Christmas is just around the corner and consumers all around the world are storming the retail stores. One of the hardest challenges every business faces during this hectic time is how to schedule staff appropriately. Without an adequate amount of store associates, customer service will suffer and leave visitors unsatisfied and stressed out. In fact, 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase due to poor service experience, according to an American Express Survey. However, having too many employees in-store leads to unnecessary expenses on the other hand. Furthermore, you also have to meet the needs of your employees. How do you balance those things without totally missing the mark? Most retailers end up overestimating the situation or even worse, they are completely overwhelmed by the amount of visitors that come to the store. Scheduling your staff appropriately can make or break a business but in order to identify the right amount of store associates, you need to consider some important factors. Here are the 4 most important questions you need to ask yourself before scheduling your staff.
1. When are your store’s peak hours?
When analyzing a store’s peak hours, most of the time retailers only look at the POS data. While this is a great start and should definitely be taken into account when scheduling your staff, it is not sufficient to properly anticipate your store’s rush hours. Customer behavior is dynamic and your POS system can’t adequately forecast visitors’ fluctuation. There are a lot of other factors that influence customer behavior and thus, have to be considered such as weather, sales offers, the beginning and the end of holiday. In order to understand and interpret the effects of those factors, you need to understand how your customers are behaving in your stores. Gain advanced consumer insights with the help of modern Retail Analytics solutions. With the help of new analytics technology, you can identify customer segments that visit your stores and predict their shopping behavior based on precisely collected data.
2. What kind of customer service do your customers expect?
At the end of the day, store associates are assigned to help customers so that they can have the best shopping experience possible. American Express found that 7 in 10 Americans said they were willing to spend more money on brands and companies which they believe provide excellent customer service. This means that retailers have to align their staff schedules to the needs of their customers if they want to meet customer expectations. Depending on what kind of products or services you are providing, your store will need a different amount of store associates with different skill sets. Identify the perfect associate-to-customer ratio in order to optimize scheduling efficiency. Based on predefined KPIs, your retail analytics software can give you important insights into visitors’ dwell time.
3. How are your customers moving around inside your store?
Traffic varies in different sections of your store. If you want to optimize staff efficiency, don’t just look at the overall store traffic but focus on each and every section. With the help of Retail Analytics, you can visualize the flow of consumers’ pathways. Depending on the product type and the store layout, every section needs a different level of customer service. At the same time, you can also identify which sections are less visited and should be incentivized to create higher customer engagement. You can also determine which entrance is used the most and place the right amount of associates there.
4. Human factors
The last and one of the most important factors is your staff itself. Customer service highly depends on the quality of your store associates. You can hire the most qualified employees but if their motivation level is low, then even the most efficient scheduling strategy will not help. An unhappy store associate is most likely going to scare off potential customers and might even hurt your brand image on the long run. According to McKinsey, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. In order to keep your employees satisfied, you need to consider their wishes. If a staff member is struggling with transportation or busy taking care of their child, finding a solution that works for both parties is essential. When your employee is ill or needs a day off, comply with their wish and don’t make them feel bad about it. If you want to make them work late, tell them as early as possible. New employees need special attention since they still aren’t as skilled as other employees. Take that into account when making your scheduling plan. With the help of apps, shared calendars and scheduling software, you can schedule staff more smoothly.
Align your staff schedules to the level of service needed
Scheduling your staff is like walking on a thin line. It’s very easy to misjudge and might result in scheduling too many or too little store associates at the end. Don’t get overwhelmed by the challenge and rely on consumer data collected from your stores. Numbers don’t lie but you need to how to use them. With the help of Retail Analytics solutions, you get visualized insights into customer behavior that supports you forecasting store traffic and optimizing staff scheduling in order to provide the right amount of customer service. Your staff represents your brand. Crafting a perfect brand image includes optimizing customer service. Don’t miss out on these important aspects and upgrade your store with the right equipment.