8 Ways to Get Your Frontline Teams Delivering More Awesome Experiences
Customer experience is everything. And for that you depend on your frontline teams. But how do you actually go about motivating and empowering the very people delivering those experiences? How do you get them to go above and beyond for customers, when historically they have been underpaid, underappreciated and overworked? Here are eight simple (and highly effective) strategies to get you started.
1. Focus on One Thing at a Time
It's easy to fall into the trap of wanting your frontline teams to improve everything all at once, but it's not only unrealistic, it’s ineffective too.
In the eloquent words of Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation, “Never half-ass many things, whole-ass one thing.” Coaching for small improvements relies on the idea of doing one thing at a time and creating a habit of it before moving onto the next. Task-switching or trying to improve multiple things at the same time reduces efficiency, productivity and the sense of accomplishment you get from giving something a big tick. Have you ever stared at your ginormous to-do list with so much overwhelm that you end up getting nothing done? Or maybe you’ve piled your plate so high at the buffet that you suddenly lose your appetite? Overloading your frontline teams with too many critiques for improvement will have the same effect. Instead, identify the things that matter most to your customers, and prioritize one improvement at a time. Make a habit out of the improvement though consistently applying it, and then look to the next thing.
2. Connect Your Teams to Real-Time Feedback
Your team may have a general idea of what good customer service looks like, but specific feedback from actual customers is far more impactful than any generic CX training could ever be. When you connect your employees to real-time feedback, you help them understand exactly what they need to do (in that moment) to deliver more awesome experiences.
- Customer feedback is specific to each employee – it highlights what the individual did well and what they need to work on.
- Using a feedback tool, customer feedback is scalable, meaning every employee gets access, no matter how big or widespread your team.
- Customer feedback is actionable – employees can act in real-time on concerns, queries and dissatisfaction points.
You can’t expect your frontline teams to deliver more awesome customer experiences without real-time feedback. It’s like asking a sports player to become an olympian without ever receiving critique.
3. Coach Based on Failures and Success
Every customer experience is a learning opportunity, whether good or bad. Coaching frontline workers on past successes and failures can help employees digest what works, and what doesn’t. By analyzing past successes, workers can identify what actions and behaviors led to positive outcomes and replicate them in future interactions with customers. Similarly, analyzing past failures can help workers understand what went wrong and how to avoid those mistakes in the future. This knowledge empowers frontline workers to be more confident and competent in their roles, which results in better customer interactions and satisfaction. Plus, coaching can provide a sense of purpose and motivation, as workers can see the direct impact of their actions on customer experience. Ultimately, a focus on past successes and failures can help frontline workers continuously improve and increase the number of customers with beaming smiles as they walk out the door.
4. Create a Friendly Sense of Competition Amongst Teams
Whether it came out in the family game of Monopoly or not, we all have a competitive side. What better way to get your frontline teams delivering more awesome customer experiences than by igniting a little friendly competition! It’s fun, effective and creates a new-found sense of motivation amongst teams.
A great way to encourage friendly competition is to use CX metric leaderboards. For example, you can create a branch or team NPS leaderboard that shows which teams and branches are blowing the most customers away. This helps team members come together and see how their performance compares to their peers, motivating them to improve.
Be sure to keep the competition friendly and team based. An intense environment where employees feel they are being stacked against each will have the opposite effect: stressed, uncomfortable employees delivering poor experiences to customers.
5. Recognize Success When It Happens
One of the most effective ways to get your teams delivering top-tier customer experiences is by recognizing success when it happens.
When you catch a frontline employee doing something right, you:
- Make the employee feel GOOD: hello dopamine hit.
- Encourage repeat behavior: an employee who is recognized for something is more likely to repeat that behavior again.
- Reduce employee turnover: employees who feel valued, seen and appreciated for their work are less likely to hang up their boots.
Just like Charles Ryan Minton, author and hotelier says “You have to be intentional about making time for your employees so that they feel valued, that they feel appreciated”.
6. Connect Employees to Their Purpose
Give the frontline a reason why. Why should I keep improving? Why should I learn from my mistakes? Why do my actions matter? What is my true purpose for being here? These are all questions your employees need to ponder to become truly invested in improving.
In the Frontline Experience Summit, Cheryl Desantis from SmileDirectClub explains the importance of connecting frontline employees to their emotional why. The emotional why are the reasons, at their core, of why you do your job. It's a reason beyond paying bills and building a career, and it's one of the most crucial golden keys to unlocking a superb employee AND customer experience.
A big part of frontline empowerment is connecting your employees to their purpose. Doing this will awaken true motivation in each of your employees. So how can you, as a coaching manager, connect employees to their personal purpose? It's by opening up about your purpose to start with.
Team members are more engaged when they understand the impact of their work. Connect their work to a greater purpose, and help them see how it contributes to the company's goals.
7. Be a Good Human, Not Just a Good Manager
The happiest and most high-performing frontline employees are those with managers who listen, treat them with respect and arm them with the support and tools they need to do their jobs well.
As Anna Egan, CX & Business Development Manager at A1 Air Conditioning & Heating says “The best way to coach and recognize your frontline teams to improve your customer experience is to treat your employees with respect and dignity”.
Remember to make time to ask your teams for feedback, make time for regular check-ins and ensure they feel supported in their work.
8. Make CX Training Fun!
And last but not least, make it fun! When coaching your teams on customer experience, forget the old school CX handbooks. Think of creative ways to add vibrancy and engagement to your coaching strategy. This can include gamification, leaderboards and team-building exercises.
- Gamification: incorporating gamification is a great way to spice up your coaching sessions. This can include creating a leaderboard to track progress, award points for achieving goals, or use challenges and quizzes to test knowledge and skills.
- Make it interactive: Use role-playing and other interactive activities to engage frontline employees in the coaching process.
- Keep it short and sweet: like a Tik Tok video, coaching is more effective and fun when it's kept short and to the point. This will prevent employees from getting bored or losing focus.
Want to get your frontline teams delivering more consistently awesome experiences? Remember to:
- Focus on one improvement at a time
- Connect your teams to real-time customer feedback
- Coach based on successes and failures
- Create a friendly sense of competition
- Recognize success when it happens
- Connect frontline teams to their purpose and impact
- Treat your teams with respect
- Have fun!