With consumer confidence and spending ramping up, retailers will be looking for fresh talent to fill out their ranks as they try to reduce turnover — especially as seasonal workers depart.
During this transition, they’ll face a perennial challenge: Making sure they hire the right people for the jobs. Knowing the specific traits to look for when building sales teams can make or break retailers’ bottom lines.
Why it matters
It turns out that hiring sales staff with good customer service skills can be a great way to boost business. A recent study by American Express found that more than two-thirds of retail customers say they are willing to spend more money — 14 percent more, on average — at a company they believe provides excellent customer service.
What are the top traits that companies should be looking for when hiring for these roles? SkillSurvey, a company offering sophisticated software that generates insights about job candidates based on reference feedback, recently released new statistics on retail workers based on feedback from almost 17,000 references on about 4,500 job candidates. Ray Bixler, CEO of SkillSurvey, puts these insights into context:
- Customer service and sales job candidates are generally strong when it comes to people skills. Almost all of them (95 percent) are rated highly when it comes to treating people with fairness and respect. Similarly, 93 percent are honest when dealing with others, and 90 percent show ethics and integrity in their work.
- But there are missed opportunities, too. Job references report that almost a third of job candidates for customer service and sales roles have room for improvement when it comes to their ability to encourage customers to upgrade or buy new products or services. More than one in four could work on their ability to give customers specific recommendations about company products and services, based on information they learn about the customer.
Bixler said, “Employers will be well served by seeking out candidates who have shown that they can use creativity and strategic thinking to create smart solutions to customer problems.”
The bottom line
“Whether in-store, on the phone or online, retailers may not be completely satisfying customers and could be leaving sales on the table if they don’t make the right hiring decisions this year,” said Bixler.
He added that smart, strategic companies can set themselves apart and boost their bottom lines by hiring customer service and sales representatives who have demonstrated that they are great listeners and able to engage thoughtfully with customers.
“Using input from job references to identify those hard-to-find markers of success is a great way for retailers to boost results this holiday season,” he said.
And for you, job seekers or career-changers, don’t dismiss retail as a great opportunity to put your customer service skills to work.