Training New Hires – Part 2

The last couple of blog posts have focused on getting new hires, particularly holiday staff, “customer ready”.  Here are the last of the tips I have to help you be ready for the start of the holiday shopping season.

Often our teams fail us because we have not been clear in our expectations.  Our newest members may have little or no previous work experience so simply using phrases like “great customer service” may not have the same meaning to them that it has to our customers.

Helping customers is EVERYONE’s top priority. We give tasks to staff from preparing reports to stocking shelves. Each time you assign a task, be sure you start and end with the reminder that we are here to serve the customer, but in between customers please do this.

This simple statement and ongoing reminder will keep everyone focused on the customer rather than seeing customers as impediments to getting a task completed.

Lead by example but make sure everyone is watching and listening. As you train new team members, let them watch you. Be sure to they know that after each transaction, you will both ask questions and answer questions regarding what took place and how it was handled. Too often I’ve seen the new person tuned out and then later, when asked “Do you know why I did this or that?” they look bewildered and say “I wasn’t paying attention” or ” I was doing something else”.

If you see a customer with hands full, quietly suggest your new hire go offer to put something at the counter for them, start a fitting room or provide a shopping basket.

Once they do, be sure to remind them to always be on the lookout for those opportunities to make the experience with you a more positive one as they just did.

So often I’ve asked floor staff for a hand or a basket and more often than not, they tell me where to find a basket rather than getting me one.

Is that YOUR idea of great customer service? It’s not mine!

I’m not trying to imply new hires are stupid or inattentive. I believe everyone comes to work wanting to do a good job. However, even an experienced worker may not know your service standard. It is up to us to assume nothing and be very specific on how we want each of our customers treated.

Today’s consumers are very wary, frightened by the economic climate. They are looking for any excuse to hang onto their hard earned money – we have to work twice as hard to prove to them that spending with us is worthwhile.


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