Every retailer knows that each staffer represents the company to the customer in any given interaction. One negative experience can wipe out ten positive ones in a heartbeat. Employee training programs are essential to teaching and reinforcing organizational policies and strategies.
To ensure good customer relationships, start by hiring salespeople who either “get it” or are willing to learn. A salesperson needs to:
- Be open to selling strategies
- Understand the role they play between the organization and the customer
- Be willing to identify methods for improving their own customer service capabilities
- Provide a good representation of the company and its values
Whether you provide training in-house or hire outside consultants, training curricula should be a mix of:
- The organization's business policies and practices
- Personnel development
- Customer service
- Selling strategies
- Handling objections
- Closing the deal
Video/audio instruction, flow charts, computer screenshots, roleplaying, and up-to-date instructional manuals are some ways to ensure the best performance.
Elements of Effective Training Manuals
A detailed employee training manual sets corporate standards, brings new hires up to speed more quickly and increases overall efficiency and professionalism. Well-defined employee policies can settle disputes before they start and protect both you and your staff from mixed signals and the potential for litigation.
A retailer's policy manual and training protocols should address:
- Clearly defined corporate dress codes. After all, this is where that critical first impression comes into play. A highly trained and well-groomed professional naturally will win the respect of valued customers.
- Body language and attitude. These elements send intrinsic signals to the customer. The expression, "It's not what we say, but what we do," comes into play through unspoken feedback. The indifference of a slouch or the confidence of direct eye contact influences customer perceptions. Employees become aware of their own habits through training, customer feedback, and mystery shopper reports. A holistic view of employee performance should include visual, spoken, and unspoken criteria.
- Systemized selling practices. These protocols incorporate the vision, values, ethics, and goals of the organization with the practical selling applications defined in the process manuals, organizational flow charts, and job descriptions. Conveying your message to the sales staff must be reinforced in simple to understand, detailed benchmarks until they demonstrate proficiency.