The proliferation of productivity and collaboration tools in the workplace reflects the business value in digitalising routine processes, allowing workers to focus on value-adding actions. However, as Bertrand Duperrin notes, such tools have been designed by and for white-collar professionals. In sharp contrast, little investment has been made to digitally assist deskless workers when addressing issues in the field. As discussed in the first two articles of this series, this has created a digital gap between digital customers and non-digital deskless workers and has impeded productivity and engagement on the frontline.
The solution is a balanced approach to going digital from the inside out. Digital investments in operational people provide direct operational benefits, improving customer experience on the frontline.
Put differently, for CPGs, retailers and QSRs, digital transformations to improve customer experience should put the deskless workforce experience and productivity first. Today we want to explore how this is made possible by providing operational people with the latest mobile, cloud and analytics capabilities.
Awareness, Knowledge and Action
For CPGs, retailers and quick service brands, productivity equates the optimal investment of deskless workers’ time, effort and expertise in continuously raising in-store standards and improving customer experience. Such continuous improvement requires the continuous convergence of i) awareness of potential issues and opportunities, ii) knowledge of the respective fixes and best practices and iii) timely implementation of the correct action in response. The latest analytics, mobile and cloud capabilities enable the convergence of awareness, knowledge and action, empowering deskless workers to take informed value-adding actions as soon as an issue or opportunity arises.
For example, in Zaptic, data analytics enables ‘dynamic store call files’, directing CPGs’ field representatives to the stores and in-store actions which offer the highest incremental turnover opportunities. In addition, ‘on the fly analytics’ provides reps with key metrics on the performance of SKUs, brands, categories and stores. This way, reps gain awareness of the potential opportunities and issues in each store on their visit list and are empowered to make informed decisions at the frontline. Reps’ efforts in the field are further supported by step-by-step guidance through the store call. Seamlessly integrated image recognition and crowdsourcing capabilities automate measurement tasks and increase reps’ productivity by enabling them to focus on value-adding actions such as discussing with the store manager re-stock levels, new displays and promotional campaigns.
Similarly, store staff can use Zaptic to receive data-driven alerts on in-store issues such as out-of-stocks, mispriced and mislabelled products, which require immediate fixing. Accessing a consistent data schema on a platform shared with the CPG field reps, enables store staff to measure KPIs and identify issues and opportunities in-store and to consistently address them with the best fixes and practices, increasing the staff’s productivity and maximising their impact in-store.
In another instance, a fast food chain employee can also benefit from a mobile collaboration and productivity platform like Zaptic, to ensure quality and compliance. Instead of reading through lengthy PDFs in search of procedural guidance and filling in pen and paper checklists, any employee can access step-by-step guidance through best practices and corrective actions. A notification on the employee’s mobile device, for example, can remind them that a temperature check is due, guide them through each step of the check and automatically log the implemented actions.
Gallup has estimated that actively disengaged employees cost the US between $450 billion - $550 billion annually in lost productivity, are more likely to steal from their companies, influence negatively their co-workers, miss workdays and drive customers away . Investing in the digital transformation of frontline workers and processes not only helps them to raise in-store standards and provide a clean, safe and pleasant shopping environment but also improves their engagement and retention at the workplace.
Companies have invested billions in making the digital customer experience as interactive and intuitive as possible but most have failed to provide an equally slick worker experience. As a clear illustration of the digital gap in retail, more than 90% of customers use their smartphones while shopping in-store to search for product information, compare prices and even to contact customer service online .
Paradoxically, store staff are required to leave their mobile devices in the backroom and yet are expected to match the knowledge-rich online customer experience while being excluded from it. Providing store staff with access to insights on products and customer preferences can help to close the digital gap and enable mutually rewarding interaction between digital customers and digital workers.