#RetailProblems On Twitter
Especially during this time of year I like to check out #RetailProblems on Twitter. It gives you a snapshot as to what is happening in the field in Retail and what the frustrations are for the employees who work directly in the stores and with customers. I do this so that I can proactively address any irritations that may exist in our business that can, potentially, pull focus away from business, harm employee engagement, and help support anything that we can improve upon that may have been missed in holiday planning.
If you do a search on #retailproblems and #retaillife you will see some funny and relevant anecdotes (that we have all experienced) about issues that exist in retail and a lot of customer based tweets.
Here are some of the most interesting I see as I scroll this morning
retail problems. @realretailstory
Retail Prison @retailprison
Sarah Smiles @berandombecrazy
Laura Daly @LauraDaly5
Craig Bennett @CabbyInTheRye
Joe Flynn @fenian2153
Erin @erin_menza Nov 1
I, weekly (usually overnight when I can’t sleep), scroll through this hashtag to get a pulse of what is happening in retail and the frustrations that team members have with their customer, company, product, or policies.
Due to the trend of Christmas music kvetches on Twitter under #RetailProblems, on November 5th, as a company, we made a decision not to introduce Christmas music into the stores until Friday, the 27th of November because we know that the team’s are irritated by it and, frankly, a lot of customers are as well. Personally, I LOVE Christmas and Hanukkah music and have a “playlist” for it year-round but I know, as a customer, how annoying it can be to have holidays forced on us early. (Kudos to Nordstrom for not decorating for Christmas until the 27th!) It’s similar to the way I feel when, by January 1st, I see Valentine’s Day colors and products start to insinuate themselves into brick-and-mortar retail stores (yuck!).
Scanning this hashtag also allows me to prepare the team to have a sense of humor for customer experience and interactions they will have during the holidays – it allows me to coach to how to handle challenging customers – and acknowledging it allows for team members to have a comfort level venting when they are frustrated. I can also use these topics to coach to stronger replenishment and recovery efforts to avoid customer pricing and sale confusion – when the team knows that the product is in the right location and what belongs where, they are more assertive and empowered when it comes to communicating with customers.
You will also see a lot of scheduling tweets expressing frustration for writing schedules, short scheduled shifts, coverage issues, meetings, etc. All of these things can be proactively addressed, and planned for, to mitigate frustration for the field teams. Never before have we been able to support the stores and set them up for a happy holiday season the way we can now and we should be using the tools and information available to do so, as much as possible. This hashtag is replete with passive-aggressive tweets that provide much insight and great jumping-off points for coaching and conversations about legitimate business or leadership concerns.
You also see a recurring themes of people being unhappy that their company is opening on Thanksgiving. Some great retail organization have recently disrupted retail norms by announcing they will close on Thanksgiving. Allowing time for people to celebrate the holiday and have a day off where they can focus on their personal lives. This is a great choice and, as a consumer, I would absolutely favor these companies over their competition. But if your company is open you need address and constantly reinforce the “why” behind being open to give that unpleasant initiative a purpose and to give the team members who are forced to sacrifice their holiday a purpose.
Realistically – all companies have employees that are unhappy at times but but sometimes it’s difficult to put a finger on what is causing the unhappiness. #RetailProblems has, on occasion, illuminated an issue that I hadn’t previously considered or something that I never imagined as an issue. It has allowed me to open up dialogues with my field team members that I hadn’t before and resulted in some great conversation and our ability to communicate more effectively with the teams.
If you are a leader in retail and you have not done so, I would suggest occasionally scanning this hashtag for insight and some good retail laughs from the memes posted because we can all relate. You will find that there are things in your business that you can improve, impact, communicate, and effect that perhaps you hadn’t thought to address. It’s just another great retail tool we have to gain understanding of what our teams are feeling at times.
Added 1/10/16: Here is a snapshot of what is new on #RetailProblems:looks like it time for some motivational training on how to deal with aggravating customers…#NewYear #NewIdeas