The present is now here, next stop – the future

Hi, I’m Andy and I’m the Solution Lead on the tablet project. I was part of the team that designed and implemented those shiny new tablets (that are hopefully all fully working and being used by everyone in your stores). It was my job to make the things people wanted possible and politely tell them when it wasn’t. I am sure you have had the sales pitch and the use cases, the testimonials and the straplines, but I just wanted to give you all a bit of my own view from Retail IT on what we were thinking about as we worked with the Leading the Way team to drag our IT kit into the modern era.

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The new store tablet being used in the warehouse

Full disclosure: when I first started working on this project a year ago, I didn’t see the point, being a natural cynic and ironically fairly stuck in my ways when it comes to change, my instinct was that we were simply putting in technology for technology’s sake. Our first prototype didn’t bring much to the table, despite being designed to take you away from it! What changed my mind was getting to see what we had in the pipeline. When I got to work with the first set of Store Managers, heard the things they wanted, and realised that over the next few years with IT and RSC working together we could deliver everything they want, I was finally sold. Trust me when I say that twelve months goes a lot quicker when you believe in what you are working on, and I am extremely proud to have been involved in bringing you your store tablet. Our project team have built the platform we need to deliver the future to you in the palm of your hands (or over the shoulder with the strap – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it for a day).

Modern ways of working need modern tools, and we have some pretty cool tools coming your way in the next few years. I think it’s fair to say even the most tech-averse amongst us (you know who you are) are ducks in water with a tablet or phone. My four year old daughter can use it (don’t tell anyone she has one, though) but no matter how much I try to teach her to log into Incontrol – she just doesn’t get it (might be best we don’t tell anyone she has a back office server, either).

Tablets on Twitter
One of our Stores of Excellence gets to grips with the new tablet

To the cynics out there – like I was – you may see this device and think about the things that it does not do, but this is just the start – think about the things it can and will do with your help. I am a big fan of crowdsourcing, which is why one of the first things I put on the dashboard was the “your ideas” link. Let people know what you think – you can keep the positivity for twitter if you want – just help us to make it an even better product for you all to use.

Listening to colleagues in the Support Centre

Thursday 15 March saw 17 store colleagues gather in Angel Square’s ‘Innovation Centre’, a nerve centre of ideas and future store concepts from the Leading the Way team.

They were there to take part in March’s Store Manager Listening Session arranged by ourselves in Colleague Insight, a day that’s designed to provide an opportunity to hear from teams around the business, offer feedback on existing or upcoming pieces of work, and give us their thoughts and feelings on how things are for them currently.

An extra bonus of the day was an hour’s chat with our Retail Chief Executive, Jo Whitfield. The chance for an hour’s conversation with the boss is a rare one, and Jo was very willing to hear a “warts and all” view of the challenges our store colleagues are facing at the moment. You can read more about this on the Colleague Insight intranet pages.

Jo&Crew
Jo Whitfield speaks to store colleagues during our Listening Session

 

As well as hearing from them, Jo was able to give an update on how things looked from her perspective and gave some pointers about what was to come up for Food in the rest of the year.

She left the group with 3 key messages to take back to their colleagues in store;

  1. Believe in the plan
  2. Put the customer first
  3. Look after our colleagues

As well as Jo, several business areas from around the Support Centre were able to sit and talk through their world with the colleagues present, asking for the current feelings on how things work at the store level.

Among the topics discussed were store KPIs, the communications cascade and the top shelves project, where the comments and experiences of the colleagues were extremely useful in deciding what we do in the future.

They also had the chance to talk to a project manager from the wider Co-op team who discussed the very early stages of a new training project.

The learnings from a day like this feed into our quarterly hackathons, and help us keep the voice of the colleague front and centre in the minds of all in the Retail Support Centre.

By the time you’re reading this we’ll have just finished Quarter 1’s Hackathon, an event where we gather 50+ colleagues in a big room and, as well as hearing about current projects, we get them involved in shaping future projects, working out solutions to the things that they’re facing.

If you’d like to be involved in either type of session in the future (and they’re not all held in Manchester), then email the team at colleagueinsight@coop.co.uk and we’ll be in touch telling you when the next session is.

‘How Do I?’ The Story So Far

I’m Marc and I’ve been with the Co-op now for over 9 years working my way from Customer Team Member to a Team Manager. For the past 6 months I’ve been working on the ‘How Do I?’ site with 5 colleagues from stores – rewriting policies to replace the old CITRUS ones. In November the site launched to all stores, and since then the site has had over 250,000 page views and our store colleagues have shared over 600 pieces of feedback.

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Actioning the feedback

With each piece of feedback we always look at ways we can try and improve the site to make it easier for colleagues to use and understand. Whether that be from making a certain process easier to follow, or adding in links to related content so that it takes less time to find what you’re looking for. We’re continuously fine-tuning things to make it as easy and straightforward to use as possible.

The more feedback we get, the better we can make ‘How Do I’. There is the option on every page to send in feedback including any issues with finding content on the site. So if you search for something and it’s not immediately clear where it is, changes can be to make it easier to find.

Taking the bad with the good

Obviously it’s not always rainbows and butterflies – as much as it’s great to hear how colleagues are really enjoying using the site, it’s great getting feedback on any opportunities or challenges too. We encourage all colleagues to share any feedback, no matter how minor, as even if it’s only a small change, there’s likely to be someone else who might be thinking the same. It’s this feedback that drives the improvements that are continuously being made – such as adding keywords that have been searched and improving the search engines priorities.

What’s next?

