Sunday, June 7, 2009

Guest Post by Mr. Arun Vishwanath, Head – Training at RAYMOND Retail

One thing which is always working on the mind of a business head of a company is "how do we ensure that we have maximum returns from our investments"? Same is the case with learning and development investments. Six months ago, we at Raymond Retail, were looking at various ways of making learning fun and easy to digest, while being cost effective. With a bit of brainstorming within the Training Team, we came up with a brilliant idea of using SMS for Training through mobile phones. The rationale behind this was:
  • Every staff including the housekeeping staff and the doorman carries a mobile phone these days
  • SMS is unobtrusive and gives you the flexibility of accessing the message at a time when you are comfortable (the absence of urgency factor!)
  • You can reach anyone across the country without too many hassles
  • And of course, this is a cost effective tool, with charges of less than 20 paise per SMS!
With the spread of over 400 Plus "The Raymond Stores" Pan-India, reaching over 2000 plus staff, SMS training works wonderfully for us. This way, we can ensure that training is effective, continuous and it does not overload the front end staff with a lot of information at any one time. Probably, for the first time in India, SMS is being used extensively as a learning and development tool.

We use a service provider for Bulk SMS and program the messages to be sent on a weekly basis. We have a weekly theme and cover a range of topics in a "question and answer" format, which include:

  • Product knowledge
  • Selling Skills
  • Customer Service
  • Company updates
  • Safety
  • Visual Merchandising
  • Personal hygiene and grooming

One message is sent everyday at 9.30 am, just before the store opens. This way, this knowledge can be used and shared during the regular store meetings and briefings. SMS training complements our other regular training efforts and is not a substitute.

The success of any training module or tool depends on its effectiveness. To ensure that there is regular interaction and to check how effective the training was, we have a "weekly test" which is conducted every Sunday, on the topic / theme covered the previous week. Respondents are required to reply with the correct answers to a standard mobile number at regular SMS charges. One lucky winner who gets a gift voucher worth Rs. 500/- which can be redeemed in any of "The Raymond Shops".

The popularity and success of this initiative can be gauged by the responses we get every week. The most encouraging aspect of this aspect is that it is extremely cost effective and helps in reinforcing learning. Currently this program is available in English and we are exploring options of extending this initiative in other Indian languages as also management related.

Overall, the "SMS Training" initiative has been received very well by both the staff and the management. In fact, most of the staff look forward to receiving the "learning message" every day.

Happy innovating and learning!
Comment by VR - Retail is all about such innovations and ideas. Great to hear about such happenings. I am sure, many readers would benefit from this idea.


puresunshine said...

Its really an innovative way to stay in touch with employees and make them feel involved.

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