Why It Is Essential to Have Face-to-Face Training in Retail

Customer experience is key – A phrase repeated over and over in the retail sector.

Training; an essential part of getting customer service right. There are a lot of ways that employees can be trained to become better at their job. At colleges, by internal training staff, distance learning, on the job training, group training days, mentors, online courses….the list goes on. The most important part is that all staff do get appropriate training. Training however is expensive.

In retail training is vital. When you walk in to a shop looking for something, you want to have an experience that is worthy of the product(s) you are buying. If you have questions, it is good if they are answered promptly, confidently and with clear facts. Training the staff properly will achieve this, and should lead to a happy customer.

Receiving bad experience means that a consumer may not return to that same store again, and potentially might also put friends off from using the company as well. A bad reputation can be a disaster to a retail store. Good training can prevent bad customer experiences.

One of the biggest problems in retail is the fact that products change on a regular basis, whether that is a new and updated version of a product such as a phone or television, a new range completely such as an item of clothing, a new supplier and as such a slight difference, a promotion that changes a packaging size or the price. What is clear is that there is constantly a vast amount of information that has to get from head office to the store staff to maintain their knowledge and therefore the level of customer service.

Retail also offers another big challenge. A disperse workforce. With shops located in various locations, from a few stores covering neighbouring towns, national coverage across all the major destination locations, to international stores run by franchisees. A logistical nightmare to organise training. Either staff must go to training centres, or training managers must visit all of the stores in order to have face-to-face training.

What does all of this equal? Changing products and a disperse workforce = Great training expense for retail companies. However, the cost of the information is vital and must be shared and learned to maintain good customer service.

Why is face-to-face training so important? Why not have online courses or audio training?

Face-to-face learning allows a dynamic relationship to be formed between trainer and employee, as well as between all of the employees. These relationships allow those learning to improve on the understanding through body language, such as tone, gestures and mannerisms. Face-to-face communication allows people to feel the training rather than just hear it.

Over distance where there is no face-to-face involved there is a level of anonymity which can prevent the bond forming between employee and trainer. Information can easily become misinterpreted or simply not understood. Employees can switch off, or even get other people to complete the task on their behalf; all of which will be negative to customer service. The course can become primarily a reading session where no added value is gained at all.

Video conferencing: A solution that speeds up the way of getting the information from the head office to the entire company, without removing the need for face-to-face training. It has been proven to deliver far better results than distance learning, and is more time and cost effective than training centres or staff visiting every store.

Video conferencing, can be held through a multiple number of devices. Stores are very unlikely to have room for a traditional meeting room, but may well have a computer, laptop or tablet. All of these can be connected securely to a training session from multiple locations, as well as smartphones. This means that employees from all stores could be connected at once, saving on travelling time and improving the overall store collaboration.

With video conferencing the training is held face-to-face, and collaboration through things like online tests, polls and visuals can also be shared, creating a completely realistic training environment and making sure that all staff fully understand the training material and can ask questions if required. 

Designed to be easy to operate and use, the millennial generation and those born in the twenty first century find video conferencing natural as it is similar to their everyday activities. In this sense video conferencing provides a win-win situation for retail companies, but it also provides many more benefits…

There is a lot more on this topic in our white paper - Seven Benefits to using Video Conferencing in Retail