Seismic Shift – Waking Up to the Strategic Value of Workforce Management

Originally Posted by my colleague Joyce Maroney at the Workforce Institute:

mall-shopper-173x300Today’s guest post is by our board member,  Mark Wales.  Mark is an expert in workforce management for the retail industry.  Here he shares his perspective on how retailers and services providers are looking to their workforce as a strategic asset and not just an expense to be minimised.

Recently at an International Workforce Management Summit I witnessed the seismic shift in how workforce management is perceived and how it has grown in strategic importance to retailers and service providers. Ten years ago it was IT and HR who attended these events, now it was exclusively Operations. Why the dramatic change and what does it mean for the workforce?

The reason for the change is the rising strategic value of employees. While many retailers and service providers may see labour as the largest controllable cost, many have turned the corner and realized that their brand, their business model, and their profitability depend on how wisely they invest in their employees.

It is essential to pay your employees in a timely and accurate manner with appropriate controls and visibility. That, however, is not enough. It does not maximise the full potential of your employees, your customers, or your profitability. You will fail to recognise the value of many facets of employee experience, customer experience and productivity. To raise the strategic importance of workforce management you must draw a direct link between investing in the employee, impacting the customer experience and driving profitability.

Forward thinking retailers and service providers are building a new generation Operations discipline.  They envision a holistic multidisciplinary approach to workforce management that is centred on productivity and optimisation of both the employee and customer experience. You will see this impacting hiring, training, team management, service design, organisational responsibilities, and decision making. The changes may seem subtle and evolutionary at first, but they have the potential to radically impact company performance over time.

The Workforce Institute

Further reading:

Aberdeen Group: The State of the Workforce in Retail – Taking A Global View

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Customer Service? What Customer Service?

Customer ServiceI recently read an article in HRGrapevine.com that stated half of shop workers know less about the products they sell than the customers. It reminded me of an incident some years ago, in a now out of business white goods retailer, where when asked what was the difference between two tumble dryers, the assistant’s response was fifteen quid mate!

These days, this kind of situation is almost certainly compounded by customers having access to incredible amounts of in-depth product information for their planned purchases.  When customers walk into a store with such an in-depth knowledge of the products they want to purchase, it becomes quite difficult for retailers to ensure that all their staff have the necessary depth of training and information to be able to address customer queries intelligently.

In order to retain customers or grow market share retailers must keep customers engaged instore once they are there. To do this they need to give their employees sufficient tools and knowledge to ensure that they can answer queries from customers. If an employee has to lie or pass customers on to their colleagues – there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

The obvious solution is to make sure that employee training is sufficient and timely, but it is also crucial that the most knowledgeable employees who have the best skills to engage customers with the appropriate knowledge are scheduled to be available at the busiest times in order to optimise sales. Mobile devices (Tablets such as the ipad) can also be useful; giving access to product information ‘on the go’ that will give staff the same access to information that the customer has, should they need it. A workforce management solution can make scheduling the right employee, with the right skills at the right time simpler for managers and having a mobile-enabled workforce ultimately gives both employees and customers a better in store experience.

What do you think of the levels or customer service in UK retailers today? Could it be improved? If so what measures do you think should be taken?

 

RetailWeek Live 2013 – Review

My colleague Andrew Busby attended RetailWeek Live 2013 last week. Here is his Retail Storm blog review of this year’s event and the latest in Retail thought leadership.

RetailWeek Live 2013 – The Future is Flip Flops!
RetailWeek Live 2013“Perhaps I should first clear up the reference to flip flops; it came during a great session with Scott Weavers-Wright as he was describing his experience when visiting the Google offices recently. It was an entirely new and unique culture where flip flops are commonplace and as we all know it’s an amazing business….” more

Retail Week Live 2013.

Retailers at the NRF Show are learning how ‘Managing in the Moment’ can deliver the best shopping experience for their customers

NRF - Kronos for Retail BannerThe 102nd National Retail Federation Annual is coming to a close today in New York – it has been attended by thousands of retailers from all over the globe and many of my colleagues from Kronos have been there to show them how our exciting and powerful workforce management tools Workforce Tablet™ and Workforce Analytics transform labour and sales data into meaningful information for managers on the move.

We have also been introducing visitors to our release of Task Management, developed in conjunction with our retail customers. These solutions completely change the way retailers manage their workforce providing the most complete Retail Workforce Management solution available.

To achieve real competitive advantage and brand loyalty, retailers must provide customers with the best possible shopping experience.

Our Workforce Tablet™ solution, operating on the widely adopted iPad®, provides managers with real-time data out in the store, enabling them to truly “Manage in the Moment”. With intuitive views of employee skills, availability, absence and holiday requests for instance, managers can make decisions in time to effect the performance of the business without leaving the sales floor.

Used in conjunction with Workforce Analytics managers have access to configurable views that highlight key performance indicators such as coverage, service level, sales, labour cost and productivity in an easy to understand dashboard, so they can focus on what really matters to ensure timely adjustments are made at department, store or regional level driving real competitive advantage, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

Kronos Stand 2 at NRF 2013Kronos is the first to build a task management solution on an existing, proven workforce management platform and our Workforce Task Management tool simplifies store execution by providing managers with a streamlined approach to create, approve, execute, and verify tasks. This will help drive productivity by streamlining communication between corporate and stores. It also increases sales and customer satisfaction by ensuring that tasks are completed on time and consistently across locations.

Our retail experts at the show include Andrew Busby and you can follow his tweets on Twitter @andrewbusby about #nrf13 and follow the show at @RetailBigShow.