Staff development requires a number of key focus areas: processes and procedures, products, customer service, and so on. But if you train your staff well, your team comes away empowered not just to follow protocol, but also to enhance the customer experience.
Train your staff to engage with your customers with two critical skills.
Active Listening… and Leading
Teach your staff to listen to customers’ keywords to identify pain points. Then, empower them to ask specific, leading questions that don’t feel pushy but help direct the conversation where it ultimately needs to go. For instance, if a customer is looking for a grooming product to help with shedding, your team should start asking questions not only about coat type but also diet.
Focus on Intention Not Transaction
What is the intention with each customer interaction? Sure, the customer wants to buy something. Sure, the sales associate wants to sell something. But, when it comes to the pet store, the customer is looking for products that make their pet happier and healthier. Interactions between customers and associates need to be conversational, and the associate needs to stay focused on your store’s mission. Train your staff to focus on the intention of every customer conversation, even beyond the simple transaction.
Ultimately, your staff needs to be trained to communicate to customers without sounding bossy. That’s achieved by listening to the customer and asking questions rather than making statements, and taking an intentional focus rather than a transactional one. Practice in training sessions that include lots of realistic role play to hone these skills.