NEWARK, N.J. — As the unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis has been unfolding, convenience store operators have stood up impressively. Operationally, most have tightened and improved their cleaning, personal hygiene and sanitizing procedures; many eliminated self-serve foodservice and drinks, and banned reusable cups; and some have installed plexiglass barriers at their checkout counters.
Most importantly, retailers have recognized that communicating enhanced safety policies to their employees — the frontline heroes — has never been more crucial.
Convenience Store News recently hosted a webcast entitled "Essential Tools for Essential Operations: Real-Time Crisis Communications & Continuity Management for C-stores." Featuring Shell Oil Co. and sponsored by WorkJam, the webinar was designed to provide operators with an overview on how to communicate critical information and procedures to frontline employees at both corporate-owned and franchised stores during times of crisis, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
To address the COVID-19 challenge in a comprehensive way, market leaders utilize a complete digital workplace, according to presenter Will Eadie, global vice president of sales and strategy at WorkJam, a platform that provides tools for c-stores to improve operational efficiency while engaging employees to drive a better customer experience.
"One of the reasons above productivity, above health and safety, that you actually speak to your frontline is that it shows them respect," he said. "It makes them feel trusted and respected and part of the solution, not just a victim of the problem."
Shell is one retailer utilizing a digital workplace to navigate these trying times. With markets across all of North America, as well as in Indonesia, Philippines, Russia, Eastern Europe and Australia, the company needed channels set up by market to cascade important information from the top down to its service champions, who are assisting the needs of customers directly.
"Coronavirus is impacting all our markets, so it's vital that we provide clear and relevant communications to all our service champions about how to keep themselves and our customers safe," said Mark Williams, global retail enablement manager for Shell. "We needed to be able to collaborate with different target audiences and ... ensure [we] create a culture around COVID-19 that means we are leading the way with hygiene, safety, and making sure our customers are being served to keep the business continuity."
To achieve these goals, Shell partners with WorkJam, whose suite of tools includes:
- Real-time messaging — Provide employees with quick updates on policies and procedures.
- Mandatory responses — Ensure employees see and acknowledge critical messages.
- Targeted channels — Reach relevant employees with focused, position-specific content.
- Pulse surveys and polls — Collect and track immediate feedback from entire frontline.
- Micro-training — Train or retrain employees systematically, quickly and remotely.
- Quick start guide — Comprehensive guide for user management and content creation.
- Crisis communication recommendations — Targeted channels, training and surveys to keep employees up to date on the latest information.
To illustrate how Shell is implementing WorkJam's toolkit, Williams presented a case study of Canada, where the company posted its health and safety content in a channel called "Together We are Shell." This channel — which allows users to interact with posts through "like" and "dislike" functions, as well as comments — chronicles a district manager's store visits as he shares the exchanges he's had with service champions. He also reports on how they are keeping themselves safe while meeting customers' needs, and shares key tips and tricks, like social distancing practices.
"We are also now using the data we're gathering from WorkJam's new Data Studio reports. This allows us to be really targeted in our communication," Williams shared. "When are we seeing the most users in the app? When can we communicate? When are they most receptive to the right messaging and media type? Having these kind of insights that are actionable are critical to an organization like ours."
Currently, 30,000 of Shell's service champions are live on the WorkJam platform. As the company launches into four additional markets this year, that number will double, according to Williams.
A replay of this webinar, "Essential Tools for Essential Operations: Real-Time Crisis Communications & Continuity Management for C-stores" is available here.