The buzz word of 2016 and 2017 is certainly “experience”. Every retailer is searching for the elusive experience that will amaze and dazzle their customers so they buy more and come back more often. A large number of retailers are spending a lot of money creating amazing in store atmospheres where you can certainly experience the products from running tracks, rock climbing, virtual reality etc. And what the future holds is going to blow our minds.
As I have mentioned numerous times, this is all well and good, but unless the in store team is performing at a high level the experience will be a disappointment. We are a long way from having consistently high levels of service in store and it has a lot to do with how well all the team is managed. Too many times, team members are allowed to get away with average and poor levels of service, resulting in loss of sales and customers who are tempted to just buy on line.
So how do you ensure your team is performing at their best? Unfortunately, it’s not just a simple matter of recruiting and providing initial training and expecting people to perform. We are all guilty of slipping into a comfort zone whereby our level of service will unfortunately drop. Ongoing follow up is an absolute necessity if you want your team to perform.
How do you know that your team is meeting and exceeding the standards you set to create the great experience? First of all, you have to have standards or expectations on what you want your team to do to provide a great experience. These standards need to include things like listening to the customer, providing solutions and suggesting additional items that will enhance the customer’s overall purchase. Customers shouldn’t leave your store without either purchasing multiple items or being made aware of their existence and the value they provide.
Every retailer I work with has these core principles embedded in their service process, yet it is very hit and miss whether this will happen. The same inconsistency applies to any process you want your team to do repeatedly. Providing your team members know what is expected then there are only two reasons why this happens.
Reason number 1. They are unable to do the task or steps you want them to do. This could be as easy as they have forgotten what to do, or they have slipped into a bad habit, or they actually don’t know how to do the task or step. I find these reasons are the case in over 90% of situations.
All of these reasons are simply fixed by following up and identifying that the team member hasn’t done what you expect of them. A quick 10 – 20-second piece of feedback will solve this most of the time. It might require a bit of re-training if they are struggling, however in most cases, I find, they have simply overlooked the step and are happy to remedy this next time. This is where it is great to check back in and praise the team member when they get it right, they often don’t expect this and this helps to lock in the good behaviour.
It’s not a guarantee that this issue is fixed for ever but with ongoing follow up, they are highly likely to keep doing the right thing
Reason number 2. They don’t want to do it. This is a much more challenging issue to deal with and requires a stronger conversation that reason number 1. If you don’t address this when you see it, then you are effectively allowing poor performance to happen. This discussion needs to be made clear to the team member that they have no choice. They either decide to follow the steps or do the task as outlined or look for another job.
As tough as this sounds we can’t have different rules for different team members.
In summary, you need to set clear expectations for your team and follow up to see they are putting these in place. If not, deal with it when you see it and have the conversation you need to have when it needs to take place. If you do this, you will have your team performing at a high level and the in store experience will be memorable – you can’t get this online!
Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.