The Customer Experience Benchmarking Series: Personalized Coaching to Increase Training Effectiveness - What Does Maturity Look Like?
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.
Meet Janine. She’s a frontline associate at a hotel in Portland. Despite starting her role with enthusiasm and a strong sense of pride, one year down the line she’s feeling unmotivated, disengaged and unempowered. When her manager notices her watered down efforts when interacting with customers, they assume it’s because she no longer cares or has lost passion for her work. In reality though, Janine’s passion for the hotel industry is very much alive, but the lack of personalized coaching she is receiving is causing her to feel lost and uninspired.
Janine is not alone. In fact, the State of Frontline Study found that the number one reason frontline workers aren’t empowered is due to a lack of training. It’s not because they don’t care, or they’re lazy or they lack work ethic – it’s because they’re not given the tools and support to enable them to thrive in their roles. Most frontline workers want to do their jobs to an incredible standard, and it’s the manager’s job to enable that success to happen.
Even though it’s been proven that investments in frontline coaching dramatically impact employee efficiency, customer satisfaction and revenue—across the board—companies aren’t doing enough to reinforce training. So, what do the levels of coaching mastery look like for service businesses, and where do you sit amongst the pack?
The Personalized Coaching Maturity Spectrum
Not all frontline coaching styles are equal. Some businesses leave coaching up to the managers and others have personalized coaching plans for each employee. There are many places a business can sit within the spectrum of coaching. However, there are five main milestones found in the Metrigy study that businesses either reached or fell short of.
Milestone 1: For 19.2% of businesses, there is no structure to their coaching and it’s at the discretion of the frontline manager.
Milestone 2: Making up the minority of businesses, at this milestone, 5.8% of businesses have some form of periodic performance review.
Milestone 3: In the middle of the spectrum, 16.7% of companies have regular discussions on company-level areas of focus.
Milestone 4: In terms of getting more specific, 23.9% of businesses have regular discussions of team-level focus goals.
Milestone 5: Only 24.4% of companies have personalized coaching for each worker. At this milestone, businesses are making the most of personalized coaching.
Lack of Personalized Coaching vs Personalized Coaching
For simplicity’s sake, we’ve condensed the levels of coaching maturity into two parts: non-personalized vs personalized coaching. In the study, only 24.4% of businesses made the most of personalized coaching, which means that 75.6% are not. What are the outcomes of each? And where do you sit amongst other service businesses?
Lack of Personalized Coaching — The Repercussions
Currently, employees aren’t just working from traditional offices, they're working from home, shared workspaces, even local cafes. People are found working everywhere, but unfortunately, support and training is not as far-reaching. Almost 40% of workers say lack of training makes them feel powerless in the workplace. Without personalized coaching systems in place, businesses run into the following challenges.
Training Is Less Effective
‘One size fits all’ training programs no longer cut the mustard. Every employee is different, and has a unique way of learning. It’s important that managers recognize the unique learning needs of their employees in order to coach effectively. A blanket approach to coaching reduces impact, doesn't resonate with employees and costs more money in the long run.
Anna Egan, Customer Experience and Business Development Leader for A1 Air Conditioning and Heating, knows firsthand how employees benefit better from personalized coaching vs a blanket training approach. In her presentation at the Global Frontline Experience Summit, Anna shares a story about one of her employees, Margaret, who she was ordered to let go due to being a “low-performer”. After spending time with and listening to Margaret, Anna realized she was dyslexic. Margaret had never received any additional or refined coaching to help her manage her dyslexia at work. But after receiving personalized coaching, Margaret went on to become one of the highest performing employees, receiving company-wide recognition and awards for her success and mentorship of others. Without a personalized approach, this level of success would have never been achieved.
Frontline Potential Is NEVER Reached
Imagine for a second you’re the coach of an Olympic swimmer. But instead of providing coaching tips that are personalized to the athlete, you can only give general advice that could theoretically apply to any swimmer. They would never reach their full potential. Personalized coaching unlocks the superpower in every employee that is simply out-of-reach using standardized coaching techniques.
Inconsistent Learning = Inconsistent Customer Experience
When you use a standardized approach to coaching, you create an inconsistent learning experience. Some employees will pick up what you’re putting down, and others won’t. Some will interpret the learnings in different ways, and some won’t get it at all. The result of this is inconsistencies in your customer experience.
Effective training is about reinforcing service standards over time, in a way that is personalized to the needs of each person being trained.
Personalized Coaching — The Benefits
Only 24.4% of surveyed companies have personalized coaching for each worker and truly tap into their potential. Personalized coaching creates more engaged employees and smoother customer journeys. It may seem expensive from the outside, but investing in personalized coaching can yield many benefits for your company that soon pay for themselves. It gives meaning to the old saying “you reap what you sow”. Putting in the effort and planting the seeds of success now means you’ll be harvesting better revenues and outcomes for your business in years to come.
A More Committed, Skillful Team
Personalized coaching will produce more skillful workers who are naturally more engaged and up to 21% more productive. With 63% of employees quitting their jobs due to a lack of opportunities for career advancement, personalized coaching not only creates more skilled workers, but ones who are more likely to stay loyal to your business.
Improves the Customer Experience
Ethan Andelman, Chief Marketing Officer for Lendmark Financial Services, has seen first hand how coaching for small improvements has positively impacted customer experience results. As a result of personalized coaching, 80% of their branches saw an increase in the NPS, with an average increase of 15 points! Confident, motivated, and empowered employees are delivering awesome experiences to customers, and happy and impressed customers are coming back for repeat business and referrals.
Better Business Outcomes
The study found that businesses who used personalized coaching reaped major benefits.
- A 13% increase in employee efficiency
- A 30% increase in revenue improvement
- A 38% increase in customer satisfaction improvement
When you consider the top reasons frontline teams aren’t more empowered today, it makes sense that companies are investing in training. With such an outsized impact on customer experience, an empowered frontline can be the difference between an average experience, and a totally awesome one, which has the customer coming back for more and referring their friends, family and colleagues.
Less than 25% of companies that we surveyed are providing regular, personalized training on an individual basis. This is not surprising, as traditional feedback and management systems make it difficult and time consuming to address every team member regularly.
But times are changing. By utilizing technology like AskNicely, you can have a personalized coaching conversation with every frontline staff member, every day. Learn more here.
While we’ve separated this blog into two levels of coaching 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.