The goal of any retail business is to sell a product to a customer. However, the simplicity of this statement is deceptive – company’s owners and employees have to consider many aspects of this process and appropriately train not only to sell the products but encourage customers to return or bring other clients into the business. One of the main processes that greatly affect customer’s satisfaction and return rate is customer service.
By having well-trained employees, a company ensures that its relationship with clients will be amicable and stable. To provide the best customer service possible, human resource management of a business should assess the company’s employees and service, detect all the strong and weak points of its performance, and develop a customer service training class for current and future employees.
The Importance of Needs Assessment
While the concept of customer service is rather straightforward in its focus on customer satisfaction, companies should take into account their unique traits and qualities when establishing the functions of customer service in their business. HR managers use need assessment in order to outline the company’s main goals and objectives and find any deficiencies in the company’s performance that do not align with the company’s strategy (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014).
This process can be conducted by creating various questionnaires for employees, observing their everyday working process, interviewing workers, or holding meetings to discuss the arising questions and problems. Managers can also analyze existing job descriptions and ask employees about their job expectations prior and after being hired. These ways of conducting an assessment may lead to many discoveries and result in various minor and major changes. For example, an evaluation of employee training can expose such deficiencies in a number of ways.
First of all, the needs assessment can help business owners to define objectives of the company and create an individual strategic plan to achieve both long-term and short-term goals. Secondly, by finding the right goals, it will be easier for employers to understand, which employees do they want to see as a part of the business. Moreover, the needs assessment can help outline the qualities and skills that are to be included in job descriptions for future workers in order to avoid spending additional time on interviews.
Evaluating the performance of current employees and finding the ways to change it is also an important process of the needs assessment. According to the assessment’s results, managers will be able to find, which new employees are more suitable for hire. Finally, such an assessment will result in a clear picture of reasons for overall poor performance and a list of possible ways to improve it. As a result, the needs assessment can show not only the problems that exist in the company but also present a basis for improvement, which should be taken into account and evolved by employers.
Training Implementation Plan
Method of Training
Choosing a correct training method can significantly impact employees’ ability to understand, learn, and implement the knowledge that is given in the course (Dhar, 2015). There are many ways to train the workers, including role play, on-the-job training, open discussion, or presentation. However, some approaches may prove more successful than others. When creating a training class, managers should remember to use the method that will be the most efficient for a particular job.
For example, customer service is a type of profession that requires an employee to act quickly and calmly under pressure, regulate emotions, and deliver information concisely and politely. Therefore, managers should choose training methods that focus on practice rather than theory, including approaches that explore various common and unforeseen situations and help workers to get used to frequent interactions with customers.
Such methods as presentation and discussion are less efficient than other ways because of their illustrative nature. While the discussion may present some group bonding and allow employees to gain more knowledge on the topic, these ways do not give workers an idea of their everyday responsibilities. On the other hand, utilization of such ways as role play, simulation, and case study will result in employees adequately prepared for work.
These approaches allow the individuals to investigate different situations, which occur between them and the clients, as well as experience the perspective of the customers. Simulation gives managers an opportunity to explore the cases, which might have been troublesome for previous or current employees. Role play puts individuals in an environment close to working conditions. Finally, discussing case studies encourages workers to think outside the box and come up with possible solutions under time constraints.
The method of on-the-job training should also be considered a viable approach. This training method can work well at the end of the training process, as it gives workers an option to utilize their new skills while still practicing and learning new information. While starting to study as a group, the workers should finish the course with real customers to get more practice. Experience gained during such training classes should fit in with the course of work and help new employees to adapt to the working conditions faster.
The Process of Implementation
Managers should start with talking to current employees and creating a base of cases that are most common in their work. Workers can also discuss the situations that were difficult for them to understand or settle. The collected data should then be structuralized and presented as a number of case studies. The finished class consists of multiple stages. The first stage involves an overview of the main duties and responsibilities of any employee, who functions as customer service, as well as his or her values, goals, and attitude. Workers need to see the main principles of interacting with clients such as being polite, positive, and reassuring.
