How are your store associates showing up for work?
The headlines continue to predict the apocalypse of the physical store and assert that the new normal will belong solely to e-commerce, mobile, and omni-channel retailers. Because of all the fuss, many retailers today have a tendency to focus primarily on process and technology; but in turn, they forget about one of their most important assets—their people. It’s more accurate to say that retail is simply evolving—rebalancing amid a market where it’s tantamount that brands and retailers continue to focus on three key aspects of their businesses: people, process, andtechnology. In other words, the hygiene of their organizations. We all have hygienic aspects in our lives which we need to manage. In retail it is no different, and these three hygienic efforts should be top of mind to survive and thrive:
1. The right assortment and plan,
2. A collaborative supply chain that’s visible in real time, and
3. The right people (and the right technology) to sell to your customer
Customer experience is table stakes—and happy store associates are your best bet
If retailers fail to maintain their hygiene across any one of these three areas, they’ll ultimately fail at serving their customers. In today’s retail renaissance, the customer has the power and they willgo somewhere else. Therefore, a seamless and personalised customer experience is rapidly becoming table stakes in retail.
In this post I want to focus on the third aspect of retail hygiene: hiring, training, and trusting the right people to run your business. I am a big believer in the power of storytelling and using that power to help people connect. One expert I follow is Bernadette Jiwa, who writes extensively on this topic. Her blog posts are fascinating, thought provoking, and I would recommend that any retail “Head of Customer/Sales” role regularly read her blog.
Jiwa recently posted on the concept of a shared narrative. In this story, a retail sales associate interacts with a customer, who in turn asks for a particular size in an item. The associate’s response is then based on three things:
1. The stock levels: “Sorry we don’t have any in stock at the moment”
2. The training of the sales team: “Let me check to see if any other stores have stock”
3. How the individual shows up for work: Are your store associates engaged and able to easily use the technology at their disposal?
Are your store associates acting as brand ambassadors?
The third point is where the magic happens. I’ll pose this question to you: How many times has a sales associate asked you why you need an item and when you need it by? You may have the right plan and the right supply chain in place to fill orders and meet customer demands—and you may have even trained your store associates extensively on the technology they can use to meet those demands. But what you cannot do is train your staff in aptitude or control how they show up for work. But you can hire for it!
Science is the key to unlocking exceptional customer service
One of the hidden gems within Infor is a capability called Talent Science. Leveraging the power of machine learning, this solution helps retailers (and other organisations) identify the ideal profile and team makeup for various roles within their respective organisations; including sales associates. Once the best-fit profile for any role or team is identified, a set of questions are provided to each and every candidate in order to determine how they measure up to the personality traits that will make for the best hire.
With Talent Science integrated in your talent management suite (or Infor’s), you can also use that profile not just for hiring, but also in developing and retaining those individuals you do select—because you know how they tick and what keeps them engaged.
We have deployed Talent Science to many retailers and have seen significant measurable value. For example, successful increase in cross-sell and up-sell, increased customer (and employee) satisfaction, and a clear reduction in attrition. What’s more is that this capability has been proven, is inexpensive, and deploys within a few months.
If your staff showed up with the right attitude and aptitude, along with having the right product at the right place at the right time, I would say you have your hygienic aspects in place. You’ll also be positioned to weather the current retail storm.
Learn more about how Talent Science can transform your retail organisation now.
- CloudSuite Retail
- Converged Commerce
- Customer Experience Suite