Having spent years training in the retail industry, much of my work has involved developing sales and customer service standards and techniques to help retail salespeople provide customers with a positive shopping experience, as well as increasing sales for the business.
As with any procedure, selling steps are generally developed for use in best case scenarios, when customer traffic is consistent but at a level in which allows a salesperson to follow each step, executing standards or techniques by the book.
During the Christmas period, trade takes on a completely different pattern. Stores that are usually quiet become hectic with people lining up to be served. Even though staff have a much reduced time frame to provide a high level of service, customers still want and deserve a quality experience.
Retail staff almost need two different sales and customer service training programs. One which upskills them in the complete sales and customer service process, providing tools they can apply throughout a majority of the year. There also needs to be a version covering how to adapt those skills, in order to obtain positive outcomes in high traffic and high pressure periods.
This includes how a salesperson would greet and approach customers when it is quiet in store, as opposed to when it is busy. This is because, customers tend to be more resistant to assistance from a salesperson when they are only one of a few customers in a store. When it’s busy however, they are often eager for assistance, wanting it in a timely yet polite manner.
It’s not only the initial greeting where salespeople need to adjust but also how they build rapport, establish value in merchandise and ensure the customer has the complete solution. Salespeople must be able to adapt in these areas, to continue to be successful in different conditions than they work in during the rest of the year.
The Christmas trade period often attracts new customers to a business, where they find themselves serving customers they wouldn’t normally encounter. This is the perfect opportunity to ensure these new customers are provided with a great experience, encouraging them to return during quieter times. It is therefore vital that salespeople not only ensure all customers are being served but being served well during this time.
This period is the busiest time of year for many retailers, with many counting on a significant amount of their annual business in the period of eight weeks or so. Therefore, it is important staff are empowered to maximise the traffic at this time of year. If they’re not, the increased traffic the Christmas period brings, can be a terrible waste.