A Smarter Way for Retailers to do Operational Intelligence
Smart analysis of collaboration tool data is helping retailers uncover new insights from the front line and take a proactive approach to operational intelligence.
One of the biggest challenges for modern business leaders is getting a clear picture of what’s happening on the front line. Messages change as they move through the chain of command, and what filters up through layers of management and silos of responsibility isn’t always the full story — or anything close to it. But without a clear picture of life in the trenches, how can leaders make informed decisions that benefit the organization?
Leaders are out of touch with frontline workers
Out-of-touch executives have made headlines for years. It’s a problem that came into focus during the Great Resignation but was already critical pre-pandemic. As far back as the mid-1990s, HBR was educating business leaders on how to connect better with frontline workers. And as organizations grow, the disconnect only worsens.
Without effective channels of communication, how do leaders understand if a problem is local, regional, or endemic? How do businesses increase efficiency in resource allocation without clear oversight of where they can make the most impact? How do you uncover the root cause of issues plaguing the front line?
Modern reporting mechanisms are slow. Say a machine fails in store, leaving employees unable to provide customers with a full range of services. What does resolving that issue look like for your organization today? How many steps exist between an employee noticing the problem and the machine being repaired or replaced? And once the problem is resolved, who notes if this is the first or fiftieth time that machine has broken, or if other stores have similar problems with the same equipment? What procedures currently exists to identify repeated failures, and how quickly does the company act to find a permanent solution?
Right now, how easy is it for your organization to uncover problems affecting the front line, understand the root cause, and reach a resolution? And how long does the process take?
If the frequency and cost of failures and breakdowns are within tolerance, business leaders might not notice they’ve got a systemic problem until somebody else points it out. McDonald’s ice cream, anyone?
What retailers need is a new way to do operational intelligence that identifies and surfaces business insights from across the organization and brings them from the front line directly to leaders’ attention.
What is operational intelligence?
Operational intelligence is a data-driven approach to enabling business decisions based on real-time insights. Successful operational intelligence strategies use smart analysis to proactively identify the most impactful issues affecting the business today.
How does operational intelligence help the retail industry become more productive?
Inventory management has taken a series of major hits in recent years. From pandemic shutdowns of international trade routes to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the avian flu outbreak, retailers have been locked in a constant battle of supply chain disruptions and shortages, with no end in sight.
Data-driven decision-making can’t solve global crises, but it can help retailers react faster to the changing landscape and develop a more nuanced understanding of how disruptions impact the bottom line. Operational intelligence can also surface deeper insights into company processes and how they affect customers and employees.
The business of retail happens on the front line. Frontline employees are in contact with products and customers on a daily basis. They understand better than any computer model or projection what will attract or repel buyers, and they know the shortages and outages that will have the biggest impact on customer satisfaction. These employees have direct access to a continuous stream of real-time customer feedback and develop a nuanced understanding of how the business works and where it fails to deliver.
In large retail organizations, these insights often get lost between the silos of the business. That means companies lack visibility or understanding of the topics and events that impact their customers and employees until it’s too late to act. Discontent can fester for months before it comes to leadership attention in the form of mass resignations or falling profits. Connecting directly with the front line is critical if these key employees are to have a voice in the organization — and their voice has never been more important.
Data-driven decision-making supports initiatives across the enterprise. But data at scale from one of the most reliable sources of information about the business has always been challenging to attain — until now. Leading executives recognize the advantage of listening to frontline workers and are embracing smart operational intelligence solutions like Aware to unlock frontline insights and support strategic decision-making.
How Aware enables smarter operational intelligence
Aware supports operational intelligence by giving retailers complete, contextual oversight of conversation data at scale, enabling faster, more impactful decision-making that empowers employees to deliver exceptional customer service.
Harness the data of your frontline collaboration tools
You already own the technology where your employees communicate. Aware connects effortlessly to tools like Slack, WorkJam and Workplace from Meta with zero IT lift and immediately starts ingesting a continuous feed of employee messages at scale.
- Get a 360-degree overview of the state of your organization from a single, centralized platform.
Use intelligent algorithms to surface trending topics
Surveys can only answer the questions the organization knows to ask. With Aware, retailers can use AI-infused algorithms to proactively identify the topics of greatest concern to the front line right now, bringing new information to leadership attention as it surfaces.
- Reduce time to discovery and resolution of top concerns impacting the front line.
Perform smart sentiment analysis to highlight top sources of frustration
Retailers have faced unprecedented supply chain and staffing challenges over the past few years, but which issues have the highest impact on frontline morale? Perform in-depth analysis with sentiment insights that utilize industry-leading, proprietary Natural Language Processing (NLP) to identify negativity and toxicity.
- Increase operational efficiencies by funneling resources to where they’re needed most.
Visualize the scale of common complaints
Counteract the loudest voices and identify the most widespread issues plaguing your organization. People Sets from Aware help business leaders understand when issues are endemic or isolated to specific teams, shifts or regions of the company. Get faster, clearer understanding of where problems occur and tackle them at the source.
- Enjoy smoother rollouts of new products, services, and benefits with targeting training and messaging.
Get continuous insight into fluctuations on the front line
Aware ingests conversation data 24/7, enabling near real-time detection and faster time to resolution. Deploy machine learning workflows to set alerts by regex or keyword and send automated notifications to managers and leaders.
- Alleviate frustrations with rapid responses that make frontline employees feel heard and valued.
Proactively deliver operational insights to business leaders
With advanced insights from Aware, retailers can perform more impactful operational intelligence. Insights from frontline employees help company leaders understand how the business is functioning, where disruptions have the greatest impact, and what concerns are top of mind for customers and workers alike.
- Make the best use of your available resources to maximize efficiency and increase employee and consumer satisfaction.
Learn how your retail business can benefit from smarter operational intelligence with Aware
Watch the webinar to discover more ways that Aware is helping businesses access actionable break room insights that reimagine how boardroom decisions are made.
Aware uncovered the top topics impacting frontline retail workers right now. Read the study to learn more.