In one of Customer Expo 2018’s breakout sessions, several industry leaders gathered to present on employee impact. First up was Jimmy Budnik, Overstock’s Vice President of Customer Care. As his company is entirely digital, it has a unique approach to employee impact.
“We don’t have an expectation that we have those entry-level, frontline people who are talking to our customers every day,” he said. “We as a company rely on technology as our frontline, so we’re all on the floor working together to do it.”
Overstock offsets the lack of a physical element by knowing its customers and thinking of them always as real people. Budnik stated that the brand’s customers are homeowners looking to make their dream home, and of course, individual shoppers have widely varying dream homes.
He said that, to help employees get into the same mentality as the customers, “All of our employees are able to have their own dream home.” That way, when employees are at home, they’re inspired by their own home aspirations, maintaining their enthusiasm for homemaking.
Further, the typical Overstock customer has just gone through the process of purchasing a home, a major life event. The company’s employees are also going through a major life event as they start their careers, and in their training, they’re reminded of that similarity. As Budnik said, “They’re in that mindset where they understand what the customer is going through.”
Jeff Halverson, Vice President of Operations for Ulta Beauty, took the stage next. His company has over 1,000 stores and opens about 100 new stores each year, and he emphasized that maintaining quality product and quality service is key in that constant expansion.
“For us,” he said, “it’s really about developing everything around our associates.” Halverson stated that his company thinks of its employee’s as stewards, overseeing the brand and ensuring its well-being. “Most importantly,” he said, “they reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.”
Halverson showed the audience one of Ulta’s TV spots, which featured both men and women of several ethnicities purchasing beauty products and undergoing aesthetic transformations that suggested a simultaneous personal journey of identity. The catch was these subjects were not actors, but rather real people Ulta serves.
According to Halverson, the ad showed that Ulta’s employees are able to find meaning in their work, as the brand positions itself as “good for society.” Social responsibility, he assured the audience, is also “good for business.”  
Ulta’s loyalty program is built around “loving you back.” As such, Halverson emphasized that all associates are trained to know the exact mechanics of the loyalty program, so that the can engage with customers in a communal way.

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