A flexible computer-based training system pitched precisely at shop staff worked wonders for sales and satisfaction at Compass Group outlets, says international retail director Garry Craft

As the leading foodservice organisation in the UK and Ireland, Compass Group provides high-quality catering and support services at 8,500 locations through a range of brand outlets servicing differing sectors of the community. Client satisfaction is a top priority for us so investment in high-quality training is essential.
As for many retail businesses, our challenge with growing Amigo and Whistlestop c-stores is to provide staff with customer service and sales skills prior to them interacting with customers.
Throughout the early stages of the development of our training programme, we looked for a creative approach that would effectively provide our people with essential skills and knowledge but would also appeal to their age profile.
It was clear that the use of a computer-based programme that could be delivered in-store on a standalone basis or within small group sessions would help us to effectively deliver training across a large number of store locations.
This flexibility was important. We also wanted a structure that would facilitate line manager involvement. We wanted to ensure validation of learning as the staff member progressed through the programme but make it clear that line managers had a vital role to play in the delivery.
Faced with a range of implementation and learning challenges, we turned to Bourne Training for a cost-effective solution that we could implement across the estate. As this includes a network of Amigo stores in Europe, translation of the solution was also a likely requirement.
By working closely with Bourne, we were able to build a modular Computer Based Training (CBT) programme covering the essential induction knowledge and critical service skills needed by all customer-facing employees.
Finding time for induction in-store would be a major factor in the success of this programme, and the CBT was designed and structured so that the learning could be planned over the initial weeks of employment.
We scripted a lot of the material ourselves but Bourne’s ability to create interesting, interactive and fun modules that encouraged staff to take part and remain engaged in the learning process was key to the success of the programme. In addition to the core tutorial element, we supported the course with a range of managers’ resources to ensure learning was effectively applied.
The benefits speak for themselves. We knew that one of the first measurement points would be sales. A clear trend quickly emerged; our average transaction values increased by up to 19% in Whistlestop stores within four weeks of training. Our second measurement looked specifically at customer service through our mystery shopper scores, which progressively improved by 13-24 percentage points in the three-month period following training.
My team and all those involved with the programme were very satisfied with the implementation of the programme and a clearly sustained improvement in the quality of merchandising and customer service.
The end product not only addresses the precise need outlined at the outset, but it does so in an incredibly user-friendly way, pitching the learning at exactly the right level for the target audience. The benefits are now being transferred to Amigo stores across Compass Group and translated into four different languages.
We feel that continuous and thorough communication has been the key to the success of this programme.
By establishing an understanding of our specific and overall requirements, we were able to provide our people with the best possible start.
Compass Group’s c-stores now have a strategic programme that facilitates communication with the store manager and assists the identification of further coaching needs. This will allow us to provide essential, ongoing support that will bring long-term benefits to the business.