Motivate retail associates, inspire pride

We are Ladies and Gentleman serving ladies and Gentleman

—Motto of Ritz Carlton

Human psyche, as a subject, has always fascinated me. I have often wondered why we wish to be treated like a ‘Gentleman’ when we treat those who serve us as a ‘servant’. It is interesting that when the roles get reversed, we still want to maintain our ‘Gentleman’ status.

This behaviour has been instilled in us since childhood. For instance, when our neighbour offers a glass of water, we teach our children to say ‘Thank you’, but when our maid brings the same glass of water, we take it for granted and don’t ask our children to thank her. We pay our respect to the priest who conducts the house warming ceremony but fail to acknowledge the labourers who built the house, brick by brick. It is essential that we start respecting dignity of labour, irrespective of the sector the person works in or his job role.

In today’s world, a retailer is not just a provider of product or services, he has to be a friend and a guide. In many product categories like electronics and fashion, he has to be an expert advisor. In a supermarket or a grocery store, he is the assistant who guides you with your purchase. The retailer, therefore, has to recognize the role the retail associate plays and encourage him/her by training the person and developing his capability to perform and excel.

I believe, the day all of us start acknowledging the role of the retail sales associate, the pride for the retail industry will automatically grow. A few things that we all can do to motivate our associates are:

  1. Create and build the respect for the role
  1. Train & skill the employee so that he can represent the company with great pride
  1. Equip him/her with tools to be able to solve customer queries
  1. Make him aware of the opportunities that exist in the business for him to grow
  1. Train and skill him/her for personal and financial growth and career progression. It is important to make him/her aware that the competition for the superior role is tough as the pyramid in the organization is flat.
  1. Appreciate and compliment him for good customer service. Since they are the first and last contact point with customers, they resonate all that our brand represents. Therefore, appreciating their work reinforces our belief.
  1. A simple Thank You from all of us as peer group, bosses or customers can go a long way in making the retail associate a great service provider, and retail industry a great place to work.

But what better way to start than from the midst of our own homes? Let’s begin by teaching our children to respect our maids, drivers, security people, electricians, parents and all who are an integral part of our lives.

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B S Nagesh

B S Nagesh

B. S. Nagesh (fondly referred to as BSN) is credited with taking Shoppers Stop to unprecedented glory. In 2009, he stepped out of his operating role as MS and is now the Vice Chairman of the board. A charismatic leader and an engaging speaker, BSN is as popular among the youth as his peers. BSN is considered the pioneer of the retail boom in India and is the first Asian to be included in the World Retail Congress Hall of Fame. The RAI Chairman now runs a charitable trust called Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN).