Would store associates benefit from acting lessons?
In the U.K., John Lewis is providing 322 store associates at its new store in Oxford with acting lessons from The Oxford Playhouse to help “teach them the art of outstanding service.”
The associates, referred to as “partners,” are being taught voice and body language skills used by actors to help them “confidently deliver great customer service in their own authentic way,” according to a press release.
Mezze Eade, participation director of the Oxford Playhouse, told the Oxford Mail,
“We’ve been running workshops and focusing on breathing techniques, confidence and interacting with people.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Simon Tavener, secretary of the Oxford Theatre Guild, said being able to develop a “character” can help a store associate make adjustments based on a customer’s needs.
“Selling requires you to have a sort of script in your head,” Mr. Tavener said. “Not one you recite, but one you tailor to your own voice … a form of improv, if you like.”
The acting lessons support the launch a new “concierge style” shopping experience that sets the tone at the chain’s new three-floor, 120,000 square foot “retail-entertainment” store in Oxford.
The shopping journey is guided by an Experience Desk where associates help customers book appointments with a personal shopper or a table at the rooftop restaurant. Customers can also sign up for a rotating lineup of events such as a make-up masterclass or a smoothie-making class.
In an interview earlier this summer with the Oxford Mail, Peter Cross, customer experience director at John Lewis, said the acting lessons are expected to help the staff with selling floor and concierge tasks.
He said, “Our new store Oxford will recognize the power of our partners as the key players on the stage of this new shop, so their training will include not only all the critical product knowledge our customers expect but also the tools and techniques of the theatre to ensure every customer interaction is as magical as possible.”
- John Lewis to offer customers new ‘concierge style’ shopping experience – John Lewis
- ’Shoppertainment’: How department stores are becoming ‘theatres of dreams’ – Guardian
- PICTURES: Inside the fully stocked John Lewis ahead of opening – Oxford Mail
- The whole store’s a stage: Westgate John Lewis staff to be theatre trained – Oxford Mail
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: As retailers incorporate more “retail-tainment” into stores, would associates benefit from acting lessons? Do acting skills translate to retail selling?