Many retailers are in a full-on hiring frenzy around this time every year in an effort to serve the millions of shoppers who ramp up spending for the holidays. But new research shows that hefty hiring may come at a cost.
According to staffing-solutions firm SkillSurvey, retailers stand to lose potential sales and customers when they hire staff members in a crunch and don’t take the time to properly screen them for key customer-service traits.
Based on an analysis of more than 19,000 employee references, SkillSurvey pinpointed the top areas for improvement for retail customer service and sales representatives.
The study found that references rated the job-specific behaviors of those in the customer service and sales candidate pool — which retailers are drawing from heavily this time of year — as below average in several critical areas.
Specifically, candidates ranked lower than average when it comes to maintaining up-to-date knowledge of company products and services; gathering information from customers and relevant sources to effectively answer questions; and communicating information clearly so that customers could understand.
Based on their references, many candidates are also below average in their ability to tailor recommendations of products and services to the customer and encourage customers to buy new products or services by presenting relevant options.
“These key behaviors with lower-than-average ratings were the same whether the customer service and sales candidate was applying for a position in a store, on the phone or online,” noted Ray Bixler, president and CEO of SkillSurvey. “The findings indicate that retailers can lose money when they don’t take the time to identify and hire candidates with skills such as the ability to gather the right information from customers and tailor their recommendations accordingly.”
Bixler said he believes that past work performance is the best indicator of future work performance, and that retailers should take the time to identify individuals who have demonstrated strengths in these key areas, or to pinpoint areas where development is needed.
“Quality hires are critical during the holiday season because they positively impact customer interactions and therefore the bottom-line of the business,” he added.