PODCAST

Engaged employees drive customer loyalty in omnichannel world

Jenny Wolski of Petco and Scott Rankin of KPMG discuss how employee experience is critical to driving the best customer experience.

Scott Rankin

Scott Rankin

National Advisory Leader, Consumer & Retail, KPMG LLP

+1 617-988-1474

Jenny Wolski

Jenny Wolski

Petco SVP, Omnichannel Experience,

A KPMG Consumer Perspectives podcast

Retail brands have been accelerating their digital capabilities and the continuous evolution of customer experiences across all channels, especially for the past two years. While enhancing the customer experience has been the key focus to organizational success in the past, with remote work patterns, and significant shifts in employee satisfaction, Consumer & Retail (C&R) organizations are reexamining the employee/customer connection. The employee experience (EX) can be a secret weapon in achieving a great customer experience (CX), particularly for those customers who are choosing to shop in store.

Jenny Wolski, Petco SVP, Omnichannel Experience, works across the health and wellness company’s enterprise to develop a seamless, end-to-end experience through an objective, data-driven approach that aligns Petco pet care centers, digital capabilities, and Petco services.

In this episode of KPMG Consumer Perspectives, Jenny shares with KPMG what this means to Petco and how leaders are linking their CX and EX programs to create customer advocates and meaningful brand experiences.

Featured speakers

Jenny Wolski

Jenny Wolski

Petco SVP, Omnichannel Experience,

Scott Rankin

Scott Rankin

National Advisory Leader, Consumer & Retail, KPMG LLP

Podcast transcript

Joe DeProspero:

Hello everybody, and welcome. In this episode of KPMG Consumer Perspectives, we discuss with Jenny Wolski, SVP Omnichannel Experience at Petco, how to link your CX and EX programs to create customer advocates and meaningful brand experiences. Scott Rankin is also with us. He's a national advisory leader for consumer and retail at KPMG, and he's joining us to discuss what this means for CNR companies and how to think through the right strategy. So Jenny and Scott welcome. Jenny, could you start us off by giving a little bit about your background?

Jenny Wolski:

Sure. Thanks Joe. So I've been at Petco for a little over 11 years. Prior to Petco, I worked in healthcare and government. And at Petco I've held leadership roles in marketing, pet services, retail, and now omnichannel experience. Today, my charter is to create connected end-to-end experiences and the Petco ecosystem for our customers to take the best care of their pets all in one place.

Joe DeProspero:

Terrific. Scott?

Scott Rankin:

Thanks, Joe. Great to be here. So as you mentioned, I lead KPMG's consumer and retail advisory practice. I've spent my entire career, believe it or not, in and around consumer goods and retail as a consultant, as an industry executive at a fortune 150 retailer, and as a COO at a mobile payment and commerce startup that was founded and funded by retailers. At KPMG, I spend all of my time helping companies identify and drive business transformation enabled through digital innovation.

Joe DeProspero:

Thanks Scott. Thanks Jenny. So as we've seen, retail brands have been on a roller coaster for the past two years to say the least with the acceleration of digital and the continuous evolution of customer experiences across all channels. Enhancing the customer experience has been the key focus to organizational success in the past, but the great resignation, remote work patterns, and significant shifts in employee satisfaction have caused CNR organizations to reexamine the employee customer connection. The employee experience is now driving CX in all the right ways. And let's talk about why. So Jenny, starting with you. Jenny, you spoke at the NRF Big Show about Petco's recent rebranding to a health and wellness company, and that's quite a shift. Can you tell me a little more about what drove that transformation and in what ways has this improved the brand experience through the eyes of your customer?

Jenny Wolski:

Yeah, so our rebranding as a health and wellness company really pays off on the transformation that we've been on over several years. We have gone from a company that when you walk into our stores, someone asks you what dog food, you're here to buy to what we call pet care centers with not only all the products you need for your pet, but also grooming services, vet services, training, fresh food. We even have kitchens in some of our pet care centers and more. We're dedicated to helping pet parents take the guesswork out of caring for their pet. So we have our trusted experts that help you on the sales floor, in the salon, in the vet. We have eliminated nutrition with artificial ingredients and stopped selling things like shock colors. So it's similar to when you go buy groceries at whole foods, you know that whatever you pick will be a great option for your pet. Plus you're surrounded by people who love your pet as much as you do. That's had not only a significant shift on our partner experience, but also our customer experience.

