The Retailer Spring 2018
Why it is time to focus more on Employee Intelligence in retail
Nina Kitching Retail Account Director Questback
“What retailers need to do is listen to the feedback and insights that their store colleagues can provide, and then analyse this vital information and use it to improve how they operate.”
1. Always-on feedback Retailers increasingly provide customers with the ability to share their views when and where they want – from leaving reviews online to clicking happy or sad faces on terminals as they leave a store. Extend this so that you are also capturing feedback from employees at all times – make it easy for them to contribute their opinions, and ensure that you have the processes in place to quickly respond to every suggestion, however it is delivered. 2. Pulse surveys Waiting a year to give feedback is clearly too long in many cases. So invest in smaller, more targeted, regular pulse surveys. These could focus on a specific geographical area, a particular business process or be run after a major corporate change. Pulse surveys provide actionable insight that can be put into practice quickly to improve the business and how it operates. 3. Listening across the employee experience The feedback that staff provide, and the issues they raise, will vary depending on where they are in their career with you. That means you need to listen to them at key milestones, such as during recruitment or when they are in the first months of employment – what can be improved? What should be changed to ensure that they stay and you retain their skills – and those of others in the same situation? 4. Online communities Like all of us, your people are used to sharing their feedback online – whether through social media or review sites. That means they’ll naturally be looking to give their opinions about working for you, either via sites such as Glassdoor or to friends and family on Twitter and Facebook. Ensure you are capturing their feedback through online communities where they can share their thoughts with the company and colleagues in a more structured, yet accessible way. People want to talk – make sure that you make it easy to talk to you. Adopting a continuous listening strategy isn’t just a ‘nice to have’, but directly benefits your bottom line. By listening to staff, and acting on their concerns, you increase engagement and reduce churn rates, bringing down recruitment costs. If people feel valued they will stay longer, meaning that their experience and knowledge benefits the business. There is also a clear link between engaged colleagues, greater productivity and an improved customer experience – happy staff equals happy customers, leading to higher sales and revenues.
HOW YOU CAN IMPROVE HOW YOU LISTEN TO YOUR PEOPLE AND BENEFIT THE BOTTOM LINE
Your store colleagues are on the frontline, interacting with customers every day – they knowwhat makes people buy.
In competitive times, when retailers are battling rising costs, new entrants and more demanding consumers, it is tempting to concentrate solely on digital channels and the benefits that new technologies such as artificial intelligence bring. However, this shouldn’t be your only focus – large retailers have thousands of people in their stores, constantly interacting with customers, essentially collecting a huge amount of data. And as humans, they have the soft skills to understand what customers are looking for, what annoys them and what they like and don’t like about your brand and experience. They are datapoints, just like the information you collect from consumers on the online customer journey. Are you making best use of what they are saying? Adopting a continuous listening strategy isn’t just a ‘nice to have’, but directly benefits your bottom line. What retailers need to do is listen to the feedback and insights that their store colleagues can provide, and then analyse this vital information and use it to improve how they operate. As well as dashboards showing online performance, retailers need an equivalent for in-store staff, with metrics showing their feedback and insight. It is about employee intelligence, as well as artificial intelligence – you need both to get a rounded picture of what is happening to your business and how you can improve. Overcoming the barriers to listening What is stopping retailers from listening to their store colleagues? To begin with, they can be difficult to reach – they are geographically spread across the country and often work shifts, while churn and the sheer number of them makes it hard to engage with them individually. That’s why many retailers rely on annual surveys, listening once a year and then acting on the insights months down the line. In today’s fast-moving world, this is not enough – retailers need to take a fresh look at how they collect and act on feedback from colleagues if they are to truly benefit from their people and their ideas. They need to adopt a continuous listening approach that goes beyond the annual survey, covering four key areas:
Listening to your people also helps unlock innovation and fresh ideas. Your store colleagues are on the frontline, interacting with customers every day – they know what makes people buy, and what makes the process harder. Their insight will enable you to fix issues and improve your business operations, and also encourage blue sky thinking around new products or services that you could introduce. It is easy to be swept away by the possibilities that digital technology such as artificial intelligence offer. And retailers definitely need to embrace the innovation that AI can drive. However, don’t neglect the thousands of store colleagues you have and the insight that they can bring to your business. To succeed in turbulent times, you need employee intelligence and artificial intelligence if you are to truly thrive.
NINA KITCHING // Nina.Kitching@questback.com // questback.com/uk
18 | SPRING 2018 |
retailer | SPRING | 19
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