Investing in your sales associates makes no sense. Are you sure?
The retail world is at a crossroads. A choice needs to be made between instant fulfilment or Immersive Brand Experience. This is the result of twenty years relentless evolution in E commerce — refining the online experience and raising the expectations of shoppers the world over.
Along with this enormous decision, companies face the march of machine learning and automation that has finally reached the gates of retail — offering massive gains in efficiency and reducing costs compared to people power, while serving up ever more personalised and frictionless experiences for shoppers in stores.
All this adds another consideration to the ever present dilemma that is investing in people. Especially in retail, a field that has proportionally higher rates of staff churn compared to many other sectors.
What if we train them and they leave?
The classic CFO position is to avoid investing in uncertain events; in this case budget on training staff who may well leave before delivering a return on investment. Perfectly understandable on a spreadsheet right?
What if we don’t train them and they hang around?
But what about those focused on building a brand? What does committing the absolute minimum to people at the heart of customer experience say about that brand?
Keeping the right people
Zappos, a company whose stated goal was to make customer delight and employee satisfaction equally important, developed the head turning ”paid to quit” policy which Amazon later adopted. Stop for a second and consider what’s behind the headline? ‘The offer’ as it was known came at a point when an employee not only knew the standards expected by the company but crucially had been empowered through induction, support and training to meet the mark. In other words, given the tools and best opportunity to succeed at their job.
Yes, motivation to perform is crucial to the success of the workforce, but companies must lay out a path to success. Zappos’ offer wasn’t intended to find the best by weeding out the worst staff- based on an innate lack of ability to learn or perform. The offer created a way out for those that didn’t feel connected to the cause, once they’d got the tools and knew the job.
Put yourself in shoppers shoes for a moment
Intent on picking up that great new gizmo you’ve been checking out on line, you head for the mall or into town. You think you know what you want, in fact you are pretty sure, but it’s a big ticket item and you don’t want to buy a dud. Looking for a little buying support, you head into the shop and are confronted by an ill prepared sales associate who looks more like a customer than a product expert.
They offer you no advice and seem barely able to point you at the right areas in store to discover on your own. Why did you bother facing the traffic for this kind of experience? Isn’t this the reality of NOT investing in frontline sales associates?
Where do you go from here?
Giving your workforce the best chance to succeed and to delight customers who placed faith in your brand isn’t optional. Moreover, no one turns up for work wanting to do a bad job. So how long is an employee going to stick around before looking for something else? How much damage gets done before they eventually do move on?
Not investing, for fear of poor ROI is almost certain to end in poor experiences and dwindling sales. Equally, creating a high value academy programme and pouring big budget into every employee’s development isn’t sustainable or perhaps even appealing given the magic beans on offer in the form of A.I. But A.I. can’t replace storytellers in store, the people that build your brand equity one conversation at a time.
Technology is constantly making communication cheaper and more refined, the answer to finding an effective affordable employee learning solution lies in the very A.I. that is making people look expensive. Transform these order takers into Experience Makers through advanced learning and development tools.
Since we were founded, Myagi has been developing technology solutions to empower sales associates. We offer these front line employees access to the most appropriate training, at the right moment, right to the pocket of the individual through our app. The importance of the right training at the right moment is the key to success. Using machine learning algorithms and myriad data sources, we work to give the sales associates what they need to become masters of customer experience. What this mastery looks like is for your brand to decide, but what we do know is that empowered, engaged staff who feel invested in, stick around, do a good job and importantly build loyalty in your brand.
According to Richard Branson- that’s a recipe for success.
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”