Red robin builds an agile customer-centric culture
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Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, a US restaurant chain, competes in a crowded market where customer tastes change rapidly. As such, the company must build an organization that can quickly change its ...

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, a US restaurant chain, competes in a crowded market where customer tastes change rapidly. As such, the company must build an organization that can quickly change its customer experience to satisfy its shifting customer demands. To fulfill this vision, Red Robin employs Yammer, a social collaboration technology from Microsoft, to free the flow of information and knowledge within the company, improving its organizational agility. This report shows customer experience (CX) professionals how social technologies can play an instrumental role in helping the business respond to change as a matter of routine.

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Red robin builds an agile customer-centric culture Document Transcript

  • 1. For Customer Experience Professionals Case Study: Red Robin Builds An Agile Customer-Centric Culture With Yammer The Restaurant Uses Social Tools To Engage Employees And Accelerate Innovations That Customers Crave by TJ Keitt with John Dalton, Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian, and Curt Nichols Why Read This Report Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, a US restaurant chain, competes in a crowded market where customer tastes change rapidly. As such, the company must build an organization that can quickly change its customer experience to satisfy its shifting customer demands. To fulfill this vision, Red Robin employs Yammer, a social collaboration technology from Microsoft, to free the flow of information and knowledge within the company, improving its organizational agility. This report shows customer experience (CX) professionals how social technologies can play an instrumental role in helping the business respond to change as a matter of routine. Headquarters Forrester Research, Inc., 60 Acorn Park Drive, Cambridge, MA, 02140 USA Tel: +1 617.613.6000 • Fax: +1 617.613.5000 • w ww.forrester.com June 20, 2014 organizational changes strengthen Red robin’s customer experience Red Robin Gourmet Burgers claims three core competencies: customer experience, burgers, and shakes. Chris Laping, the restaurant’s senior vice president (SVP) of business transformation and chief information officer (CIO), says that another key capability buttresses these competencies: the ability to drive change. Red Robin sits in a fickle market where customers’ culinary preferences can quickly shift, requiring the restaurant to perceive and respond to these changes rapidly. To build customer-centric responsiveness into the organization, Red Robin: ■ Married learning, operations, and technology management. In order to drive change, Steve Carley, Red Robin’s chief executive officer, aligned learning and development, operations services, technology management, and project management under Chris Laping in 2011. The first three groups handle the people, restaurant processes, and technology changes, respectively. The project management office orchestrates the changes across these groups to ensure continuity. Collectively, this group informs all changes to the customer experience from employee uniforms to menus and customer-facing mobile apps. ■ Allowed change to come bottom-up instead of top-down. As head of business transformation, Chris believes change is best enacted “where employees meet customers.” In order to do this, he needed to give these employees — particularly the 22,000 team members working in the restaurants — a voice.1 One of his early acts leading business transformation was to introduce Yammer, a social collaboration tool, to Red Robin. The cloud-based technology is an important conduit for employees to report on customers’ impressions and recommend service and even menu changes to the corporate operations group. ■ Focused on getting workers invested in change. The youth of Red Robin’s workforce — 87% are Gen Yers (those born between 1980 and 2000) — led Chris to seek technologies that he believed would appeal to this younger demographic. While this is becoming a common response to the influx of Gen
  • 2. For Customer Experience Professionals Case Study: Red Robin Builds An Agile Customer-Centric Culture With Yammer 2 Yers into business, the benefits of these decisions redound to the entire workforce. Yammer ensures that employee reports on conditions in the restaurants get an audience with company leadership, which in turn encourages further workforce participation. Yammer Encourages The Free Flow Of Customer And Employee Insights Microsoft’s social technology empowers workers with the freedom to access, share, and use data and information, interact with peers who can help them do their jobs, and move about the physical workspace as needed (see Figure 1).2 Forrester believes these capabilities are essential to business agility.3 Chris’ team built two Yammer networks — Yummerversity, a training network for the hourly workforce, and Yummer, a network connecting corporate staff and restaurant managers — to supercharge customer-centric information flows. These networks: ■ Allow employees to learn best practices and share new ones. Yummerversity is part of a broader set of interactive training tools that include videos and games. Once employees complete the formal training program, they’re