Nearly 50% of consumers believe their personal mobile devices are more efficient than store associates in helping them make buying decisions, according to research from Motorola. A new study from Red Ant confirmed that many in-store employees possess a similar sentiment, and often go out of their way to avoid customer questions.
In fact, 67% of consumers noticed a lack of product knowledge from in-store associates, with 40% of people shopping online to avoid poor customer service, according to Red Ant in the survey of more than 1,000 store associates in the UK. Designed to identify store associates’ frustrations with their current positions, survey results showed that 47% of employees were unfamiliar with the products they were selling.
“Many retailers are failing to spot this problem,” said Dan Mortimer, CEO of Red Ant. “It’s not necessarily about giving consumers the tools to access the information themselves, it’s about using technology to enable employees to provide a more valuable, enjoyable experience and keep customers coming back for more.”
A lack of comprehensive training may be a factor to blame for the lack of product knowledge, according to the Red Ant research. As many as 74% of frontline staff said they believe employers can do more to improve familiarity with store merchandise. In fact, 58% of employees said they received less than two hours training in their current positions.
The Red Ant study also revealed some of the top tactics store associates used to deflect customer attention, including:
- Directing customers to a colleague (73%);
- Lying about a product they weren’t knowledgeable of (63%); and
- Leaving a customer unattended on the store floor (48%).
Other methods included pretending to be busy with another task, hiding at the back of the store, going to the restroom and pretending to feel ill.