It’s that time of year again. Malls are filling up with shoppers (and yes,most people still do shop in stores), and those retailers are stocking up on both inventory and staff to make sure they can handle the masses. But all too often, the most important ingredient of retail success is pushed to the side during the chaos of the holiday months. Who’s thinking about the customer experience when there are staff to hire and shelves to stock?
Happy Holidays, Unhappy Customers
Seasonal hires are one of retail’s secret weapons to deal with the spike in demand around the holidays. However, customer’s expectations don’t take holidays. Incredible customer experiences are a byproduct of many factors, but the last mile (and the most memorable part of the customer journey) is usually an educated, helpful store employee.
The best retailers in the world invest in their team because they see the measurable positive ROI that comes from it. Studies have shown that when an employee receives any training at all, they’ll sell on average46% more than an employee that doesn’t receive any.
Not investing in training temporary talent means not investing in your customer’s experience.
Some retailers reason differently. “If these seasonal hires are only here for a few weeks, I’m not going to invest in training! That training is going to walk out the door the day after New Years!” They see investment into temporary talent as wasted resources.
There has been some logic to that up until recently. Training has historically been a major investment of time and resources, involving not only the new hire’s time, but also that of the trainer- usually a manager whose time is probably better used serving customers.
So when time comes for retailers to add new employees for these busiest times of year, they tended to give the bare minimum in terms of training. Beyond lacking knowledge on how to deliver that unique store experience, these seasonal hires also likely missed any product knowledge sessions that happened too. More often than not, the end result was a sub-par experience, frustrated customers, and ultimately lower sales.
Not investing in training temporary talent means not investing in your customer’s experience. At the time of year when the most people walk in the door, a retailer consciously offering up a less-than-stellar staff is just asking customers to never walk through those doors again.
Incredible retail customer experiences are no accident. They’re the result of great strategy and execution built to specifically deliver that experience.
When it happens, customers notice. Every shopper remembers a time when they had a great experience, and another time when they had an awful one. Unfortunately, these days, bad experiences can be amplified far beyond the walls of your store. Not only will unsatisfied customers likely never return, they’ll probably tell all their friends about it too. And they might even post about it on Facebook, Google, or Yelp.
One bad customer experience can now mean thousands of people hearing about it. Investing in retail training for seasonal workers can not only protect your reputation after the rush is over, but it can also help foster the kind of delight people tell their friends about. Maybe they’ll even go out of their way to write a shining review.
But even if they don’t do that, remember-they’ll come back and shop with you again.
There’s a saying we love that goes “The best retail tech is short lines and an educated sales associate.” The lineups may be out of your control during the holidays, but a little investment in customer interaction with store employees is a great one.