The ‘How Do I’ homepage has just been improved, so it’s now clearer to see what policies have been recently updated. You can not only see what the policies are but also a description of what has changed – so there’s no need to search through the page to find the change. This year there are plans to look at making ‘How Do I’ available on own devices so you’ll be able to use the site whenever you need to, not limiting the site to just on a computer. If you haven’t already, why not go and give it a look yourself!

Marc Kurucz

Team Manager, Petrol Marple

 

 

How we improved service in 2017

In 2017, the Retail Support Centre re-launched with a clear aim of improving service by simplifying the work we do – to bring the Co-op difference to life. Since then teams across the Retail Support Centre have been listening to stores more than ever, to get to the heart of how we can improve the service we give to stores. More than ever, in the past 12 months the feedback of our store colleagues has been essential in shaping the improvements we have made.

Supporting Store Services

Across store services we have seen some great improvements. We allocated over 5,700 additional hours for Hermes over Christmas – helping stores handle the 250,000 parcels that came through during the festive period. This earned just under £200k in income in December alone. We also got better at communicating this, by sending weekly updates which as a result of feedback from stores will now become a permanent monthly cascade.

We have supported in promoting the benefits of having great availability in scratchcards and stores have responded seeing an increase of 4% across the estate.

In response to great demand from stores & the communities we serve, we installed Costa machines in to 12 stores in December – outside of the acquisition and refit programme – so far generating over £11k in sales, with more stores planned in 2018.

We’ve had some great feedback about improved ATM availability over Christmas, and have supported 12 stores in introducing an ATM to support the community where there has been local bank closures – leading to £12k in commission in Q4!

Simplifying Communications

At the heart of improving service to stores is reducing complexity. Communications is a key area where we have been working hard to simplify. We have reviewed how we communicate, and the Food Internal Comms team and the RSC have been working more closely together to simplify messages to stores as well as stopping ‘Illegal’ messaging. We’ve created a new comms process and shared it with the business to ensure all messages are either planned of agreed before they’re sent to stores.

We have reduced comms messaging to stores by 10%, with an additional 40% reduction in messages sent on Fridays and Saturdays. We have also challenged back to the business around incorrect messages which has helped us reduce the number of ‘apology’ messages by 75%.

We have additional work to do in ensuring quality of submissions from the business to the Comms team and activity is already underway to coach and support colleagues across the business to improve how we communicate. Going in to 2018, the comms team will be collaborating with Colleague Insight team to carry out a full review of a store inbox to see what they receive in a week and from who, to look at more ways we can reduce the volume of comms stores receive.

Better Operational Service

On the OSS desk, call volumes have decreased by a massive 20% in 2017 from 208,000 to 166,000,  with the launch of ‘How Do I’ playing an important role in ensuring colleagues have the information they need when they need it. Additionally we are getting better at answering the phone quickly, with 70 % of calls now being answered in under 30 seconds, and we’ve had some great feedback from stores:

“I love the email function to OSS”

“The improvement in OSS in the past 12 months has been unbelievable, from the speed they answer calls to the knowledge of the operators, which has seen massive improvements”

We’re Listening more than ever

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We’ve been listening more, and the Colleague Insight team is building on the work done previously by Listen Act and Fix to develop more ways for us to listen to the colleague voice. We held the first RSC ‘Hackathon’ in October, as well as co-ordinating Store Manager Listening groups. To help give colleagues a forum to share ideas we’ve rebuilt our Intranet page and set up the colleagueinsight@coop.co.uk email address, where colleagues can send us ideas on how we can simplify store operations.

We know we have a lot more to do in 2018, and colelague insight and feedback will be at the centre of the way we support stores, improve service and deliver change in 2018. The Colleague Insight team will be building on the groundwork set by Listen, Act and Fix to provide more detailed insights into what matters most to our colleagues, and will be collaborating closely with teams from throughout the Retail Support Centre to ensure colleagues feel supported and that their voice is listened to.

Being open and honest through blogging

photograph of the Leading the Way team in Federation House

The aim of the Leading the Way programme is to transform how our Co-op Food stores operate. We want to help store colleagues with the things they need to do, in the time they have and give them the freedom to be great Co-op shopkeepers.

Over the last few weeks we’ve started to let you know about some of the work we’ve been doing to help make things simpler in store.

Blogging: our latest way to communicate

Now, the Leading the Way team is going to blog regularly to share what we’re working on and ask for your thoughts and feedback. We’re keen to have an open communication channel with all the business and enhance the existing more formal comms channels. We want to keep connected with you all and share what we are seeing, hearing and discovering as the project develops. 

Quick intro

Photograph of Steve Logue in a Co-op Food store

I’m Steven Logue, Head of Stores Transformation, and I have the privilege of heading up this exciting piece of work. We’re aiming to make your life in store better by making tasks simpler and removing the things that just don’t make any sense. We know everyone works hard and we need to make sure our solutions are about working smarter not harder.

You’ve all had a busy Easter trading period and the start of hopefully a good summer and along with my colleagues from the Retail Support Centre, I’ve spent some time in stores over the last few weeks. It’s great to see the passion and enthusiasm in our store teams and a real focus to get things right for our customers.

Making things simpler

We need to challenge ourselves to get the basics right and complete activities and tasks in the way they should be done, not creating work-arounds or additional checks for example. Ask yourself if you’re really working to the model in your store?

We want to hear from you

We’re looking at different ways of talking to and listening to you that will make sure we listen, act and fix the things that get in the way of you delivering a great service to our members and customers.

It’s been great to start to share this today and I know that all the team are really looking forward to talking to you regularly. We encourage your comments, questions and feedback on our progress so let us know what you think below.

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Steven Logue
Head of Stores Transformation