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We recently released our guide to retail task management – and now we’re taking a step back to explore why (and how) effective task management is so critical to the success of retail organizations. In this post, we’re looking at how effective task management can drive operational consistency. 

When it comes to driving operational consistency in retail and laying a foundation for future growth, nothing is more important than the experience a brand offers. With the objective to bring customers into the store and provide them with reasons to return, it lends significantly toward satisfying the core tenets of retail. 

Underpinning the experience enjoyed by the customer is the one that employees of the brand receive. Ensuring that staff are well-trained, confident in their roles and responsibilities, and possessing a deep understanding of the customer’s expectations and the ways by which they can help meet them, goes a long way toward developing and maintaining an exceptional retail experience. Achieving this, however, is much more easily said than done for any merchant. And, when considering the need for multi-store retailers to execute on the same vision, arriving at operational consistency across a network of locations, the challenge seems that much more daunting.

“Retail is all about people,” says Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO of Retail Council of Canada. “It’s about the customer and the brand’s employees who are responsible for providing the experience and service that customers are seeking. What’s just as important, though, is maintaining consistency of service so that the customer experience is the same or better with each and every visit to a store. So, imagine how complicated and challenging this can be for retailers operating multiple store locations.”

Driving the customer experience through the consistency in the employee experience

The importance of ensuring excellent customer service is highlighted by findings within a PwC report that revealed 73% of today’s consumers consider the experience they receive as one of the most important factors driving their purchasing decisions, trailing closely behind price and quality. Further, 65% of consumers feel that a positive experience is more impactful than any kind of advertising or marketing.

It’s paramount, says Brisebois, that retailers do everything possible to ensure that their employees are set up for success and ready to deliver the consistent experience customers are increasingly expecting. She suggests the development of a strong and comprehensive set of standard operating procedures as the place to start, adding that a digitally-enabled task management system is the perfect way to imbed them into a culture, resulting in operational consistency as well as a host of other benefits for the organization. 

Here are four reasons why effective retail task management can maintain operational consistency, which in turn drives memorable customer experiences: 

1. It provides employees with deep understanding of roles and responsibilities 

“By leveraging digital tools that connect employees to a centralized set of procedures and responsibilities, allowing everyone to see what the tasks are, how they’re to be executed, and the results of effective execution, is critical in maintaining consistency,” says Brisebois. “When everyone knows what their colleagues are doing and why, efficiencies increase, as does the level of service provided to the customer.”

2. It allows all employees of the brand to operate within the same parameters

“When everyone is on the same page, so to speak, it’s easier to onboard new employees and enhance the skills of existing ones,” says Brisebois. “It allows for more seamless transitions for employees between stores and roles, creating a system of sorts by which employees need to fit into in order to realize individual and collective successes.”

3. It increases trust and loyalty

“When customers receive an incredible experience from a brand, they come to expect it from them, each and every time, despite where they shop with them,” says Brisebois. “Offering the same exceptional experience across a store network goes a long way toward heightening the perception of the brand in the mind of the consumer, engendering greater trust and loyalty in them, too.”

4. It allows regional managers to have greater control with access to real-time data

As this year’s Deskless Report found, managers are experiencing record-high levels of burnout due to a lack of access to the technology and tools that would enable them to effectively act as an intermediary between their workers and head office. 

“Having a task management system in place across multiple stores is also a massive benefit to regional managers responsible for the performance of multiple store locations. At a glance, with the digital tools available today, they can see how all stores within their network are performing, see what’s working and what isn’t, advising them of the need to intervene in order to fill gaps that might be interrupting the employee and customer experience.” says Brisebois.

The digital curve

Brisebois goes on to explain that accessing the technologies available to them and leveraging appropriate tools within the retail store is a great way for merchants to keep up with what she describes as “the digital curve” while also enhancing the experience for both customers and employees. 

And organizations see it. According to The Deskless Report, 80% of all corporate, manager, and worker respondents believe that task management can effectively impact frontline challenges and help workers thrive.

“When employees don’t need to constantly check in with their managers concerning their tasks and the steps needed to complete them, everyone’s time frees up, creating an organized, welcoming and stress-free environment,” she explains. “And, believe me, customers can sense these things as soon as they enter a store. When employees are on top of their work and can devote their full, undivided attention to servicing the needs of the customer, everyone wins. Customers’ expectations of the brand are surpassed. Employees feel empowered and proud of the work they’ve done. And the organization continues to engender trust and loyalty in both.”

Attracting talent

In fact, the trust and loyalty that’s cultivated end up, in Brisebois’ opinion, enhancing the culture of the organization. And, in some cases, she suggests that it becomes the strongest possible recruiting tool, allowing retailers to attract the right kind of talent to their stores, providing them with a leg up on competitors during a time when talent is extremely hard to find.

“The culture that a consistent employee experience helps nurture and develop is significant for a number of different reasons.,” she asserts. “Perhaps more important than any, however, is the impact it has on the perceptions of your brand in the minds of prospective employees. Finding the right talent has been one of the most difficult challenges faced by those operating within the industry over the course of the past couple of years. By establishing a brand that employees want to work for, when the culture and experience is the same across every store in a multi-store network, retailers can really differentiate themselves in the most meaningful way – the talent they attract to their stores.”

During one of the most challenging times in recent retail memory, the need for merchants to empower their employees to deliver exceptional customer service may be more important than ever before. And, enabling them with the digital tools necessary to ensure that this objective is achieved, that the same incredible experience is offered during each customer interaction, in every store across an entire network, may serve to be one of the greatest drivers of growth for the foreseeable future.