Teamy the Bee at NHB’s Love Me Love Me Not Exhibition (Courtesy of Youth.sg)
Anybody who has been around long enough would have heard that old anthem for productivity helmed by the mascot “Teamy” the Bee . Perpetuated by the National Productivity Board in the 1980s (now SPRING Singapore), it goes something like this…
“Good better best,
Never let it rest,
Till your good is better,
And your better best!”
Of course, improving productivity isn’t just about a catchy jingle, now about working 18 hours a day. It is finding strategies to maximise the total value added generated by one’s employees while still ensuring that they have enough work-life balance.
While mechanisation and automation have been frequently cited as ways to strengthen efficiency in the manufacturing sector, how can one improve output in the service sector? After all, tourism and lifestyle businesses like hotels, restaurants, and retail outlets depend very much on the high-touch element to engender customer delight and repeat business. Will making everything self-service necessitate an improvement in one’s bottomline?
Well, here are three ideas that you can consider:
1) Increase the value of each transaction. When customers at a retail shop enquire about a particular product, don’t hesitate to provide your fullest support and following that, to recommend additional products that she or he can consider. One of the chief reasons for the phenomenal success of the Hong Kong retail industry is the understanding amongst retail sales assistants there that one should upsell wherever possible. Of course, this should all be done politely and not in a way that harasses customers.
2) Encourage staff to multi-task and reward them accordingly. While Seng Song Supermarket may not quite be the paragon of prestige, they do have some of the most hardworking staff I have seen in the supermarket business. At any one time, staff will be moving around, packing, filling in shelves and ensuring quick turnaround of their inventories. From what I understand, workers there are handsomely compensated by their boss.
3) Invest in designs that maximises customer productivity. Other than conveyor belt sushi joints like Sakae Sushi and buffet lines, service outlets should ensure that directional signages are placed in the correct manner. Carparks at shopping complexes could have clear indications of where that lift or escalator to the retail floors are located, while attractions should have common amenities at locations that are intuitive (as opposed to infuriating).
What are other ways can retail and service businesses improve their productivity?