Blog Article

How Do You Change and Improve Customer Experience
and Sales Results?

This is the second in a series of two articles, which have been created based on Prosell’s research and work in the retail environment. Although focusing on sales and service in Retail, these principles area applicable to any environment where people are coming into a store looking for advice.

Pharmacy Staff

Retail revenues are under threat from the changing nature of the market. Discounting and supermarket competition have meant that Retail need to give customers a reason to visit and return, and the key to this is the quality of the customer experience.

Changing the customer experience in a way that positively impacts on Net Promoter Score and sales revenue means a change in the behaviour of front line staff. 

This change does not come about through branding, corporate communications, road shows or senior management messages.  The change comes from the attitude, skills and behaviours of those who manage the front line staff who deliver the customer experience. (See Harvard Business Review – How to Reach Front line Employees March/April 1999, by T.J Larkin and Sandar Larkin).  Almost all successful change programs engage first line supervisors as change champions.

Our article explores the specific process and skills needed by Supervisors to support behavioural change and skill development and also touches on the role that needs to be played by other management in the organisation.

Attitude

Before we get into the process and skills needed one quick word about attitude. A supervisor’s attitude in this process should always be one of support and encouragement. To help people be better at their jobs and to give them useful, lifelong skills. Too often we see unskilful, direct feedback as opposed to supportive coaching. This is the old disease of ‘management by exception’ – which means I leave you alone until I see something wrong and then I jump on you. This means the member of staff only gets told where they are not meeting expectations and all conversations are negative ones, with the inevitable effect on motivation and the desire to do the job well.

 

The Process

This is a proven five-step process that Supervisors should follow to improve skills and results. All supervisors should receive adequate training in good people management practices, as well as specific training in performance coaching. All the research tells us that poor quality coaching is more harmful than no coaching.
(Sales Executive Council – Engaging the Broader Market, Chapter3, Building A World Class Coaching Program)

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Step One – What Should You Be Doing?

  • Communicate and agree the top line objectives and reason for the changes and expectations
  • Define and explain best practice behaviours, standards and processes
  • Make sure everyone has the opportunity for training in new skills and practices to the point of competence
  • Support each person by developing a personal plan, which asks them to commit to the changes they will make in the workplace
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Step Two – How Well Are You Doing It?

  • Check the use of behaviours, standards and processes (our next article ? will cover the right skill standards to improve customer expectations and results)
  • Use objective observation tools to assess customer handling skills and try to observe a series of interactions to build a balanced picture of capability
  • Link the skill profile to Retail store measures, such a sales per person, revenue per sale, items per sales etc.
  • Identify the individual’s areas of strength and areas for improvement – always try to get the person to identify to you these areas, through intelligent questions
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Step Three – What Coaching Do You Need?

  • Engage in discussion with the individual and identify the areas for development and any blockages that are preventing them from reaching the standard
  • Get agreement with the individual to do some coaching with them on the specific areas to develop
  • Agree what ‘doing it to standard looks like’ in a few different customer situations
  • Allow time for the individual to practice and feel confident that they are able to engage with the customer in a way that meets the Retail standard
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Step Four – Let’s Have A Go

  • Use a balance of asking and telling to help the individual understand what they can do differently and agree an action plan
  • Agree when you will have the next formal coaching session
  • Encourage the individual to try out the new skills in the workplace
  • Give them helpful feedback on how they get on and make the effort to recognise attempts to change
  • Use a group environment to share ‘best practice’ from your observations of the whole team and their specific strengths
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Step Five – How Well Are You Doing Now?

  • Check how well the coaching has worked for the individual
  • Are they attempting to use the new skills and better approaches?
  • Are they doing it enough to observe genuine skill development?
  • Are you able to see a correlation between better workplace practices and key measures (NPS, mystery shopping, and sales results?)
  • Evaluate your ability as a coach – what would you do differently next time?

A Few Caveats

It is no coincidence that the five-stage model is made up of a series of questions. Good coaching is predominantly a questioning process and a good coach takes a person on a journey of self-discovery; getting them to think about what they do and how effective it is. ‘Ask, don’t tell’, is a mantra for good coaches.

As Supervisors develop good coaching skills and implement effective people management, so they expect the same from their management. These practices need to be congruent throughout the hierarchy and changes in practice, leading to changes in results, need to be consistent through the whole Retail organisation.

Any change in expectations of Supervisors must be embedded in the organisations performance management system. So often we see change initiatives fail because the critical skills and activities needed for success do not get measured, reported or discussed by senior management. We are also great believers that senior management communicate what is important in their business by the questions they ask. If directors and those ‘of genuine influence’ don’t consistently ask about progress, activity, and results, then nothing changes.

Peter Fullbrook
Managing DirectorPeter Fullbrook

Peter has a successful background in sales and sales management, as well as qualifications in behavioural science and sales training. He is the founder of Prosell Learning Ltd, A UK company and currently CEO of Prosell Australia. He specialises in improving sales and service operations by enhancing the effectiveness of staff and management. This is done through a combination of improving employee engagement (desire to do well) and management and employee skills (capability to achieve). He has worked within the Retail market and both the research and successful programs give him an intelligent insight into the challenges and solutions that drive genuine change in customer experience and improved results. These services have been delivered globally over a 35 year period.

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