Foot Locker’s mobile-first approach to training drives the team member behaviors that keep customers smiling
Foot Locker was on a mission. Its leadership team knew that getting frontline team members to exhibit the right behaviors when they were interacting with customers every day would lead to positive sales results. So, they went looking for a way to shift frontline mindsets away from simply making the sale and towards connecting with customers in a way that exceeds expectations and brings them back to shop in the future. But the desire to change behaviors is one thing; making it happen at scale, across 44,000 team members and 3,000 stores around the globe, is quite another.
“I knew immediately that Axonify was different. We don’t have dedicated time to pull our people off the floor for 20 minutes of training…the microlearning approach just felt so right for them.”
Enter Lauren Hayes, Head of Global Learning. When she joined Foot Locker in 2018, her mandate was to develop a cohesive, consistent learning strategy for store teams and leadership alike. So, where do you start when you have a blank slate of this size? If you’re Hayes, you go straight to the source.
“I did a lot of focus groups with the store teams and field leadership,” Hayes says. “And I kept hearing the same themes repeated. The training at the time was mostly in books and binders, so in addition to the content, the delivery was very outdated. We have a lot of younger, part- time team members who spoke about how their schools were leveraging technology to teach, as opposed to the traditional approach we were still using in stores.
When I asked about their “wish list” or ideal training state, so many team members asked about the possibility of using their phones. We recognized right away that we needed a more digital approach to learning that would meet our team members where they were.”
In the early days, Hayes had a vision for creating scenario-based YouTube-style videos—shot on a phone and featuring situations in store with real customers. The goal was authenticity and demonstrating exactly the type of customer interaction behaviors Foot Locker expected from frontline team members. Due to store bandwidth limitations, she had to send her videos out on CD-ROMs that would then have to be downloaded onto a back-office PC in each store. She complemented the videos with short, printed training guides dubbed CX-101.
Although CX-101 was a much more streamlined training program than what was previously in place, Hayes quickly realized it was only a stepping-stone on the way to a more robust training solution. “We were putting all this work in to release training to the stores, but there were no true checks and balances in place,” she explains. “We knew whether teams had completed their training, but we didn’t know if they were applying the learnings in their day-to-day interactions with customers. So, the long-term plan was to have a mobile-friendly platform that would let us deliver the training content needed to change behaviors and provide insights into how well it was working.”
“There were no true checks and balances in place. We knew whether teams had completed their training, but we didn’t know if they were applying the learnings in their day-to-day interactions with customers.”
(Learning) love at first sight
Hayes became aware of Axonify as a candidate for the modern solution she was seeking when Tony Aversa, Foot Locker’s Vice President of Customer Experience and Sales in North America, flagged the company to her. Although her first meeting with Axonify was scheduled to be a quick, 30-minute introduction, it ended up running more than twice that long as the conversation and questions continued to flow.
“I knew immediately that Axonify was different,” she says. “We don’t have dedicated time to pull our teams off the floor for 20 minutes of training. And knowing my audience consists of heavy Snapchat and Instagram users who want everything to be really quick and engaging—the microlearning approach just felt so right for them.”
Hayes also appreciated that the learning would be continually reinforced and personalized. “I loved the fact that each person’s training experience in Axonify wouldn’t necessarily be the same as the person sitting next to them,” she says. “The algorithm understands each individual’s unique areas of opportunity and strengths then gives them an experience to match.”
She admits that she was more skeptical of the gamification at first glance, but quickly realized that it would create an immersive learning experience that taps into her team’s competitive nature and existing love of video games outside of work.
“I was meeting with other vendors who talked about gamification, but it didn’t really feel like gamification,” Hayes says. “And when the training is one-and-done, how are people supposed to remember what they’ve learned over long periods of time? Axonify had a lot of unique features, and I very quickly recognized the platform’s value.”
Since Foot Locker, Inc. is a global organization operating across 27 countries, they were looking for a platform that could serve all store team members. The North America leadership team consulted with the team in charge of training in EMEA and APAC before moving forward with any technology decision. Once they were introduced to Axonify, they quickly got on board.
“Our team members had been asking for quite some time for a better way to learn at work,” says Dennis Gjaltema, Sr. Manager, L&D – EMEA, Foot Locker. “Axonify is an easy digital experience where they can go in, complete their training fast and see the impact that it’s making on their confidence every day.”
Aligning training efforts globally also made a lot of sense from a customer experience perspective. “From the customer’s point of view, it doesn’t matter if they are visiting a Foot Locker store in New York, Italy or Singapore, they want to have the same great experience,” says Gjaltema. “So, delivering a consistent training experience to all team members is very important. We make local and market adjustments to our content where necessary, but the bigger picture is always the global picture.”