LISTEN AND LEARN
One of the things I love best about this job is that I have the great pleasure of speaking with a variety of senior training managers across many industries on a weekly basis. I like to think that they learn as much from me as I do from them. But sometimes, I'm sure that I'm the one that really benefits from these conversations.
It's important for us as a learning technology provider to participate in these discussions and to really listen to the challenges faced by our customers "in the trenches." I know we're good listeners because our products reflect a lot of the great thinking generated by these interactions.
In particular, we've collaborated with some brilliant clients (like Oakley) to develop an understanding of best practices in the area of retail training. Recently, I had a long conversation with a training manager of a department store chain that has about 100 stores and no Learning Management System.
I want to share some observations here that came up in that discussion, specifically in the context of retail employee training. This seems particularly pertinent given the recent announcement of 100-120 planned store closures by Sears/Kmart.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
Retail is a complex science. Although no one retailer can control the economy— though many would argue that Walmart does in fact play a significant role in the global economy—we do understand that effective marketing will at least get people into your store. So let's talk about what happens if marketing succeeds in that goal.
Great store design and merchandising will impact how much time people spend in your store and what they'll purchase. This is the realm of a select team of employees, but the people that have the most direct impact on your potential customers are your retail (sales) employees. Your retail employees will define your corporate culture, reflect your corporate standards, impact customer satisfaction and loyalty and, ultimately, increase the amount that each customer spends in the store.
That's all, of course, subject to who you hire and how well trained they are. Let's agree that you can provide high quality training without an LMS. The opportunity, however, is in scaling that training; providing it quickly and in short, focused interactions that are relevant and measurable. And dare we add 'fun and rewarding' for the learner?
In PART TWO I will discuss some observations and best practices for how an LMS can really impact your retail employee performance.