Training Seasonal Employees for Holiday Success

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Customer Strategy
Customer Experience
Organizations need to make sure not to skimp on training seasonal employees since frontliners can make or break the customer experience.

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Or so goes the song. But with so much hype around the holidays and expectations being so high, retailers had better deliver on their promises of a great customer experience or any business relationships they forge will wither in the New Year.And a substantial chunk of the customer experience is dictated by frontline employees who are the ones who come face-to-face with clients and can make the difference between a loyal customer or a one-time shopper. Having a great experience is especially important since according to the Holiday Preview Customer Feedback Index, unveiled by OpinionLab earlier this week, customer sentiment has slipped in the buildup to the holidays.

With increased sales during a short period of time, retailers are often left with no choice but to hire seasonal workers. But whether an employee is at a company for the long term or just a few weeks, organizations need to make sure he's properly trained to deliver the experience the brand is promising, stresses Tom Stockham, CEO of eXperticity. He notes that well-trained seasonal hires are critical to keep customers happy and have a positive impact on a retailer's bottom line. Stockham shares the following five tips towards a successful holiday season through effective training of right seasonal hires:

1. Make training scaleable: With rapidly increased staff during the holidays, employee training needs to easily scale to accommodate the entire staff, no matter how big.
2. Make training accessible: Forget hurried hiring and throwing employees in at the deep end. Just like long-term employees, holiday staffers need to learn everything they should about the products they're selling. Organizations should make web-based training available 24/7 and make it easy for retail staffers to access the training whenever they have a chance.
3. Make training engaging and fun: Especially around the holidays, when everyone is in party mode, training should be engaging and interesting rather than elicit yawns from staffers. An element of gamification can bring some fun and competition into the experience.
4. Skip printing and shipping: Printed materials not only add unnecessary costs, but also lack the ability to track and report progress. Instead of printing and shipping manuals, retailers can invest in electronic training that can be updated with the latest information.
5. Offer incentives: While training should not be an option, organizations can rewards associates with discounts and other incentives when they complete training sessions.

Finally, Stockham warns against staffing the whole floor with seasonal workers, but make sure that there are some experienced employees helping out. "They tend to know better how they can engage the customer," he notes.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION