Article

Augmenting customer (and employee) experience through technology skill development

A 100-year old company that self-describes as a “brick-and-mortar shopping experience” may not be first to mind for tips on technology strategy. 

In the case of Wegmans Food Markets, it should. 

The family owned company out of Rochester, New York employs about 50,000 people across 101 grocery stores along the east coast. About a year and a half ago, Wegmans began expanding into digital and online shopping with initiatives like Meals 2 Go and an enhanced website experience—all in the name of busting out of the suburbs and into the cities while maintaining a strong reputation for stellar customer, employee and corporate experience. 

The challenge:

Transforming a great brick-and-mortar experience to a digital paradigm without alienating—but augmenting—human interaction with technology.

The solution:

A technology skills development strategy that works.

Wegmans now uses technology to meet customers’ needs in more innovative ways than ever—but it didn’t get here by accident. Check out the three tenants of The Wegmans Learning Mission, and the actionable steps that helped the organization meet that mission.

“At Wegmans, we want our employees to feel engaged, energized and connected to our business.”

- The Wegmans Learning Mission

Step 1: Develop a tech skills inventory

Jumping feet first into digital transformation without beginning with a thorough technology skills inventory will leave you treading water. You must know where the strengths in your organization are—and have a clear understanding of the skill gaps on your teams—in order to develop talent effectively. 

 

Taking stock of technical skill and role proficiency across your organization will give you the insight needed to:

    • Dedicate resources to the right things at the right time

    • Organize teams capable of driving your initiatives forward

    • Plan more effectively for the future

 

Identifying and leveraging where you are starting from is key to successfully encouraging skill development across your organization.

“Through partnerships with our knowledgeable people, we will provide learnings when and where our employees need it most—just enough, just in time and just for them.”

- The Wegmans Learning Mission

Step 2: Improve skill development

Upskilling an employee who has tenure with your company can be more impactful than trying to hire and retain the best tech talent as soon as a new project arises. Competition is fierce and your new hire won’t come with the institutional knowledge your current employees have. 

But to grow talent in-house, upskilling has to be meaningful. 

Customized learning content that meets folks where they keep skills within your organization up to date, provides better coaching and development conversations and facilitates faster onboarding than traditional ways of learning—because personalized skill development allows for laser focus on key areas of need.

“With a focus on high standards and efficiency, our learning culture will empower our folks to be their very best and deliver on our mission: Helping people live healthier, better lives through food.”

- The Wegmans Learning Mission

Step 3: Make continuous learning a part of the company’s DNA

Continuous learning is no longer a nice-to-have. And it’s not encouraged by simply acquiring content and saying “Go!” Leadership at organizations seeking to win at this must infuse work time with time for innovation. Additionally, they should be equipped to measure skill progression to ensure teams are all paddling forward at the same rate. 

At Wegmans, time is carved out for Pluralsight courses, skill assessments, and Q&A as well as instructor-led training, monthly challenges, mentoring and hackathons. A multi-faceted Developer Fitness Program keeps skills fresh, continuously. As a result, the company is able to boast a high developer retention rate and successful software-led business transformation efforts, like store redesigns that reduce the need for costly inventory space. 

 

Leaders at Wegmans report that company-wide focus on skill development has led to:

    • Better coaching and development conversations

    • Faster onboarding for new employees

    • Clearer focus on areas of need 

 

And they’re not done yet. Moving forward, the organization plans to do more in the cloud and continue improving upon customer experience to stay competitive in the digital age—without losing its brick-and-mortar charm.


Based on LIVE 2019 session, Combining tech + business strategies to improve the customer experience.