Herman Miller, a designer, manufacturer and retailer of office and home furniture, is tapping IBM Cloud Video’s live streaming video technology to connect with its network of 134 independent dealers operating from 247 different locations in the U.S.
As retailers and brands continue to pivot to omminchannel strategies to compete with Amazon.com, these companies are changing the ways they communicate and collaborate across teams. From employee engagement to improved efficiency and increased sales, Herman Miller is leveraging video technology to more effectively run its business.
Herman Miller broadcasts a 30-minute live streamed video once a month for its employees, twice in one day to accommodate East and West coasts, featuring an overview of its inventory and a Q&A. By providing consistent exposure to Herman Miller’s catalog of 13,000-plus products, live streamed video serves as a hi-def refresher of employees’ initial training.
In this interview with Total Retail, Victor Sultana, digital learning experience manager, Herman Miller, discusses how the furniture brand's use of video has helped improve employee training and engagement, better aligned dealers and sales representatives, and, ultimately, boosted profits from cost savings.
Total Retail: Can you tell us a little bit about the Herman Miller brand?
Victor Sultana: Herman Miller is a global manufacturer and provider of furnishings, along with the related services and technologies that complement them. We’re most known for our innovative collaborations with designers, as well as our presence in various museum collections worldwide. As the digital learning experience manager, I specifically work on developing and implementing high-quality, impactful digital learning experiences for our field-based sales organization.
TR: How is Herman Miller using video to better communicate with its employees and dealers?
VS: In North America, Herman Miller’s sales organization is comprised of 1,500 employees, with roughly 300 Herman Miller sales representatives, and 1,200 sales representatives from within our dealer network. Given the physical limitations of communicating with our sales team, our goal was to create a learning environment that made all employees feel connected to the organization, regardless of their location. We use live streaming video to help bridge that gap by delivering sales training, leadership communications and product launches in real time.
Prior to IBM Cloud Video, the only hosted product learnings for the Herman Miller field sales team would either take place in our 18,000 sq. ft. learning plant within the Herman Greenhouse, or would require product experts to visit multiple showrooms and dealerships. With live streaming, our salespeople are able to go straight to the source, interact with product managers and experience the product lines for themselves.
TR: Why video? What benefits of the communication channel were you most attracted to?
VS: With live video, we were really looking to digitally connect our network of independent dealers operating from 247 different locations in the U.S., instead of hosting separate in-person meetings throughout the year. We were particularly interested in the benefits of live video in delivering a more authentic experience to engage our field-based sales team, while ensuring that they felt integrated with the company and culture. One of the most useful features that we’ve leveraged within the IBM Cloud Video platform is the live Q&A, which allows employees to submit questions and interact with broadcasts in real time. Not only does it help boost employee engagement, but it also sends the message that each employee is a valued member of the company — a key element to maintaining company morale across a remote workforce.
TR: What about IBM Cloud Video's solution made Herman Miller choose it?
VS: We selected IBM Cloud Video because of the cost efficiency and ease of use. We needed a solution that was easily accessible via mobile or desktop to ensure that our salespeople could access content on the go. IBM Cloud Video was able to seamlessly integrate within our intranet, allowing employees to access broadcasts with just a few clicks. What’s more, the improvements didn’t stop after the purchase. IBM Cloud Video updates the platform with new Watson integrations, which keep our company equipped with the latest technology.
TR: What are the business benefits that Herman Miller has realized from using video to engage its employees for important brand communications?
VS: Since integrating IBM Cloud Video, we’ve experienced tremendous resource savings, and have boosted interactions between our dealer and Herman Miller sales teams. With salespeople scattered across North America, it used to be a drain on resources to fly everyone to our learning plant to get up to speed on new and existing products. By using live video to reach our sales team, IBM Cloud Video has helped us avoid $1,500 per trip, per employee. Additionally, live video is an efficient use of time. Rather than spending multiple days traveling to attend training sessions, dealers can instead use that time to make more sales.
We’ve also brought both our dealer and Herman Miller sales representatives into tighter alignment by providing consistent information to both sales teams. In doing so, we’ve been able to showcase the importance of their joint relationship in driving higher levels of success for the company.
TR: What are some of the different ways that Herman Miller is planning to use video going forward, both internally and customer-facing?
VS: The success we’ve seen with live video internally is definitely something we’re looking to expand to our global sales network in the near future. Ultimately, we want to break down the communications barriers that exist with our extensive remote workforce, and allow employees to connect and engage with one another on a frequent basis.
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