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Training can help convert good service into great sales, says Skillsmart Retail
The UK's independent retailers are failing to understand the importance and link between service and sales, according to a study from Skillsmart Retail, the Sector Skills Council for retail.
A mystery shopping study of over 800 independent retailers from across the UK found retail staff were pleasant (99%), had good product knowledge (97%) and maintained eye contact when dealing with customers (95%). Despite this, their ability to up-sell was low, with only 29% making an attempt to ask if there was anything else the customer needed.
When the retailers who took part in the mystery shopping exercises were asked what areas of their business they felt needed most improving, the skill highlighted by nearly a quarter of the retailers (24%) was sales. But only 3% identified customer handling as an issue.
Skillsmart Retail's research suggests that retailers should not view sales and service separately, but realise they are inextricably linked. Independent retailers must use their excellent service skills to take advantage of up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.
Skillsmart Retail says the new retail-specific customer service training, WorldHost Sales Powered by Service, launched by the National Skills Academy for Retail earlier this month, can provide retail staff with the skills and knowledge to maximise sales opportunities with excellent service.
Jane Rexworthy, head of the National Skills Academy for Retail, said: "Customer service is not just about polite or friendly service, it's also about ensuring customers get the best products for them in the easiest possible way. Up-selling is an important part of customer service and retailers must engage with it to really make the most of providing good service and see it pay dividends long-term.
"Successfully up-selling and cross-selling is about understanding customers and treating each of them as an individual and not about having generic rules for all customers. For example, someone in a rush or with a screaming child is unlikely to have the time or inclination to respond positively to up-selling. WorldHost can help retailers understand their customers and identify and capitalise on up-selling opportunities."
Skillsmart Retail says up-selling and add-ons are issues that many retailers find challenging to implement, as customers do not like to feel they are being manipulated by 'a hard sell' approach from staff. Despite this, if done well up-selling can help build a relationship between customer and retailer.
Jane Rexworthy added: "From the business point of view sign-posting customers to appropriate products, services and offers they may not realise are available can be beneficial to the customer and a business' bottom line. Therefore businesses must make sure through training that staff have the product knowledge and outstanding customer handling skills."
For more information about the WorldHost training programme visit www.worldhostretail.uk.com
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