It may seem that all businesses are going online these days, but the reality is there are millions of people are still employed in customer-facing roles. So it stands to reason that selecting the right team will have an impact on whether your business connects with your Target Market.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistic, there are approximately 1.2m retail workers and another 820k accommodation and food industry employees, most of whom are in customer-facing roles. Customer facing roles also include those who engage with your clients on the phone, reception staff and delivery people, so having the right people on board can have a massive impact on your bottom line.
Let me share a story of my own with you. Some years ago I owned a bedding business. One of the aspects of our business we took a lot of pride in, was the way in which we delivered our products to the customer.
We had one with a driver, in particular, Johnny, who kept on getting fantastic compliments from clients. Our store’s retail Target Market was ‘mature people and retirees looking for the best product available’ and was willing to pay top dollar for a good night’s sleep. What we knew was that Johnny would always take his shoes off at the front door, whether I asked or not, would always take care to look after the client’s belongings and always offered to take the old bed outside ready for the hard rubbish collection.
Johnny actually created positive word of mouth with our desired clientele many of whom would refer friends and family based not only on our store teams performance but on the way in which Johnny would deliver the product and make them feel like they were a valued customer. A lot of bedding companies may think the sale stopped once the customer left the store, but we were very aware that having the right delivery person to take the experience all the way in to the customer’s home, in fact, their bedroom (which is a very private place), extended the connection our business had with our Target Market.
Of course, Johnny was a naturally polite and affable person, so we knew when we interviewed him we could train him to meet the level we wanted our business represented at. It cost us a little more in time to deliver a mattress, but I know this was more than recouped in the massive word of mouth we would receive Had we just gone with any old delivery person and had them ‘dump a mattress at the door’ (yes, many do) or not be polite to older people who often wanted to ‘have a chat’, we would never have had the repeat business we got.
Of course, it’s easier to work with new employees and set the expectations, but sometimes you may be working with existing team members. I have learnt there are two types of people in this world “I can’t” people who can be taught and “I won’t” people who can never be taught. The latter I can’t help you with because they are a lost cause, but the “I can’t” people are easily taught.
I have a friend that works for a business that takes a lot of inbound calls from clients. This company is crystal clear about who their ideal customer is, so much so that they have named her “Tracey” and have printed posters that hang in the office with all of the qualities of Tracey listed. They know how old Tracey is, where she lives, her attitudes, likes wants and desires and most importantly, her pain points and how they solve this.
Every time a prospective client calls in, they have “Tracey’ in their mind’s eye and close over 80% of all inbound calls on the first call. That is a phenomenal number. But it’s no mistake, all of their marketing is geared towards Tracey, their website speaks to Tracey, there are a lot of “Tracey’s” out there how are spreading word of mouth about the business, so by the time a new “Tracey” calls in, the team are really familiar with her motivation and can address this on the spot because they are all well trained on how to talk to Tracey.
Now, of course, they get people who fall outside of their ideal avatar call in for all and yes they close these people, but they are very clear about their product offering, so usually these non-Tracey people have been referred to them by a Tracey and the sale has pretty much been made prior to the call. This is the power of being clear on your Target Market, you only have to market to one segment and that segment will on-market for you into other segments. It’s a very cost-effective way to do business and teaching your team how to engage with your ideal customer will help you get a result.
Going back to my bed store experience, it took me a while to work out that our ideal customer liked to deal with 2 very different types people. Firstly, they liked mature people like themselves who they related well too. To my surprise, they were also highly engaged with younger women in their early 20’s who were well groomed and spoken (usually at university). These young women were often the best salespeople because they loved to chat to older customers and showed them a lot of respect. I would never have worked that out had I not have to take a temp staff person on during the busy Christmas season due to an illness.
This worked out so well for the store that I began to hire those two specific cohorts all the time. We trained our team every month after hours and endlessly did ‘role plays’ on how to talk to our Target Market. Without fail, our store outperformed all stores in the group (of 14 stores) in both total sales and margin because we rarely had to discount because we connected so clearly with our ideal client, that the process was easily repeated over and over again.
I believe dressing the part is critical to success. Our uniform was professional and compulsory Our team all had professional name badges. This is completely appropriate for a bedding store targeting mature customers but completely inappropriate for a young women’s fashion store or a motorbike shop.
Different climates and cities also dictate presentation. In Queensland, we had colleagues in bed stores who wore shorts to work – completely acceptable and the norm in QLD. In Melbourne, even in the height of Summer, this would be inappropriate.
You need to work out who your ideal client would like to deal with and dress them accordingly and as I say often, this is not aligned with your own personal likes and taste, but to that of your customer. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Selling Houses Australia, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Values and alignment
Usually, I find businesses attract the staff who are aligned with your values and target audience, but sometimes you have to make a call and hire outside the box.
My friend in the inbound call centre does not hire women like Tracey because Tracey wants to speak to a male and she prefers a more mature male. I want to be careful about gender stereotyping here, but they worked out that the Tracey’s of the world felt more confident when speaking to men for a whole pile of reasons that are too long to go into here, but their research and trial and error proved this and they hired accordingly.
If knowledge is the most desirable asset that your ideal client seeks in your business, hiring a tattooed, shorts-wearing bloke may be the best person for the job if they know technical information your clients expect your business to deliver on. Again, if this is what your Target Market expects, deliver it in whatever ‘package’ works.
I’ve talked before about ‘psychographics’ (social mores, wants and drivers). Hiring people who align and or understand your client’s psychographics will give you the edge. When interviewing, have questions pre-prepared that help you to understand the applicant’s psychographics.
My secret weapons
I had two secret weapons in the retail world. One was “Role Playing” and he the was “Mystery Shoppers”
I learnt about role-playing when I was in the telco industry. A the time, ‘Crazy John’s’ was the darling of the industry and one of the things they did in their downtime was ‘role play’ selling to their avatars They were exceptional at this and I have used this in business as a tool ever since.
My second favourite secret weapon in the good old Mystery Shopper. We employed a company to do this for us, but you can do it easily by using friends or relatives to pose as your client avatar and visit or call your store or business. The results are invaluable training tools that you can use to feedback on your ‘role paying’ and will also identify whether your team understand your ideal Target Market.
So it may seem that all client-facing staff are created equal, but if you want to give your business the edge when connecting with your Target Market, a little effort in selecting the right people will make all the difference.