Hire for Retail Customer Service

How to Hire Employees for Retail Customer Service and Train Them

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Employee retention in retail is low, so it can be hard to hire and keep the customer service representatives you need. And some retailers out there that expect to have high employee turnover end up ignoring training. But, according to Harry Friedman, that’s a mistake. Here’s what he writes:

“The decision to neglect training is typically made by someone at the top who does not appreciate the value of a human asset and what they can mean to sales and the bottom line. Retail is a merchandise-driven business, not a people-driven business, after all.”

Friedman also estimates that if retail employees were to receive the proper training, they could increase sales by 15 to 25 percent. Here’s how to hire and train employees for retail customer service in a way that keeps your customers and your reps happy.

Retail Jobs and Retention

You put in a lot of work to find, interview, and hire new employees, so it can be devastating when they leave you and you’re forced to go through the process all over again. It comes at a cost, too.

Recent information from Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report estimates that the cost of replacing an employee is as much as 33% of the worker’s annual salary. And when you apply that formula to the average employee salary of $45,000 per year, the average cost of turnover for each employee is a whopping $15,000. Top reasons why employees leave include:

– Career development

– Work-life balance

– Management behavior


So how can you increase retention for retail employees? For one, you should give them a clear advancement roadmap. As the study above shows, the most common reason that employees leave is that they want opportunities for career development. Giving them an outlined advancement plan could help them keep a long-term vision of their employment with you.

You should also provide feedback regularly. Instead of opting for regular performance reviews, perform regular check-ins and provide steady feedback for your employees. Ask them about their own concerns and opinions during this time, too, to establish strong communication. Create trust and transparency by implementing an “open-door” policy to show employees that you value them. By letting your employees know that they can come to you with anything at any time, they’ll likely feel more comfortable sticking around.

The Importance of Hiring Empathetic Employees

A staggering 80% of Americans believe that smaller businesses deliver better customer support than larger ones. This is probably because most small businesses make it a priority to be empathetic toward customers when they have a problem.

Huge companies are more likely to emphasize the importance of remaining calm in the face of a dissatisfied customer. But customers would rather be greeted with sympathy than nothing. Your employees shouldn’t respond to customers with anger, but they should show some kind of emotion.

Hire retail customer service employees who have the ability to put themselves in customers’ shoes and look at things from their points of view. When hiring, look for empathetic candidates. These could turn out to be your best employees. Speaking of hiring empathetic employees, it’s best to hire people based on their attitudes instead of skill. You can train them to learn the skills they need, but you can’t always teach attitude.

Hire People Based on Their Attitude and Train Them for Skill

The success of your training program doesn’t just depend on the methods you bring to the table. It also depends on the attitudes and values of your team members. Nordstrom is one company that is known for hiring people based on their attitudes instead of their work experiences. And the company’s employees have given the company a four-star rating on Indeed.

retail customer support hire

As Bruce Nordstrom says, “We can hire nice people and teach them to sell, but we can’t hire salespeople and teach them to be nice.” That’s why it’s worth it to hire trainable people with solid and stable attitudes that match the attitude and values of your brand.

It’s much easier to train someone with a positive outlook who is open to new ideas than it is to change someone’s entire disposition. So the next time you’re hiring, look at an applicant’s disposition and attitude before you start thinking about their skills or knowledge. You can also screen potential employees in group interviews. Or, you can have them take personality tests like the Color Personality Test.

retail customer service hire

Cost-Effective Ways to Advertise Your Job Posting

Advertising your job posting can be stressful. It costs $495 for a 30-day job listing on LinkedIn. Not everyone has that kind of cash in their budget. Thankfully, there are a few cost-effective alternatives for advertising your job posting.

For example, you can post your opening to your company’s social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.

retail customer service hire

You can also ask people in your professional network for referrals. Ask family and friends for recommendations, too. Post your listing to classified sites like Craigslist or Kijiji.

Product Training

Most associates don’t get enough training. According to the 2018 State of Retail Employee Training report, 60% of associates receive less than ten hours of training each year.

retail customer service hire

But a lack of product training actually costs companies money. Dillards recently discovered that every hour that its associates spend going through training leads to an increase in sales of five percent. Product knowledge helps improve your customer service efforts since product knowledge can help employees explain and troubleshoot product features.

An employee who is confident about the products that a company offers can help customers get rid of any initial apprehension by showcasing the best aspects of everything they’re selling. Just take a look at this quick, confident response from Forever 21 to a customer question on Twitter:

hire for retail customer support

When customers ask pointed questions, employees who are armed with product knowledge can answer them immediately and effectively. The bottom line? The more that your retail employees know about your products, the more helpful they can be.

Make Use of Tools

If you don’t have any online training content for your employees you’re missing out. By making this content available on multiple devices, retail employees can access product information quickly and easily. And because it’s so easy to access, they’ll be more likely to use it.

Publish training content online using a tool like Podia and encourage your employees to access your knowledge base to find information that they can use to solve customer problems. ZARA takes this method a step further by allowing employees to use iPads to track inventory right from sales floors. That way, they can provide customers with live information about what’s in stock. You can do the same. Use an inventory tracking tool or app like Inventory+.

hire for retail customer supportUse Micro Learning

You should always chunk your training content into bite-size pieces for best results. Stick to one product or service per training module. Use short videos or training segments that incorporate visual aids that employees can refer to later. This is called micro learning, and it helps employees to process and remember training information.

Visual aids are important in training because people only retain about 10% of what they hear. However, when you pair training with images, your employees will be able to retain as much as 65% of what they hear. Instead of jamming all of your employee training into one seminar, split it up into several small ones so you don’t overwhelm your team members.


Employee retention in retail is low. And it can cost 33% of an average employee’s annual salary to replace them. But by ramping up your hiring and training efforts, you can increase sales and lower employee turnover. There are several things you can do to hire and train employees for retail customer service to keep both customers and reps happy. Don’t hesitate to use these tricks to hire and train employees for better retail customer service today.

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