Imagine entering into a shoe store looking for a specific style of shoe. You ask the salesperson if it’s available, but he asks you to wait and attends another customer instead. Won’t you feel a bit annoyed? You would probably grumble about the kind of sales people the store has. A few more minutes of waiting would probably have you tweet about the apathetic salesperson of XYZ brand.
See what happened here?
The brand name got highlighted. Now in order to mitigate this issue there will probably be a social media executive waiting to post a prompt apology on behalf of the company.
But by now, hundreds of people must have viewed this post and formed an opinion about the store and the brand in their minds. Who’s to blame? That one salesperson- who could have asked another staff member to assist the customer or could have answered the customer’s query for a minute before politely excusing himself to attend to the new customer.
This shows how important it is to have quick-thinking and proactive customer facing employees. A frontline employee must have the following traits:
- Good communication skills
- Active listener
- Problem solving attitude
- Able to accept criticism and negative feedback
Frontline workers represent your brand, and hence, improving their interpersonal and sales skills will only enhance your brand value. But frontline staff being a time-crunched bunch of employees, have to be trained in a way that doesn’t affect their job roles. The training should be presented and delivered such that the employees can work and learn at the same time.
In this blog, we will see how you can train your customer facing employees effectively.
1. eLearning Modules for Product and Process Training
This form of training is apt when you want your frontline staff to learn certain facts and specifications about your product. For example, a salesperson working in a mobile phone store needs to know all about the different smartphones of different brands. When customers ask them about a phone’s best features, they need to be quick in responding, otherwise, as seen in the earlier example, it could possibly hamper the customer experience. Similarly, the staff working in a perfume store must be knowledgeable about the strengths and notes of the fragrance. A knowledgeable salesperson exudes confidence and makes the customer confident enough to trust their suggestions.
Companies can create course modules with all the specifications of a product, present it in an easy-to-learn format through microlearning modules. This allows the employees to read and retain the information effectively. Since everyone today is a smart device user, it is also convenient for employers to deliver training to frontline staff on mobile phones and tablets.
2. Allow Them to Watch and Learn
You know how kids learn to mimic the adults around them? They see them do things and try to imitate their actions. This behavior is deeply ingrained in us, so put it to good use. Not all of your customer facing employees are experienced in dealing with customers on a daily basis. Some of them are probably in a customer facing job for the first time. When a customer enters the store, customer facing employees must engage with them to create a lasting impression. They also need to understand the kind of customer and proceed accordingly. Some buyers wouldn’t mind a bit of casual chat while some may not be interested in unnecessary interaction and just want to purchase and leave.
In this case, as part of the initial training program, you can make them observe the behavior and actions of other staff while they are dealing with customers- the way they greet and talk, their body language etc. Or better yet, the manager can give a real-time demo so that s/he can display what the right attitude and behavior towards customer should be like.
3. Online Simulation-Based and Real-Time Scenario-Based Training
Scenario-based training includes putting the employee in various situations and allowing them to deal with it in the best possible way. This can be done either through an online simulation or in real-time through role play. A frontline employee usually comes across different situations every single day. There could be an irate customer who’s not happy with the products offered, or there could be an altercation at the store. Scenario-based training helps the staff to be prepared for different situations that might arise in a store.
4. Use Videos to Deliver Skill-Based Training
If you provide the customer with a really good shopping experience, you can be guaranteed that they will come to your store again. Apart from all the necessary technical skills, employees should also have excellent soft skills. This is how long-term customer relations are built. A customer facing employee needs to have good communication skills and must be an active listener, they must also be good at positive questioning and verification techniques to ensure that they have understood the customer’s requirements correctly.
You can provide them with training videos of how a store employee is expected to behave. Videos are an effective form of learning, as it helps the viewer to remember and recollect the information efficiently. A video that demonstrates how the staff should behave in a given situation and otherwise can help them learn the tips and tricks to enhance the buyer’s journey.
How Can You Enhance Your Training Program Further?
- Use Case Studies – Case studies are basically events that have happened in the past. Talking about real-life examples makes the topic more believable. Take for example instances of aggressive customer behavior, where some angry customers end up hitting the employee. You could perhaps try to understand the reason behind the out lash to avoid such incidents in the future and discuss the appropriate procedures to be undertaken in case of such an event.
- Include Assessments – Including assessments in the online training modules will help the store managers to evaluate the employee’s performance and understanding. The assessment could also be real-time, where the manager observes the employee’s behavior while interacting with an actual customer.
- Feedback Form – Collecting customer feedback is also another form of assessment techniques. It gives you an idea of the effectiveness of the training program. If the customer rates the buying experience as very good, it means your training has been a success. But if the results show otherwise, then you need to put in more effort in training your staff.
- Add Interactivity – Your customer facing employees mostly belong to the current generation of smartphone users. Providing them with a plain old PowerPoint slide as training material won’t do much good. Use interactive features and multimedia elements to keep the learners engaged in the content. This will help them learn faster and retain the information more effectively.
So now you know how you can provide effective training to your frontline workers to improve their skills and ultimately enhance your sales. A happy shopper will recommend your store to others, while an unhappy one is sure to inform everyone about the unpleasant experience. So, make sure that the training you provide to your staff incorporates all the necessary elements like product training, soft skills training and scenario-based training, which are extremely importa;nt for an improved customer experience.