Customer experience is key – a well-known phrase in the retail sector. How does a company create the best customer experience? Through dedicated training. Thorough training of employees is the key to achieving the best levels of customer service, and there are numerous ways employees can be trained to be more effective within their role.
These range from colleges and distance learning programs to internal training staff, group training days and mentors. Regardless of which method is chosen, it is imperative that all staff have the appropriate knowledge to perform their job effectively and productively. However, training is expensive.
All About the Consumer
When consumers step foot on the shop floor, they need to have an experience worthy of the product being purchased. Questions and requests should be answered promptly and in detail with confidence and clear knowledge of the facts. We are all aware of the old adage which states that a happy customer will tell one person and an unhappy one will tell nine. Whether this fact is an apocryphal tale is inconsequential; the message remains that a bad customer experience can have disastrous effects on a company. With review sites for every possible sector now immediately available online, it has never been more important to ensure the highest quality of training is rolled out across your customer-facing teams.
One of the largest issues in the retail industry has to be the ever-changing products. These changes could be to the quality, in the case of the latest model of smartphone or television, or a new range in keeping with the season, as in fashion retail. Moreover, intermittent promotions need to be learned and memorised quickly and frequently. There is a vast amount of information which needs to get from head office to front-of-house staff to maintain their knowledge and therefore their levels of customer service.
Disperse Workforces Brought Together
Retail also offers another big challenge: a disperse workforce. Stores are located in various areas, from a few covering neighbouring towns, national coverage across all major destinations or international stores run by franchisees. Organising training at all locations can be a logistical nightmare – either staff must go to training centres or training managers must visit all the stores in order to meet face-to-face.
What does all of this equal? Changing products plus a disperse workforce can equal a huge training expense for retail companies. However, the information in training courses is vital and must be shared and learned to maintain good customer service.
Why is face-to-face training so important; why not have online courses or audio training?
Creating Relationships That Last
Face-to-face learning allows a dynamic relationship to be formed between trainer and employee, as well as between employees as a team. These relationships allow those learning to improve their understanding of key information through tone of voice and non-verbal communication, such as gestures, mannerisms and facial expressions. Face-to-face communication allows people to feel the training rather than just hear it. Otherr methods such as telephone or online learning gives a level of anonymity which can prevent the bond between trainer and learner from forming. Information could be misinterpreted or misunderstood, employees can switch off or even get other people to complete training tasks on their behalf; all of which will have a negative effect on customer service in the long run.
Video conferencing is a solution that speeds up ways of getting information from the head office whilst still enjoying face-to-face contact with all levels of employment. It has been proven to deliver far better results than distance learning, and is more time and cost effective than training centres or staff visiting every store.
Interoperable at Every Level
Video conferencing works through a multitude of devices. Stores are unlikely to have space for a traditional meeting room, but may well have a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. All of these can be securely connected to a training session from multiple locations. This means that employees from all stores could be connected at once, saving on travelling time and improving the overall store collaboration.
With video conferencing, the training is held directly between parties and collaboration is done through online tests, polls and visuals. These can also be shared, creating a completely realistic training environment and ensuring that all staff fully understand the training material and can ask questions when required.
Designed to be easy to operate, the millennial generation and those born in the 21st century find video conferencing natural as it is so similar to platforms used in their personal lives. In this sense, video conferencing provides a win-win situation for retail companies, among a range of other benefits.