Consumers have access to more options and more information than ever before, which is why customer service is critical to your success as a pet retailer — in fact, 90 percent of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company. But what does exceptional customer service entail? (Hint: It’s more than just “service with a smile”).
In order to create an experience that keeps people coming through your door, your employees must be able to help shoppers make informed decisions. This makes your store stand out against the competition — including big-box retailers and ecommerce sites, which can’t offer the same level of service. Consumers need to see your team members as go-to resources for all things pet related. Your staff may be friendly, but if they aren’t knowledgeable enough to guide customers to the products that meet their needs and answer their questions, it can cost you big — in a 2017 study, 68 percent of customers said the service representative they worked with was key to a recent positive experience and 62 percent said that this was also due in part to the representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness.
As a pet business owner, it’s important that you provide your managers and team members with opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills. Not only does this contribute to their ability to provide excellent customer service, but it also shows them that they’re valued, which effects employee retention and engagement. In a recent survey, 87 percent of Millennials (the generation that makes up the largest portion of the U.S. labor force) cited access to professional development or career growth opportunities as being very important to their decision of whether to stay at their current job or to go elsewhere. Research also shows that 40 percent of employees who don’t receive the necessary job training to become effective will leave their positions within the first year.
So where can you find the training and resources that your team needs? Here are a few ideas:
- Trade shows. Walking a trade show floor full of new products, learning from top experts in the pet industry, no wonder so many people choose to grow professionally by attending events! If you’re looking for some shows for your staff, World Pet Association holds four annual events that offer hands-on training and insights into every facet of the pet industry, from grooming to marketing to aquatics, as well as the opportunity to learn about the latest products and trends.
- Subscribe to industry news. Keeping your employees updated on the latest happenings in the pet community doesn’t have to take up the little free time you have as an owner. As part of your onboarding process for staff, sign up the new employee to receive up-to-date news from the pet community. Subscribing to e-newsletters is a convenient way for pet retailers to stay relevant with emerging trends and get tips on how to remain competitive against big-box retailers such as Chewy and Amazon.
- Hold in-house training sessions. When you introduce a new product, line or service, add it as an item to the agenda for your staff meeting or schedule a meeting dedicated to your new offerings. This gives your team the opportunity to ask questions and become experts. If the new product is from a local manufacturer, you can also invite them to come and speak to your employees. Even sharing a product video, website or posting an update in the break room can go a long way.
- Become a WPA Member. Gain access to cutting-edge research, expansive educational opportunities, 1:1 business reviews with a top analyst and more.
Giving your employees access to training and industry information is an effective way to demonstrate your company’s commitment to their success while also creating an unbeatable experience for your customers. Invest in your team and watch your profits skyrocket!