Training for front-line staff is a vitally important part of delivering the brand
- To deliver a consistent and memorable experience, every member of the team must understand exactly what they need to do and how they need to do it
- Supporting training is vital to build the key knowledge and skills required – including customer handling skills and awareness of the brand message and customers’ requirements
- But it’s not enough just to tell staff about the brand and how they are expected to behave; to embed the brand into day-to-day working, all people processes, including recruitment, performance management and reward must reinforce the brand behaviours
But – these tactics need to focus on the negative as well as the positive. They should equip front-line staff with an understanding of customers’ negative feelings about the sector (or the specific brand) and give them the skills they need to tackle these negative perceptions.
- A major motor retailer found that many customers loved their cars, but hated the way that they were sold. They embarked upon a major change programme, aimed at defending their brand by helping their staff to deliver a customer experience which:
- Promoted an ‘open and transparent’ approach – for example by making it clear how the price for a car was calculated
- Was female-friendly – and avoided an overly macho ‘boys club’ environment where women felt uncomfortable or ignored
- Focused on building customer loyalty rather than an ‘Arthur Daley’ approach – making a sale at the expense of a long term relationship
In this way the company protected their brand by making sure that their customer experience did not undermine the ethos and reputation of their product.
- A mobile phone retailer talked to their customers and discovered that many viewed their stores as places where they were stressed, confused and ‘ripped off’. This presented a major threat to their brand reputation. They launched a programme of communication and training aimed at changing their customers’ perception of their stores by:
- Helping store staff to understand how they were viewed by customers and the need to deliver improved levels of customer satisfaction and advocacy
- Using an innovative new technique (cdai), based on language patterns, to help store staff to understand and utilize individual customers’ preferences for understanding complex technologies and pricing tariffs – and so improve the communication of complex information
- Reinforcing the new store behaviours through their Mystery Shopper measures of customer satisfaction, which formed a key element in store reward packages
The programme delivered a real shift in the customer experience, which also resulted in improved retail sales and profitability.
So – it’s not just about training around the positive aspects of the customer experience. By tackling negative perceptions, which represent a real threat to the brand’s reputation, it’s possible to achieve a radically enhanced and distinctive customer experience.
Click here to find out more about how to deliver an outstanding customer experience.