Since individual stores have more say in their merchandising, store managers and local merchandising managers have more decisions to make. This gets them to solicit more feedback from employees and spend more time “on the floor.” The ultimate dynamic is to give employees a stronger feeling of ownership and connection with the company. This is another example of the employee experience virtuous cycle.
The bottom line: Get your employees more involved in the business.
Bruce makes a great point in his employee experience viruous cycle. "The ultimate dynamic is to give employees a stronger feeling of ownership and connection with the company." Companies need to listen better to their front line to get first hand accounts of customer interactions with the product. Companies often spend 8% or more of their total revenue on marketing versus 1.5% on training their employees. It's exactly this thinking in silos that stops companies from realizing their full customer experience potential.
What should you do as a company?
It's cliche. But companies, why don't you listen? And don't just say you're listening. Set up systems to collect the knowledge of your employees at the front line. The need for employees to be heard, and to be heard as a collective explains the exploding growth of services such as Yammer. Growing to over 80 000 companies using the network since 2008, Yammer collects all employees in a lateral communication platform. Everyone injects knowledge into the system and can take out information from the system. Take away that suggestion box, no one uses it anyway. Open up direct lines of communication.
Use the information. Group all the insight that you get from your front line employees. Categorize it and create clusters of problems or potentials. Bring this back to the front line again. Do they recognize these clusters and do they have suggestions in how to improve it.
When you implement a solution make sure to give credit to who it's due. Show the team effort behind it and keep all stakeholders involved.
Empower your employees to make the right decisions. Instead of seeing the front line as a tool to execute HQ strategy. Think of HQ as a supporting branch of the front line. The front line makes the sales, the front line transacts and interacts. How can you as a company help them do this better? Peter Merholz said this well in his talk at The Economist in which he spoke about Southwest Airlines.
"...one of the really significant things she [Colleen Barrett] did was give our people on the front line a lot of flexibility. Basically, she ascertained that we could not anticipate every situation that would evolve in a given station at a passenger terminal. Therefore, she told our employees--and meant it--that as long as you are leaning toward the customer, you are OK...They did not need to ask permission from anybody to do so." Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines.
How do you as a company break away from top down leadership? How do you serve your employees? Does your customer experience come first?