Develop Seasonal Workers to Own the Customer Experience

Whether it’s 50,000 seasonal hires for, 80,000 for Macy’s or 25,000 for Domino’s Pizza, businesses all of kinds have been investing in their customer care this holiday season. According to the National Retail Federation, more than 500,000 jobs were said to be added this holiday season.

A successful holiday season for businesses goes beyond the number of hires, however; it depends on the quality of the workforce.

In today’s world, consumers are looking for value beyond product and price. Especially during the holidays, a company’s seasonal staff has the ability to support brand differentiation or alienate existing and potential customers.

To truly have a workforce whose holiday service serves as a positive brand differentiator, managers must develop their employees to own the customer or client experience, which goes beyond just managing the experience. Customer-facing employees must execute on the brand experience by understanding the value the brand brings to its customers and how it’s different from the competition.

Leaders must instill the principles of customer experience ownership in their entire workforce, including seasonal staff. Toward that end, offering training and leadership is key.

Employers should focus on training that addresses both operational responsibilities and brand culture. Employees should know not only how to exceptionally execute their job function, but how their role impacts the customer experience and brand at large.

Training is most successful when championed by the company’s leadership. For employees to believe exceptional experience is central to the corporate culture, leaders must also exhibit the principles of owning the customer experience. In addition to leading by example, leaders should be committed to providing continual coaching to ensure employees are operating in a way that creates positive defining moments.

Managers can also support their seasonal staff’s success by providing motivation. While managers cannot force employees to be motivated, they can create an environment that encourages it by establishing a workplace that satisfies the three psychological needs at the heart of motivation:

• Competence: the need to feel valued as knowledgeable, skilled and experienced.
• Relatedness: the need to collaborate with colleagues and co-workers.
• Autonomy: the need to exercise self-regulation, within guidelines, to achieve business goals.

Even with a seasonal staff, there are myriad opportunities to promote motivation. For example, team building activities should be encouraged to offer opportunities for relatedness. Autonomy and competence can be engaged by soliciting the opinions of seasonal staff and giving them small projects or initiatives to own, such as decorating a new window display.

K.C. Blonski is the senior director of travel, leisure and retail markets for AchieveGlobal, a learning provider. He can be reached at