customer service capabilities, enhanced de-escalation techniques and increased point-of-sale proficiency. If staff are trained with these skills, they will elevate confidence, and job satisfaction, which will flow on to your customers. Top tips for staff excellence during busy periods: Engaging with customers • Effective communication: Instruct your staff on consistently communicating with customers. Provide guidance on greetings, language during sales processes, and post-sale interactions. Establish a script for phone, counter, and email interactions and include example responses to difficult questions or requests ahead of when they happen. • U tilise small talk: Encourage genuine customer small talk as an ice-breaker, making waiting times more pleasant. • Role-play: Incorporate role-playing into training to enhance effective communication skills in everyday situations. • Follow-up procedures: Define how you want your team to follow up after a sale, whether through emails or phone calls. Assisting customers with difficulties • De-escalation techniques: Train staff in acknowledging waiting times and using language to prevent escalation. Establish a process for managing customer wait times. • Active listening: Emphasise the importance of active listening and empathy, including eye contact and understanding non-verbal cues. • Asking questions: Encourage staff to ask questions for clarity and repeat information to ensure understanding. • D evelop a template: Create a template for potential customer difficulties and brainstorm creative solutions. • T imely follow-up and resolution: Have protocols in place for handling complaints or issues, including turnaround times. Identifying and responding to workplace security risks • S ecurity awareness training: Educate staff on store risks, emergency procedures, and personal safety protocols. • Theft situations: Implement procedures for handling potential theft, including policies for staff and customer engagement. • F oster a vigilant culture: Lead by example, encourage teamwork, and establish a reporting process for unacceptable behaviour. • E nsure physical safety: Provide guidelines for personal space, use of counters as barriers, and clear expectations on workplace health and safety. Foster a supportive and understanding workplace culture • L ead by example: Often the most valuable training comes from watching and listening to others in real-time. Ensure your management and senior staff make a good impression on your wider team by living by your company’s values and expectations day in, and day out. • G rowth mindset: When situations could have been handled better, take it as a learning opportunity. Reflect with your staff on what happened, where they can improve next time, and draft an action plan to prevent a reoccurrence. • P ositive affirmation: Do not hesitate to praise your team when they effectively handle a challenging situation. With all the above agreed approaches, we recommend developing and designing a printable staff handbook with clear checklists to serve as a quick reference for staff at point-ofsale. Consider including templated scripts for communications, customer greetings, regular questions and how to respond, de-escalation processes, post-sale communications and sales-prompters in this manual. Having solid guidelines and additional staff training will build confidence, create a positive workforce culture, and help serve your customers for the best possible experience – especially during particularly busy periods. NTHA: Your training partner At NTHA Training, we understand the challenges your staff may face during this hectic time of year. NTHA Training is your partner in creating a wellequipped, confident, and efficient retail team. Our courses are tailored to your business's needs, offering flexibility, affordability, and the skills necessary to thrive in any retail environment. Choose fast-track training for quick skills acquisition or a Career KickStarter with a SIR30216 Certification III in Retail for a formal qualification. NTHA Training, a Registered Training Organisation (RTO #5343), is committed to supporting you on this journey to creating a successful retail business. Visit, email, or call us at 1800 822 621 for a friendly discovery chat. About Louise Kinloch Louise Kinloch is a highly accomplished executive operations and education leader, boasting over 20 years of industry experience in education. Currently serving as the General Manager – Training for the National Timber and Hardware Association (NTHA), Louise brings a wealth of knowledge to the vocational education sector. She holds an Executive Master of Business and a Bachelor’s degree in Vocational Education and Training. Renowned for her strategic acumen, Louise excels in optimising business opportunities, fostering team growth, and aligning individuals with organisational goals. Her expertise spans learning and development, regulatory environments, and various core human resources disciplines, making her a valuable asset in driving growth and success. DECEMBER '23 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 11