Joe DeProspero:

Terrific. Yeah. As a dog owner myself, Jenny, I love to hear that. So Scott, where are you seeing other CNR companies go through this transformation, and what are some of the challenges to operationalize?

Scott Rankin:

Sure. If you take a look at consumer goods and retail companies across the industry, almost every company is going through this accelerated transition to put more emphasis on health, wellness, and broader ESG related topics. And this manifests itself in a number of different ways, including the products that organizations sell. Obviously, Jenny just talked about a bunch of those, which are increasingly becoming more organic and sustainable across the entire value chain. To how companies operate and measure their impact on the environment and how they ultimately engage with customers in an omnichannel way. Throughout this transition, simultaneously implementing all these different changes dries a lot of complexity into businesses, and it's much easier, frankly, for startups to purpose in organization, focused on these attributes, than incumbents making the pivot midstream.

And I'm really excited to have this conversation with Jenny because Petco is a phenomenal example of a legacy company that has really done an amazing job at navigating this transformation. So if you don't mind, Joe, I'd love to just take over and ask a question to Jenny. Which is Jenny, your role is much more expansive than just leading the omnichannel experience for Petco. It involves creating a tremendous shift in culture to focus on both the employee experience as one with the customer experience. So we'd love to hear a little bit about how you use technology to establish this and ensure that the customer employee connection is working.

Jenny Wolski:

Yeah. So what started as what we called our retail transformation, when I partnered closely with our chief pet care center officer, to really look at our culture starting with our people. And we started with how we can improve the partner experience organically, which evolved into how we can improve the customer experience through things like technology. And so I always share with people that I highly recommend you start with the people first. So what we learned is having access to feedback from customers and being able to share that feedback directly with our partners to even allow them to close the loop directly with the customer was highly motivating both to our partners but also our customer base because they were able to connect directly with that partner, share their experience, and the partner was able to close the loop and ensure that customer had a great experience in the end.

Jenny Wolski:

In addition, we have 1500 pet care centers across the country, and we wanted to shift from all of these siloed locations to really one community. So we stood up an internal platform that allowed us to do that. So if you're a general manager in Idaho or you're a selling experience leader in California, you can talk to each other, share your experiences, learn from each other. So we're really... There's that community network of people that we have coming together. And then we have a robust technology roadmap filled with hardware and software investments that we've been making and will be making to ensure that we're not only creating a seamless experience for the customer, but we're also creating a seamless experience for our partners because we know that if the experience is great for the partner, it's going to be great for the customer too.

And that enables the partner and customer to have more time to spend engaging with each other. And then I'll share a really fun thing that we launched recently called the whole health check. And so when you come into a Petco, you can ask a partner to do a whole health check for your pet. And this enables you... The partner will ask questions about your pet, and you will be able to find the right solutions that you need for their whole health. And then the results get pushed to your app and they get emailed to you as a customer. So if you don't want to buy everything or book appointments for everything that day, you can do so later, and you have the resources that you need in the palm of your hands to take the best care of your pet. So those are just a few examples, Scott, of how we leverage technology.

Joe DeProspero:

Thanks for that, Jenny. And Scott, I want to thank you too. I appreciate you asking the question and flipping the script, save me some work there as long as you don't ask me any questions. You two are the experts in this space, not me. So Scott had mentioned earlier about some of the challenges with shifting to digital first, data driven, realtime insights from employees and customers. What are some of the ways Petco brings visibility to customer data inside the organization and how do you prioritize action on that data?

Jenny Wolski:

Yeah. So I talked earlier about our customer survey feedback and that our partners have real time access to that, to be able to respond directly to the customer. So that a big shift because that put into the partner's hand the ability to communicate with the customer outside of our four walls. Other examples we have... And this was a big effort. So data is a critical key star strategy. It is what guides us. It is the brains of our organization. And so recently, we actually centralized the team. So we have an enterprise, analytics, and data science team for the company that allows us to have a single source of truth around data. And we have a top talent from a variety of different industries that are focused on customer acquisition, monetization, and retention.

In addition to centralizing that team, we also democratize the data. So wherever you are in the organization, you have access to data to run your business and to understand what's happening with the customer experience. In addition, we have our membership programs, which are an enabler to allow us to capture data from the customer, which then feeds into this massive customer base that we have that allows us to create a personalized and connected experience for each of our customers. And so centralizing this effort, having top talent in place, democratizing the data, and having rich data to begin with allows us to create an even better experience for our customers.

