Bite-sized information helps the staff to learn new information every day.SMS training complements our other regular training efforts
Two years ago, when Raymond Retail was looking at ways for making learning fun and easy to digest, we came up with the idea of using SMS for training. The rationale behind this was that every staff including the housekeeping staff and the doorman carries a mobile phone these days; SMS is unobtrusive and gives flexibility of accessing the message at one’s convenience; can reach anyone across the country without hassle; and is a cost effective tool, with charges of less than 5 paise per SMS! With the spread of over 600 plus ’The Raymond Stores’ pan-India, reaching over 5000 plus staff, SMS training works wonderfully. It helps us ensure that training is effective, continuous and does not overload the frontend staff with a lot of information at any one time.
How does the SMS training work? We use a web-based service provider for bulk SMS service, and program the messages to be sent one week in advance. Each message is not more than 160 characters long. There is a weekly theme and covers a range of topics in a “question and answer” format, which include product knowledge, selling skills, customer service, company updates, safety, visual merchandising and personal hygiene and grooming.
One message is sent everyday at 9.30 am, just before the store opens so that knowledge can be used and shared during the regular store meetings. Bite-sized information helps the staff to learn new information every day. SMS training complements our other regular training efforts.
How do we check the effectiveness of SMS training? The ‘weekly test’, conducted every Sunday, on the topic / theme covered the previous week, checks for training effectiveness. Respondents are required to reply with the correct answers to a standard mobile number at regular SMS charges. The training team then collates all the correct responses, and we choose a lucky winner who gets a gift voucher worth Rs. 500 which can be redeemed in any of ‘The Raymond Shops’.
To ensure that we have regular interaction and remove the fatigue factor, we have now introduced a special prize (a gift voucher of Rs. 1000) for maximum number of correct answers every month. We collate the mobile numbers and names of all weekly correct answers for the respective month and choose a winner by draw of lots.
This ‘SMS training’ initiative has been received very well by both the staff and the management. In fact, the staff looks forward to receiving the ‘learning message’ every day.
Arun Vishwanath is the Head - Training, Raymond Retail