In the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our retail teams all over the world have been spending the last few months learning whole new skillsets to make sure that our consumers are still having the best possible experience while shopping in our stores.
To get a sense of what retail service excellence looks like around the world today, we turned to the best in the business: Our very own store managers. Here’s what they told us.
What does a typical day in a store look like today versus pre-pandemic?
Bee Guat Ooi, Store Manager, Levi’s® Store Kuala Lumpur City Center, Malaysia: We sanitize the store three times a day since reopening. This takes up certain hours, both for manpower and for planning. There are now more policies to follow and restrictions on how we should handle the merchandise in the store.
Liza Panjoel, Assistant Manager, LS Utrecht Hoog Catharijne store: We have less traffic now and we are more aware of cleaning all the surfaces more often than before. But for the rest we try to keep it as much like the “normal days” as we can and put our full focus on our consumers.
How have your best practices changed?
Saul Zamora, Senior Store Manager, Levi’s® Citadel Store, Commerce, California: With our new reduced store occupancy, we now have a line outside every day. My store leaders behave like flight attendants, covering safety guidelines with every group that’s about to enter our store. Every consumer is informed that we require a face covering, and they’re provided with a pump of hand sanitizer as they enter. Both consumers and associates appreciate the safety measures being taken to keep them healthy and safe. These practices also help us avoid escalated issues because our expectations are set before the consumer walks in.
The line monitors also interact with consumers and answer questions about promotions as well as returns and exchanges. If they see a consumer with an online return, they go ahead and process the return. We want our online shoppers to have a hassle-free return experience, because that will increase the odds of them shopping with us again.
Bee: Because the max occupancy in our store is eight consumers at a time, we have more quality time to give one-on-one service to our consumers, from the front of the store to the cash wrap. We get to explain the product technology and features more, and better inspire the consumers to purchase our merchandise.
Tracey Felvus, Store Manager, London Flagship Regent Street: Service now is very much guided by the consumer. We ask them how they would like to be served today. Everything just takes that much longer, especially the fitting room areas. Every touch point is a critical path for keeping the consumer safe — from ensuring they hand sanitize at the front of store and that fitting rooms are sanitized to encouraging contactless payment on the tills.
What’s been the most challenging part about providing excellent retail service now?
Bee: We need to keep a safe distance from our consumers. Being one meter away from consumers with masks on means we need to speak louder than before.
Saul: Changing the way we interact as human beings. From a consumer standpoint, not being able to express our friendly facial gestures because of our face masks and maintaining social distance was a challenge. My team is accustomed to approaching the consumer and providing a handshake as a form of respect; now we are six feet apart and waving hello and goodbye. And from an associate standpoint, we are a family, so it was difficult to hold back a hug after not seeing someone for so long or providing a high-five for a job well done.
Liza: Keeping distance with our consumers. Normally you are also checking the jeans and how they fit, but now it’s just our eyes and the consumer’s opinion that make the sale. Our key is to just communicate with our consumers and really listen to them so we can make the best fit suggestion.
What are you and the team most proud of?
Bee: That we are able to maintain a good practice of social distancing and personal hygiene, because we take it as our responsibility to control this viral disease from being spread to others.
Saul: We are very proud of the accomplishments we have delivered as a store team, despite the pandemic. I truly believe our team came back more focused than ever and with a passion to do more.
Tracey: I’m most proud of how adaptable the team is. They really are just getting on with it. It’s a very strange new normal, but we are embracing it.