A grocery store associate looks at alerts on his enterprise-grade handheld mobile computer
By Tom Bianculli | October 29, 2020

Finding It Hard to Keep Workers (and Customers) Engaged? The Reflexis Team Has Cracked the Code.

As the world gets more complicated and operational structures more complex, every effort must be made to keep things simple for your front-line workers.

What does it take to keep a customer engaged these days? Just as importantly, what does it take to keep employees engaged?

Those are the hard questions that organizations have to ask every day in order to provide excellent customer service within the confines of today’s operational limitations and societal challenges, many of which have either been caused or amplified by COVID-19. It’s not always easy to know if…

  • front-line employees feel overwhelmed by the demands being placed on them (either by you or customers) or if they actually have the skills, bandwidth and/or desire to contribute more to the team.
  • there is more that can be done by your staff to make your customers feel welcome and supported.
  • there are operational issues that need immediate attention in order to mitigate customer, workforce or financial losses.
  • your team members could become more efficient, productive and/or satisfied in their roles and, in turn, they will be able to better serve customers if they had the right technology tools.

It’s not easy to know what the “right” technology tools are either, even if it’s clear that technology would prove beneficial.

That’s why Zebra has acquired Reflexis Systems.

As a global market leader in retail task management and a recognized leader in workforce management, Reflexis has a strong pulse on what it takes to motivate and manage every worker on the front lines of retail stores, hotels, restaurants and banks. For the past 20 years, Reflexis has essentially been conducting real-world market research with the more than 275 brands that leverage its software to understand how best to engage, manage and reward employees.

In fact, the Reflexis mission from day one has been to learn – and then deliver – what it takes to give front-line workers more joy and purpose every day they show up to work. As such, the team has a firm grasp on what makes the average worker tick and what makes them check out.

Afraid that…

  • a process isn’t working as intended?
  • employee communication is lagging?
  • technology “solutions” are lacking the features and capabilities to meet workflow or customer service expectations?
  • currently defined workflows are too complex to be effective?
  • technology tools intended to simplify tasks may actually be too complicated to use?

The Reflexis team can help you determine exactly what needs to be done to offer a more rewarding experience for both your employees and your customers.

Why It’s So Important to Keep Things Simple for Your Front-Line Team (Despite the Complexity of Back-End Operations)

Modern workforce management is all about dynamically prioritizing workflows to help balance labor constraints against operational demands and extract more value from each worker’s time and effort. It is also about fulfilling employees’ desire for greater work-life balance given the correlation between job satisfaction and productivity.

  • How can you help associates complete all of their routine tasks (i.e. cleaning, restocking, ensuring the right promotions are deployed on time, or auditing high-value SKUs) while remaining available to respond in real time to customer inquiries, a product recall, a spike in demand at checkout or shelf price issues?
  • How can you ensure all duties are correctly and efficiently completed so that your business runs smoothly?
  • How can you help team members feel comfortable going home on time, satisfied that the work they completed that day was meaningful?

According to feedback from the front lines, mobile technology is the answer to all of the above.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of retail associates surveyed for Zebra’s 2020 Shopper Study said they could be more helpful to shoppers if equipped with mobile technology. But as we have learned, mobile devices have to be equipped with the right applications in order to be truly impactful in modern customer service environments.

Just look at how much goes into keeping retail operations running smoothly and customers happy:

The complexity of the retail operating environment

*ESS: Employee Self Service

*T&A: Time and Attendance

And keeping hospitality environments “hospitable” to guests:

The complexity of the hospitality operating environment

And efficiently addressing people’s financial needs:

The complexity of the banking operating environment

And consistently delivering the high quality of food and service expected by restaurant customers:

The complexity of the restaurant operating environment

No matter what type of goods you sell or services you provide, the key to keeping operations running smoothly and customers satisfied is keeping employees happy. This is something that we’ve come to understand very well at Zebra based on feedback provided by our customers and our front-line engagement with retail, food service, banking and hospitality workers. It is also something well understood by the Reflexis team.

Workers who are guided through their day – who can quickly look at an app on their mobile device to know the best next action to take in every moment – are naturally more engaged and productive. They have a tendency to be happier, too, because the stress of guessing (possibly incorrectly) how best to proceed through their tasks is taken off the table. They don’t have to think about whether or not they’ve done everything expected of them by managers and customers. They don’t have to worry about whether or not they missed something. They have someone, or something (i.e. a mobile device with projects, checklists, instructions and alerts), helping them manage their tasks and their time. Giving workers very specific instructions on what to do in every situation empowers them to succeed every time, no matter what they’re asked to do – or by whom. In turn, they become more satisfied and engaged with their work and customers become more satisfied with their experiences with both individual associates and your brand overall.

