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April 28, 2021
Frontline Data

Creating a Culture of Change and Data Fluency: How Hyatt and Acosta Empower Their Frontline Workforces

Business leaders innately know how important their customer-facing teams are, but a challenge often lies in knowing how to empower them to make more informed decisions and delight customers in new ways. 

During our most recent live panel discussion, RevUnit’s SVP of Growth Danny Estavillo and attendees had the chance to chat one-on-one with Ray Boyle, Hyatt’s VP of Data and Analytics, and Shauna Bowen, Acosta’s EVP of Operations, Innovation, and eCommerce. Their insights into getting data to frontline teams and developing a culture of change can help any organization break through barriers to data sharing. 

Read on for highlights from the conversation, and view the full recording here.

Who is a frontline employee and what is frontline data?

Ray Boyle: I define frontline employees as team members who are closest to the customer: interacting one-on-one, delivering merchandise, handling pickup processes, answering calls and more. There’s also the extended frontline that looks at retail assortments, for example, or makes decisions around pricing, the supply chain, etc. 

Frontline data is focused on information, automation and optimization within the unique context of their roles.

What are the biggest challenges when it comes to getting data to those closest to the customer?

Shauna Bowen: There are two main challenges to overcome. First, data is overwhelming; we’re inundated with it. It’s imperative to make sure that the data that’s surfaced to an associate isn’t distracting and minimizes noise. 

Second, all data needs to come from one source of truth and people need to have a common understanding of what the data is, what it means, and how it should be used. When people start citing different sources of data, it creates a challenge because you’re spending time overanalyzing how to use the data.

What are the human aspects of data that need to be considered? How do you get teams to act on the data they’re provided?

Ray Boyle: From my experience, the key is human-centered design. Data products need to be designed around what people are trying to achieve in their specific role. Keep an open mind around the power and importance of data in the opportunity to optimize a role and function. By focusing on change and fluency, you can create a culture that embraces change. Data fluency is all about clarity around KPIs and how you view the business, the role, and the visualizations necessary to understand what’s happening — then you can tell stories and create an action plan and live the change.

How do you get people to actually want to use a new tool versus mandating use? 

Shauna Bowen: People need to know what’s in it for them. Put users at the center and show them the value it’s going to deliver. Bring them along the way through an iterative design process and make sure they’re represented in the solutioning. Create a pull towards the tool vs. a push.

Ray Boyle: Adoption done right feels natural — people can’t imagine doing a task without the data and the support.

What do you want your employees on the floor focused on in an ideal world? What are the common barriers to this type of work?

Ray Boyle: We want everyone to pay attention to delivering value to customers. How can we make their employee experience exceptional and also provide opportunities to care for customers in the right way? It’s important to make sure people are comfortable in an environment that accelerates change and drives the value curve. When it’s not clear to people what the relationship is between what they’re trying to get done vs. what the outcomes are, it’s hard for people to know what to do when numbers change up or down.

Are we creating data analysts of all frontline employees? How does this change how we deliver?

Shauna Bowen: I don’t think we need to make frontline folks into data analysts. At the end of the day, it comes down to surfacing data to make the best decisions for expected outcomes. For example, a business manager who is working with a retail buyer on a category assortment might have access to a ton of data across 10 different criteria. A good data product will help them be data fluent and provide a gut check against scenarios and outcomes they’re hoping to achieve.

The corporate office and frontline can be disconnected in terms of experience and goals. How can these silos be broken down?

Ray Boyle: The corporate office and the people on the ground have vastly different jobs. Every role does something unique to create value for customers — and the data they need is unique to that work. A corporate role is different from any other role like merchandising, check out, driving product, etc. and the data needs to be designed to fit those purposes. Most importantly, it is important to approach data with one true source so people aren’t getting different perspectives on things that should be the same. Tune the data to fit the needs of the people who use it; don’t send corporate reports down to the field.

Shauna Bowen: The more transparency you can provide both ways, the less disconnect there will be. I’ll echo Ray’s point about a single source of data and a common understanding of the business strategy. Constantly beat the drum of your key messages all the way down and all the way up. The more information people have, the better decisions they can make, regardless of the role.

Looking for more resources? 

Check out our recent guide to empowering your workforce with meaningful, actionable insights at the right time. 

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RevUnit is a technology studio that helps supply chain clients identify and implement data solutions that actually prove ROI. We help organizations across industries like transportation, freight, logistics, retail, and manufacturing achieve business results through innovative data solutions — powered by AI/ML and the cloud. We’ve done it for clients like ArcBest, J.B. Hunt, and Walmart.

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