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Today’s Carpentry Lesson: Building a Virtuous Spiral

Create the Vision - Hire the Right Architect

MAY 11 210
This week’s post speaks to Retailers. We know there’s a strong correlation between the work environment retail employees experience and key store metrics such as customer loyalty. An article in the May 2010 digital edition of Progressive Grocer succinctly updates this with a report based on SUPERVALU’s work with its Independent Retailers. Here’s a quick synopsis of the steps retailers can take to build a virtuous spiral, strengthening both the loyalty of their customer base and the depth (loyalty, quality) of their employee base.
• Hire a skilled architect Design a program of research and action that will work within the realistic constraints of your organization. The research investment has to be balanced with investment in resources to drive change.
• Choose your materials wisely: select the right metrics
Know what matters – before you measure customer or employee behaviors or attitudes, you want to know what the key drivers are – so you measure only what matters, and what you could possibly change.
Operationalize those key drivers – specific behaviors, conditions, experiences can be changed. These are the foundation of your virtuous spiral.

• “Measure three times, cut once” Measure what matters. Three measures to consider:
o Measure your employees’ behaviors, attitudes, satisfaction
o Measure the customers’ experiences, satisfaction, loyalty
o Measure your employees’ perceptions of customer satisfaction
Employees are often tougher on themselves than customers are, so it is encouraging for them to see how well customers rate the store on various dimensions. Demonstrating where gaps exist between employees’ perceptions and customers’ realities brings the employees into the process and makes them more likely to embrace necessary changes. This is especially true for today’s Gen Y employees.

• Provide the right tools. The results of any measurement will be productive IFF effective steps are taken to change what’s holding back performance. This means laser sharp approach to diagnosis, selecting targets for change, and implementing that change
o Communicate results and plans, get stakeholder alignment
o Train focused on specific action areas

• Build! What is measured is managed.
o Coordination is key. Integrate your customer satisfaction program throughout your organization, including functions such as Six Sigma, Training, Communications, HR, Ad Agency….the more pervasive, the more impact it will have.
o Stay on top of the schedule. Understand the lag time between reading customer satisfaction, taking corrective action, and time for those actions to be recognized by customers.

• Celebrate success, recalibrate, keep building. Communicate and reward progress effectively. As the motivational literature attests, there is a science to accomplishing these goals:
o Showcase employees who embrace the program and have grown as a result of it –
o Let your customers know how you respond to their feedback – we listen, we act!

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One Response to Today’s Carpentry Lesson: Building a Virtuous Spiral

  1. Quite a meaty primer for retailers to optimize their store’s opportunity to sell.

    With the right market research partner (you!)it seems that the retailer can get timely feedback to make adjustments as they roll out their virtuous circle-based plan.

    I wondered if you use tap the virtuous circle phenom (actions trigger effects in a cycle that returns to and reinforces the original action) as well as the virtuous spiral.


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