, Pearson Education15. The ICFAI University Press. Customer Experiential Marketing: Concepts & Cases.Hyderabad16. Vijay.R.Kulkarni, “A Factorial Study of Consumer Buying Behavior of Laptops of PostGraduate Students in Pune” International Journal of Management (IJM), Volume 4, Issue 2,2013, pp. 9 - 21, ISSN Print: 0976-6502, ISSN Online: 0976-651017. Vijay.R.Kulkarni, “A Comparative Study of Customer Experience in Café Coffee Day VsBarista”, International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), Volume 3,Issue 2, 2012, pp. 40-49, ISSN Print: 0976-6324, ISSN Online: 0976-633218. Vijay.R.Kulkarni, “A Comparative Study of Customer Perceptions of Store Atmosphericsof Spencer’s Vs Reliance Fresh”, International Journal of Management (IJM), Volume 3,Issue 2, 2012, pp. 370 - 380, ISSN Print: 0976-6502, ISSN Online: 0976-651019. Vijay.R.Kulkarni, “A Study of Impact of Merchandise Variety and Assostment onShopping Experience of Customer Sin Convenience Stores in Organized Retail in India”,International Journal of Management (IJM), Volume 4, Issue 1, 2013, pp. 85 - 94,ISSN Print: 0976-6502, ISSN Online: 0976-6510 64

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