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HSN steps up its game to engage remote employees

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

It’s hard to drive camaraderie among a highly dispersed workforce — but HSN has found a way.

The entertainment and lifestyle retailer reaches 94 million households through 1,700 sales and service agents —most of which remotely work from home. Such a widely dispersed workforce makes it difficult to use conventional tactics to build healthy competitive spirit and camaraderie in group settings. This challenge forced the company to step up its employee engagement game.

By deploying the gamification module within the Nice Performance Management solution from Nice Americas, HSN can now measure customer agent performance, drive healthy competition and highlight agents’ achievements. More importantly, the solution is now part of HSN's agent culture from the first day on the job and throughout the agent’s tenure.

When new employees are onboarded, they receive an HSN virtual passport which introduces the gamification concept, complete with easily-attained goals, such as a first upsell. Steadily, the program introduces more challenging targets.

Using insights provided by detailed tracking and reporting of the workforce, HSN rolled out a balanced score rating for each agent, with consistent, team- and role-based goals. This gives agents an at-a-glance understanding of how they are performing, and what tangible changes are needed to move them up into an “exceeds expectations” ranking.

“We are very committed to employee engagement and gamification, through NICE Performance Management, which fits perfectly into the ideas we want to reinforce with our agents,” said Julia Schmitz, manager of customer care operations, HSN. “Gamification has made it easier for us to communicate our company values and engage with all of our agents, even those who are sitting at home in their pajamas.”

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Prime Now adds more ‘in demand’ categories

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is extending its Prime Now offerings to San Francisco members.

San Francisco Prime Now members can now get their hands on their favorite beauty, pet and grocery products in two hours or less.

Through partnerships with Peninsula Beauty, Pet Food Express and Sprouts Farmers Market, Prime members in neighborhoods spanning Oakland to San Francisco to San Jose can now shop tens of thousands of beauty and pet supplies, as well as healthy grocery products.

The retailers join other Prime Now partners in the area, including Sousa’s Wine and Liquor, Tony’s Market & Liquor, and popular local restaurants.

Pet Food Express, which first opened in 1980, will use the opportunity to expand the brand’s exposure.

“After all these years we continue to provide the highest quality food and supplies for our customers' four-legged family members," said Michael Levy, founder and president of Bay Area-based Pet Food Express. "We are excited to share our selection of healthy foods, treats, toys and more with Prime members.”

Prime Now offers more than 25,000 items across 25 categories, including household items, groceries, electronics, gifts, seasonal items, and restaurant delivery in select cities.

The service’s one-hour delivery is $7.99 and two-hour delivery is free.

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RadioShack files Chapter 11 — again

BY Marianne Wilson

RadioShack Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, its second filing in just over two years.

The electronics retailer said it would close approximately 200 stores, and evaluate options on the remaining 1,300 locations.

General Wireless Operations Inc. acquired the then-bankrupt RadioShack in April 2015, with a plan to turnaround the struggling company by co-branding the bulk of the stores with wireless carrier Sprint.

Currently, RadioShack has over 1,500 company-owned stores, including 1,200 Sprint Stores at RadioShack, and 425 independent dealers located nationwide. According to Bloomberg, Sprint is working with General Wireless to convert several hundred locations into Sprint stores.

In the filing by General Wireless, which is an affiliate of hedge fund Standard General, RadioShack listed assets and liabilities in the range of $100 million to $500 million.

In a statement, RadioShack president and CEO Dene Rogers said that since emerging from bankruptcy two years ago as a privately owned company, the company has made progress in stabilizing operations and achieving profitability in the retail business, while partner Sprint managed the mobility business. In 2016, it reduced operating expenses by 23%, while at the same time saw gross profit dollars increase 8%.

“However, for a number of reasons, most notably the surprisingly poor performance of mobility sales, especially over recent months, we have concluded that the Chapter 11 process represents the best path forward for the company,” Rogers said.

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