granted access to Yummerversity — a place where they can talk to other employees who have gone through the training and communicate with corporate trainers. As these workers progress, they can submit amendments to training materials if they have improved part of a process. Red Robin’s trainers review these submissions and, if more effective, add them to the curriculum. ■ Provide corporate leaders with a view of the restaurant experience. Yummer provides Red Robin’s operations leaders with a direct line to restaurant managers. As managers raise issues related to processes, food quality, and customer impressions, Red Robin is able to collect these sentiments in real time. It also gathers any suggestions these frontline workers have for improving the employee or customer experience. This is part of the “grassroots change” that Chris envisioned when he first piloted Yammer in early 2012. ■ Give managers access to experts within Red Robin’s corporate arm. Chris said that the manager’s role is to serve customers, not be an expert on corporate operations. That’s why Yummer has become an important avenue for managers to receive the operational support they need — from operational experts. Within Yummer are resources that provide managers with recipes, operational standards, and corporate memos. Because these materials are posted to Yummer, managers and corporate operations leaders can discuss the content and collaboratively work on improvements as necessary. ■ Work natively on mobile devices, allowing all employees into the conversation. Red Robin has deployed 1,700 iPads across its organization to give its restaurant employees access to training content. The camera-equipped tablets also allow those employees to take an active role in their employer’s improvements. For example, if workers come up with a more efficient way to clean soft-serve ice-cream machines, they can film it and submit it to Yummerversity. And we know giving employees latitude to solve problems on their own is important to engagement.4 © 2014, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited June 20, 2014
  • 3. For Customer Experience Professionals Case Study: Red Robin Builds An Agile Customer-Centric Culture With Yammer 3 Figure 1 Yammer Helps Red Robin Achieve The Agility Necessary To Tune Its Customer Experience Yummer provides managers with access to recipes, operational standards, and memos. Conversely, it provides corporate with a window into store ops. Yummerversity provides additional training and information to restaurant staff. Freedom to access and use information Freedom to interact with whoever can help address the issue Freedom to move as necessary Yummer provides a conduit for restaurant managers to communicate with corporate operations people. Likewise, Yummerversity allows communication between staff and corporate trainers. Both Yammer networks are accessible on the 1,700 iPads Red Robin deploys to its restaurant locations. This allows training and communication to happen anywhere in the restaurant. 117046 Source: Forrester Research, Inc. Customer-Centric Agility Helps Red Robin Win Big Freeing team members to access information, interact, and move allows Red Robin to effectively improve both customer and employee experiences. Chris provides two compelling proof points of success in these areas: ■ Instant customer feedback helped build a better burger. In 2012, Red Robin launched a new hamburger, the Tavern Double. Managers in the restaurants where the burger was piloted collected customer feedback in real time and funneled it back to Red Robin’s corporate offices via Yummer. As a result, the operations group quickly identified problems with the recipe and implemented a solution in four weeks — a dramatic turnaround, compared with the 18 months once required to test and iterate new menu items. The Tavern Double became the most successful hamburger launch in Red Robin’s 44-year history. © 2014, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited June 20, 2014
  • 4. For Customer Experience Professionals Case Study: Red Robin Builds An Agile Customer-Centric Culture With Yammer 4 ■ Easily accessible and engaging training materials reduce employee churn. Red Robin incurs high costs for hiring and training new employees. More importantly, though, constantly shifting staffs affected the customer experience as the quality of service changed with new employees coming up to speed. Red Robin’s new iPad-based training program, of which Yummerversity was an element, was meant to reduce turnover by 1%. The interactive program that encouraged employees to help improve restaurant processes exceeded these expectations, helping reduce churn by approximately 9% — more than paying for itself by reducing hiring and training costs. Recommendations How To Follow The Red Robin Example Red Robin’s experience with Yammer shows that when properly deployed, social technologies enable firms to cultivate business agility in a manner that serves both company and customer goals. To get the biggest return on your social technology investments, firms must: ■ Make your CIO a key player in ecosystem design. Red Robin made its CIO the focal point of its people, process, and technology transformation. While you don’t need to give the CIO a coordination role, your CIO should be part of a team that brings together your operations, human resources, and technology teams. As Red Robin demonstrates, these groups are essential to reacting to market change. This team must have the ear of top executives, so it’s also essential that a representative of the C-suite