Is effective communication a key to increased productivity in RETAIL
While effective internal communication is important for any form of business to function smoothly, it holds special relevance in the retail sector. Through interruption-free operations, it helps heighten productivity while also ensuring that employee morale and engagement are always high.
Francis is a customer service representative at a large retail outlet located in the suburbs. She is pursuing her post-graduate degree on the side, and so, she has opted to work only in the evenings and over the weekends. As a result, she does not meet many of her co-workers and peers face-to-face regularly. One day as she begins her shift, she is approached by a customer who wants to know if a particular brand of shoes is going to be included in the massive sale that is coming up as part of the holiday season. Much to her dismay, Francis is clueless. She comes across as an unprepared and unhelpful staff-member to the customer who promptly voices his displeasure. This incident not only embarrasses Francis deeply but also enrages her as she feels that her lack of knowledge is a management shortcoming since there was a failure on their part to share all the necessary information. Such scenarios are ubiquitous in a retail setup especially in those where the internal communication strategy is in tatters due to years of neglect. On the contrary, a well-tailored internal communication strategy helps to avoid incidents that are detrimental to customer satisfaction and employee productivity.
Here are some ways in which a properly designed communication strategy and framework can improve the efficiency of a retail business manifold:
- By Ensuring That Employees Are Never Ill-Informed – Effective communication with employees has a positive bearing on the level of customer satisfaction. Even today, many large retail corporations rely on traditional techniques like emails and office memos for disseminating important information amongst the cadres. Unfortunately, these methods of yore are inefficient when it comes to reaching out to each and every employee, even those who maintain unconventional schedules, remote workers, and shop floor executives who are rarely desk bound. Modern internal communication plans make the most of advanced digital technology to keep the entire workforce engaged at all times so that incidents like the one described above do not occur.
- By Making Office Grapevines Useless – In some cases, lack of information is not as harmful as incorrect information. More than two-thirds of employees in a retail setup do not work at a desk. As a result, most of them rely on their informal personal networks for a daily dose of the latest updates and happenings. Often, these hearsays are incorrect and if employees pass them on to customers, it could lead to miscommunication, confusion, and eventually broken trust. Such glitches can cause a butterfly effect on customers across stores as bad reputation has a knack of spreading like wildfire. A proper communication process can disable the office grapevine to a large extent and, therefore, ensure that only clean and trustworthy information is passed on to all and sundry.
- By Making Employees Accountable – When clear instructions are the norm in an organisation, it is a given that employees know exactly what is expected of them. Such accountability directly translates into heightened profitability. By decreasing the level of ambiguity, effective communication can ensure that employees have all the necessary tools needed to perform their tasks well. In a retail establishment, every employee especially the ones facing the customers are crucial. Their level of knowledge can make or break the trust of a customer. Through a well-planned internal communication structure, it is possible to create maximum accountability and, therefore, achieve high levels of productivity.
- By Fostering Transparency – A transparent work culture is all the more important in establishments where employees are dispersed far and wide. In such cases, it is essential to make sure that relevant information is reaching even those who do not have access to email or are forever on the go. Store managers and their subordinates are people who often encounter customers and are expected to have answers to all kinds of queries. Clearly, this is a group that needs to be kept in the know-how at all times so that they can serve customers better and never encounter a situation in which they have to cut a sorry figure.
Establishing a solid line of communication within your organisation is just as important as developing a robust communication link with your customers. Only when your employees are armed with all the correct information regarding the company and their jobs, they will be able to keep the clientele happy and satisfied.