Ah, the holidays. Bright twinkling lights, perpetual Christmas music and the most manic shifts of the year. Love it or hate it, chances are that if you work in retail, this is the quarter that determines your business’s financial success.
And this year, the cards are stacked against you: Rising inflation, the cost of living crisis and the prevalence of online shopping are all chipping away at your potential profits. Customers across the United States and Europe are feeling the pinch, and European retailers are already predicting less-than-stellar results, with their share prices already down 40%. Meanwhile, other markets are hoping that the early start to the holiday season will have helped customers plan ahead and spread the cost.
But to thrive and not just survive this holiday season, you need to capture the spend that is available and protect your margins while simultaneously standing out from your competitors. Sound impossible? As we’ve covered before, it all boils down to quick and efficient communication.
The Power of Communication
Giving someone the right information at the right moment is a powerful skill. Often, store communications can become bogged down by old equipment, information silos or employees not knowing the correct contact. Keeping people up to date and disseminating product knowledge is a constant struggle.
But from the customer’s perspective, it’s simple. Their point of contact, the sales representative in front of them, should be able to answer all of their questions. And if your store can’t deliver, that customer will walk out the door.
However, if your sales reps are continuously connected to the rest of the store, and even beyond, then they start to resemble the all-knowing sales gurus customers expect them to be. Connected by your sales team has the power to solve some of the holiday season’s greatest challenges.
Not convinced? Check out the familiar scenarios below to see how efficient communication turns Christmas headaches into opportunities.
Phones Ringing Off the Hook
In retail, the phone rings more than the bells at Christmas time. Customers are anxious to know if this year’s hot new toy is in stock or if their order will arrive in time. They’re stressed and time-poor. Getting through to only hear an “I don’t know” or worse, being unable to get through only increases their frustration. And for those who have ever been customer-facing, you know exactly where their frustration will be directed when they do come to the store.
Imagine instead that a customer calls the store or call center number and is able to reach the first available employee directly while they’re still on the floor. The customer’s simple question is answered in minutes with no phones ringing endlessly from the back office and without losing floor cover to do it. As soon as the call is finished, the sales associate can get right back to helping in-store customers.
By wearing a headset that is part of the communication system, they can receive internal and external calls, making it easy for an IVR or contact center colleague to route a call to the person with the best information — someone who can actually see the product and has first-hand knowledge of how it works. This saves time, and the customer can plan their trip to the store armed with all the information they need.
Untrained Seasonal Staff
Having an extra pair of hands is great — so long as they know how to help. Naturally, they need training, but training staff during the holiday season is a challenge.
There is often so much to know about any business, so how do you share all that information while also trying to run a busy store? And if that poor new recruit is left on their own to figure things out for themselves, they’re likely to give out incorrect information or decide that actually they don’t want the position after all.
However, if they’re constantly connected to the rest of the team they don’t have to know who to call about a specific question as they can broadcast it to the whole group. This also gives them an easy way to call for backup, whether it’s to help with a complicated order or deal with an abusive customer.
Remember, there’s no way for customers to know who is new to the role and who is tried-and-true, and they expect every salesperson to give them the same high level of service.
Oh, the Noise!
If the hubbub of shoppers, Christmas music and blaring PA announcements are enough to make you yearn for a dark, quiet room, imagine how your customers feel! They may enjoy the seasonal tunes and accept that busyness equals noise, but the grating sound of store announcements asking for a clean-up completely ruins the festive atmosphere.
Announcements are inefficient, unclear and an extra burden to sensory-sensitive customers. Employees who can easily reach each other never need to put out a desperate message to find a missing manager: everyone is easily reached through a headset, creating a calmer and more pleasant customer experience.
No Staff In Sight
Think about how many times you’ve lost sales because a customer couldn’t find the information, or salesperson, needed to make a purchase. Instead, they’ve left the store in a huff.
With staff all communicating on the same channel, managing breaks and floor cover takes a matter of seconds, so an area is never accidentally unmanned. And for those times when sick calls and other last-minute emergencies leave an area unattended, customers could scan a QR code that alerts the sales team’s channel to where the customer is and what they have a query about. Depending on your store setup, you could even use QR codes to direct customers to product specs online.
The human element is something that sets you apart from purely online retailers. Making sure customers can always find help when they need it, is how you stand out from the crowd.
QR codes that allow customers to call the sales team directly don’t just protect sales, they also can help you react to and predict stock levels. By scanning the code, customers can quickly alert you if an item isn’t on the shelf, but the system also collects information so you can better predict customer behaviors, and thus sales patterns, in the future.
If you use a complete communication system that has analytics built-in, you can pull detailed information on QR code scans as well as call statistics to build an overall picture of seasonal customer habits, letting you make better data-driven decisions.
The more you know, the more you can prepare so that you don’t run out of Christmas decorations too early or have loads of stock to sell through in your January sales.
Busy stores and stressed shopkeepers create the perfect opportunity for less conscientious visitors to shoplift. Your attention is often on too many things to properly report or track suspicious behavior, and the security team’s bulky radios make them easy to spot and avoid.
Wearing headsets instead allows security staff to discreetly share information on suspicious characters. Depending on the communication system you choose, your headsets could even integrate with devices, such as AI cameras, which could send alerts straight to your personnel. Sales associates on the same system can quickly pass on detailed descriptions to relevant stakeholders, creating a fully cooperative store security approach that reduces shrink.
A Complete Retail Communications Solution
Customers value convenience and personalized service — and so should you. x-hoppers, wireless communication headsets powered by Wildix, can save you 150 hours a year and increase your sales by 35% by allowing you to communicate with both your staff and customers in seconds.
Interested? Find out more information about x-hoppers here.
This is the time to ace your customer experience so that your happy customers not only return but give you the best reviews & feedback, some of the most powerful marketing available. Deliver what your customers need now, during the most wonderful — and busiest — time of year, and you’ll have them for life.
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