As consumer appliances grow ever more sophisticated, it can be a challenge for retail salespeople to stay up to speed on every high-tech element blinking, beeping and buzzing in the latest washing machine or dryer — but it’s essential. Consumers visiting brick-and-mortar stores, particularly those in the market for big-ticket items, want store associates both to help them understand exactly what they’re paying for and connect them with the model that fits their needs and budget.
Appliance manufacturer Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte (BSH) has adopted a gamified training solution from Attensi that features competition-based true-to-life scenarios designed to help salespeople remember product features, understand shopper motivations and close the sale. A pilot program at a European retailer tested a game focused on a specific product knowledge area strategically chosen to sell new Bosch and Siemens high-end washing machines. The 10 stores where associates received the mobile-delivered training saw a 26.2% increase in appliance sales compared to the 10 stores that didn’t use the app.
Equally important, the associates gave positive feedback, saying the training improved their ability to recommend products to customers. Because the training game was available on associates’ mobile devices, they could play frequently, trying out multiple scenarios as they sought to improve their scores. Staff spent a total of 90 minutes or more playing the training app, resulting in a 93% improvement in product knowledge.
For example, auto-dosing washing machines, which automatically dispense the optimal amount of detergent and softener based on the amount of clothing and wash cycle, “is an innovative feature that people are very interested in, but it helps if they can have the benefits explained in detail,” said Thomas Antonsen, Head of Sell-out Management and Training Excellence for Northern Europe at Bosch Siemens in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We are, of course, interested in selling more of our products, and equipping [store] staff with the right product knowledge has been proven to offer a significant increase in sales.”
Training Provides a ‘Safe Space’ to Learn and Fail
The gamified training does more than simply impart product knowledge. “Store staff will train on how to do needs analysis with their customers and then apply learnings from product features and the product range to sell the right product in the simulation,” explained Ellen Vrålstad, VP Sales for Retail at Attensi in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “For example, users will learn how to best handle interactions and questions from a variety of customer types, such as busy families and tech-savvy double income/no kids households. The outcome of the game — and how many points the user is awarded — is determined by how successfully they answer the questions.”
Boning up on product knowledge prior to actual customer interactions provides the sales associate with confidence that they (hopefully) transmit to potential purchasers. The training “ensures staff have a safe place to learn and fail before selling to real customers,” said Vrålstad, adding that the gamified approach “inspires employees to repeat their training multiple times — the most important factor in making knowledge stick.”
Since the European pilot program, BSH has expanded the training program into the U.S. for associates at several large consumer electronics retailers. Reports show strong employee engagement and a 93% improvement in product knowledge, said Vrålstad. BSH also has started using the Attensi CREATOR tool, which allows the brand to create its own training modules, developing new simulations and updating existing content as business needs change and evolve.
While BSH has been the primary beneficiary of the training solution, “we see this as being beneficial to the retailer too, because it helps them to offer something that online retailers cannot,” said Antonsen. “Knowledgeable and friendly staff who can offer face-to-face contact and answer difficult questions are still valued and will make customers more likely to purchase, especially when it comes to big-ticket items such as electronics and white goods.
“We don’t expect this to entirely replace face-to-face contact — we still cherish the ability to deal with our clients face-to-face when restrictions allow,” Antonsen added. “But this allows us to deliver training in a way that point-of-sale staff actually want. People want content delivered to them in a convenient, accessible way, and our Attensi training app has helped us to achieve that.”