Speakers’ Corner: Vodafone’s retail rise

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We have noticed our improvement in Mobile News’ Mystery Shopping column, and we also track our own mystery shopping scores on a five-week and 12-week basis and, for these, we are first on both counts. But this has been a long journey.

The results we are seeing now are based on a programme we put into place four years ago, on the realisation of how important it was to get the customer experience within stores right. We restructured training programmes and store set-ups.

Two years ago, we announced we would invest more in retail staff – a huge cash investment that has made a real difference. We now measure footfall in every store so make sure every store is sufficiently staffed to support demand and ease the pressure on staff.

In retail, changes start slowly to start with, and then build quickly and suddenly. In the past three months we have gathered real pace, with results based on our programmes, changes in the market, and putting the customer first.

Our retail teams are in position to be number one on every high street they are on.

There have been changes to our staff training – from greeting a customer to closing a sale. But it’s not based only on the sales process, but on how to interact with customers also.

We have also amended the way we recruit staff to take on ‘customer service’ people, rather than just ‘people’ people. We previously had a very young staff which was not as culturally balanced as we needed it to be for the customer base we are serving.

We have also reduced the amount of part time staff we have, as we have found that having more full time staff results in better customer service from a consistency point of view.

Also, we have put more investment into employees by offering a formal NVQ programme, and are seeing results from that. The retail staff churn rate has reduced significantly. At one point it was 40 per cent per year, and we found it very difficult to improve customer service if we were always retraining.

By training, motivating and rewarding staff differently, we are losing less people because their careers can progress and they are rewarded financially for their performance. The churn rate has dropped to around 20 per cent over the past year or so.

Full article in Mobile News issue 450 (October 19, 2009).

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