Staff Training Key to Black Friday Success

Because of the business potential, and safety risks, that are present during the Black Friday weekend, communication among your staff is more important than ever.  Almost like planning for a big game, you should have regular staff meetings leading up to Black Friday.  All employees, no matter where they will be stationed, need to know about your crowd management strategies and processes. First, make sure you not only have adequate numbers of staff on hand, but also plan to have additional staff either on call, or physically present, in case the need arises.  All staff members should know what the most popular items will be, and the exact places in the stores where this merchandise will be located.  Everyone should be given proper instructions on how to handle emergencies and what to do if they witness potentially dangerous situations. There should be employees designated to handle customer communication.  And there should be a clear chain of command so that each employee knows who needs to be alerted in case of problems or questions.  Some employees should also be given the responsibility for calling 911 or local police should such need arise.  Make sure every employee knows what to do if they encounter shoppers who pose a risk of physical harm to other shoppers or to staff. Management must also make sure there are contingency plans in case merchandise sells out, and that all staff members are in the know about these backup plans.  Have signs prepared to explain what customers should do in case of sellouts.  If products sell out, an appropriate number of customer service staff members should be designated to handle communications with customers about the situation in a calm and friendly manner.  

Pre-Planning Black Friday Crowd Management

In planning for the Black Friday onslaught, store management personnel must implement a strategic plan which, at its core, answers these questions:
  • How do you want customers to line up outside the store (prior to the store’s opening)?
  • In what order will customers enter the store?
  • How do you want customers to navigate to merchandise within the store?
  • How do you want customers to line up in order to check out?
  • How do you want customers to exit the store?
If you’re offering special deals or special products, anticipate that customers will arrive on the grounds around your store entrance well in advance of when you open the doors.  If you’re opening at 5 am, will some customers be there at 3 am, hoping to be the first to enter?  Based on your past experience, and the experiences of similar stores, establish an expected arrival time for your customers.  This – not when you open the doors – is when your crowd management effort will actually begin. Do you want your customers to begin lining up in a single file line?  If so, set up crowd control barriers, or stanchions with belts to clearly establish the “borders” of the line. Plan to have staff assigned to the outdoor waiting line area.  That means that certain staff members must arrive very early.  These staff members should remain in constant communication with the waiting customers – reiterating the details on how your entrance system will work, answering questions, and keeping an eye out for potential problems.

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Black Friday -Crowd Management Planning

Self Service on the Rise: Speed and Convenience

Several recent industry reports and surveys tracking self-service trends have seen a jump in the use of automated self-services.  According to an infographic compiled by 1-to-1 Media, “Self-Service is a growing global trend that’s helping customers to get the optimal experience they’re looking for more quickly.” 

With the advancements made by each technologically savvy generation, there is a growing consumer need to be able to help themselves, manage their purchase, and see more immediate results.  They also have a higher expectation for more self-service offerings whether at retail outlets, banks, supermarkets, post offices, medical facilities, pharmacies, motor vehicle departments, airports, seaports, hotels or train stations – virtually anywhere.   

With this in mind, the time is ripe for each of these vertical industries to examine which of their offerings can in fact benefit from being turned into an automated self-service operation that will successfully and happily get customers what they want in an expedited manner – where they are ensured a quick, fair and successful transaction.

When looking at service offerings that can be automated here are some points to consider:

  • Is the transaction something that is needed 24 hours a day – or could self-service automation enable it to be offered 24 hours a day?
  • How long does the average transaction take when handled by staff?
  • How long would the average transaction take if automated?
  • How long is the waiting period on average to service a customer?
  • How much time would be saved if the service was automated?
  • How complex is the transaction you are looking to automate?
  • Can you realize cost-savings by enabling customers to help themselves?
  • Will your customer experience/customer journey improve as a result of self service automation – will your offer be competitive, attracting customers?
  • Do you have additional upsell opportunities as a result of self service automation?