Tribune: 7 reasons why it's necessary to indicate on their badges that salespeople are "in training"
This article was originally published by Julien Cusin et Michaël Flacandji.
While the "in training" badge should not become a "shield for misbehaviour", it favourably modifies the perception of customers and invites them to get involved in the training of the employees concerned.
Should contact personnel newly recruited by a company have to wear a badge with the words "in training" on it? It is legitimate to question the relevance of this signal, as such an artifact can potentially have negative repercussions. In addition to the fact that some employees may feel devalued, customers may also be suspicious of them and choose to avoid them during their visits to the store (e.g., fear of bad advice or wasting time). However, indicating that salespeople are being trained, through the use of a badge, has far more advantages than disadvantages, especially in situations of service failure, understood here as customer dissatisfaction with regard to their initial expectations regarding the service provided.
The customer will be more tolerant should an error occur.
The badge modifies the perception of customers, who are more lenient towards staff undergoing training, who may hesitate, grope, or even make mistakes. They generally show empathy, remembering that they themselves were once beginners and made inevitable mistakes, from which they learned later. Knowing that the counsellor is inexperienced therefore makes clients much less demanding (e.g., tolerating slower than usual service).
The customer will feel that he or she is helping the salesperson to train himself or herself.
By addressing employees in training (instead of deliberately avoiding them), some clients choose to help them learn their trade. The employee-client exchange is then perceived, in a way, as a training action within a work situation, where the client plays a pivotal role. It therefore contributes to the successful integration of the counsellor within the company.
There'll be a lot less conflict with the customer.
The asymmetry of information between the client and the counsellor regarding the latter's level of experience is a potential source of tension in the event of an incident. By promoting a certain transparency, the badge helps protect employees at fault from customers who are dissatisfied with the service they receive. When a manager intervenes to remedy the situation, customers sometimes show compassion by explicitly asking their line manager not to punish the counsellor.
The negative halo effect on the sign will be avoided.
An isolated service failure can make the customer feel that the sign - or even the brand - is failing. The presence of a badge can then change the customer's perception in a much more positive direction, by limiting the error. In other words, the customer will understand that the problem encountered does not stem from a general lack of skills within the company, but simply from a temporary lack of experience on the part of the person they are dealing with.
The salesman will be more confident facing the customer.
The badge makes advisors feel much more comfortable in their business relationship. Freed from a psychological burden, they will be less distrustful and will go out to meet clients more easily, without fear of making mistakes. In other words, employees will be less focused on their personal interest (protecting themselves at all costs by avoiding any risk of error) and more on the customer's interest in being satisfied.
The salesperson will not have to justify himself or herself to the customer.
Practice shows that even without a badge, employees in the training phase are eager to justify their failures to customers, hiding behind the argument that they have recently joined the company. Involuntarily, the company then leaves its customers with the image of an HR policy that weakens the staff in contact with them by refusing to implement a badge system.
The presence of the badge does not rule out mutual assistance between salespeople.
The company's number one priority must remain service excellence. In addition to the fact that the badge should obviously not be a "shield of stupidity" for employees, balanced work teams should be set up, in which experienced advisors can help the new colleague to maintain a smooth customer experience. In particular, service failures must be recovered quickly and efficiently.
To conclude, it is important to recall the importance of employee training in order to limit the risk of errors once they are in the front office. However, it would be naive to think that a new employee will not make mistakes because he or she has been well trained. Indeed, experience is acquired, above all, in the field, in situations of interaction with customers. It is therefore important to assume this common sense empirical reality by equipping advisers with a badge, which will enable them to be more serene - and therefore more efficient - in their relations with customers. The store manager will then have to make sense of this initiative so that the advisors concerned do not feel any stigma. In this respect, it is never pointless to remember that the quality of the relationship between a brand and its customers is equal to the quality of the relationship between that brand and its own employees.