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People first: a great digital experience for retail employees

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12 . Dezember  2017

Alison Wiltshire

Posts nach Autoren: Alison Wiltshire, Global Practice Lead, Retail and Consumer Goods, BT.

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When we talk about how digital technology can transform the customer experience for traditional bricks and mortar retailers, we mustn’t skip a vital part of the story – the digital employee experience. Retail CEOs are clear about its value. Two thirds say a better digital experience for employees is of high importance to staff retention, and 60 per cent say it matters to productivity.

A great digital employee experience is all about helping people to work more effectively together – to communicate and collaborate wherever they are. And according to industry analyst Forrester[1], “collaboration will emerge as an anchor technology for digital transformation”. For many businesses, this is still some way off. In BT‘s 2017 CEO research, 35 per cent of retailers named poor collaboration across the company as a barrier to building a better digital customer experience.

At the heart of a terrific employee experience is a fast expanding set of mobile and collaboration services, audio and video communications, social media and office tools, and customer channels. Unified services, available on demand. The core technologies that underpin all this – the cloud, mobility, networking and security services - are well established and available in even remote locations. But you can’t just shower your workforce with digital services and tools. The best results come from putting people first, technology second. In a digital workplace, virtual meetings should feel as natural as face-to-face, and all employees must get the same high quality experience whatever their location, device or time zone.

Understanding personas

The first step is to understand that employees need different packages of technology and services according to their job and workplaces – their ‘personas’. Then you can decide what package of digital technologies and services is most suitable for each persona.

Take store managers. They need to communicate easily with their operations and sales teams in and around the store, check key performance metrics throughout the day, talk to senior colleagues, feedback to merchandising and buying teams, share problems and solutions with their peer group and walk the store as much as possible.

Engaged and enthusiastic sales associates are in the front line of a great customer experience. Mobile devices and digital tools are increasingly freeing them from the pay point or stock room to spend quality time in person with customers. But a true digital employee experience goes much deeper, letting people link up with and learn from colleagues in social media groups, attend virtual meetings and participate in training sessions, wherever they are.

Regional managers are constantly on the go, working at home, on the move and in stores. They need to be in constant touch with store managers across their patch, as well as the head office team. It must be easy for colleagues to locate and contact them.

Contact centre agents are not necessarily based in a physical contact centre. Virtualisation allows advisers to work from home and let the retailer tap into the expertise of specialists wherever they are. Those agents will need a 360o degree view of callers’ personal details and purchase history, plus access to all the retailer’s customer communication channels and the ability to switch between them. Collaboration services help them to share their knowledge with each other, or find help with a tricky customer problem.

People based in a head office need to work with colleagues and suppliers around the world. They could be videoconferencing with product designers, holding interactive planning sessions based on real time data and insights or tracking inventory as it travels through the supply chain. All these different personas will require a unique set of digital services.

A better digital employee experience can boost cooperation and productivity for everyone, from sales floor associate to design studio creative to boardroom members. And the faster employees take up digital services, the sooner the retailer will benefit. Which is why putting people before technology is the right approach.

For practical advice about how to go about introducing a more digital experience for employees, download our paper The digital employee - Putting people first through digital transformation.

To find out more about how you can overcome today’s digital retail challenges, have a chat to our experts at the NRF 2018, Retail’s Big Show, from 14 to 16 January 2018. They’ll be in booth 3165 on level three.

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[1] Predictions 2018: Employee Experience Powers The Future Of Work Forrester Nov 2017