While we all love the holidays, it is also a period of tremendous stress for many people working in the supply chain and customer service departments of businesses, especially in retail.
The seasonal fluctuations that come hand-in-hand with sales peaks, and the resulting strain they put on logistics and customer service departments is huge. Although companies are used to cyclical spikes and have processes in place to cope with such surges, it does remain a complicated matter to manage everything efficiently. The opportunities for mistakes increase exponentially as the volume of goods being traded rise. Adding seasonal staff to the workforce also often means working with less experienced people, which again raises the risk of mistakes being made and the importance of efficient team management.
So, what are the key factors to consider for managing an effective workforce under seasonal strain?
One crucial element in managing any process or operation is information. For many companies making sure the right information is available to the right employee can be a big headache. Perhaps more importantly though, the information needs to deliver insight. Often, plenty of information can be delivered, but extracting the right insight from the data to inform next steps for areas, such as delivery, production, resourcing or fulfilment, can be an unnecessarily complex process.
The situation can be further aggravated by the fact that much of the information needed for managers to efficiently manage teams and processes and for employees to be empowered to pro-actively take good decisions, are usually dispersed in various disparate systems and databases.
All this means is that in most organizations the information needed to quickly and easily get a transparent view across the business is just not readily available. The work volume of holiday peaks does not allow for staff to gain information from different systems and platforms to extract essential data. Even during a normal workweek, time would be better spent on more value-adding tasks than managing different data sources.
A sole source of information that is available across an enterprise has huge benefits, enabling people to make informed decisions and take ownership of their respective roles. However, achieving this efficient form of communication is a hard task considering the current internal communications mechanisms and platforms currently used by most companies which are usually disparate, everything from intranets, email, excel and other traditional communications and reporting tools.
So how do companies make sure the holiday period does not end up becoming the Grinch in their employee’s lives? How can they facilitate smooth and efficient processes, not just during the holiday season, but throughout the entire year?
The answer is: a data-driven visual communications strategy. Clever data-driven, visual enterprise-wide communication solutions tackle this in a number of ways. Relevant information and real-time KPIs can be displayed via appealing visuals on screens throughout a business; from large format screens and desktops to mobile apps. This provides a level of impact that is unmatched by any other approach, tool or solution.
Here are some customer service tips and ways in which data-driven visual communications can drive performance during workload peaks and critical periods:
1. Reach is king.
People are wired for visual communications. A/V technology has become very affordable and accessible and with mobile phone penetration can reach almost 100 percent of a business. This means it has become very easy to reach every employee via screens throughout the offices and mobile apps for those elsewhere, in a way that no other communication method is able to do.
2. Simplicity powers impact.
Where traditional reporting tools provide information, clever real-time visual performance management technology goes further and provides insights in an appealing and digestible manner. Providing a high-level of performance information across a team or department at the blink of an eye.
3. Make issues clear even before they happen.
Data-driven visual communications technology will send clear signals to all relevant stakeholders whenever performance falls below a certain threshold; allowing underlying issues or motives to be corrected before KPIs and performance drop and impact the business negatively.
4. Democratising information, creating ownership.
Apart from creating a more informed and savvy workforce, enterprise-wide visual performance management also empowers staff and encourages them to take ownership as they are more informed about their own performance. Aided by resolution messaging employees can pro-actively take the right decisions needed to keep performance and efficiency levels high, leaving managers to focus on business development matters.
5. Assign resources more optimally in a highly dynamic fashion.
While most companies rely on professional workforce management and scheduling systems for staff resourcing, many are not efficient enough to respond to real-time changes and imbalances due to issues such as unexpected bottlenecks or supply demands. Cross-system performance management technology can provide a complete overview enabling resourcing decisions in a simpler more informed manner.
6. Allow departments to become better aligned.
By providing real time insights on performance across systems, platforms, geographies and departments, visual performance management solutions can break down barriers. Instead delivering cohesion between different departments or teams and encouraging them to work together more efficiently.
7. Create a more pleasant and productive working environment.
By blending interesting, relevant and fun information, and even employee-generated content, into your visual performance management strategy a culture of open and transparent employee engagement can be fostered; leading to a more united, productive and, hopefully, happier workforce. Even under the demands Christmas brings!
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