Employee Training: Need Assessment Steps & Philosophies

As a business owner, you have the motivation to work hard at customer relationships. You want to build those relationships and show your customers just what they mean to you. Unfortunately, your employees may not share your grand vision. Here are some ways to get them on board.

Having employees who are passionate about making customers happy is the brass ring of business ownership. Employees just aren’t nearly as motivated as you to build those relationships and they don’t always have the skills to deal with each individual relationship.

That’s certainly not a sleight against employees. They are a valuable asset to your business. However, their level of involvement in the business is much less than yours. They may not necessarily see each customer as a lifelong profit-provider, but rather as just another task in a long task of things to do on their shift.

In other articles I’ve written about increasing employee buy-in with commissions or bonus-based compensation and increased responsibilities. But in this article we’re going to talk about how you can empower them to do a great job, even when you’re not there.

Creating a customer experience

One: Identify the feeling: The first thing you need to do is to identify what you want your customers to experience while they are doing business at your store. You may already have an idea about this but it’s possible that it is not fully articulated. Now is a good time to do that.

Two: Determine how to create that feeling: Once you know what you want your customer to feel, think about your staffs’ general attitudes and the actions they need to perform during the sales transaction. You don’t have to be specific yet (that’s the next step) just come up with some general ideas like “be very friendly” and “show concern for their satisfaction”.

Three: Develop steps: Next, you”ll want to quantify these ideas in measurable tasks that your employees can do. They could include opening the door for customers or shaking their hands or asking them at the end of the transaction how everything went. Each of the concepts in the previous step should now have one or more concrete actions. Once you know what it is you want your employee to do, lay it out clearly for them. Give them a step-by-step method to approach every customer.

Helping employees in EVERY situation

But your job isn’t done yet! Now you need to create a flowchart that lists all the possible options that could happen at any stage in the transaction. This flowchart should not only list what the customer does but what the employee should do. This is an area in which a lot of employers fall short. They tell employees to satisfy customers but they don’t give them realistic options to deal with many of the day-to-day situations those employees face. For example, if a customer comes in and hears the prices and turns around to leave, what will your employees do? A customer reaction flowchart can help them know what to do.

When training employees, use these steps to encourage learning:

  • Give them a reason to learn. Make sure you have buy-in and motivate them to learn the content and put it into practice. If the only motivation they have to learn is “learn this to keep your job” that’s not very motivational.
  • Gather their input. Ask them during the training if what you’re outlining is realistic. That doesn’t mean they’ll convince you otherwise, but you’ll get a good idea of what they think is achievable. You’ll also have a list of things to watch for that they may be resistant to implement.
  • Make training convenient and fun. Unlike you, employees don’t like to spend all of their waking hours at your business, even if they are being paid. Keep your training sessions brief, make sure you pay them and thank them for their time. If possible, have someone else watch your store and train them during their regular working hours.

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