About the AuthorMore Content by Katy Roberts
From Blackberry to EE, Carphone Warehouse to O2, Roger is a consultant who truly understands the Mobile Telecoms and Retail markets. Having started on the shop floor, and quickly growing through the ranks to become the Managing Director of a division of Carphone Warehouse, Roger has led organisations across continent, across function, across revenue stream and continues to influence the telecommunications industry to strive for operational excellence, customer delight, operational efficiency and sales conversion. He shares his insight on the industry and highlights from his career path with us.
Workforce Management Optimisation and Productivity
Roger’s career has seen him travel extensively. Whether it was serving as the Retail Director for Blackberry in Asia Pacific, or the Director of Retail & Operations and Productivity for Carphone Warehouse covering Europe, Roger epitomises a truly global knowledge-base of mobile phone retail markets, and what it means to succeed, or fail, in this space. “My area of expertise is Mobile Telecoms retailing, but specifically, within that, the productivity, performance management and continuous improvement of the retail space. A large part of my career was focused on driving performance and productivity for the blue-chip companies I worked for. It wasn’t just about improving sales margins, but also on optimising costs at the same time. It’s often easy to spend money on advertising and creating larger sales teams to deliver more sales volumes, but by increasing costs to drive sales, your productivity naturally drops off”, he tells me. And Roger knows. In fact, he conducted a Workforce Management project for EE which was focused on optimising costs on the back-end of the organisation’s retail outlets. EE wanted to review their labour budgeting process for their 500+ retail stores in the UK. Roger was involved in analysing their existing labour budget process and designing new processes and best practices that would see them optimise their workforce costs, and drive productivity further. His approach included building a new model based on the insights he’d developed in his analysis, testing that model on a sample set of stores and then comparing the proposed model against their existing model – to identify areas of improvement. The output was a clear list of actions that they could use to improve their workforce management budgeting process. All of which has been received positively by the senior management team.
So, what are mobile telecoms retailers faced with today?
Roger tells me that there are 3 key challenges facing mobile telecoms retailers today.
• Online growth is taking business away from the high street
Many network operators are feeling the squeeze on their physical retail footprint caused by the relentless growth of internet sales. It’s critical therefore to turn these High Street stores into productive, profitable sales and customer experience outlets that can prosper in the new omnichannel world of retail. “Approximately 50% of the customers that go into Operator mobile telecoms stores are there for service-related queries, not for new product purchases. And so operators are being challenged to make these efficient. This is where strategic workforce planning and management is critical – having the right people in the store, at the right time, to match the customers coming into the stores, and being satisfied with the service they receive – while turning those encounters into profitable ones,” he says.
• A tightening consumer economy means businesses are looking for new ways to cut costs
With this drive for productivity, there’s a pressure to drive costs lower. In the same way that workforce management helps to drive productivity, effective planning also means that the pressure on having to reduce headcount to save costs is relieved – because retailers now have the right number of people in the stores, at the right time. Workforce planning is a good way to defend the need to simply reduce headcount to save costs – and highlights best practice through effective planning and delivering exceptional customer delivery on the frontline.
• There’s a shift towards more flexible working practices
We’ve heard about the controversial Zero Hours contracts, which in some cases have been abused by employers. However, flexible schedules managed correctly are in fact a great way to cater for customer demand without excessive overhead costs. McDonalds, for example, utilise flexible working hours contracts to the mutual benefit of their employees, which allows them to plan their headcount based on the needs of the business, their customers and their employees. Mobile telecoms retailers are under pressure to plan for more efficient shift patterns, afforded by flexible hour contracts – a key supporter for effective workforce management.
The secret to digital transformation in retail lies in the Stores themselves.
You’ve heard it before – and you’ll hear it again. The key driver for change in the mobile telecoms and retail worlds is digital transformation and retail technology. Retailers are driving towards an omnichannel retail experience for their customers – a single shopping journey from end to end, whether customers choose to shop online, in store, or call into a call centre. But the future for High Street retail relies on the digital transformation of the store itself. “Some retailers are ahead of the curve in this respect, already implementing new ways of doing things. You’ll see sales people in Carphone Warehouse armed with tablets which help them to answer any, and all, customer queries, or help them search for additional information such as product information, pricing and availability to assist with the purchasing decision for a customer. Their remit is to try to answer any questions or concerns that the customer has, in-store and successfully guide them along their purchase path” he tells me. “Other retailers are trialling customer journey mapping through a variety of different technologies that monitor the physical journey taken by a customer within the store, the amount of time they spend in a department or on a product, and more importantly, the products they don’t choose to look at,” he adds.
Roger’s focus is on driving productivity. What he does, apart from simply understanding the needs of the customer he works with, is map out the customer journey from start to finish. He takes the time to understand the critical success factors that drive a project forward. He then determines what the key assets, resources, customer interactions and operational activities are that need to be conducted at those critical moments of truth and then once those are defined, analyses the client’s actual position against where they hope to be in the process. By doing this, Roger helps his client to focus their energy on only the most critical points in the journey that will drive success for them and in doing so, keeps costs to a minimum. With over 20 years’ experience in delivering sales growth and operational efficiency with global blue-chip companies in the Mobile Telecoms industry, Roger is certainly best-placed to help your business achieve profitability and success.
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