A STUDY OF THE IMPACT OF RETAIL FRONT LINE SALES PERSONNEL BEHAVIOR ON CUSTOMER-2 by iaemedu

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									   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)                                                     IJARM
Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013, pp. 56-64
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      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.

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME

1. INTRODUCTION

        Customer experience in a retail store is a multidimensional phenomenon. Retail
store is rightly called the front line of the retail organization since it is here-the retail
store-the customers visit and it is where the exchange takes place. It is the retail store
where they either get WOW experience or a very frustrating experience. It’s the retail
store where the customer and the store staff are confronted with each other, exchange
takes place, & it’s where front line sales personnel of the retail organization swing into
action. By the very nature of its business, a retail store requires all employees to be highly
passionate and service oriented. Since service orientation involves high degree of
interaction with customers, it is therefore necessary that employee training, grooming,
personally, professionalism, qualities like empathizing with customer, being a good
listener, problem solving skills, displaying positive attitude, energy and body language
are par excellence so that these inputs and qualities get translated in effective service
delivery, delighted customers, sales and finally profitability to the organization. In the
light of the highly competitive environment, especially in Indian environment, where the
organized retailer is pitted against the neighborhood small kirana stores, consistent
delivery 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 the
value and wonderful shopping experience to the customers and prove to be differentiating
factor.

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-reaching
and tangible affect on the customer experience as a whole and the many of the individual
moments of truth along the way. To deliver a legendary customer experience, retailers
must challenge themselves. They must ask themselves, “Where in our workforce strategy
do we consider how to deliver our customer experience strategy and how do we provide
the agility to incorporate ever-evolving customer insights?” In other words, “are we doing
all we can to facilitate and deliver a legendary customer experience at each store, one
customer at a time?” The old tenants of a workforce strategy are sound: automation, cost
control, speed, scalability — but alone they are not enough. It takes more to deliver an
experience that satisfies your customer’s needs, resonates locally, and positively changes
their buying behaviors. Ultimately, the customer experience must match the promises you
have publically made about what your brand stands for, to the point where the customers
feel emotionally invested. As advocates, they can become a powerful marketing force for
your brand, telling their friends and family about how their local store and their favorite
associate went above and beyond, helping to acquire new customers, and firmly retaining
the ones you have. Yes, retailers have to do this cost effectively, and yes, they have to be
compliant at all times. But, think about this idea in terms of your brand and how you
deploy your people1. Do you know how well your employees are handling problems? A
problem that is handled poorly can lead to a truly disengaged customer, but a problem

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME

that is resolved effectively can turn that disgruntled customer into a true advocate of your
brand and services. By collecting customer feedback in real-time, you will have the
opportunity to follow-up with at-risk customers, helping to enhance your overall problem
recovery process and, ultimately, to boost your retention rates.2 The social experience of
consumers in the store include interaction with other customers as well as service staff; in
management of service staff, Kotler (1991) once suggested that “interactive sales” are a
skill possessed by service staff in making contact with customers. Such includes technical
quality and function quality of the service. Simply put, this refers to the professional and
technical knowledge as well as the attitude of the service staff. This study demonstrated
that management of service staff appearance, professional knowledge, and numbers of
employees will all influence customers buying emotion. As a result, besides having
regulations about employee dress, employees should also be trained in customer service
knowledge as well as professional knowledge about merchandise; service should be
guaranteed. Also, encouragement and periodic tests should be used to maintain service
quality. Because some service staff has sales target stress, the process of making sales to
customers has generally been too hasty, creating pressure on the customer in product
selection. In these terms, the psychological understanding of customer service should be
improved in service staff. The foundation of attitude can be used to improve the service
quality of service staff. 3 Retailers, reluctantly, have a ‘gut feeling’ that their customers
are not getting a consistent in-store brand experience. Most executives are disappointed in
the customer interaction capabilities of store teams. At the same time, customer
expectations continue to increase as shopping options expand. Most of us can recall at
least one positive in-store experience. Apple stores certainly deliver them regularly. The
store team focuses on you from the moment you enter the store. There is a governing
manager ensuring your connection is made properly. A skilled associate interacts with
genuine curiosity, not in a pushy way. You are provided relevant information about the
products you are interested in. The experience adds value to the product and the brand. At
the end of the day, customer experiences are most influenced by the behaviors of store
employees. Over the past 20 years, store managers have been trained, and are expected, to
be operators. Today we need more than operational expertise. Using the ‘operational’
approach, managers need to learn how to systematically coach behaviors that lead to
consistent customer experiences. This process approach allows managers to run stores in
a more predictable and professional manner that enables store associates to succeed and
deliver better results overall.4 Companies are imprinted with either one of the two basic
customer service attitudes - a positive attitude or a negative attitude. Where a negative
attitude takes hold, the customer does not identify the individual employee as the cause of
his bad experience; he blames the entire organization. For example, if he has a bad
experience with a shop assistant in a given store, he thinks "the staff is terrible at this
store and I won't be coming back."This judgment directly and negatively links to the
brand and everyone working for it. This is why it is vital that a positive service attitude is
adopted by each and every one of a firm's employees.5 Also suggested in the literature
(Kotler 1973, Lovelock et al. 1981)-and corroborated by this study-is the importance of
institutional image and the use of tangible cues like physical facilities and personnel
appearance to enhance it.. Additional investigation of such issues as the use of employee
uniforms, the role of architecture in the marketing mix, and the nature of building of