either be present as a team member or sponsor the team’s activities and decisions. ■ Focus on helping employees navigate processes. Chris used Yammer to make communications and training procedures more inclusive. As you build technology in your ecosystem, you must have a vision for how it will remove barriers within the employee, partner, or customer journeys. Journey and ecosystem maps can play a key role in building that vision because they will uncover roadblocks. These lessons will help your CIO target her technology implementations, ensuring that the tools meet your executives’ expectations. ■ Allow experimentation with different technology solutions. Chris introduced Yammer as a small pilot to see if the workforce would find value. Because rapid market changes mean you can’t plan out long-term solutions, your organization must be willing to experiment. Cloud applications like Yammer make this experimentation more palatable to executives because the apps require minimal financial and infrastructure commitments. Work with your technologists to ensure that the cloud tools you wish to use meet your security and compliance policies and to help you manage the service-level agreements associated with these services. ■ Create concrete metrics to assess the technology’s success. Chris chose Yammer in part because he believed that it would appeal to his young workforce. The bet paid off: Red Robin attributes a significant drop in attrition, in part, to Yammer. You should have a concrete © 2014, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited June 20, 2014
  • 5. For Customer Experience Professionals Case Study: Red Robin Builds An Agile Customer-Centric Culture With Yammer 5 idea of the problem(s) you’re addressing with the technology you imbed in your ecosystem. As such, you should have improvements you would like to see as a consequence of using this technology: faster response times and improved customer satisfaction are a couple of examples. Use these metrics to make adjustments to your technology implementations as well as to justify future investments. Supplemental Material Companies Interviewed For This Report Red Robin Endnotes 1 That sets it apart from other companies. In a recent survey about capabilities of voice of the customer programs, only 36% of companies collect and report employee insights on customer issues. That means they miss out on important insights those employees have about customer issues and the possible solutions to those issues. Failing to solicit employee feedback also misses a key opportunity to engage employees by listening to them. See the June 20, 2014, “The State Of Voice Of The Customer Programs, 2014: It’s Time To Act” report. 2 Forrester considers these freedoms to be part of the flexible employee experience workers need to serve customers. See the May 23, 2014, “Want A Healthy Customer Experience Ecosystem? Free Your Workers” report. 3 Forrester has identified 10 dimensions of business agility. Two concern market agility. That is, responding to changes in customers. Three address organizational agility or how people and culture can make an organization more agile. And five address process agility, which covers the traditional technology management elements of agility. Together these 10 dimensions span the qualities that make agile companies faster and more responsive to both customer and internal forces of change. See the September 9, 2013, “The 10 Dimensions Of Business Agility” report. 4 Forrester correlated the attribute “I feel empowered to solve my own problems and challenges at work” to aggregate satisfaction scores of 10 collaboration technologies — email, calendar, instant messaging, web meetings, video chat, file sync and sharing tools, team document sites, blogs, microblogs, and social networks — aggregate satisfaction scores for seven data technologies — employee intranet/portal, online storage tools, data dashboards, expense tracking, customer relationship management, project and task management, and role- or department-specific apps — and satisfaction with applications on a tablet computer. The Pearson coefficients were 0.340 for the attribute and collaboration technologies, 0.329 for the attribute and data technologies, and 0.373 for the attribute and tablet computer apps. Source: Forrsights Applications And Collaboration Workforce Survey, Q4 2013. Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) is a global research and advisory firm serving professionals in 13 key roles across three distinct client segments. Our clients face progressively complex business and technology decisions every day. To help them understand, strategize, and act upon opportunities brought by change, Forrester provides proprietary research, consumer and business data, custom consulting, events and online communities, and peer-to-peer executive programs. We guide leaders in business technology, marketing and strategy, and the technology industry through independent fact-based insight, ensuring their business success today and tomorrow. © 2014 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Forrester, Forrester Wave, RoleView, Technographics, TechRankings, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Reproduction or sharing of this content in any form without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. To purchase reprints of this document, please email clientsupport@forrester.com. For additional reproduction and usage information, see Forrester’s Citation Policy located at www.forrester.com. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. 117046