Unmute the Frontline: The Seven Habits of Empowered Frontline Teams

AskNicely Team

You’ve made it folks, to the final habit of the Seven Habits of Empowered Frontline Teams. Nice work! If you’ve done your homework, by now you would have implemented six, fail-safe habits that some of the most successful service businesses practice every day. Habits that work to strengthen and empower the frontline, improve customer experiences and in turn dramatically impact your bottom line. 

A bit behind? 

We know from working with thousands of people-powered experience brands around the globe, that habits one through six will only be fully impactful when you practice habit seven. 

And what is this final habit we hear you ask… 


Listening to your frontline. Unmuting them. Hearing their ideas, their concerns and what’s going on in their personal lives...every day. 

It may seem like the most simple thing, yet it’s one of the most unpracticed habits across the board. New research from UKG found that 86% of employees, or four in five, feel colleagues at their organisation are not heard fairly or equally – with 47% of teams claiming underrepresented voices are totally undervalued by their leaders. 

A true shame, because when this habit is practiced with sincerity, everybody wins. 

When you unmute the frontline, you unlock the most precious information about your customers. Anthony Tjan, CEO, Managing Partner and Founder of the venture capital firm Cue Ball, says that while companies can work with a variety of consulting firms to gain data about their customers through ‘day in the life’ immersions and customer driven research, “...most executives don’t take advantage of the best anthropological consultants already employed — their frontline employees. It’s the employees who are closest to serving and supporting the customer who get an unfiltered view of how customers interact with a product or service.” 

Waiters, for example, have the best intel on what customer’s favourite dishes are and which are the least popular. Retail floor staff know why people didn’t like certain garments. Hotel workers know the types of people that come through the door and what they’re looking for. It makes sense, right? They’re the closest to the customer. They hear the feedback every day about that frustrating issue.

As David Reiss, founder and CEO of the Mastery Group said: 

“While you’re standing in the corner office trying to spot problems from 50,000 feet, they’re 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” — D.R

Not only is unmuting the frontline arguably the most effective way of understanding your customers, but it’s the most cost effective way, too. You can spend thousands, to hundreds of thousands of dollars on traditional research methods that aim to understand more about your customers. But according to Tjan, there are a few reasons why this research fails to deliver: 

  1. Customers don’t always say what's on their mind (actions speak louder than words)
  2. Customers often don’t know what they don’t know 
  3. Those conducting research may bias results with the types of questions they’re asking (wrong questions mean wrong answers).

Listening to your frontline combats all of these issues, and it’s free. 

Finally, we’ve talked a lot about how the various habits of empowered frontline teams work to make the frontline feel good, to motivate them and to be more productive. Habit seven is no different. When you listen to your frontline team, it makes them feel like the valued member of the team that they are.  

Employees who feel heard are 4.6% more likely to feel empowered to do their best work — INC

Let’s face it. Being on the frontline is tough. Not everyone possesses the ability to provide customer service day after day, minute by minute. It takes patience, compassion and resilience. At the end of the day, frontline personnel want to feel valued and respected for what they do, and listening to them is a huge part of that. 

Not only should you be listening to your frontline to unlock customer insights, but you should be listening to check in. How are they doing? In their work and in their lives. Listening builds trust, and trust is the foundation to any strong relationship. Your frontline team has one of the most critical roles in the business, and it’s important they’re provided a space where they feel safe, valued, and heard.  

Habit 7, when combined with the other six habits from the Frontline Coaching Playbook will undoubtedly set you up for success when it comes to building a confident, motivated and empowered frontline team. 

Ready to implement? Check out the free Playbook here for a practical guide to implementation, the do’s & don’t and advice from the AskNicely frontline experts.

AskNicely Team
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AskNicely Team

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

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