The other day, we were talking to a client with a sizeable chain of retail stores who said their number one challenge was “consistency of service”.  This did not surprise us, as numerous other multi-location chains have expressed similar frustrations in the past.  Performance rating surveys, employee workplace evaluations and mystery shoppers are often the standard go-to for large retail store chains faced with this number one challenge.

Such efforts yield metrics with great potential value, but many companies do nothing more with these data then send a scorecard regularly (each week, period, quarter or year) to each location manager informing them of their average scores on each item.  While store managers appreciate that their corporate leaders are taking actions to help, a report with just a set of means for a group of items does not give the manager what they really desire – specific SOLUTIONS to put into place that will improve their weak areas.

Often well-intentioned companies see a fixable problem, but only go halfway to actually addressing it.  The missing part involves linking that growing body of evaluative data to prescriptive strategies aimed at fixing a store’s problems that are impacting sales – which requires two additional steps.

The first is to understand which of the items from the survey data are actually impacting store sales. Customers may say that associate friendliness matters a lot. But we can actually measure the sales impact of low friendliness ratings and know exactly how much friendliness matters in dollars.

The next step is to identify what makes high performing stores high performers and utilize that information to provide prescriptive strategies and steps that a poor performer should take to improve in each area.

For instance, if a store rates low in cleanliness, the prescriptive action might be to “mop the lobby floor every 4 hours” or “clean trash out of carts as they’re collected from the parking lot.” Similarly, if staff expertise is perceived as low by mystery shoppers, the prescriptive solution might be “educate employees through a series of merchandising training videos.”

If companies leverage their survey data in this manner, quarterly survey scorecards will evolve from tables of lifeless means to a list of items to work on with clear steps presented on HOW to improve, saving valuable training time.  When each store is taking corporate developed actions to improve their weakest areas, in-store service experiences will become more consistent.

One Comment

  • Scott says:

    The mountain of half solved problems you pointed out is fascinating for me to think about. Just a few more steps and value you could be fully realized.

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