20 July 2018

reTales recap: employee engagement in retail

The retail industry is going through a bit of a hard time, yet customer expectations are still high. As firm believers in employee experience driving customer experience, we hosted reTales, sharing employee engagement success stories in retail. Here are the highlights…

Despite a scorching summer and England doing better than expected in the World Cup, the good feeling about the place hasn’t translated to sales on the high st – the volume of goods sold across the whole of the retail industry dropped by 0.5%.

So the retail industry is getting tough. And as retailers compete less and less on product (Amazon anyone?) undoubtedly one of the last differentiators for retailers is their customer experience. As experts in helping brands get the employee experience right, we brought together stories from four brilliant retail brands who have engaged their people to deliver commercial success.

And where better to host it than Fable in London, a bar inspired by the fantasy world of fairy tales and Aesop’s fables.

Can you create change in just a few weeks?

Kicking off the morning Synergy Director Gemma McGrattan shared how we helped Argos engage their customer management centre (CMC) colleagues in the lead up to their peak sales period, needing to create a colleague mindset shift from transactional to ‘sales through service’.

Gemma talked about our 8 key areas for driving change and how we helped Argos apply some of these to their CMC colleagues. With just 8 weeks to prepare before the peak period hit, we immersed ourselves in CMC life to understand their day to day realities using our insight to create an inspirational engagement campaign, ‘Be the Big Difference’.

The campaign ran over four weeks, with a series of activities to get colleagues engaged, skilled up and knowledgeable about the new tools and processes available to them, to create a better customer experience and resolve customer queries first time.

The campaign helped drive improvement across loads of metrics like NPS and calls answered within 20 seconds. But the ultimate success measure? It was Argos’s best peak ever!

How to transform the dusty suggestion box in the corner of your office

Next up Stuart Eames, Operational Improvement Manager at Waitrose, outlined how the retailer is harnessing the voice of the employee to drive innovation – with five key steps needed to drive a culture of innovation within the business.


1. Inspiration

Encourage new ideas by removing boundaries, giving Partners permission to innovate, and create a place for them to share ideas – The Partner ideas platform.


2. Collaboration  

Use the platform to share ideas with a wider audience and get feedback from more Partners with transparent updates in an idea log, so progress is visible to all.


3. Continuous improvement

Rather than dismissing a far-reaching idea, break it down into smaller steps which have quicker deliverables and an achievable ROI.


4. Scope

Every idea needs to be relevant to the business. Communicating the business strategy to Partners is vital, so that ideas received are aligned to it.


5. Momentum
To continue to receive fresh thinking, ideas must be nurtured and seen to be developed and delivered.  When an idea is not successful, it’s important to keep the Partner engaged with the innovation culture.

So what difference has the introduction of The Partner Ideas Platform had on the business? We particularly love one example that Stuart shared…

One colleague, frustrated with the length of till receipts having too much blank space and irrelevant content estimated that 12cm could be saved from each receipt. When you consider Waitrose processes over 330 million transactions a year that idea led to a saving of over £168,000 a year!

Sharing is caring

Next up Synergy AD Neneh talked through our work with ODEON Cinemas Group and how they created a programme of learning and development for all 11,500 colleagues to unlock the incredible knowledge and skills within the business and create a dedicated campaign for colleagues to learn from each other. 

Using VR to attract top university talent

As one of the fastest growing supermarkets in the UK, opening a new store every week, Lidl is a retail brand that’s going from strength to strength. With the need to add to its 20,000+ workforce, recruiting top graduates plays a big part in Lidl’s future success, but finding the right grads is a real challenge.

Lidl graduates don’t need to have a specific degree, but they do need to have a specific mindset. They need to be performance-driven dynamic, proud and challenged to reach their potential.

After producing the overarching creative concept of ‘bring your best, we’ll do the rest’, we next helped Lidl bring this to life at their graduate careers fairs. So we created Checkout Challenge a virtual reality game where players need the ability to keep a calm head under pressure, make split-second decisions and want to try new experiences.

Lidl’s 2017 grad campaign saw a 26% increase in applications to over 15,000. And the standard was so high they actually made 59 offers, despite only having 58 places available! 

Want to see if you can get a spot on the high score leaderboard? Give us a shout.

Got a reTale to tell?

Got an interesting story of another retailer leading the way with employee engagement, or maybe you feel left out and want to keep up to date with our upcoming events? Get in touch with our Marketing Manager Chris: chris@mccannsynergy.com.uk.

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