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Are your staff ‘killing it’, or killing your business?

point of sale, pos, eftpos, shopping, retailOne of the most important components of any successful retail business is its frontline staff.

Most businesses would agree that finding and retaining great staff is an ongoing hurdle. While keeping them productive, well-trained and trusting that they will deliver is another challenge – with many businesses finding that when management are out of sight, customer service drops.

The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer Report in 2014 found that 60 per cent of customers had abandoned a purchase in-store due to poor customer service experience. A happy customer will spend a whopping 35 per cent (on average) more than those who are disappointed.

Andy Pope, director at Pope & Co Consulting, thinks there are a few simple ways to ensure the best possible customer experience.

Tracking staff productivity and performance

Employees aren’t usually unproductive intentionally, however the fact it leads to loss of profits is a real issue. The root cause can result from a lack of focus and engagement, career stagnation or just because they know they can get away with it.

Monitoring customer experience in real time so management can respond quickly to customer service issues – whether that’s increasing staffing at busy periods, or finding that customer satisfaction falls when managers are not on duty – you can keep quality levels high by using this retail technology.

In fact data collected by point-of purchase company TruRating has found that in general customers are least happy with their experience on Sundays, which is unfortunate as they’re also more likely to spend more then too. Therefore, to reap the rewards, businesses should look to improve their Sunday operations.

Another way of tracking performance is an automated time and attendance tracking system, such as ConnectTeam and Kronos, which can help to more accurately predict staffing needs and flag any employees who are frequently tardy or call in sick.

Tracking your staff turnover is also a marker of how well your business is doing. If turnover is high you may have some deeper operational issues to work on.

Live your brand

Firstly, a top down approach can be one of the most long-lasting ways to ensure staff are motivated.

Does the senior team have clear goals and objectives in place for the business as a whole, and have these been communicated to the staff? When staff feel like they’re part of something bigger, it can help keep the whole business on track. Especially when data from some of the tools listed above come in as helpful measurements of progress towards goals.

Also, why not ask staff what they like and don’t like with a suggestion box or survey, you may be surprised at the results.

Using data to improve customer experience

Once you have the data in hand, it’s time to utilise it to improve your staffing problems. One way to improve staff performance is to offer training. By analysing your data to see what aspects of your business need work, you can minimise training costs whilst making the most effective use of time and energy. If you find that your customer service levels are lower than other aspects of your business or the benchmark for Australia overall, then offering your staff a refresher course on basic sales techniques or product features and benefits could help improve performance.

If you’re finding that many people are taking sick days and the number of sales are falling, it might be an indicator of low overall morale. There are many ways you can look to build morale in staff, from a simple survey to show you’re listening to their feedback, to giving them first dibs on trying new products or running a team building session.

Incentives that reap rewards for staff and your business

An incentives program can also work wonders for encouraging work productivity. Your job descriptions should include roles and responsibilities with clear career progression as standard, and don’t forget a six-month or yearly review to make sure you’re both on track. An employee reward strategy, hinging off a leaderboard or other gamification tactic, which includes Christmas or performance based bonuses, will help staff feel more valued and dedicated to perform their roles with pride. Plus, you’ll have the prize of returning customers and larger basket sizes.

While it’s true that staff can make or break a business, by utilising your data and offering appropriate training and employee management systems, staff can be your biggest asset and help your business absolutely ‘kill it’ rather than have them end up killing your business.

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