Retailers are under pressure.

Competition (both home grown and International), lightning fast technological change and the subdued economy mean Retailers are working harder than ever to win and retain customers. Those succeeding in this environment are making exceptional customer experiences a priority.

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How to Delight Customers – A Case Study

Zappos – Delivering Happiness

The key to winning customer loyalty in today’s Retail environment is making your customers happy. Zappos is a leading example of how putting your customers first can help your business grow.

An online shoe retailer, Zappos is known for their culture of creating customer happiness. They achieve this by empowering employees through core values that form the heart of their business. Here are a few of their values:

  • Deliver WOW through service

  • Build open and honest relationships with communication

  • Be passionate and determined

So do these values work? In a 10-year period, Zappos grew from $1.6 million to $1.64 billion (and was acquired by Amazon).

“We are a service company who just happens to sell shoes” – Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos

Their focus on service and both customer and employee satisfaction holds important lessons for all Retailers.

Front-line staff are the architects of delightful customer experiences

Because retail businesses connect with customers through the faces of their front-line staff, these employees need the skills and attitudes to deliver happy customers.

When it comes to empowering retail employees with the skills they require, learning managers need to get three areas right:

  1. Training: employees need training in the specific skills to help them perform effectively in their role (building rapport, upselling, complaint handling, etc.). Research now recognises that most learning happens informally and socially, so training managers should think beyond the LMS.

  1. Skills measurement: while formal inductions and classroom learning are great, they don’t always translate into on-the-job performance. Retailers have got to measure staff skills where are needed most: in the busy retail environment.

  1. Continual improvement: in order for employees to keep improving, skills gaps need to be identified and corrected. Regular and accurate on-the-job skills measurement provides the data to form team benchmarks. With benchmarks in place, appropriate coaching can be assigned to tackle skills gaps.

The model for feedback-based continual skill improvement

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Real learning occurs in-the-field. Once in the busy retail environment, employees will take cues from co-workers and guidance from managers on how to perform their job correctly.

They may, or may not pick up the vital nuances of the role. And without testing skills while on-the-job, learning managers have no way of understanding how well their teams are performing (or could be performing).

Sure, it’s possible to get an overall picture of team performance through high-level business data (sales figures, customer satisfaction rates, etc.). But this won’t tell you why it is happening, or how to improve it:

  • You won’t see that Charlotte in Sales has only successfully handled customer objections 20% of the time

  • You couldn’t know that the team in the Sydney branch offer up-sell suggestions 75% less often than the company benchmark

  • You wouldn’t learn that Bob in Customer Support took on average 2.5x longer to resolve support cases than his peers

Capturing in-the-field evidence of performance is the bedrock for up-skilling employees. Once you have an understanding of the performance of key skills, you can easily assign coaching in the areas that need to improve most.

By mapping out a training program for retail staff that includes continuous skills measure and development, you ensure employees have the opportunities to develop the skills they need to delight your customers and keep them coming back.

At TES, we’re working on technology that helps manage, measure and coach customer-facing staff. To learn more about how technology can help your training program, download our white paper today:

Next-Gen Retail Training: How technology will evolve customer facing employee performance. 

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