When DougMcMillon became CEO of Wal-Mart in 2014, he faced a serious problem: the retail chain -which has more than 11,000 stores in 27 countries- was seeing a continual drop in sales in stores. To build better customer service, McMillon made a billion-dollar investment to make changes to the compensation and training of each store’s employees.
“We are moving beyond just selling products to being the brand customers rely on to make their lives simpler and more meaningful as they save money”, explains McMillon. “We’ve made big changes – including investing approximately $ 2.7 billion over two years in higher wages, education, and training to make Walmart U.S. a better place to work and shop”.
With this investment, Wal-Mart significantly improved customer service in all of its stores and, consequently, increased total sales in the coming years.
The Wal-Mart case demonstrates how important it is for a retail chain to offer a good service to the customer in their different stores. The mantra “Customer is King” is a glaring truth. In fact, a study (see left) conducted by Medallia Analysis confirms that a successful customer experience leads to increased sales in retail chains. A happy customer spends more money on their orders, visits the store more frequently and speaks more positively about the chain to others, which generates potential new clients.
On the flip side, an AmericanExpress study indicates that 95% of consumers talk about poor customer service experiences with other people; definitely not something you want for your retail business. To achieve these results, you must properly train the staff of the different stores that make up your retail chain. But how do you make sure that employees in each store have the right knowledge to offer the best customer service possible? Don’t worry – you don’t need to make a billion dollar investment like Wal-mart to ensure that your customer service teams are expert, empathetic and committed.
With the new cloud-based software programs, remote training process is becoming more economical, accessible and intuitive. These tools allow you to create initial and ongoing training content and distribute it to different stores – as well as assessments to monitor employee knowledge and performance. GoConqr simplifies the creation and exchange of learning material for retail companies to effectively train field staff remotely so they can catch up faster, allowing them to spend more time on the sales process.
So how to build better customer service? We’ve identified which three key points should form the basis of your customer service training.
3 Keys to Build Better Customer Service Effectively
1. Total Product Knowledge
With multiple communication channels across networks, customers are becoming more informed about product details and specifications before talking your store staff. It’s no longer enough for staff to have a basic knowledge of each product – now they have to become experts in the field to solve more technical and specific customer queries.
The employees of each store are the visible face and ambassadors of the brand of the retail company, so they should be able to resolve any questions about the products they sell. Some of the world’s top retailers, such as technology giant Apple, focus on building knowledge of their sales staff on a continuous basis so they know all about the latest products and are able to explain their benefits.
It’s the best way to maximize the time that is spoken with customers, who are becoming more impatient when making purchases. According to StatisticBrain, the average customer’s attention to the employee’s explanations of a store lasts 8.25 seconds… So employees must have enough product knowledge to be able to be concise and find appropriate solutions in a little time frame. They can’t afford to confuse their customers with huge product ranges, complex support procedures or abstract recommendations – they should go straight to the point.
2. Good Manners and Frankness in the Deal
Being polite makes a difference in customer service. It may seem obvious, but you’ve probably had a bad experience on more than one occasion. According to data from an Oraclem research, unhelpful or unfriendly staff were listed almost universally as the primary cause of poor service, outweighing other factors including poor fulfillment, lack of choice and inefficient returns processes.
Dr. Sean Guillory, a data scientist at ConsumerAffairs for Brands, explains that employees should be trained “to sell by considering what’s in the best interest of the customer – not what’s in the best interest of the store. If your salespeople think this way, they’ll be able to sell your customers items that actually add value to the customer’s life”.
A retail chain should encourage its employees to be active listeners and tactfully honest with customers, and release positive energy with their new acquisitions. It’s refreshing to experience a staff member paying attention to us and offering genuine advice to help us – and this attitude generates confidence and long-term loyalty to the company. In addition, this will make customers share their positive experience with other people, which benefits the image of the brand.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, asks thousands of company managers -including himself- to conduct annual training courses on Amazon’s philosophy of listening and understanding the customers’ needs to enrich their experience. With the recent opening of physical locations around the world, Bezos has made it a top priority to create an attentive, helpful and personalized customer service culture through employees training and development – regardless of the rank or hierarchy, they have in the company.
3. Master In-Store Procedures
The daily procedures in a store comprise a series of often banal and routine tasks, but which staff members must be able to perform in order to make the sales operations efficient and without delays.
Have you ever gone to store staff to ask a question and the response that it’s not their work? Don’t allow this to happen in your retail chain. You must offer a training plan that teaches employees how the different parts of the store work so that they know all the procedures and have a better global understanding of the influence of each task. From prices to security procedures, cash management and order handling, the more knowledge your staff possesses, the better the overall customer experience will be.
Apart from these basic processes, you can also encourage additional behaviors that enrich the customer experience and reinforce the brand image of your retail company,
• Interacting with customers in queues: long queues provoke weariness and fatigue among customers. One way to remedy this impediment is to train each member of staff so that, when they pass near a queue, they interact with the clients asking if they have any queries and guaranteeing that they will be attended to shortly.
• Ask for online customer testimonials: it costs nothing to ask (satisfied) customers to leave a comment on the retail company website or social networks about the shopping experience. If each employee performs this action, the number of positive comments on the network will increase. According to Invescpro, 88% of consumers rely on online comments as well as personal recommendations.
Well-informed, trained and educated employees have greater satisfaction and confidence in their work, which translates into a more pleasant, professional and complete customer treatment. At GoConqr, we make it easy for retail businesses managers to create and distribute attractive learning content for the different stores in the chain. If you have any questions about how to build better customer service or are interested in some of the tools we have mentioned, do not hesitate to contact our team.