According to Gabriel, Cheshin, Moran, and van Kleef (2016), employees’ emotional performance plays a significant role in customers’ satisfaction. The second part of the course presents a number of simple and complicated cases for workers to either role play or discuss. The importance of simulating simple cases lies in the process of skill development, while the discussion of complicated situations in the form of case studies allows all employees to participate and present their opinion. During this part of the class, workers gain some practical knowledge and develop a bond with their teammates. The final part transfers employees from internal group interaction into the field. On-the-job training allows workers to employ newly learned strategies to interact with real customers.
This course can be implemented in a number of ways. First of all, the structure of this particular course requires for workers to pick a period of time, which can be devoted to studying. While on-the-job training can be performed in the regular working hours, the first and second parts of the course should take place on weekends, evenings, or on days, devoted especially to this class. The discussed retail company is rather small and giving employees a day off of work may prove difficult. Therefore, the training class should take place on weekends or evenings. To establish the best time for the course, HR managers can conduct a quick survey of the employees and ask them, which option is preferable.
In theory, every new employee should partake in the training class in order to gain necessary knowledge and experience. However, because the class takes up workers’ time outside of work, some employees may be hesitant to join. In this case, managers should create motivators that will encourage a worker to participate in the course. However, it is important for managers to maintain the balance between gains and losses.
HR managers should devise a motivational program that will not affect company’s efficiency and profitability in a negative way. For example, workers, who successfully finished the course, may receive a few extra days of vacation. This reward may encourage some workers to devote their time to the class while planning a bigger vacation in the future. A financial incentive can be another way of motivating workers.
However, it is hard to establish a suitable price without affecting the company’s budget in some way. Moreover, the class’ impact on the employees may be utilized in their further career. Therefore, presenting this class as an opportunity to develop and get a promotion may encourage ambitious and competitive workers.
A feedback survey should include employees’ thoughts on training outcomes and benefits, quality of the course and its accessibility, and some questions that concern the acquired knowledge. The first part can include such statements as “the completion of this course will help me to perform my job,” “this class helped me to create a strong relationship with the team,” or “participating in this class will help me to receive a promotion.” The second part should have questions such as “the information of this course was easy to understand” and “I did not experience any difficulties during the simulation exercises.”
Finally, the last part that is focused on skills can consist of false and true statements about the most important points made during the course. For example, managers can include questions about the main ways to solve a common problem or typical phrases to greet customers. The survey can be introduced in the form of a questionnaire with answers “yes” or “no” as well as some questions that should be answered in a few sentences. The first and second parts of the questionnaire should be uniformed in order to get statistical data rather than various personal opinions.
Employee training can be a complicated and lengthy process. However, by assessing the company’s needs and creating a strategic plan based on the business’ strong and weak points can significantly simplify the process and result in a creation of a successful course. Customer service workers should partake in a class that will address every aspect of their job and help them gain enough confidence to solve difficult problems and interact with various customers.
Therefore, such a course should be highly interactive to encourage the workers to show their creativity and gumption. To motivate the employees to participate in this course, the company can offer financial rewards, additional vacation days, or opportunities for promotion. If implemented successfully, employee training course will result in workers having enough experience to take on the job without any problems.
Armstrong, M., & Taylor, S. (2014). Armstrong’s handbook of human resource management practice (13th ed.). London, UK: Kogan Page Publishers.
Dhar, R. L. (2015). Service quality and the training of employees: The mediating role of organizational commitment. Tourism Management, 46, 419-430.
Gabriel, A. S., Cheshin, A., Moran, C. M., & van Kleef, G. A. (2016). Enhancing emotional performance and customer service through human resources practices: A systems perspective. Human Resource Management Review, 26(1), 14-24.