On the other hand, if your workers find a mobile device or app too difficult to use, it may take them longer to complete tasks. In turn, customer service will suffer and everyone will become frustrated. We (Zebra, along with our partners and customers) have to make it super simple for your front-line workers to move from one task to the next and, when needed, turn on a dime to respond to a customer inquiry or resolve an issue. Now, with the addition of Reflexis solutions to our store associate performance-focused portfolio, we are confident we can.

How Zebra + Reflexis are Going to Help You Make Tasks (and Life) Easier and More Meaningful for Your Employees

We know you need mobility solutions that can facilitate workflows with the speed, efficiency and accuracy needed to keep up with demand. We also know that your workers need very specific communication, collaboration and task navigation tools to be agile in dynamic environments.

That’s why we believe that the Reflexis ONE™ intelligent work platform we are integrating into Zebra’s Intelligent Edge Solutions portfolio will deliver immediate value to your business:

  • The Task Management offering gives associates a single place to view both routine and real-time task assignments in a prioritized list based on action requests pushed from all levels of the organization. Real-time, exception-based alerts and notifications are sent to exactly the right user based on role, skills/knowledge and location (i.e. proximity to a guest or spill). It also gives workers and managers a way to report and monitor task completion in real time. Even better, reporting is simple thanks to the numerous easy-fill digital forms and checklists available for accident reports, supply and fixture orders, temperature logs, inventory audits, maintenance inspections and service requests, opening and closing processes, loss prevention and security reports, readiness checks and even employee recognition. Lastly, the system offers a one-of-a-kind, closed-loop floor auditing system where managers can conduct focused audits and – based on areas of non-compliance uncovered during these audits – automatically deliver best-practice corrective actions in real time to front-line associates so they can take immediate steps to fix issues.
  • The Workforce Management offering provides a simple-to-use interface for scheduling hours against projected traffic demand and task requirements for all workers, including associates, managers and even IT. Thanks to its intuitive user interface and a number of powerful store- and branch-centric artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, this tool makes it easy to optimize labor scheduling (and spend) down to 15-minute intervals based on the input criteria. It also ensures that all scheduling decisions are compliant with labor laws and regulations, union rules and organization policies and gives front-line workers more control over their schedules. Self-serve capabilities including schedule viewing, shift swapping and time off requests.

In other words, the Reflexis ONE™ intelligent work platform can integrate with the Zebra mobile computers you’re using – as well as other key technology platforms, such as Zebra Prescriptive Analytics, SmartCount and Workforce Connect – to help you optimize labor decisions, improve staff communication, increase accountability and simplify task execution for front-line workers. Every member of your team will be able to quickly retrieve the actionable intelligence he or she needs to be in the right place and complete the right task at the right time!

But that’s not the only benefits you (our customers, partners and front-line workers) will reap from Zebra’s acquisition of Reflexis and software portfolio expansion. You’ll also gain the management-level tools and actionable insights needed to:

  • intelligently improve your staffing.
  • manage performance effectively. 
  • test theories and make decisions effectively.
  • achieve measurable improvements in both customer and employee engagement and retention.

My team and I will be sharing more about the benefits that you’ll gain from our acquisition of Reflexis in the coming months here on the Your Edge blog. I recommend that you subscribe to our bi-weekly blog roundup email, if you haven’t already. It will make it easy to stay in the loop. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about how the intelligent Reflexis platform can help you right now given the workforce management challenges posed by COVID-19, please reach out to my team

Innovative Ideas, Inside Zebra Nation, Retail, Hospitality, Banking,
Tom Bianculli
Tom Bianculli

Tom Bianculli serves as the Chief Technology Officer of Zebra Technologies. In this role, he is responsible for the exploration of emerging opportunities, coordinating with product teams on advanced product development and Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives. The Chief Technology Office is comprised of engineering, business, customer research and design functions. 

Tom began his career in the tech industry at Symbol Technologies, Inc. (later acquired by Motorola) in 1994 as part of the data capture solutions business. In the following years, he held positions of increased responsibility including architectural and director of engineering roles. 

Tom has been granted over 20 U.S. patents and is a Zebra Distinguished Innovator and Science Advisory Board associate. He was recently named one of the Top 100 Leaders in Technology 2021 by Technology Magazine.

Tom holds bachelor of science and master of science degrees in electrical engineering from Polytechnic University, NYU and serves on the board of directors for the School of Engineering at the New York Institute of Technology.

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