Take the pain out of training seasonal staff

Anne Taylor
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The customers that pack your stores during the festive period don't know – or care – whether a member of staff is seasonal or permanent. They just know that the employee represents your business. And that means, as well as compelling product range and product availability, customers expect prompt answers to any queries they have and friendly employees able to help them find everything they need. So how do you ensure that these expectations are met?

The festive season brings huge challenges for retailers, beginning long before the Christmas lights are switched on. It's an insanely busy period – fingers crossed – which means everyone needs to be at the top of their game, including your seasonal employees.

But training seasonal employees can be a headache. It takes time and effort – and often falls to the store manager, who is already very busy. The post-Christmas sale will be exacerbated this year by the fact Boxing Day falls on a Sunday, with the shorter trading hours creating a more concentrated rush of shoppers. Then there's the increase in VAT by 2.5 percent from 4 January which may also encourage savvy shoppers to get in early.

So how do you get people up and running quickly, dealing confidently with customers from day one and making a positive impact on your business over the festive period?

Fresh, unique, learning with a twist
Using innovative solutions that overcome the numerous problems associated with training and communicating with retail staff. This will help take the seasonal training headache away, ensuring consistency across your stores, and removing significant cost from your business while empowering staff and improving customer service.

Empowering your staff by providing a simple yet dynamic reference and support system by putting everything a cashier or sales associate needs to know at their fingertips. This means every cashier and any associate who deals with customers know exactly where to go to get the information they need.

You'll get your staff very quickly up to speed with till training, product information, policies and procedures, marketing initiatives, messages from head office, context sensitive help – because it's all there at a touch of a button.

The technology that will help retailers ensure their staff are able to meet customers’ expectations behind this can include:

Smart Boards
Personalising daily messaging, key policy and process information, customer information or general day-to-day communications, keeps all your staff informed.

Dynamic Product Viewer
This quickly and simply empowers your staff with key information on products, price, hot picks of the week and key selling points. You can even print out fact sheets for your customers.

Clever Content Control
This will help you create, manage and update your own content without needing any deep technical skills.

What's New, What's Updated
A clever widget showing people what's new, what's been updated and what's relevant to them as soon as they log on. You can track to see who's read what and what people are keen on reading.

Support Made Simple
Improving the interaction between your site, store staff and support desk with rapid key operational problem solving can help reduce operational support calls.

Dynamic point of sale (POS) reference
Having a fresh approach to housing compulsory reference material, so it can be instantly viewed, updated and created as required is always welcomed.

Although you should have excellent communication practices in place all year round it is never more critical than the festive season. Customers move through stores faster, want more attention paid to their issues and need things resolved on the spot. High calibre, well-trained staff can be the difference between making a sale or not.

Sally-Anne Taylor is Head of Learning at BT Expedite


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