How to Equip & Empower Frontline Teams During the Holiday Season
The holiday season is not only a time of joy, celebration and dressing your pets up in Santa outfits, but also a period that brings unique challenges, especially for businesses with frontline teams. Whether you're managing a retail store, a restaurant, or any customer-facing operation, ensuring that your frontline staff is well-equipped and ready to handle the increased demands of the festive season is mission critical. In this blog post, we'll explore practical strategies and tips on how to empower and equip your frontline teams during the holiday season.
1. Prioritize Training & Onboarding
The holiday rush often means an influx of temporary staff or seasonal hires. Investing time in comprehensive training and onboarding processes ensures that all team members are well-versed in your company's values, policies, products, and customer service expectations. Consider hosting refresher workshops for existing staff to reinforce key concepts and address any changes or updates. The time invested in onboarding may seem overwhelming, but it’s a mere blink compared to the time it takes to win customers back after poor experiences. Set the tone for your frontline employees in a motivating, positive and supportive way that will start them on their journey with their best foot forward.
2. Celebrate the Wins
The holiday season is often nothing but go-go-go for frontline teams. With a ramp up in pace, it can be easy to let recognition fall by the wayside. Acknowledge and celebrate the successes of your frontline teams during the holiday season, big or small. Whether it's meeting sales targets, handling a challenging customer situation well, or simply maintaining a positive attitude, recognition is the fuel that will drive your team to deliver world-class experiences to your customers. As Hotelier and Author, Charles Ryan Minton says “Employees who feel like they matter, make customers feel like they matter.”
3. Communication is Key
Clear and effective communication is the backbone of successful teamwork. Establish open lines of communication between frontline staff and management. Regular team meetings, digital communication channels, and real-time updates on sales targets, promotions, and feedback can help everyone stay informed and aligned. Be sure these communications are mobile friendly, as most frontline employees spend a large majority, if not all of, their time away from a desk. Retail workers are on the floor, talking to customers and helping them refine their choices, hospitality workers are at the till taking and delivering orders and taxi drivers spend their day behind the wheel. Yet, many frontline workers are still lacking technology that’s practical for them to use on the go, simply because they don’t have an email address or laptop.
4. Implement Flexible Scheduling
The holiday season often means longer working hours and increased demand for staff availability. Implementing flexible scheduling can help balance the needs of the business with the well-being of your team. Consider offering incentives for those willing to work during peak times and be mindful of employee fatigue to prevent burnout. Angela Nibbs founder of Maven Communications points out the benefits of flexible scheduling for both your employees and your customers, saying “What we hear time and again from our team is that they value flexibility— to work where they want, to take time off when they need it, or to compress their schedules. As a result, our team feels like a trusted and valued part of the team. As a result, productivity and morale remain high, and our clients are well-served and happy”.
5. Embrace Real-Time Feedback
In the fast-paced environment of the holiday season, the ability to adapt and improve on the fly is invaluable. Providing your frontline teams with access to real-time feedback is a game-changer. Implement systems that allow customers to share their experiences immediately, through a streamlined CX metric like NPS. This instant feedback loop not only keeps your team informed about what's working well but also provides an opportunity to address any concerns promptly. It's a powerful tool for continuous improvement, enabling your frontline staff to make real-time adjustments to their service, ensuring each customer interaction is an awesome one. By embracing real-time feedback, you not only enhance the customer experience but also foster a culture of responsiveness and adaptability among your frontline teams.
6. Prepare for Increased Customer Service Demands
The holiday season often brings a surge in customer inquiries, complaints, and requests. Ensure that your frontline teams are adequately trained in handling customer service issues. Implementing a well-defined process for dealing with common problems can prevent escalation and help frontline teams feel confident to resolve issues. You can also utilize chatbots and FAQ pages that help frontline teams allocate their time in the most meaningful way. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, support requests are up 20 percent since the start of the pandemic, and they’ll be even higher during the holiday season. Empowering your team with the right information can help them get out in front of issues.
7. Provide the Right Tools and Technology
1 in 3 frontline workers feel like they don’t have the right technological tools to do their job effectively in their day to day work, let alone in the busy holiday period. If you want your teams to be able to handle the pressure and keep delivering awesome experiences, you need to equip them with the right tools and technology to streamline their tasks. Point-of-sale systems, CRMs, and feedback tools can significantly improve efficiency and reduce the chances of errors during busy periods.
8. Get in the Holiday Spirit!
Amid the hustle and bustle, don't forget to infuse a bit of festive spirit into your workplace. Festive lunches, Secret Santas and team-building activities are all the little things that add up to influence your workplace culture. Remember that getting in the holiday spirit isn't just about aesthetics; it's about creating an uplifting environment that energizes your frontline staff. When the workplace exudes warmth and festivity, it has a ripple effect on employee satisfaction and, subsequently, customer interactions.
(Gift) Wrapping Up!
Empowering your frontline teams during the holiday season requires a combination of strategic planning, effective communication, and a commitment to the well-being of your staff. By prioritizing training, providing the right tools, fostering a positive work environment, and staying prepared for increased demands, you can ensure that your business not only survives the holiday rush but thrives, leaving both customers and staff with positive experiences to remember.