I was shopping for flat panel TVs online the other day where I searched a number of sites, looked at a bunch of brands, went to Consumer Reports, etc. Of course, the next step was to see the products live because online stats and reviews can only do so much – it’s all about how the picture looks.
I headed out to my local electronics retailers, which happened to be Best Buy and Circuit City. I purchased my last TV about 12 years ago — those were the days when you needed a shower after leaving a Good Guys or Circuit City store — the used car salespeople salivating and slobbering over the sale of not only the TV, but 15 add-ons including that unneeded 10 year extra warranty was enough to make me not want to buy another TV ever (plus, they didn’t know what they were talking about).
With those experiences in the back of my mind, I headed for Best Buy and checked out TVs in the size range I was looking for and started comparing the pictures and prices of the various brands. I turned down help from the store staff twice…they seemed eager to help just as in the past, but this was different than my previous experiences. Instead of slobbering, these guys seemed genuinely interested in helping. When the third guy named MD engaged me, I sheepishly asked a question about which brands he liked and why. The guy rambled on with a great answer, explaining why he like certain brands better. And that led to another question and another and another. Before I knew it, MD was downloading all this great info and helping guide me to a TV that I found best suited to my needs from a picture, sound, size and price perspective. What a fantastic experience. I didn’t buy my TV that day as I needed to do some measuring at home. But I did want to make sure MD got the sale so I asked him for a card and he responded with a statement that was the sweetest music to my ears — “We don’t work on commission so anyone will be happy to help you.”
Armed with all of my information, I headed to Circuit City to see what their sales staff
recommended. Walking into that store conjured up images of 12 years ago…as I looked at TVs, the sharks began circling sensing a victim. Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad but the hired help just didn’t have the same squeaky clean, bright-eyed enthusiasm for the products and the customers shopping for them.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
It’s all about the training. Fascinated by my Best Buy experience, I
visited three of their stores and had similar experiences at all of
them. And that only comes from the culture the organization operates
under and the training they give their employees.
Training is so important and should focus on three areas:
1. Operations training — how do you work the cash register? Create a bank deposit? Open the store in the morning and close it at night, etc.?
2. Customer service training — how do you greet your customers? How do you engage them? How do you provide knowledge? How do you leave them with a lasting impression?
3. Product and service knowledge training — how do your employees learn about the products or services they’re selling? What are the key attributes of each brand? What are the features and benefits of the products?
The key is to focus on the product and service knowledge training first. Without that, employees are unable to engage customers and function on the sales floor. Many companies put their employees through rigorous training prior to ever stepping foot on the sales floor. As small business owners, chances are you won’t be able to afford that. However, you can create a training outline in each of the three areas and pick one topic in the outline each day that you or one of your staff will train employees on.
The net net is to create a training plan or program or even an outline. Visit your competition — some of the best ideas come from the big guys since they have the resources to create the best programs. At the end of the day, be a Best Buy and you’ll be on the way to giving your customers the experience they deserve.