At this time of year the army of temporary staff in retail environments are fully engaged and ready to do battle with the hordes of shoppers over the Christmas period. Whether its behind shop tills, bars or in the restaurants temporary staff are there to help entice customers and ensure that the till ringing sound can be heard right up until early January.
Service at its best when at your busiest!
It’s worth remembering that for many businesses the trade done in late November through to the New Year is probably equal to about a third or more of your entire years’ sales. For that reason footfall will be much higher and you may meet customers in that period who you only see a few times a year. It’s these customers that you want to make sure come back in February, and April and then again in the summer.
High up on the things that customers look for in their experience are service levels. But at this time of year, when there is an influx of temporary staff how do you ensure that service is maintained across the board?
The Temp Worker with the Short Fuse
I was in a large, out of town style clothing retailer at the weekend. I had some trouble with a transaction and the girl serving me was noticeably impatient. As this transaction started to drag out for reasons evidently beyond my control the ‘aggrieved’ assistant became less frustrated with me. I laughed along with her and we talked, at which point I found out she was new and temping over Christmas.
It suddenly occurred to me that nature of the contract meant that she might not be as engaged as a permanent member of staff. With a definite end date in mind does this affect the service levels? The young lady serving me started to deliver poor service but turned it around. On another occasion this might have been different.
How do you ensure your Temps don’t affect your reputation for great customer service
Empower your temporary staff to deal with customers queries in the same way as your permanent staff. So many are given basic training, which focusses more on getting queues down than on how to deal with customers. Whilst it is great to see short queues, it shouldn’t be at the expense of hurried slapdash customer service.
Make sure your temps are included in team briefings, treat them just as you would a permanent member of staff. There’s nothing worse than having to keep asking someone else for answers, when in front of a customer (to a customer this reflects lack of knowledge within the company).
If you’re organising a works night out over the period in which your temps are with you, do include them. For the cost of a couple extra meals, etc. you will gain a member in the team who will truly appreciate this, and will feel more inclined to go the extra mile with customers.
It goes without saying, if you’re staff are happy and feel valued, they will treat your customers in the same way.
One final thing, sometimes temporary staff can be absolute gems … and blow you away with their enthusiasm, ideas and commitment (even when in a temporary job).
I know many moons ago (okay many many moons ago) I was a temporary member of staff at Boots over the busy Christmas period, and got a call a few months later to offer me a permanent job. If they’d treated me like ‘just a temp’ I more than likely wouldn’t have gone back.