5 Ways to Improve Frontline Team Experience
For far too long, frontline work has been under-served, under-appreciated and under-paid. Not only is this ethically wrong, but it doesn’t make financial sense either. If your business relies on people to deliver your service (we call them "people-powered businesses"), a quality customer experience is your lifeblood - this is what dictates whether customers come back for more and recommend your service to others.
The frontline worker is the key to winning here - they bring the magic that determines whether a customer's experience is awesome or awful. So, how do we improve the experience of the frontline worker, and ensure they are equipped with the knowledge, tools and support they need to deliver on your service promise, every time?
It may seem like an obvious practice, yet the stats show that businesses are failing across the board to listen to their frontline teams. Stats from YouGov Plc, found that the majority of American, Australian, and British frontline workers (67%) say that they are never, rarely, or only sometimes listened to on topics that matter to them the most. Eeek.
Here’s why you should start listening to the frontline:
- It’s a matter of respect
First and foremost, feeling seen and heard is a human right. We believe a great business can be built by nice people who are nice to each other.
- Your frontline know your customers in ways board members don’t
As David Reiss, founder and CEO of the Mastery Group famously said: “While you’re standing in the corner office trying to spot problems from 50,000 feet, your frontline workers are seeing them up close. If you can activate your team and turn them into your eyes and ears, you’ll learn more about your business than you ever dreamed possible”.
- Workers that feel heard do better work
Employees who feel heard are 4.6x more likely to feel empowered to do their best work. When you listen to the frontline, you create a level of trust and empowerment that shines through in the experiences they deliver.
To practically implement this tip, use an employee feedback tool to stay connected with your frontline teams. This way, you’re able to understand how employees are feeling, give them a voice, and keep them informed.
No athlete has ever made it to the Olympics without a coach. Just like no frontline worker has ever delivered consistently awesome customer experiences without a coach. Coaching helps us reach our full potential and unlock capabilities that would otherwise be left unturned.
When you coach the frontline in the right ways, you empower teams, create a sense of motivation and purpose and positively impact the bottom line.
Let’s take a look at an example of how frontline coaching impacts the bottom line…
Aptive Environmental is one of the fastest growing pest control companies in the world. In the past, Aptive struggled with inconsistent service delivery. Members of their frontline team had different ideas of what exceptional customer service looked like, and customers weren’t always feeling the ‘Aptive difference’. These inconsistencies caused a measurable impact on the bottom line from rework and loss of referrals.
Aptive was looking for a coaching solution that would help them understand what actually mattered to their customers, what was letting them down, and how to take action. A platform that would help them coach the frontline to consistently deliver on their service standard.
After implementing a frontline coaching tool, their lowest performing frontline staff began to match their best, and their NPS rose from 31.1 to 61 points in just three months. The rework cost saving alone was enough to cover the cost of the coaching platform!
To cut to the chase, you can’t improve frontline team experience without giving them regular, real-time, customer-driven feedback. Imagine taking up a new sport. Let’s say, gymnastics. You turn up at practice every day, and attempt the flips and turns your coach instructs you to. Except there’s one catch - your coach is mute when it comes to feedback. How are you supposed to get any better? How are you supposed to feel empowered to improve? You can’t.
To make progress, whether that be as a gymnast or a frontline team member, you need to be hearing real-time feedback. What you’re doing well, what you’re not doing well, and practical steps as to how you can improve.
Here’s why you should start prioritizing recognition amongst frontline teams:
- Recognition makes people feel GOOD.
We know from phycological studies that recognition for good work releases dopamine in the brain, which creates feelings of pride and pleasure. Before your frontline team can go out there and achieve their goals, talk to customers and deliver awesome experiences, they need to be feeling good in themselves. Through regularly recognizing achievements, you can help them do that.
- Recognition drives productivity.
40% of employed Americans would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often. That dopamine hit cements the knowledge that more of that behaviour will create more praise, which motivates people to continue to achieve.
- Recognizing achievement increases frontline employee retention.
63% of employees who are recognized are very unlikely to look for a new job. When you recognize employees for the work they’re doing, which by the way, can be as simple as saying “Thank you. You’re great at what you do. We wouldn’t want to do this without you.”, provides a sense of purpose. This sense of purpose and belonging, means frontline workers are more likely to feel fulfilled in their job, and less likely to look elsewhere.
Feeling good, being more productive and feeling valued, when combined, are a sure-fire way to improve frontline team experience, and subsequently, customer experience.
Ever since we were in kindergarten and got gold stars for doing well, we’ve known that human behavior is best motivated by positive feedback and reward.
Here are a few ways you can celebrate and reward your frontline teams:
- Catch them doing the right things with positive feedback.
- Increase their pay.
- Celebrate employees with an employee of the month reward or similar initiative.
- Increase their responsibilities.
- Give monetary or other rewards for meeting KPIs.
Whether it’s a physical reward or a verbal one, the key is to celebrate success when it happens.
To Wrap Up:
To improve the frontline experience, you should focus on listening, coaching, providing feedback, recognizing success and rewarding employees for getting things right. How exactly do you do this? Leveraging technology is one of the most effective ways to go about improving the frontline experience. Learn more about the AskNicely Frontline Success platform here.
Want to learn more about empowering the frontline? Check out the free playbook here.