The Road to Empowering your Frontline

While the initiative to improve customer experience often comes from the top, it will remain an idea, a notion, a philosophy until you have an empowered frontline that works passionately to make this a reality. But here’s the problem. In many organizations, the roles and responsibilities of frontline employees are highly underrated and sidelined. They are perceived as personnel whose only job is to get the customer to buy a product or avail a service.

But the truly customer-centric brands like Zappos or Southwest Airlines don’t look at their frontline as cannon fodder. They are, in fact, an integral and indispensable part of the way these brands operate on a day-to-day basis. They’ve been empowered and motivated to serve the customer to the best of their abilities, and proudly carry the responsibility of having to deliver memorable customer experiences.

When it comes to enhancing customer experience, empowering the frontline is one of the common topics of discussion. So, what can businesses do to ensure that their frontline is delivering a quality experience and service?

1. Institute Regular Quality Training

Not every frontline employee will know the nuances of engaging and interacting with customers. There needs to be regular training programs to educate the frontline right from the basics of talking to customers.

How do you greet customers? How do you handle a difficult situation with an angry customer? How to apologize? How to say thanks and shake hands with confidence? These are the little things that make all the difference in this highly competitive business milieu.

More importantly, every frontline employee should be trained to always empathize with customers — look at their experience from their own perspective and not from yours or the brand’s viewpoint.

2. Frontline Feedback is ever so important

Every piece of customer feedback is a golden opportunity to understand and improve your business. Feedback from your frontline holds equal value, if not more. By staying in constant touch with your customers, it’s fair to say that frontline employees are well-versed than business owners in understanding customer expectations, their behavioural patterns, and other trends.

In fact, based on stats, not every customer expresses their frustration openly — for every customer who is vocal, 26 other customers remain silent (Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs). This is where feedback from your frontline employees is very important. Since their core job is all about dealing with customers, even if a lot of customers don’t voice their concerns blatantly in the feedback forms, your frontline would be cognizant of any potentially unearthed painpoints.

So, why don’t you start listening to your frontline? Get these employees to your office one day and ask them to be honest about what customers think about the brand. In many companies, what’s happening at the ground level (frontline) is very different to what is being perceived at the top-level (C-level, executive board).

3. Recognize and Reward

Empowerment works only if the frontline is motivated. And to motivate the frontline you need to incentivize what they’re doing.

The number one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. In fact, 65% of people surveyed said they got no recognition for good work last year. (Source: Gallup)

So, all this talk on empowerment ultimately boils down to a couple of questions: what’s in it for your frontline employees? WHY should they go the extra mile for the customer and deliver great service?

Here’s where recognition and incentives come into play. We can’t stress how important this is but each and every good frontline work needs to be celebrated, recognized and rewarded.

Imagine what will happen when your frontline do their best, make customers happy, but aren’t recognized in the organization. They soon get demotivated and from then on, it’s a downward spiral. It eventually results in poor work — carelessness and arrogance starts showing up in employees — which only frustrates customers and makes them leave your business. Ultimately, you need to spend more money acquiring new customers!

A happy, positive, motivated and empowered frontline is one of your Business’s biggest competitive differentiator in the marketspace today. Great customer experiences stem from the top, but are ‘delivered’ only when the frontline is committed to the goal and vision of the company. Start doing what is necessary to empower your frontline and deliver truly awesome service!

This post originally appeared on www.getcloudcherry.com