Joe DeProspero:

Great, thanks Jenny. So this is kind of a two part-er here, starting with Scott. So employee engagement is critical to customer satisfaction. Employee feedback is critical to engagement. So Scott starting with you here from an industry perspective, what do you see the biggest opportunities for brands to leverage the employee experience, to enhance their business models, and create new revenue streams?

Scott Rankin:

Yeah, Jenny's given some fabulous examples. And I would just say that store associates are a core part of the brand and customer experience for retailers. And essentially, they're the advocates and often the first interaction point with consumers when they walk into a store, or even if you're chatting with someone online. So essentially they play really an extraordinarily important role in delivering the value proposition into the market and various customer segments. And today from a retail perspective, customers that come into store and make that trip are very much mission driven. They want to learn about something. They want to interact and engage with an associate who is knowledgeable, and they want to find and take home products. And more and more replenishment items are moving to digital channels so that physical touchpoint needs to deliver on that promise and doing so can unlock tremendous loyalty, drive new programs like subscription offerings. So it really all starts with that employee engagement and really success flows from there.

Joe DeProspero:

So Jenny, from your perspective, how does an organization even begin to engage with their employees as they would a customer?

Jenny Wolski:

Yeah. So I'm going to build a little bit on what Scott said. So, I have a few tips for folks here. One is start by flipping the culture to serve your frontline partners. That's what we did. They are the face of your company. Then spend time listening, learning, capturing feedback, and prioritizing themes that you know are going to make a difference with your partners. And take action. And then build trust. Build trust with your partners by taking actions and showing them and demonstrating to them that their voices matter. And then keep going. So this is not a one time thing. This is a journey. Being able to engage your employees to create this environment where they're excited to come to work. They're excited to represent your brand. It is a journey, and go live in their shoes. A lot of times we'll sit back and people will make decisions from behind a monitor in an office.

It's always great and inspiring to go live in the shoes of your partners to really understand what they experience every day. And it puts a much different perspective on how you prioritize the actions that you take to support them and the experience that they have at your company. And then finally, treat your partners like advisors. They can help you make some amazing decisions on behalf of your company and your brand, and they're amazing advocates for you. And if they know that you believe in them, they are going to deliver the best experiences possible for you.

Joe DeProspero:

Jenny, as you said before, Petco is a passionate brand, driven by a relationship model. And you've given us a lot of tips so far, but can you give us a few more? Can give us a few key considerations for our listeners to take back to their management committees tomorrow and shift to this way of thinking? What would those considerations be?

Jenny Wolski:

So people want to work for a purpose driven brand. I think Scott said the same thing. At Petco, we're focused on improving the lives of pets and pet parents and our own Petco partners. So harness the power of purpose to drive performance. It's really, really important, especially these days. My second tip would be give your partners a voice, listen, learn, take action, post round tables, make sure that you're doing the voice of the partner surveys, give them a platform to share experiences and ideas, walk in their shoes, and let them be a connection point with your customers. Next is around building a selling approach based on trust and relationships. So similar to what I talked about in terms of your approach to building trust and a relationship with your partners, you take the same approach with your customer. Start by asking questions, listening, learning about them, and really understanding what their needs are, and shift from the transactional engagements to relationship engagements.

So I'll give you an example of how this has evolved at Petco. It used to be that you would come in, and you were looking for a bag of dog food. And the bag of dog food that you were looking for is to help your pet with their itchy coat. They have skin problems. And so you would come in, you would talk to a partner, and they would show you where that bag of dog food is. Today, you come into a Petco and you engage with a partner, and they ask you when you tell them that you're looking for this brand that's around the skin and coat of your dog, they ask you a few more questions to get to understand. Do you groom your dog? Do you use different products on their skin and coat? And they talk to you about your complete care needs versus just that one thing. So that allows our partner to engage with the customer on everything they need to help solve for that problem that the customer's pet has. And it allows us to really build trust with that customer using our knowledgeable and trusted associates.

Joe DeProspero:

So Scott, Jenny, I want to thank you so much for joining me today. I for one learned a lot, was inspired by your insights and stories. I also want to thank our audience out there. So please look for future episodes of KPMG Consumer Perspectives, focused on the topics that are top of mind for your organization today. Thanks again.

 

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