Customer Experience

The Customer Experience Benchmarking Series: Empowering and Rewarding Frontline Employees - What Does Maturity Look Like?

AskNicely Team

Here at AskNicely, we believe that service businesses who invest in their frontline teams experience higher levels of customer satisfaction, retention and profit. To put our belief to the test, we partnered with research and strategic advisory firm, Metrigy, to conduct a one-of-a-kind study that analyzed over 200 service businesses across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany. The survey is unique in that no other study has been conducted at this level to tie investments in frontline workers to improvements in business outcomes. Read more about the study here. 

The results from the State of Frontline Work study have allowed us to solidify what leading service businesses are doing to excel in customer experience, and create a benchmarking framework to help service brands measure up. 

The definition of empowerment is having the knowledge, confidence, means or ability to do things or make decisions for oneself. An empowered frontline worker is one who takes pride and responsibility over the customer experience, is highly motivated and has the confidence and autonomy to make quick decisions. The difference between an empowered frontline worker and a disengaged employee isn’t inherent, it’s the product of the environment they work in. The State of Frontline Work study found that brands that have frontline satisfaction programs in place, that is programs that are designed to empower and reward employees, see dramatic increases in revenue, employee efficiency and most notably, customer satisfaction. So, when it comes to empowering frontline employees, what does maturity look like?

There’s No Way Around it : Your Frontline Impacts Customer Experience

Here at AskNicely, we’ve always stood by the belief that happy frontline workers = happy customers. To test this, we polled business leaders on the factors that impact customer experience the most. As it turns out, many business leaders of top service brands agree that awesome customer experiences can’t exist without an empowered frontline team. What really stands out is that roughly two thirds of the customer experience is impacted by things directly delivered by the frontline: in particular support, service delivery, and purchase experience.

Without Frontline Satisfaction Programs vs With Frontline Satisfaction Programs

Frontline empowerment and recognition doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a result of thoughtful frontline satisfaction programs. A frontline satisfaction program or the absence of one will heavily impact revenue, employee efficiency and customer satisfaction. 

For simplicity's sake, we’ve separated the levels of maturity into two segments: without frontline satisfaction programs in place, versus with frontline satisfaction programs in place. Of the surveyed service businesses 45.4% were without and 54.6% of businesses were with. 

Without Frontline Satisfaction Programs  

Almost half of service businesses have no functioning worker satisfaction programs in place – so, if you don’t have one, you’re far from alone, and if you do have one, you’re a significant step ahead of competitors. A frontline satisfaction program aims to help employees find personal satisfaction and pride in their work, which improves their work experience and performance. Through tools like personalized coaching, employee feedback and recognition, frontline employees can reach their full potential. So what happens when you don’t have a frontline satisfaction program? What are the risks associated with not empowering and recognizing employees?

High Employee Turnover 

What happens when you don’t cultivate an environment where employees feel empowered and recognized for the work they do? The short answer is: they leave. In an era where demand for talent is high, this is a costly repercussion for service businesses around the globe. 

SurveyMonkey partnered with Bonusly to find out how recognition and employee retention are related. Out of 1,500 respondents, 63% of those who were “always” or “usually” recognized said that they are “very unlikely” to job hunt in the next 3–6 months. In comparison, only 11% of those who are “never” or “rarely” recognized would agree.

It’s simple: employees who don’t feel like they’re being recognized or nurtured are more likely to seek out another job. 

Low Employee Satisfaction

If you’re lucky enough to have your employees stick around, without frontline satisfaction programs in place, unsurprisingly, employee satisfaction goes down. Lower morale caused by a lack of recognition and empowerment affects productivity, trust, motivation and the overall mood and culture among the frontline team. 

A survey by OGO found that the lack of recognition in the workplace dramatically impacted their productivity. In fact, 40% of employed Americans would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often. If no one cares, why should I do it? - is the question looming among many unempowered frontline workers. It is the job of managers to show the frontline that they care, their customers care and the work they do makes a difference; which frontline satisfaction programs can help you do. 

Low Customer Satisfaction

Of course low employee satisfaction creates a flow on effect that directly impacts customer satisfaction. When employees feel disengaged, unmotivated and disempowered, their mood is reflected in the experience they deliver to customers. This creates a domino effect of further consequences, such a customer churn, poor reviews, damaged brand reputation and negative impacts to the bottom line. 

With Employee Satisfaction Programs

On the brighter side of the spectrum, over half of surveyed businesses do have a functioning employee satisfaction program in place. These programs empower frontline teams through personalized coaching, real-time feedback, recognition and more. They are designed to streamline the employees' role, automate tasks and make things more fun! So, what are some other benefits? 

Employees are More Loyal

Each employee has something to offer your business and help it grow. They could be a hidden wealth of information or a ray of sunshine that lifts office spirits and customer moods too. This goes beyond job satisfaction to fostering loyalty in employees. They believe in your vision and your business. They become advocates and influence brand perception in customers. According to a Gallup study, companies that have more highly engaged employees have seen a 41% reduction in absenteeism. It makes sense – employees who are feeling fulfilled and satisfied in their work are more likely to stick with your business. 

Fosters a Customer Obsessed Workplace

When employees are genuinely pumped about your business, offering, team and customers – it creates a customer-obsessed culture that is seriously contagious. AskNicely customer Houwzer, is an example of a business who utilized tech in their frontline satisfaction program to build a positive culture of coaching self-improvement. Through supporting and recognizing their team, they not only build an awesome culture for their employees to thrive, but a booming, loyal customer base too. Read more about Houwzer’s journey with AskNicely here. 

Better Customer Outcomes

The study found that businesses with strong frontline satisfaction programs reaped major benefits. 

More specifically; 

  • A 25% increase in revenue improvement. 
  • A 64% increase in employee efficiency. 
  • A whopping 73% increase in customer satisfaction. 

Without a clear program for employee satisfaction in place, this is what you’re missing out on. 

Our mission at AskNicely is to help more service businesses experience the benefits of an empowered frontline team. It creates happier employees, happier customers and happier board members. 

While we’ve separated this blog into two levels of maturity, in reality, there are many micro levels in between each, all with varying impacts on employee and customer experience. Want to get measured up to the decimal point? 

Book in a free benchmarking call with our team today. 

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

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