How digitising the HR department helps drive Louis Vuitton’s success | Article – HSBC VisionGo
Louis Vuitton is renowned for the premium service and experience it offers customers, but few people realise that the same standard of excellence extends to Louis Vuitton’s employees, too.
“At Louis Vuitton, we treat our employees the same way our client advisors treat our clients,” said Rico Cheng, Louis Vuitton’s head of HRIS, North Asia.
“We treat our clients as VIPs in our retail shops, and we mimic this philosophy in HR and treat our employees as VIPs. This is the philosophy that all Louis Vuitton HR teams around the world have.”
Store staff make up the biggest share of Louis Vuitton employees globally, and as the face of the most valuable luxury brand in the world, they play a crucial role in its success. So when it comes to HR matters, they expect the process to be smooth, efficient and professional.
“We try not to ask our employees to perform the same actions more than once, or collect the same information more than once, because we don’t want to trouble them to do repeated actions,” Cheng explained.
But it wasn’t until Louis Vuitton implemented a new HR management system in 2018 that it was able to digitise many of these backend processes. That is when Louis Vuitton installed FlexSystem’s BridgeBuilder HRMS (BBHRMS) in its North Asia division.
Experts in digital transformation
“At first, we were just trying to put a new system in place,” Cheng said.
The division had used its previous HR solution for over a decade, but it no longer met its requirements. The top priorities in the search for a new solution were: 100% payroll accuracy, a strong presence and solid understanding of the labour laws in the region and a willingness to partner and grow with Louis Vuitton over the long term.
BBHRMS ticked all those boxes, and in less than three months, Louis Vuitton rolled it out in multiple markets.
I didn’t know it was actually possible to do it that fast,” Cheng said. “That, and the agility and the professionalism of the FlexSystem team amazed me most.
But BBHRMS also offered something more: expertise in the digital transformation of the HR department.
“After a while, we discovered that BBHRMS was able to do a lot more, such as providing employee self-service portals,” Cheng said.
Employee self-service portals allow staff to apply for leave, view leave calendars, download payslips and update contact information themselves in a centralised and secure digital environment. This makes life easier for Louis Vuitton’s employees, according to Cheng, which ultimately improves the customer experience.
“If, instead of asking employees to fill out a paper form and scan their doctor’s certificate to take sick leave, we make it digital so they can just take a picture on their phone, then at the end of the day, they have more time to interact with their clients,” he said.
Since implementing BBHRMS, Louis Vuitton has rolled out various modules to several countries in its North Asia division, including Hong Kong, China, Macau and Korea, and it plans to digitise more processes in more markets going forward.
Challenges of Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted several additional benefits of self-service portals and clarified the importance of digital HR processes going forward.
For instance, businesses need to be able to inform staff quickly if they have been exposed to the virus, and with some cities limiting the distance that people can travel, they need to know which employees can be rostered on to work at each store.
Having the most up-to-date contact information for each employee in the system is crucial, but without self-service portals that make it easy for staff to update this information themselves, businesses might not have it.
“Suddenly, it turns out you don’t have their mobile number, or their most up-to-date address, and you need to ask their supervisor,” Cheng said.
Even payroll has been impacted by Covid-19 due to the rise of remote working. If businesses don’t have a digital payroll system in place, they may be forced to send employees their payslips and tax forms through the mail. This is not only more costly for businesses, but takes longer for employees.
Digitisation is so important – this year showed that especially,” Cheng said. “The challenge is around how fast we can put it in place, how fast we can digitise to the extent that we support the business, but not slow down the processes.
Digital transformation is no longer a choice but a necessity for businesses to be able to cope with unexpected events, such as Covid-19. When considering how to carry out a digital transformation, the most important factors are speed and simplicity.