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.

Simplifying Fresh Reductions

Picture3

Removing complexity is one of the most important ways the Retail Support Centre can help our store colleagues. One of the most common issues we’ve heard from colleagues is that our fresh reduction process wasn’t working.

Colleagues told us our reductions matrix was too complicated and the timing was not right. Having different processes for long life and short life products adds complexity and can lead to products being missed and ‘out of code’ products being left. We were reducing too many products which is time consuming and damages customer perception about the quality of our food.

We’ve listened to colleagues, and to enable stores to focus on serving our customers at our busy times, we’ve made fresh reductions process a lot simpler. We’ve changed the frequency of the checks, and the exceptions. We’ve also empowered colleagues to choose the best time to complete first reductions for their store, and to override the iRTC system where they may have store-specific challenges which need to be taken into account.

When we trialed the new process, we had some really positive feedback from colleagues. But we also learnt a lot too. We’ve learned that following the new process exactly (as it’s written) is the key to saving time and reducing waste. But how have our colleague found the new process? We spoke to a few of our store colleagues to find out how the new process has impacted their stores….

“The new process is much better as it give us more time to get it right. Because we have until 10am on the product date it allows us to be more flexible.  If something unexpected happens like a late delivery, it means we can pick up the process the following morning. It’s helped eased pressure on the late jobs which has really reduced stress in store”

Gina, Petrol Harrogate Rd

“The new process is really much simpler and easier for us”

Ifte, Southwark Mill street

“It’s working really well, I didn’t think it would as our store previously had high level of waste, but since the new system was introduced our waste has been much better, our split has improved to 80/20…….Its so much simpler now that we use the same rule for both long and short life products, and we’ve found the system is giving a much better price on the first reduction”

Tammy, Alnwick Bondgate

But we aren’t taking our foot off the gas – We’ll continue too look at how the process can be improved – We’ll be using data from the new process to improve the suggested prices generated by iRTC which will help products sell through at the first reduction.  We’ll soon have simpler reporting to help us improve our range and waste, and we’ll be looking at introducing improvements to our ambient reduction process later in 2018.

‘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.

hdii

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

Blog image

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.

Colleague Insights on Change

In 2017 we held a number of listening events for store colleagues. This year we want to do a better job of using that feedback to shape ideas, and last week the Colleague Insight Team held our first workshop session of 2018 with a group of store colleagues. It was a chance to directly influence the key areas you’ve been taking about. The session covered a lot of ground, but the focus was how in different ways we can remove any duplication and free time up in store to focus on what matters most.

Rhythm and Routine

We began by building on one of the key topics from the previous RSC Hackathon – the Rhythm & Routine Book. The changes we made in December received mixed feedback, and it was clear we could do better. Our colleagues broke off into groups to discuss what works with the current book and what doesn’t

20180115_112921

The overall feeling was that while the book added value in some aspects, it had become over complicated and time consuming. The main positive being that it was a good training tool for new colleagues, but had limited impact with experienced colleagues.

Groups were invited to then design what the book may look like, listing the must have details within the book and focusing on how we can make it as lean as possible. This will now be taken away and reworked and sent to the printers in time for Q2.

Innovating for the Future

Colleagues were also given a preview of the new tablets which will be hitting stores in Q2 – this was a great chance for the group to see some of the capabilities of the tablets, including delivery checking, Verisae, How Do I and Bunzl, but was also an opportunity to feedback to Project Manager James on ways we could best use the tablets in store, with suggestions including bar-code scanner/ spyglass, face-time, and inventory management.

A key focus of the day was to gain the store perspective on how we can land change better. In the Innovation Centre colleagues were given an insight into some of the key ideas, concepts and technology that may help shape our future stores, including digital warehouse mapping, electronic SELs and voice activation.

“It really makes me feel more confident that we are looking to the future” Darren, Team Manager

“I’m surprised how much focus there is on Safety” Callum, Team Manager

Our colleagues were clear on the positives of the innovation ideas they saw, especially the focus on safety, but they were equally clear that they felt it was important to focus on fixing the issues that affect stores in the ‘here and now’.  It was clear that SELs and POS was called out as a priority focus for our store colleagues.

The ‘Here and Now’

We finished off the day with a session on looking at how we can make sure we have the best processes in store. As well as looking at some of the methods we will be using to improve how we operate, some of the suggestions included giving Team Leaders more responsibility in briefing colleague on change, and to bring more consistently co-op ways of working to all roles, from Area Manager to CTM.

The Colleague Insight team will be doing all we can in 2018 to ensure our colleagues have the voice to shape the change that will be coming, so don’t forget, if you have an idea on how we can improve or simplify things in stores, or if you would be interested in attending any future listening sessions, please drop us a line at colleagueinsight@coop.co.uk

Listen, Act and Fix

Co-op store colleagues are the most visible face of our business, and they will be the first experience many members have of interacting with our products and services. So it’s really important that we listen to their ideas on how we can improve things and remove complexity.

This is one of the main aims of the Listen, Act and Fix (LAF) team here at Co-op Retail Support Centre. We want to get behind these great ideas which will help improve the way we operate, for the benefit of our colleagues, customers and members.

We’ve been listening

To get this work off to the right start, we recently held a number of listening sessions for colleagues. We heard from 254 colleagues in 24 events in stores right across the country so that we could get a proper impression of what matters most and, just as importantly, hear colleagues’ ideas about how to make things better. We received nearly 1000 pieces of feedback, a 34% increase on the suggestions we received in 2016’s sessions.

Photograph of colleagues at a listening session in Llandudno

Photograph of staff in Bromsgrove at a listening session

We found that, above all else, our colleagues care about Membership: particularly registering new members. But we know that this is a much more difficult process than it should be and is taking too much valuable time in store. So we’re sharing our colleagues’ ideas with the Membership team, working to speed up registrations and make more customers want to join us. The tablet sign-up trial that’s underway at the moment is just one way of doing this, and the idea came directly from store colleagues.

We also found that colleagues had many suggestions and ideas on how we can improve our tills, which can cause unnecessary stress, especially at busy times. So as part of our annual review of assets and equipment, we’re replacing older equipment with newer, faster models, and making some changes to our software. After this we will focus on improving network speeds so that it is easier to get online – and stay there!

And we know that the TARA system is far too complicated for everyday use. After this came up regularly in our sessions, we decided to trial a simplified job structure as well as an app to provide TARA access from a smart device. We’re pleased with the early results and will hopefully have positive news to announce soon. Watch this space!

We’ve been learning

Visiting stores has certainly taught us a lot about the pressures store colleagues face in their roles and know there is still a huge amount of work to be done to reduce these pressures. But we are determined to keep making things better, and we want to put colleague ideas and suggestions at the centre of this.

We know we need to listen more, and ensure we’re championing our colleagues’ ideas. After all, no one knows better what works in-store than those who actually work there. New digital tools are making it easier than ever before to get insight into colleague ideas, and to respond, making the changes we know need to be made.

Our ambition is better engagement and insight: finding and using the great ideas that our colleagues have, and working together to deliver them. We want to make Listen, Act and Fix cultural, as part of a servant-leadership approach, and we want the insight of our colleagues to form a key part of how we plan for the future. Our mission in 2017 is to keep up the momentum.

The Executive team for Food has seen the recent insight from our colleagues and we will soon be sharing our future plans with them. By listening, sharing our ideas, and challenging us all to fix them, we can bring about the important changes we know will really make a difference to our colleagues, customers and members.

Joe Wheatley
Colleague Insight Support Officer