Zvi Baida and I discuss his very large “hybrid” role where he runs the service operation and customer experience for Shufersal — the largest supermarket in Israel. He walks us through his customer experience formula and his attempts at uniting process, people and technology. He also shares his intriguing tactics of building a board room gallery and videos to unite the C-Suite.
Zvi Baida is the VP Customers & Service of Shufersal Ltd since 2016. Zvi reports directly to the CEO and he is a member of the executive board of Shufersal. Shufersal is Israel’s largest grocery retail company, with 275 stores, 14,000 employees and annual turnover of ~USD 3 Billion.
In his position he’s responsible for creating and delivering the company’s customers strategy to deliver the long term business plan. In his role, he also responsible for the corporate’s affairs management, which includes communications and stakeholders’ policy.
Zvi joined Shufersal in the beginning of 2012 as a senior advisor to the CEO and spent 4 years in this role. During the years, in addition to his involvement in the company’s strategy, Zvi has focused in the area of Customer Experience and promoted the company’s focus on this field.
Prior to joining Shufersal, Zvi was with the Israel Securities Authority (ISA) from 2008 through 2012, as a member of the Investigations and Intelligence department, focusing on financial and capital market enforcement activities.
Zvi is a member of the Israeli Bar. He earned an LLB in Law and BA in Business Management, majoring in Finance, from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel (Magna Cum Laude) and Masters in Commercial Law from Tel Aviv University in a joint executive program with the University of California, Berkeley (Magna Cum Laude).
Assessing The Work To Be Done
Because of his pre-existing connection with the CEO, he had a lot of time to “do his homework” on how to establish a new customer experience-driven role. This involved reading, finding blogs and other examples, and attending conferences. He had also filled in for the CEO on some customer experience work (admittedly often complaint-driven) in his previous senior advisory role.
Self-learning drove the early stages of the process, as did meetings with peers.
They did a HQ-wide survey of one question: “What do you think we need to do to improve customer relationships?”
Now they heard the voice of the general customer, the voice of the internal employees, and Zvi was doing his own self-learning.
That triumvirate of steps is where the journey began.
“The HQ Serves The Stores, Not The Stores Serving The HQ”
This was a big (and common) mistake discovered in the early stages that needed to be transparently dealt with.
Another all-too-common problem discovered: silos. Silos were everywhere. It was hurting customers too — they were connecting with the supermarkets in different ways, and ultimately becoming alienated.
Zvi’s team created a program of Customer Touch Points around that. The goal was mostly to get the silos on the same vocabulary page. When customers interact with the stores and other mediums (credit cards, social media, etc.), the language is the same. That’s a big win.
Zvi’s relationship with the CEO was beneficial here, too: he was given 3-5 years to show results.
The Most Important Stakeholders
Those would be the store managers, because they actually manage the experience at the stores. Shufersal has about 275 store managers they must communicate with.
This all began with a letter from the CEO, then Zvi presented to all the managers at a Q4 meeting. He called it “The New Era Of The Consumer” and showcased what he wanted to see from the stores. The message had to be spread to the managers. It can be challenging to manage these kinds of “outpost” customer experience situations, where a centralized hub (him and his team) need to get info to key stakeholders all over a country. They look at it like this:
- Use technology to…
- Listen to people, and then …
- Design processes based on what the people said
Not brain surgery, but many get this order wrong.
“It’s A Bit Like An Army”
Because of the outpost nature of how supermarkets are managed and their supply chains are coordinated, the management structures are often very Army-esque. It’s largely top-down, but the feedback loops in terms of CX had to go bottom-up. They actually used Facebook groups for that (connecting store-level employees with those making decisions). It’s a closed group open to any employee, and right now it has about 4,000 active members.
Through his bottom-up feedback, they found out that uniforms weren’t getting to employees in a timely-enough fashion — so employees were wearing the same uniform a few days in a row. They needed to plug that leak in the chain with who was responsible for that. They solved that problem and it meant a great deal to the employees. Simple execution — > implementation.
“The Pay It Forward” Question
What do you know NOW that you wish you knew THEN? Zvi’s answer:
- Things take time: He did have a 3-5 year run at proving results, but he still felt stressed. You can’t see results of a positive nature in a short time. Be more laid-back. Don’t let the length of the process affect your personal experience and what you’re putting into it.
- Prioritize better: This is a challenge in many companies, and setting effective priorities can be a strategic advantage.
- Build out your team quickly: And, ideally, look for the best.
- Practice patience with your team: Explain to them that these processes will take time. Don’t let them get discouraged.