Article: Absence of customer connect: Dr. Anita Bandyopadhyay


Absence of customer connect: Dr. Anita Bandyopadhyay

Dr. Anita Bandyopadhyay, Director, Center for Excellence - Corporate HR, Raymond

At Raymond, we seek entry level talent for our retail formats - The Raymond ahop network, exclusive brand outlets of Park Avenue, Parx, Colorplus and Neck Ties and more, and for the manufacturing business. While Raymond as a brand personifies class and premium, the entry level talent that we find from various graduate courses, do not have the required polish. They lack English speaking skills, basic operating skills, persuading skills and most importantly the ability to connect with customers. Therefore, a lot of work is done by the company in training them. We spend a minimum of 2 months to 4-6 months of training time in order to make these people productive. Further, the challenge is further magnified because of the high attrition we face at the entry level, which is to the tune of 30 percent.

For the managerial roles, we hire only graduates and from post-graduate vocational schools. We do hire people with vocational background for non-managerial roles and for supervisory or officer level roles. While we do encourage many of these diploma holders to pursue their graduation through Open University if they show the potential to move up the ladder into managerial roles, very few have the inclination to make such an investment of time and effort to study further.

There is a challenge in sourcing candidates as well and we use multiple sources to address the same. We have a ‘train and place model’ where we have tied up with institutes, and NGOs to identify talent, train them and place them accordingly. So, we provide training as a part of the education program, and at the end of the program we assess if they are ready for our business and then absorb them accordingly. These partnerships are at the regional level where the program aims to address the skill requirement in the retail outlets of these regional stores. Thereafter we also hire from regional engineering colleges and from the premium engineering colleges for the manufacturing business.

When looking for the required skills for our business, the challenge is in finding the right quality of skills. There are colleges that have mushroomed all over the place, but there is a huge discrepancy in terms of their readiness for the corporate world. Most of the better candidates prefer the higher paying BPO jobs, which leaves very poor quality candidates for our business. And the problem gets worse in tier 3 cities.

In the retail business, selling is just one part of it, and candidates also need to know some accounting, reporting, computer skills, analytical thinking and they also need to be good at problem solving, and organizing. So, the skill-sets required, along with their functional skills, are very niche and that is where the trouble is. Unfortunately, there is no institute that trains candidates on the required service orientation, which is critical in the retail business. Raymond demands a very engaged process of selling, which requires the employee to understand the clientele and his lifestyle. What is important to note is that today, the industry is a mix of product and service, and the two need to work in tandem. Thus, vocational institutions need to understand this missing link when imparting skill development programs that are focused at increasing employability.

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Topics: Skilling, C-Suite

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