Is your retail service experience delivering on your brand promise?
Great retail brands are rare. For every remarkable experience, there are dozens of forgettable or (even worse) regrettable ones. Creating memorable retail service requires every operational touchpoint within a company be aligned to deliver the desired customer experience and brand promise.
Think of the many points of interaction associated with retail service. Signage, lighting, music, merchandise, flow, and interactivity are a few of the many elements that when carefully designed and controlled can create a phenomenal customer experience. However, there is one element that is often less predictable—your staff.
The Case for Consistent Staff Training
You've made training your staff a priority, spending every possible dollar to communicate your brand. You've even modeled the behavior you want from your associates or given them the exact words you want them to use. But even so, we've all occasionally had thoughts like "If I could just clone Mary, our service would be better" or "I need ten more like Ted because he just delivers." Because people are vital to making your retail service offering desirable, you want to make sure your associates are one of your company's strengths. And while some of the value any individual offers may be due to their unique personality, much of what fulfills a brand's respective promise is learnable.
Just think of the advantages of leveraging your star players and sharing their knowledge with the rest of your staff. Your newer, junior associates could learn how to provide excellent retail service more quickly. Even your more senior associates might learn some new "tips and tricks" that could help them become even more efficient and successful in their positions. In addition, encouraging your star players to share their expertise makes them feel more empowered, challenged, and valued.
How to Leverage Your Star Employees' Knowledge
There are several ways to share your associates' knowledge with their peers and to harness that knowledge, but how do you ensure that it is being shared consistently again and again? Enter the Learning Management System, or LMS.
An LMS creates an accessible platform for your staff to engage with a variety of content and provides a central means for viewing and retaining valuable, time-sensitive information. You can make sure that what makes Mary and Ted your star associates is available and easily viewable by everyone in your company. You can make sure that your associates are all receiving the same content—whether it is a series of tips on how to greet a customer or the company’s benefits policy. You can make sure that your associates all have a set baseline knowledge before they are on the sales floor.
However, while all of this is a great start, you can still do more to create a memorable and positive retail experience for the customer.
Creating a distinct and desirable service experience (or creating more Marys and Teds) requires far more than learning a set of perfunctory tasks and information. With an LMS, leadership and management can go beyond explicit mandated policies and share an organization's core philosophy and values that make it distinctive and, ultimately, successful. How might you combine the strategic levels of the organization with tactical day-to-day insights that deliver remarkable retail service on the sales floor? Integrate social media into your LMS content.
Take retail staff members with the right experience, personality, and commitment to make a difference, like Mary and Ted. Allow them to share their secret sauce of success through videos recorded on their iPhones, or by creating Google Docs that can easily be shared and uploaded. Now your most experience, most committed employees can share their experiences and ideas, challenges and inspiration. They can coach and mentor their fellow associates, using the technology at their fingertips. Ultimately, this creates a process that will cultivate the culture of teamwork that translates into excellent service.
Embarking on a Journey of Excellent Retail Service
Customers enter a retail environment because they are on a journey. Can you afford to have a service experience that is unaligned from your brand and stops customers from completing that journey? The obvious answer is no. Every organization has traditions, special processes, and new initiatives that it must communicate to be successful. Can a slogan on a coffee mug or a poster in the break room create a distinctive and enduring culture? Most likely not.
The secret of 'service' is to synchronize it with what the brand promises with what staff can learn. A Learning Management System, implemented with an effective training and mentoring strategy, is the key to sharing the knowledge and experiences needed to satisfy even the most demanding customers.