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME

corporate image would be useful to many service companies. The emphasis placed on
selection and training of service firm personnel in the literature, and by respondents in the
study, raised provocative issues about marketing organization. Should the marketing
department control employee training? Does the entire human resource function belong to
marketing? Conversely, would it be more appropriate in certain service firms to consider
field managers as the chief “marketers “and decentralize marketing rather than add
functions to a central staff ( Gronroos 1983)? These and other issues touching on
employee performance and marketing’s role in facilitating it are worthy of much
additional work.6

3. OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

      To find out the impact of various aspects of retail frontline sales personnel
behavior on customer buying experience

4. 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 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 study is conducted during 01.02.2013 to 28.02.2013.

              Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy           .830

              Cronbach's Alpha                                          .885



5. DATA ANALYSIS TOOLS

For 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



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International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME

6. HYPOTHESIS

For the purpose of the study following hypothesis has been formulated:

Hoa: Well Groomed, Trained and Efficient store staff do not have positive impact on
customer buying experience
H1a: Well Groomed, Trained and Efficient store staff have positive impact on customer
buying experience.
Hob: Eagerness to help & guide does not have positive impact on customer buying
experience
H1b: Eagerness to help & guide have positive impact on customer buying experience
Hoc: Effective problem solving by store staff does not have positive impact on customer
buying experience
 H1c: Effective problem solving by store staff has positive impact on customer buying
experience
Hod: Display of positive body language by the store staff does not positive impact on the
customer buying experience
H1d: Display of positive body language by the store staff has positive impact on the
customer buying experience
Hoe: Friendliness and courteous behavior of store staff does not have positive impact on
customer buying experience
H1e: Friendliness and courteous behavior of store staff has positive impact on customer
buying experience
Hof: Satisfaction due to good staff behavior does not have positive impact on customer
buying experience
H1f: Satisfaction due to good staff behavior does not have positive impact on customer
buying experience
Hog: Well groomed, trained & efficient store staffs do not solve customer problems
effectively
H1g: Well groomed, trained & efficient store solve customer problems effectively
Hoh: Training, Grooming & efficiency do not result in professional attitude of the staff
H1h: Training, Grooming & efficiency results in professional attitude of the staff
Hoi: Professional attitude of store staff does not result in friendly & courteous behavior
with customers
H1i: Professional attitude of store staff results in friendly & courteous behavior with
customers




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International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME

7. 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         100.0
Source: Survey Data


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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   Variance
Staff are well groomed, trained & efficient    141      1      5          3.58     .950       .902
Eagerness of Staff to help and guide           141      1      5          3.38    1.019       1.038
Staff had Professional attitude                141      1      5          3.60     .933       .871
Staff wear uniform                             141      1      5          3.52     .983       .965
Staff effective in solving customer problem    141      1      5          3.55     .890       .792
Staff listen to customer & empathize with      141      1      5          3.43     .973       .946
customer
Staff display positive body language           141      1        5        3.52    .883        .780
Staff talk to customer with smiling faces      141      1        5        3.49    1.026       1.052
Friendliness & courteous behaviour of staff    141      2        5        3.65    .863        .745
Satisfaction due to good staff behaviour       141      1        5        3.65    .911        .830
Good staff behaviour result in good            141      1        5        4.37    .778        .606
shopping 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)        thesis
H1a: Well Groomed, Trained and Efficient store         35.851a 16 .003      26.30 Accepted
staff have positive impact on customer buying
experience
H1b: Eagerness to help & guide have positive           34.814a       16   .004      26.30    Accepted
impact on customer buying experience
H1c: Effective problem solving by store staff has      43.972a       16   .000      26.30    Accepted
positive impact on customer buying experience
H1d: Display of positive body language by the          28.549a       16   .027      26.30    Accepted
store staff has positive impact on the customer
buying experience
H1e: Friendliness and courteous behaviour of store     51.630a       12   .000      21.03    Accepted
staff has positive impact on customer buying
experience
H1f: Satisfaction due to good staff behaviour has      56.738a       16   .000      26.30    Accepted
positive impact on customer buying experience                             .
H1g: Well groomed, trained & efficient store staff     59.038a       16   .000      26.30    Accepted
have positive impact on store staff solving
customer problems effectively
H1h: Training, Grooming & efficiency of store          54.187a       16   .000      26.30    Accepted
staff results in professional attitude of the staff
H1i: Professional attitude of store staff results in   44.587a       12   .000      21.03    Accepted
friendly & courteous behaviour



