Retailers wanting to provide the best possible customer experience need to focus on building associate engagement and loyalty by treating them properly. Proper treatment starts during the training process and puts them in the best possible to succeed.
In a recent webinar, Christine Tutssell, VP of Strategic Initiatives at Axonify, discussed how Bloomingdale’s ramped up its training and eLearning program to be more gamification-oriented, ongoing and engaging for associates.
With the gamified eLearning approach, Bloomindale’s associates experienced knowledge lifts in numerous company topics, including the awards program (22% increase), display hazards (21%), safe lifting (17%), emergency shutdowns (14%) and box cutters (13%).
The traditional Bloomingdale’s approach for associate training included posters and handouts to reinforce company policies, team rallies, compulsory Occupational Safety and Health Administration training, a new hire orientation, as well as a communication survey. However, once the training period was completed, the associates failed to retain much of what they learned, and didn’t apply any information to their actual jobs.
At Bloomingdale’s, the executives highlighted that preventable safety claims and a lack of understanding of the loss prevention programs were the two biggest challenges across the organization. In looking to address these challenges, the company discovered five major internal issues:
- Inconsistency in communication from department-to-department and store-to-store;
- Difficulty identifying which employees understood the training;
- Lack of associate engagement;
- No metrics to represent knowledge and retention;
- Lack of appeal to traditional approach; and
- Poor compliance and escalating claims.
After identifying these issues, Chad McIntosh, VP of Loss Prevention and Risk Management at Bloomingdale’s eliminated the old program and started anew with a program that was engaging, integrated into the workday and measurable.
“Being in sales, Chad wanted to leverage the competition in a way that was going to help drive business results,” Tutssell said. “He also wanted to reward the employees for doing a good job in participating in the program and show that they cared as a company about the associates.”
With the new program, Tutssell also wanted employees to make better use of their downtime so that they weren’t taken off the store floor at peak selling times. After mulling over potential options, the Bloomingdale’s team created a game that gave associates a chance to learn every day while they were on the job.
As part of the eLearning approach, associates received three questions a day related to floor safety and inventory shrink. The game is personalized to each associate to emphasize the questions they don’t know, and could be accessed at the POS, at the employee clock-in or via a tablet. It also includes a leaderboard that shows top-performing associates, and a rewards program in which associates can buy products with the points they earn.
“Gamification tries to take game elements and drive engagement, which is what we’re trying to accomplish,” Tutssell said. “It uses game-based mechanics and game thinking to get people motivated. When we looked at the Axonify experience there for a day in the life of a Blomingdale’s associate, the leaderboard, the auction and the gameplay are examples of that. As an example, I might not be a gamer, but I sure like to play and be on top of the leaderboard. Other employees might not care as much about the leaderboard, but they want to earn as many points as they can.”