Whether it be a sale or just introducing a new product, the frontline staff in retail are the first to interact with the customer. The image of a company or service is created based on how well-trained the team is and how sensitive they are to the customer’s queries.
Who are Your Frontline Staff
While there is no formal definition of frontline workers in retail, they can be the traditional cashiers, salespeople, e-commerce sales agents, customer service on the phone, delivery agents in the new retail ecosystem.
Key Skills For Your Frontline Staff
To this effect, your frontline workforce must be adept at various skills required in the customer interaction arena.
Communication and Adaptability of Customers
Both of these skills go hand-in-hand. Interacting with customers of various backgrounds continuously, understanding their motivation and aspiration in just a quick conversation is an art.
While communicating the brand’s message is essential, it has to be done organically. 90% of high-end luxury brands prefer customer service representatives with excellent interpersonal skills.
It is also important to gauge the customer’s aspiration, budget, and motive in the initial few seconds to guide them and keep them engaged.
Communication should be done in the language preferred by the customer. For example, when a non-English speaking customer walks into a luxury brand’s store, s/he should be made to feel comfortable. If the staff is fluent in multiple languages, especially the local language and English, it can help gain new customers who are otherwise wary of interacting with the store.
An important aspect of this is the issue of profiling or discriminatory behavior practiced by a few people. A survey of African Americans shows –
- 80 percent reported feeling racial stigma and stereotypes when shopping;
- 59 percent reported being perceived as a shoplifter;
- 52 percent said they received inadequate or no service;
- 52 percent reported being perceived as inferior.
Such perceptions and stereotypes need to be stopped at the frontline level not to affect a brand’s standing. The ability to adapt according to the customers’ needs is a sure-shot way to achieve this.
Product and Company Knowledge
While people can browse products themselves, only a knowledgeable and invested frontline staff can guide them to the right product. All this is impossible without the team having a deep and keen understanding of the target segment, branding, various products, and uses.
The good news is that this can be taught to the frontline staff by training them with the help of specially designed learning experiences.
It is interesting to note that the American Customer Satisfaction Index score for online retailers is higher for retailers like Amazon by 11 points when compared with the physical department stores. This proves that there is something the frontline staff is missing. Online retailers have a ready catalog of various attributes, and the offer on sale is pre-decided and exact. These reasons make the offer more stable and credible when compared to store staff interaction which might be misinformed.
Empathy and Patience
A survey found that 13% of the customers with a dissatisfied experience share it with 15 more potential customers. But 72% of satisfied customers share the positive experience with only six or more potential customers. Empathy and patience are a big part of the overall customer experience, and people share their experiences not just in person but also on social media. Patience is the key to getting to know your customer, and empathy can get you there swiftly.
Most customers cannot articulate their exact needs, and being a “listener” is the secret sauce for success.
Consultative Selling and Persuasiveness
There is no replacement for persistence. While it is important not to become an irritant, effective persistence will help the frontline staff understand the customer’s requirements. The focus is not on selling the product but on solving the customer’s problems.
Customer demands and methods can vary. Sometimes the problems challenge the entire operational stream from payments to credits to returns. The frontline staff has to be trained and adept enough to navigate various departments to solve customer complaints or give a satisfactory response. The idea is to solve the customers’ problems quickly.
Advantages of a Loyal and Skilled Frontline Staff to a Brand
An early career in the retail frontline can serve as a bedrock for most employees. With proper conditioning and appropriate hand-holding, they will choose to stick and grow with the organization.
For a retail brand, having employee loyalty can be one of the most significant assets. Employees need to understand the ethos of your brand to attract customers and convey the brand message appropriately. Most frontline employees would join as young hustlers, and if given the opportunity at the right time, they can grow with the brand and become ambassadors in their local communities.
The skilled frontline staff directly affects the topline growth of a company. Despite the phenomenal growth of e-commerce, 68% of customers said it was vital for them to be engaged by frontline staff in a survey. This shows how important it is to train your frontline staff with utmost care.
An e-commerce frontline staff needs a higher technical skill degree, but the window for persuasion is also limited. In comparison, a brick-and-mortar frontline person needs to be on the lookout for physical signals, like- body language.
Thus, the retail frontline staff is THE most pivotal cog in the wheel of your retail strategy. So give them the proper training and learning opportunities—an advanced tool like Disprz. Request for a free demo to find out how this skill and acceleration suite can help your employee.