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International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME

8. FINDINGS
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. Display of positive body language by the store staff has positive impact on the customer
buying experience
5. Friendliness and courteous behavior of store staff has positive impact on customer buying
experience
6. Satisfaction due to good staff behavior has positive impact on customer buying experience
7. Well groomed, trained & efficient store staff has positive impact on store staff solving
customer problems effectively
8. Training, Grooming & efficiency of store staff results in professional attitude of the staff
9. Professional attitude of store staff results in friendly & courteous behavior
9. DISCUSSION
        Delivering a customer experience in the stores resulting in loyal customers for the stores
is optimal integration of merchandize, stores atmospherics and most critical the “people”. The
study succeeds in confirming retail stores employees’ behavior has direct bearing on the customer
satisfaction. They are the catalysts, who can, by their passionate and professional behavior bring
perceptible changes in the consumer behavior.
        Like the retail organizations need to create a magical buying experience for the customers
to buy and be life time customers, so also it calls for creating a work culture in the organization
wherein the store employees feel appreciated and motivated and resultantly work in a passionate
manner towards the ultimate goal of cultivating customers for life time. For this to happen with
store staff on continuous basis, it calls for various measures like rewarding employees for good
behavior, activating healthy communication channels laterally and vertically in the organization,
bringing in transparency, open door policy, recognition on monthly basis for e.g. ”employee of
the month”, etc. These measures will definitely result in creating a vibrant, positive and energetic
atmosphere 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 enhance
customers self esteem. The store staff will walk that extra mile in empathizing with the
customers, listening to & solving problems which results in positive customer buying experience.
        The findings of the study clearly demonstrate that there is a direct relationship between
training 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 in
training 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 of
services including retailing, Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), an very effective approach to
communication, personal development, and psychotherapy.
        This research aptly demonstrates, customer experiences are most influenced by the
behaviors of store employees. In Indian scenario, in the light of the escalating competition both
from organized and unorganized retailers, motivated, passionate and result oriented employees
only 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, and
create healthy work culture and environment which will inevitably result in highly motivated and
passionate employees eager to deliver outstanding experience to the customer resulting in loyal
and life time customers leading to achievement of organizational goals.

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), ISSN 0976 – 6324
(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6332 (Online), Volume 4, Issue 1, January- April 2013 © IAEME

10. REFERENCES

1. Focusing your workforce on the moment of truth: Deliver a legendary customer experience
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experience marketing: Employees / The role of employees in customer experience.
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6. Valarie A. Zeithaml, A.Parasuraman, & Leonard L. Berry. Problems and Strategies In
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16. Vijay.R.Kulkarni, “A Factorial Study of Consumer Buying Behavior of Laptops of Post
Graduate Students in Pune” International Journal of Management (IJM), Volume 4, Issue 2,
2013, pp. 9 - 21, ISSN Print: 0976-6502, ISSN Online: 0976-6510
17. Vijay.R.Kulkarni, “A Comparative Study of Customer Experience in Café Coffee Day Vs
Barista”, International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), Volume 3,
Issue 2, 2012, pp. 40-49, ISSN Print: 0976-6324, ISSN Online: 0976-6332
18. Vijay.R.Kulkarni, “A Comparative Study of Customer Perceptions of Store Atmospherics
of Spencer’s Vs Reliance Fresh”, International Journal of Management (IJM), Volume 3,
Issue 2, 2012, pp. 370 - 380, ISSN Print: 0976-6502, ISSN Online: 0976-6510
19. Vijay.R.Kulkarni, “A Study of Impact of Merchandise Variety and Assostment on
Shopping 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


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