October 15, 2017

4 Steps to Creating Effective Retail Training

Providing well-structured and high-quality training to your retail staff can pay off big. Great training on the front-line creates huge benefits across the board, like better brand engagement, a more engaged front-line staff, higher customer conversion rates, and lower employee turnover.

But how exactly do you deliver training effectively and efficiently to your front-line staff, ensuring they get the most out of their valuable training hours? We’ve thought through all of these questions and a few others, so to get a kickstart on building your own great training program follow our simple four-part plan below.

But you can’t quit there. To determine the actual true cost, you need to first figure out what benefits the training brings to your organization. So the full equation would look something like this:

Step 1 - Follow the I-E-S-T Formula for Training

Keep learners engaged by breaking training down into small, digestible chunks. Try dividing each training module or subject matter into four parts:

Introduce - Tell them what you are going to tell them
Elaborate - Tell them
Summarize - Tell them what you told them
Test - See if they remember anything you told them

This may be giving you flashbacks to ninth grade English class, but there is a reason this structure is tried-and-true. Breaking the concepts down into easy to understand segments reinforces key points and learnings throughout the training module. The repetition may seem like overkill, but there’s a reason speeches and essays follow the same structure- it puts everyone on the same page and makes it easy to understand and recall important information.

And when we say ‘Test’, we don’t mean a end of semester final that will make your team members break out into a cold sweat! We just mean simple exercises on what they just learned to see if they are understanding the key points. A good way to approach testing is through role-playing scenarios or informal Q&A’s. You don’t want your staff to feel like they’re back in the classroom; you want them to feel like they are a valuable team member learning how to better fit into your organization’s culture.

Step 2 - Keep it Consistent

Attempting to deliver all of your training to your front-line employees in one day-long session isn’t doing anyone any favours- you or your staff included. Your staff will be bored and get overloaded with information — they’ll end up retaining little, if any, of the training information. You’ll feel like you’re wasting time and money on training and not seeing any results. Not to mention the fact that there is no way to measure how successful (or unsuccessful) the training actually is.

Consistent bursts of training spread out over longer periods of time is a better way of ensuring everyone in your organization is up to snuff and always ready to deliver a great customer experience. Offering training in small, workable, and regular portions give your training budget far more milage and gives staff time to process and absorb all the information. Not only that, but it allows brands to reiterate brand messaging and culture in a more uniform way.

Step 3 - Get Solid Feedback and Make Training Accountable

Understanding the efficacy of your training is essential not only to justify the resources you dedicate to it, but also to optimize it to help you in your business goals. Gaining insight into areas where some employees may be struggling offers valuable opportunities to support and improve their performance and job satisfaction.

On the flip side, employees that are hitting it out of the park may feel disaffected and disengaged if their efforts are going unnoticed. A little kudos goes a long way to keeping your front-line team happy. So invest in a training program that lets you track KPIs in real-time, so you can encourage and correct employees that need extra support, or reward and acknowledge those that are doing a great job.

You also have to make sure to build accountability into your training programs. Training that is measurable is training that you can improve over time. By reporting on your training activities, you’ll also gain insight into your staff’s baseline levels of product knowledge, policies and procedures. Being able to report on the effectiveness of your training also lets you track your short- and long-term performance, especially if you can drill down store-by-store.

Step 4 - Keep it Fun!

Last, but in no way least, is keep it fun! You want your employees to stick with the training program and stay engaged with your brand, so make sure it’s fun. Employ a mix of different learning methods and tools (like videos and interactive activities) to keep things interesting and ensure you are meeting your staff’s different learning styles. Gamify the process and have rewards for completing training and meeting learning objectives. Ensure you are still delivering your core training materials in the right ways, but make it an enjoyable experience. Don't be afraid to throw a joke in here and there- your team will appreciate the effort and retain more of what you are teaching them.
Follow these four steps to effective employee training and watch as your staff starts to deliver amazing customer experiences!

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