Retailers: Revamp Recruiting and Customer Service Will Soar
In recent years, we've seen retail splurging on new technology and digitizing stores in order to go head-to-head with the looming threat of online shopping. AR mirrors fill fitting rooms, IoT checkouts replace cashiers and voice bot assistants are being introduced to enhance store service, entice customers and boost sales.
However, many retailers are failing to dedicate this digital upgrade towards one distinctive factor that attracts customers into a physical store: their employees. As it turns out, while stores are embracing tech in marketing and sales, they're ignoring it in their hiring process. Paper CVs, ads on Craigslist and unpersonalized interviews are unlikely to attract top candidates, and yet this remains the extent of most retail recruitment efforts.
If retail companies spent as much time and resources on advancing their candidate experience and hiring process as they do on revamping their stores, they would not only make life easier for hiring managers, but would automatically improve the quality of their customer service, which would in turn attract more customers to their stores.
Candidates Are Customers
It’s common knowledge that a positive candidate experience fosters enthusiasm and loyalty around your company. In retail, ensuring candidates have a good hiring experience is even more crucial because, often, their candidates are their customers. They buy the products and like the brand (or else they wouldn’t want to work there), and therefore should be treated with the same caliber and professionalism as a customer.
The dedication companies show to candidates during recruitment will teach them to act the same when dealing with customers. Rather than having all candidates that have shown interest from that Craigslist ad or sign on the store window show up in-store for a quick group interview, hiring managers need to show more respect. They must keep in mind that these candidates are the same people who buy their products.
Instead of group interviews, retailers could invest in artificial intelligence-enabled recruiting software to pick out top candidates, and then invite them in for one-on-one interviews during quiet store times. This way, hiring managers don’t waste time on unsuitable applications, and can give stronger candidates their full attention and make them feel valued. Treating your customers and candidates therefore go hand in hand. A valued candidate will stay a loyal customer, and when hired, will become a loyal employee who will better serve your customers.
Candidates Will Become Brand Ambassadors
The hiring process in retail is essentially finding the right match for the brand. Retail employees are wearing the clothes, selling the products and are therefore ambassadors for the company. As such, a streamlined recruitment process should be a top priority, and yet methods remain old-fashioned. Simply accepting CVs from interested customers will limit a company's ability to find the best ambassador. Retailers need to expand their efforts to recruit on various platforms, online and offline. An ideal candidate isn't going to be stacked in a pile of paper CVs.
Eighty-five percent of consumers still prefer to shop in physical stores rather than online. The main reason for this, and why physical stores still exist today, is because customers want a human experience and human interaction when shopping. Having the perfect employee who fits the brand is therefore even more important as they will be the ones ensuring customers have the best in-store experience.
With this in mind, stores could benefit from leveraging technology to find a wider pool of candidates. For example, companies selling to millennials could try a mobile-first recruitment strategy to attract a new generation of talent that might better fit their brand image. More people now have access to a phone than they do to a computer, so a mobile-first approach to recruiting targets an enormous pool of talent, and attracts candidates through its easy and user-friendly application design. Limiting measures to stand-alone ads or word-of-mouth will unlikely result in finding a candidate that best represents the brand, ultimately causing customers’ in-store experience to suffer.
Seasonal Hires Should Not Go to Waste
The retail industry is prone to the holiday hire, which means every year companies have to redo all of their efforts in filling job positions, and it's getting harder. An enterprise retailer may hire 80,000 people and then let them go three months later after a busy season. The following year, retailers have to do this all over again. However, if they invested time and technology into improving this process to maintain relationships with old employees, they wouldn't have to constantly train new hires, and therefore be able to maintain stronger customer service.
The technology now exists to identify candidates who have been previous employees with a good track record at the company, including their level of training, and automatically re-employ them for the upcoming season. Hiring a past employee for busy seasons is so common in retail that companies can benefit from this to ensure they maintain the highest customer service by inviting back candidates who are already trained and experienced.
The retail industry is preoccupied with upholding relationships with customers through reward cards, club members, discounts, birthday messages, etc., to maximize customer service. However, no such efforts are put towards maintaining and engaging with job candidates that will essentially be the first point of service for customers. Why not then turn efforts towards creating a loyalty club card or platform for temporary employees to keep already trained talent coming back? Having a team with a fixed knowledge of your company will automatically increase customer satisfaction.
There are numerous ways to maximize a store’s customer service and keep customers coming back again and again. In retail, employees are a huge factor in maintaining a positive customer experience, and therefore smarter methods need to be put in place to ensure companies are hiring the right candidate, and in the right way.
Related story: LinkedIn Reveals Fastest-Growing Jobs in Retail
Othamar Gama Filho is the Co-Founder and CEO at Talentify.io, a mobile-first Results-as-a-Service recruitment platform that helps recruiters reach and attract modern-day job seekers. An entrepreneur with more than 10 years of experience in areas such as e-commerce, mobile, digital media, HR Tech, and Recruitment, Othamar aims to combine his diverse knowledge to help organizations overcome their biggest challenges in regard to finding and hiring top talent. In doing so, he hopes to make the recruitment process easier and more enjoyable for job seekers as well.