Working with our incredible customers has given us unique insight into retail operations at every level. The combined customer and employee experience (often considered separately) is the key to driving a better in-store customer experience and increasing revenue.
One major aspect of retail operations that is commonly overlooked is store level issues. Without full visibility (over time) of actual issues occurring in-store, it becomes difficult for retailers to understand what impact those issues are actually having on their employees, and ultimately, on the customer experience. Endless streams of communication through various platforms (email, text, WhatsApp, chats, checklist audits, etc.) make it difficult to stay on top of what is actually happening, resulting in chaos, and not efficiency (we have seen it many times).
It can be done differently…
In Spring 2017, our customer Office Outlet (formerly Staples UK) was brought under new ownership. Separating from Staples US brought with it major operational and organizational changes, including rebranding, store re-envisioning, real estate reconsiderations, as well as launching new product lines and changing the overall brand image and high street presence.
In order to achieve this successfully, the Office Outlet Operations team required seamless and effective communication across the business, not only with various departments and stores, but also with third party vendors and contractors. They needed to be confident that their requests were heard, understood, and actioned. Equally, stores required the same confidence that reported issues were being logged and handled efficiently. Timelines were aggressive and there was no room for missed or miscommunicated information.
“Now more than ever before, everyone in the entire company needed to be on the same page.”Lyndsey Bill, Office Outlet, Retail Operations Manager
The reality for most businesses today is that communication comes in many forms and from all directions, but is not tracked or analyzed to see trends and useful data points. The communications range from store queries, issues, and requests for product, to marketing, merchandising, deliveries, warehouse, print, HR, payroll, and many more (and that’s just internal).
With all of this in mind, Office Outlet embarked on a search for technology that would help unify, collect, and collate all communication from across the business. Flexibility, simplicity, and speed of implementation were key factors in their purchasing decision.
Intelocate met the criteria…..
Following a positive 2 week pilot, Office Outlet were confident in the solution offered by Intelocate. Choosing initially to launch with the Facilities team, other departments soon followed after seeing the wealth of information available, and the ease of accessing it from one dashboard. Within 6 weeks, Intelocate was being used across the entire business.
Results Using Intelocate
In under 12 months, the Office Outlet Operations team have resolved over 11,000 issues (8,000+ Operations issues and 3000+ General Maintenance issues).
- Issue-resolution speed has increased by a factor of 10x
- 75% reduction in emails per task
Instead of using multiple processes and systems, Office Outlet has put their trust completely in Intelocate. The Facilities Team team quickly reduced their daily time spent handling issues from 3+ hours to 30 minutes, citing a huge time savings (50%) compared to time spent usually sorting through internal and external emails, texts, voicemails, and spreadsheets.
“It saves me hours daily, I have everything in one place! It is simply brilliant. Oh, and our service providers absolutely love it too! ”Annette Holgate, Office Outlet Facilities Manager
Using Intelocate, the Operations Team gained full control of its communications and issue resolution. Stores could now quickly check the status of any issues raised to the head office, while head office could easily track and manage all store-level issues and activities. This created an extra layer of confidence that all issues would be resolved and addressed, making the entire operation smoother, and much more transparent.
“Intelocate makes life so much easier! You can quickly report a problem and the system directs the message to the right person.”Niall, Office Outlet, Store Team Lead
Fast forward 19 months and Intelocate is still being used across the entire organization as a two-way tool for communication, task, and issue management. Trends identified over time and across departments have allowed Office Outlet to take necessary action when required, and often preventatively helping to drive and create the best possible employee and in-store customer experience.
A new level of transparency and the exciting era of operational efficiency…..
What We’ve Learnt
- Frontline teams want to share their insights, problems and local knowledge with head office daily.
- Two-way communication must be analyzed, organized, and measured in order to help retailers take full control of the in-store customer experience
- In-store issues and communications are often handled via email, text, and multiple systems, offering limited visibility.
- Multiple departmental systems (e.g. IT help desk, facilities management, customer support help desk, and general chats, which do not communicate with one another) counter operational efficiency by creating unnecessary steps and hurdles (often different in each department).
- Departments (and their systems) need to be unified in order to provide operational transparency and confidence across the business to allow people to do the best job they can.
In today’s modern workforce, transparency, simplicity, and two-way accountability are key to progress. Employees, contractors, and clients alike need their issues and requests heard and acknowledged. The number of reported and resolved issues in the example above is a testament to the fact that new processes and tools are a must.
We would like to offer our thanks to Office Outlet for sharing these results and putting their trust and confidence in Intelocate, allowing us to demonstrate the new way of being Operationally Effective.
We hope this post has resonated with readers and we welcome the opportunity discuss your experience of day-to-day retail operations.