Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Employees – your first brand ambassadors

Recently I read an article about the 5 fastest ways to turn offyour customer and they were all related to the experience (or lack there of) provided by the employees.  This is an interesting concept since having physical sales people is one way to differentiate a brick and mortar retailer from its online counterparts (see Tuesday's post). Just for fun, how many of the 5 ways apply to your store?

  1. Employee Chatter 
We’ve all been privy to the date that so and so had last weekend or current drama in someone’s life but when serving a customer, this is clearly not what they want.  They have their own drama and are coming to you to forget about it.  Let them and make sure your staff is on board.
  1. Phone etiquette
Although answering the phone is not a huge priority for a small retailer.  Make sure a few things happen.  1. Train your staff about answering the phone.  Tell them everything from exactly what to say:  Thank you for calling (insert store name here).  This is (insert name here) how may I help you? 2.  Make sure the message on the machine addresses a. why you can’t answer the phone and b. basic details they might be calling about such as hours, location, and basic directions.
  1. Mobile ADD
100% of the time – no phones allowed on the sales floor – period!  No exceptions!
  1. Inconsistencies
There is nothing worse then inconsistent service.  Make sure that your employees know the right ways to handle both everyday situations as well as the sticky ones.  Roll play during weekly staff meetings is a great way to address any issues that have come up as well as a practical way to inform the staff about how they should handle certain things.
  1. Greeter
Somebody must say hello when a customer walks in the door.  If Walmart can do it, anybody can.

How did your store fare?  Do you know for sure?  Try calling the store and see what happens – just for fun!

Its one thing to know what rules to make but the more difficult side is how to train your employee to go from just that to a brand ambassador.

Achieve Results.  Empowerment, training, and goals go a far way.  If an employee owns a project or at the very least feels as though their work and ideas lead to the ultimate success of a project, they are more likely to jump in and foster the results that you as a business owner wants.  While there is a lot written about goal setting and how to actually achieve results, I like the SMARTE goal setting method:
            S= Specific.  Goals need to be clearly stated 1-2 sentences
M= Measureable.  A goal is measureable if a specific outcome is to be achieved.  The more quantified a goal, the more measurable the outcome will be.
A= Acceptable.  Goals must meet the criteria of what your store or brand values.  If the goal is not inline with these things, it’s not worth having.
            R= Realistic.  A goal must be attainable even if it’s a stretch.
E= Extending.  It should be realistic but difficult to achieve.  A goal should be stretching a person’s capabilities.
            *=Within an appropriate timeframe.  There always needs to be a deadline.

Maximize Performance.  Make sure the reward is worthy of the effort you desire your employees to put forth.

Recognition.  Make sure that the effort an employee is displaying is being rewarded and noted along the way.  This goes a long way and is extremely powerful.

Enliven Energy.  If a customer wishes to spend time in your store, that is a good thing.  If your employee wants to spend time there, it is a great thing.

Leverage Strengths.  Sometimes what you the boss wants someone to be good at and what they are actually good at don’t mix.

Make meaning.  People are employees and as people we all want to be part of something special.  Be open and honest with your team about sales goals and certain accomplishments that you are striving for and include them on the brainstorm.  If they feel part of a whole, they will put forth their best effort.

Enhance well-being.  Make sure that all aspects of a toxic work place are dealt with.  Sometimes this may be an employee, a customer, or a vendor but whatever it is, don’t be afraid to take action and let your employee’s know that you have their back.

It’s important to take some time and have some goals.  That’s the only way to improve on last year’s sales and to figure out exactly how that will happen.

Good luck!

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