We recently attended the Store Operations Council in Washington DC. The event brought together a select group of Store Operations Leaders from around the country, including VoCoVo’s very own Global Sales Director, Tom Thurlow.
Associate wellbeing was at the top of the agenda, with discussions focusing on the role of technology in training, retaining and empowering associates. This is music to our ears, so we spoke to Tom to find out more.
Training is the key to wellbeing
With the holidays approaching, stores are keen to provide the best possible customer experience. This is only possible if associates are happy in their jobs, so wellbeing is at the top of every Operations Director’s Christmas list. From organizing shuttle services to partnering with local colleges, stores are pulling out all the stops to make life as easy as possible for their associates.
Effective training is a big part of this. If associates don’t have the knowledge to do their jobs effectively, they can easily become demoralized. In fact, companies that focus on training can improve employee retention by as much as 50%. As Tom Thurlow explains, this training needs to be thorough and it needs to be ongoing:
“Studies show that vacancies are now being matched by hiring rates, but this doesn’t address the issue of good training. Associates need the skills and tools to do their jobs properly. Without these, customers and associates end up with a poor experience.”
Our headsets are the perfect training tool. Initial training can be carried out on the job, with experienced associates explaining tasks as they perform them. Headsets also allow for unlimited refresher training. Whenever a new recruit needs advice, they can simply press a button and ask.
Instant empowerment for every associate
Everyone in a leadership position is keen to empower their associates, and this is where we can help. Our headsets connect every associate, allowing instant communication at all times. When talking to coworkers is as easy as pressing a button, everything else falls into place:
- Headsets can be used to train new associates on the job. Experienced team members can perform tasks while explaining them to new recruits, allowing them to work and train at the same time.
- Associates can contact security as soon as they spot a crime in progress. This is faster and more discreet than a PA announcement, improving the odds of catching thieves and reducing the risk to associates.
- One-touch dialing lets associates call for help with a single button press, reducing the time it takes for backup to arrive.
- Headsets act as a visual deterrent to shoplifters. Criminals can see that associates are connected, making it seem riskier to attempt a theft.
- If a crime turns violent, our telephony feature allows associates to call security without having to find a phone.
- Our open API enables headsets to receive notifications from an unlimited number of smart devices. If a smart camera spots something suspicious or a smart fridge gets too hot, an alert is sent straight to associates on the shop floor. This allows teams to keep track of all smart notifications in one place, rather than having to check on each device individually.
This last feature is especially useful. The amount of smart technology in stores is only going to increase, so it’s important to have a strategy in place for managing your devices. As Tom Thurlow explains, VoCoVo is the perfect solution:
“Store management is becoming a lot more tech-savvy, but we can’t forget about the people using the technology. There has to be a way for devices to speak to humans, otherwise notifications will just get lost in the cloud. This is where VoCoVo is extremely strong. Our headsets are the focal point of the connected store. We are the glue that holds it all together.”
Safe associates are happy associates
The other key factor in associate wellbeing is safety. Retail crime is on the rise, with stores experiencing some of the worst losses in recent memory:
- Retail theft has increased 94% in the last five years
- Shoplifting cost US stores $112 billion in 2022
- The average retailer now loses 2-3% of their total revenue to thieves
There’s more to these numbers than meets the eye. Losses aren’t increasing because more people are shoplifting; they’re increasing because shoplifters are getting better at what they do.
What used to be a spontaneous act is now a sophisticated form of organized crime. Criminal gangs have developed strategies that allow them to steal high value items with near impunity. As Tom Thurlow puts it, shoplifting has changed almost beyond recognition:
“The number of armed robberies has declined, but a new type of theft has taken their place. Criminals aren’t coming in with guns and emptying the cash register. They’re filling baskets with valuable stock and then walking out, threatening any associates who try to stop them.”
Of course, leaders are keen to reduce financial losses, but they are more concerned about the effect this is having on associates. A shoplifting incident can all too easily spiral into violence, leaving associates afraid to go to work:
- The number of assaults in retail stores rose by 42% between 2018 and 2020
- 72% of retailers are concerned about the threat of violence during a criminal act
This is another area where communication is key. By connecting your team, we give them the confidence that they’ll never have to face a criminal alone. Our headsets allow associates to contact security immediately and discreetly, raising the alarm without putting themselves at risk. Headsets also act as a powerful deterrent, allowing you to present a united front against criminals.
All of this has a huge effect on morale. Our research shows that associates feel 54% safer when wearing our headsets.
If you found yourself agreeing with the points in this blog, we want to hear from you. Get in touch today to schedule a meeting.