Effective internal communication is essential in every industry, but it’s especially important, and especially difficult, in a retail environment. Retail employees work without email, computers, desks, and other tools available to office employees. Their work requires regular movement, and employees are spread out across the store, making it challenging to catch managers and ask questions. To make matters even more confusing, retail employees also work shift schedules, so holding regular staff meetings with everyone present is almost impossible.
And successful communication in retail is incredibly important. Retail employees interact directly with customers every day. Poor internal communication means not only a frustrating day for the staff but also a bad customer experience. And in today’s market, even simple mistakes leave lasting impressions. In fact, after just one negative experience 51% of customers never do business a company again. So what are employers supposed to do? While it certainly has some unique challenges, improving retail communication is far from impossible.
Holding quick pre-work meetings with employees is a great way to start out a shift. Pre-meetings give store leaders an opportunity to update employees on changes, remind them about important information, and assign specific tasks. Pre-meetings should never take longer than three or four minutes, but those few moments will orient employees, clear up confusion, and prepare everyone for a successful day. Whenever possible, make your pre-meetings one-on-one, or in a large retail environment, no more than five employees. This ensures leaders and staff can have a real conversation where workers are able to ask questions, clarify concerns, and bring up any of their own issues. Personalized pre-meetings also assure leaders that everyone has heard and understood important information.
Put Updates In Writing
While it’s important for pre-meetings to happen in person, leaders should also include workplace changes, current promotions, and any other news in a written form. Introducing information verbally is a great way to get people excited and gives them a chance to ask questions, but people will always forget details over time. A written document employees can reference later is a great way to make sure information is not forgotten or misremembered later on. Written statements also give store policies a greater sense of authority when employees are working with difficult customers. Collaboration tools like MangoApps are the perfect place to keep written reminders, giving employees immediate access right from their mobile device. But however written announcements are shared, be sure they are easily accessible to all affected employees.
Speaking of technology, collaboration and communication tools are a fantastic way to simplify communication and streamline company announcements and resources. Unlike the traditional office environment, retail employees work in shifts, away from computers, and are generally spread out or working on the go. This makes sending information much more difficult, especially when changes happen in the middle of a shift or require private communication. Without easy access to a computer, employees also struggle to keep each other informed about concerns throughout the store or access important resources. Collaboration tools let employees enjoy a constant connection, so accessing work schedules, posting questions, sharing successes, finding details for customers, submitting vacation forms, or anything else, becomes an effortless experience.
Actually Be Available
Employees can’t communicate with leaders if they are never available. This is especially true in retail, where without emails and water cooler conversations, talking to a manager can literally take days. Retail employers need to keep these unique constraints in mind and make a sincere effort to be easily available. When employees have to give up breaks or go out of their way to address issues, communication is much less likely. As a manager, it is your responsibility to make sure employees can easily communicate concerns. Pay particular attention to offsite workers or employees who are unable to leave their current workstation.
Consistency is the key to clarity, and one of the best strategies for improving retail communication is simply to keep it the same. This doesn’t mean of course that communication methods should never change or that bad habits can be justified, but rather that leaders need to establish a regular and reliable system. When communication is distributed in a consistent way, employees can gain a strong understanding of the communication process and know what to expect day to day. One great way to create dependable communication is by assigning a single point person to employees. This means that employees will only receive updates and new information from one specific individual. A single point person gives employees someone to regularly rely on and turn to with clarifications or questions and ensures employees aren’t receiving contradictory instructions.
At MangoApps, we understand the unique challenges of the retail environment. Without typical office tools, just communicating schedules or accessing company information can be a serious challenge. That’s why we’ve designed communication and collaboration apps specifically around retail needs. To learn more about how MangoApps helps retail clients or improving retail communication, contact us or schedule a personalized demo today.