How good is your vision?

Better VisibilityWhether you agree or disagree with the age old adage of “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”, the fact remains that having better visibility sure makes life easier.

Take driving for instance. If we didn’t have side windows, and relied only on the windscreen, at some stage we would inevitably get side-swiped by something we didn’t see or anticipate. The same goes for business too. We stand a much greater chance of meeting our business objectives if we are able to anticipate, visualise and react to the changing needs of our internal and external customers.

One of the most rewarding things about my role is meeting our customers and learning how our solutions are making a positive impact to their organisations. On almost every occasion, at some stage during our discussions, the customers will cite “greater visibility” as being one of the key benefits of their Kronos workforce management solution.

A brief story…..

On a recent visit to one of our UK hospitality customers I asked their operations manager what benefits Kronos is delivering. It was fantastic to hear him say the solution was delivering a 6% to 8% saving on labour costs as a result of improved labour demand forecasting and scheduling. However, he went on to say that the true benefit to him personally is the ‘visibility’ the solution delivers. Having detailed labour data at his fingertips means he can now have meaningful conversations with each of his general managers. He is able to discuss and review the impact that programmes and activities, such as staff training or additional labour budget allocations, are truly having on their sales performance.

When building a business case for a workforce management solution you need to focus on the tangible benefits, which in the main will be around cost reduction. However, once the solution is live it’s the intangible benefits that start to materialise and make a positive impact on the business and the individuals.

In the case of this particular customer their business is growing significantly, and so is their labour budget. But having visibility into key labour metrics is allowing them to maximise their return on labour budget and build an even stronger business. www.kronos.co.uk

Neil Pickering, Twitter: @ZamberP

 

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A Lighter Look at Customer Dissatisfaction

One way to improve customer service is to make sure enough staff are available to serve your customers… I am sure we have all been in this situation? By scheduling staff accurately and using  data analytics to forecast demand – you will take one step closer to making your customers very happy!

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What Have Retailers Got In Store For Customers In 2014? Report from Retail’s BIG Show

My friend and colleague, Andrew Busby has just returned from New York, buzzing with all the latest gossip from Retail’s BIG Show. As I know we all shop…I thought I would share his experience with you. This year customer experience, in-store experience and customer-centric retailing were all key themes from the show, which is great news for shoppers.

NRF, The BIG Show, New York
NRF, The BIG Show, New York

2014 was the biggest and best NRF Show so far (well it would be!) with more than could be absorbed in the time available. However some key themes emerged which are both exciting and significant for retailers worldwide. Here is a personal summary of my 3 days at NRF 2014.

You can follow Andrew @andrewbusby on Twitter and follow his blog Retail Storm here

Cutting Edge Workforce Management Must Be Social, Mobile and Available in the Cloud

Simon MacphersonPlease accept my apologies for the quiet week last week but I had had a busy time attending our exciting annual KronosWorks event where Kronos customers from all geographies and industries (Retail, Manufacturing, Logistics, Healthcare and Services) come to exchange views and discover what’s new at the leading edge of workforce management. I got to meet up with friends, old and new, and it never ceases to amaze me how many of our international customers make it to the US. So today, I would like to share with you some key highlights.

In CEO Aron Ain’s keynote speech he talked passionately about how managing your workforce should be easier, how employees need to be interconnected, how to make technology simpler and more efficient and the way that Workforce Technology in the Cloud has become the fastest growing part of the business. And, most importantly, how we are committed to delivering workforce management innovation that works to ensure our customers continue to enjoy higher productivity, lower costs and competitive advantage.

Exciting new product enhancements were launched which got everyone talking. These were based on our key principles of delivering products with an intuitive interface that consumer products have led us to expect; making the relevant tools available on the mobile platforms we, as consumers, are so used to and continuing to provide guidance to our users to optimise the use of labour in their organisations.  Things such as data analytics enhancements that give organisations access to visualisation and exploration tools that make managing big labour data much easier. The fantastic new social networking platform  that allows organisations to use the power of social collaboration to help their business perform better. And workforce management technology  that makes it easier for employees to embrace more flexible working which can improve an organisation’s productivity, efficiency and agility including the sleek Intouch®  time clock which now incorporates new biometric technology and enhanced wifi capabilities for faster employee deployment.

