Jennifer Kerr was a worthy winner of the 2015 Sales Assistant of the Year Awards. Now it’s time to unearth a new diamond
It wasn’t just Jennifer Kerr’s star that rose after she was crowned 2015’s Sales Assistant of the Year. Her confidence was also given a serious boost by the accolade, which is still a regular talking point at her Spar store in Saintfield Road, Lisburn, Northern Ireland.
A genuine all-rounder, Jennifer possessed all of the qualities that the judges were searching for in a winner: a positive attitude; a key team player; a force for good within her local community; a commercial mind-set, and, most crucially of all, first-rate customer service skills and a genuine desire to help each person who visits her till – be they paying customers, or elderly locals in need of support.
Her role, which at the time of winning the award was mainly till-based, has also changed dramatically since her win, with Jennifer having been made second in command for the chilled section, with duties including ordering and stocktaking. She’s also heavily involved in training new starters, something which she “really enjoys.”
“Winning the award was simply fantastic,” Jennifer says. “My team organised a celebration for my first day back after the ceremony and when I arrived there were flowers and balloons all over my till. The customers were also over the moon that I’d been recognised in this way and I received so many cards of congratulations as well as hundreds of messages on the store’s Facebook page.
“Amazingly, the buzz lasted for months. It’s a small village so the news created so much excitement, particularly as the local papers covered it, too.
“I would most definitely encourage other people to enter this year’s awards. It was such a great experience and it wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I’d first feared, and definitely helped to boost my confidence. I think if you are truly passionate about something, like I am about customer service, it comes easily, as it’s just you being yourself.
“For me, great customer service is the backbone of the business; it’s what keeps your customers coming back again and again. You can stock the best products in the world but if you have rude or disinterested staff, you’ll struggle to sell them. It’s the little things that count: eye contact; a friendly greeting; a kind word or general comment about the weather; handing the money back into the shopper’s hand and not just leaving it on the counter. It takes no time at all, but creates a lasting impact.”
Jennifer’s finances were also given a boost thanks to her win, and the sales assistant extraordinaire put the £1,000 prize money towards a much-deserved week-long cruise around the Greek islands.
Do you have a stellar sales assistant like Jennifer hiding in your team, or are you that star? Enter now for the chance to embark upon your own career high.
- THE INDEPENDENT SECTOR Nine stores or fewer in the same ownership, whether affiliated to a symbol group or operating under its own brand. Supported by JTI
- THE MULTIPLE SYMBOL SECTOR Part of a chain of 10 stores or more under the same ownership, trading under a recognised symbol brand. Supported by Mars Chocolate UK
- THE MULTIPLE SECTOR Part of a chain of 10 stores or more under the same ownership, trading under a retailer’s own brand
- THE CO-OPERATIVE SECTOR Any store trading under a co-operative brand. Supported by Coca-Cola European Partners
- THE FORECOURT SECTOR Any store on a garage forecourt, whether under co-operative, multiple, symbol or independent brand. Supported by Procter & Gamble
Complete the online entry form at the awards website, www.salesassistantawards.co.uk
Email us for an entry form at firstname.lastname@example.org
Call us on 01293 610354
Fill in the entry form overleaf and post it to us at: Sales Assistant of the Year Awards 2016 William Reed Business Media FREEPOST (RRTG BXEB RCJR) Broadfield Park, Crawley, West Sussex RH11 9RT
THE JUDGING PROCESS
Judges will visit shortlisted candidates in their stores, and choose one winner in each category.
Award supporters JTI, Mars Chocolate UK, Coca-Cola European Partners and Procter & Gamble will welcome the winners to a memorable awards ceremony and lunch at London’s Dorchester Hotel on Tuesday 8 November.
Each category winner will be interviewed privately prior to the ceremony, in order to select the overall Sales Assistant of the Year and the winner of the Community Hero award.
Going the extra mile
For Jennifer, customer service is all about going the extra mile, and she wowed the judges with her many varied examples of her commitment to her shoppers.
She has built up solid relationships with many of the local customers – taking a special interest in the community’s elderly people. In addition to regularly carrying out home deliveries, she’s also become something of a paperwork guru, with many of her elderly customers bringing in confusing bills and letters for her to explain.
“One of the best things I can do for our elderly customers is give them my time,” she says. “For lots of them I am the only person they will speak to in the entire day. Five minutes of conversation can make a world of difference to a lonely person,” she says.
“If I see someone needs help and there’s a queue at the till, I’ll ring the bell and call for someone else to jump on so I can give them that time,” she adds.
And speed of service has been improved even more since Jennifer’s campaign to install a fifth till behind the counter was implemented late last year, resulting in improved customer satisfaction.
Going above and beyond the call of duty is another of her calling cards.
On one occasion Jennifer put in many hours of unpaid overtime helping a family of American tourists after they stumbled into the store hopelessly lost late one evening.
After tracking down a hotel that could accommodate them for the night, she provided parents and children with warm drinks and a snack, before driving them to the hotel in person.