Rethinking Retail Staff Training: How To Create An Outstanding Customer Experience

Rethinking Retail Staff Training: How To Create An Outstanding Customer Experience
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Summary: Technology is evolving faster than ever and the role of in-store sales associates has become more complex and is now focused on tasks with the highest added value. Faced with these changes, traditional training methods lag behind. Yet, it is crucial to cultivate a meaningful training experience for employees and is a significant performance indicator in today’s world.

How To Create An Outstanding Customer Experience With The Right Retail Staff Training

The past decade has been characterized by accelerated product cycles, including the emergence of planned obsolescence strategies and increased competition in most markets. For sales teams, these changes require them to adopt a different mindset.

eBook Release: Training In The Retail Industry
eBook Release
Training In The Retail Industry
Discover the most practical tips for deploying a training strategy that focuses on staff member engagement and creates an outstanding customer experience!

It is now necessary to continuously learn and cultivate a strong level of curiosity for one's sector if you want to be able to satisfactorily interact with informed clients. Customers are no longer content with a simple product demonstration. They want to speak with an expert who will guide them in their choice and answer specific questions whose answers they were unable to find online. Additionally, the democratization of mobile payment systems and NFC chips are making traditional cash registers and cashiers obsolete.

Staff members should therefore concentrate on higher value tasks, including advising clients and customer support. This is actually rather good news since it allows brick-and-mortar stores to differentiate themselves from eCommerce by capitalizing on their strengths. The value of human contact in the shopping experience should not be underestimated.

The emotion and memories generated make the offline experience more memorable than online shopping. Consequently, beyond the simple role of salesperson or even product expert, sales staff are gradually becoming brand ambassadors for their company. Training and skill development are becoming a clear challenge to recruit and retain top talent. It is no coincidence that for 46% of Millennials, training opportunities and skill development programs are top criteria in the choice of an employer [1].

Do You Need To Accelerate The Pace Of Training?

Given that conventional LMSs have a 20% engagement rate at best, increasing the number of available training programs is not a viable strategy considering that the vast majority of employees will not follow these additional programs.

Sales associates that are used to the simple and quick interfaces of social networks are not motivated by the idea of following training programs on outdated interfaces that are not up-to-date with current internet standards and uses. Unless forced to do so, employees will not use them on their own.

Furthermore, it is vital to avoid creating a major discrepancy between the customer's experience with the brand, strategically analyzed to combine aesthetics and simplicity and the employee's brand experience.

Faced with such a disconnect, the learner may conclude that the brand does not consider their staff as important as their clients. This tension leads to a disengaged staff. In an environment where employees are increasingly being asked to act as brand ambassadors and where the smallest detail can mean the difference between a positive and negative brand experience, disengagement can cost companies greatly.

The answer is not more training, but better training! Training must be adapted and aligned with the client experience.

2 Ways To Expand The Learning Experience

Faced with competitors that are constantly innovating, providing a brand experience that meets client expectations is not always enough. You must be able to surprise and surpass customer expectations. To do so, staff members need to be committed to, and believe in, the company's mission.

1. Make Training A Core Part Of The Employee Experience

Training your employees and valuing their knowledge is an ideal way to ensure they are engaged at work. This process must be integrated into the employee experience in a way that minimizes friction.

This new experience must be at the heart of your HR strategy. Within a training framework, this involves not only using intuitive and engaging software but also creating content that can be seamlessly integrated into staff members' daily lives. In the same way you think about the Customer Journey (from prospect to repeat customer), you must also think about the Employee Journey, from their recruitment to departure from the company [2].

2. Create A Community Of Learners

In the world of online platforms, social features are a core driver of engagement. Facebook retains 98% of their users 90 days after registration. In contrast, LMSs that do not offer social features rarely exceed 5%. This is not a simple coincidence, it is directly related to how our brains work. The interactions we have on social networks including "shares" and "likes" have a direct effect on our brains, particularly on the reward system. The more this area is stimulated, the more addicted we become to what drives the stimulation! Combining social interaction with learning creates new opportunities for online training by increasing its attractiveness to learners.

Furthermore, your sales force is in constant contact with clients and quickly acquires extremely valuable knowledge about customer expectations and their experience with the brand. This knowledge, however, is rarely used by the company who paradoxically spends fortunes trying to understand their clients by carrying out customer focus groups. In this regard, high employee engagement becomes a tool for the company. An engaged sales staff with a social training platform at their disposal will naturally share their feedback, experience, and knowledge.

This is how you can build a learning organization, that continually creates and distributes knowledge and is the only way to adapt to the rapid changes in a digital economy.

Best Practice

H&M is a great example of what needs to be done to enhance the training experience using learner interactions. At the end of a training program on merchandising carried out with 360Learning, each learner was asked to take a picture of the storefront they had created and share it on the platform. This initiative allowed for the immediate sharing of best practices while simultaneously creating a positive atmosphere for learners.

Final Word

Today, customer experience defines success. The quality of this customer experience directly depends on the brand's ability to correctly train their ambassadors – that is to say, all of their employees. Training is one of the main drivers of the company's overall strategy and the retail industry has understood this.

This is not without repercussions for the internal organization of retail companies. The role of the trainer has evolved. In a world where knowledge is a KPI, trainers not only need to teach learners but also succeed in creating and managing an agile and engaged community, the only way to keep up with rapid transformations within the industry. This is one of the most important aspects of the digital transformation of the retail sector. Yet, it is often dismissed by brands that focus solely on the external manifestations of the customer experience without leveraging the valuable experience and resources they have internally.

This is understandable – retail is one of the industries with the most training-related constraints. However, relying on the adaptability and engagement of employees is probably the best way to offer a solid brand experience that will give your brand a strong competitive advantage.

This is good news for training departments. The opportunity is there: it is up to them to learn new skills and adopt new tools while highlighting their strategic role within the organization. The numbers are on their side: it may not always be easy to calculate the ROI of budgets dedicated to improving brand experience, but remember that, 80% of the French population is reportedly ready to pay more to enjoy a better brand experience [3]. This trend is only growing with each passing year.


[1] PwC. NextGen Study : How Millenials view and impact the Workplace. 2013.

[2] 11 BERSIN, Josh. The Bersin Report. 2017.

[3] Capgemini, World Retail Report, 2016.

eBook Release: 360Learning
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