Human Resource Management Functional Brief Dixons Group’s decision to reorientate the business around serving the customer has had far reaching implications for Human Resource Management (HRM). The emphasis on first-class customer service is intended to help Dixons differentiate itself from its online competitors. The decision to stress personal, face-to-face interactions is clearly something that online competitors will be unable to replicate and if this can be turned into a source of competitive advantage for the company then it represents a sound strategic move.
The strategy does, however, hinge on Dixons being able to deliver this excellent customer service. The very face-to-face nature of service delivery means that it can only be provided through the employees of Dixons group which, in turn, means that human resource management is pivotal. This shift in emphasis is best illustrated by the two delivery drivers in the video of the customer plan who comment that when delivering goods ‘we shouldn’t just be saying “sign here” and then running off. We should give them [the customer] that experience’. http://www. dixonsretail. com/dixons/templates/modules/video. jsp) Aligning HRM strategy with this shift in business strategy has considerable implications for Dixons employees. With employee turnover at 15% - a low level for a retail organisation – the majority of employees affected by the change have spent time working under the previous system. This means that a significant amount of retraining is necessary to ensure that employees both know and are able to implement the new strategy.
At the heart of the new strategy is the idea of solving problems for the customer. As Group Chief Executive, Sebastian James points out ‘When customers come in and say they want a television what they actually mean is that they want to do something – they want to watch the game, entertain the kids…’ Training Dixons staff to help solve the customers’ problems involves ensuring that they not merely have excellent product knowledge but also the know how to provide ancillary services around the product.
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Dixons achieves this through a mixture of techniques, for example workshops and e-learning. Techniques to help the employees remember the key features of particular products are also employed. Through a clear, customer orientated approach, Dixons hopes to be able to help solve their customers’ problems, rather than simply sell them a box. This training has cost Dixons a great deal of money, with all staff having been through at least three cycles of retraining.
These efforts, however, appear to be bearing fruit with significantly improved customer advocacy measures. The percentage of customers who are ‘very likely to recommend’ Dixons has risen from 43% to 73% since 2010 (Dixons Annual Report and Accounts 2011/12, p. 9). The Dixons case illustrates how the alignment of business strategy with people strategy is important in achieving organisational objectives. The customer metrics appear to be improving and it will be interesting to see how this impacts on the financial performance of the business.
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