Now, whilst I and our Kronos customers may well be very excited about the new innovative products at the show. I can’t forget that these developments have been driven by our customers and their need to manage their employees more efficiently and effectively. Businesses today have to be more agile to remain competitive. They have to retain their best employees and keep their workforce engaged and productive. They have to manage their people more effectively in order to control costs – things like reducing the cost of absence; reducing payroll errors or scheduling employers more effectively to improve productivity and reduce overtime helps organisations improve their bottom line. Organisations must make their people front and centre of their business and are missing an important opportunity to achieve their business objectives if they don’t.

Find out more about Kronos in our press room

74 shopping days to Christmas & circa 100,000 extra staff to manage – Ho, Ho, Ho!

Christmas HelpersWith just 74 shopping days to  Christmas, many organisations are already geared up to hire more employees to cover the Christmas period. Many sectors are affected by seasonal demand but Retail, Hospitality, Logistics and Distribution are generally the largest employers of temporary workers over this period.

According to figures from the British Retail Consortium, ­big-name stores between them take on almost 5% extra staff from October onwards, which amounts to 54,703 workers (almost 1,000 for every shopping day between then and Christmas). Among the largest employers are our supermarkets. Last year the leading three stores took on nearly 30,000 extra seasonal staff, with Tesco recruiting 6,000, Asda 7,000 and Sainsbury’s a whopping 15,000.

Even outside retail there are many organisations with a huge need for seasonal staffing, distribution and logistics for example with  the Royal Mail set to recruit more than 21,000 seasonal staff to help sort our Christmas post. These temporary jobs are available between early November and January 2014 to support Royal Mail’s permanent 124,000 postmen and women who sort and deliver the mail all year round.

That’s a lot of new employees to onboard, train, schedule and pay accurately in a very short space of time.

Once sourced, the biggest issue for these organisations is how to schedule and monitor the hours that their seasonal staff work. Many of them like the Co-Operative Group, IKEA, Wincanton and DHL benefit from an automated workforce solution that can monitor, track and schedule employees to demand and ensure employees are paid correctly. This can ease the burden for managers– saving time on back office tasks and giving them more time to train and supervise the performance of new (and existing) staff, ensuring that customers remain satisfied. So if you are sick of seasonal headaches when managing your temporary Christmas staff it may be time to consider a solution that will help productivity, customer satisfaction and your bottom line.

Which? Best Retailer survey – who made it to the top this year?

London ShopsWhich? recently asked 11,000 shoppers to give their verdicts on the 100 most well-known high street brands in the UK. I was not at all surprised to read that Apple topped the survey. The reasons given for Apple’s popularity included great customer service, knowledgeable staff as well as great atmosphere and products. No surprises there!

The thing that seems to set the best and the worst retailers apart, according to the Which? survey, aside from great products is great customer service – Apple’s employees are fully engaged, knowledgeable and eager to help customers. Great customer service is made easier to deliver when supported with an automated workforce management solution that can help managers schedule the best employees at the busiest times to maximise sales. An automated system can also help managers keep on top of skills and training and ensure that these are taken into consideration when scheduling staff in the stores, so that the right people are where they are needed most. Whether it’s front of store at the checkout or behind the scenes making sure the shelves are fully stocked and tidy, scheduling staff more efficiently and effectively will enhance the customer experience.

Good news for our favourite high-street retailers is that although the Which? research revealed over half of shoppers choose to buy products online these days, they still prefer high street shops to shopping centres, retail parks or online websites. The survey also revealed that over a third of consumers spend more money in real-world shops than online which shows, in our omni-channel retailing world, having staff who deliver great customer service in the store is still important to consumers – and to retailers with an eye on the bottom line.