Why Frontline Employee Experience is the Key to Growth
When you think about strategies for business growth, it’s likely your first point of call will be your sales team or your marketing team, and you wouldn’t be alone. While these teams offer immense value to the growth of your business, there is another team that is arguably more impactful, yet is so often overlooked: your frontline.
The frontline employee experience catalyses a series of ‘knock on effects’ that ultimately leads to awesome customer experiences, flourishing loyalty and exponential growth.
Allow us to explain…
Let’s start by jumping ahead for a moment (as many businesses tend to do) and take a look at customer experience first.
There is a proven, and clear correlation between customer experience and revenue growth. Incredible customer service has long been valued, but for the first time in human history, we have the tools and technology for any business to track the actual effect that positive customer experiences have on the bottom line.
So, that’s exactly what folks at the Harvard Business Review did.
“We looked at two companies with different revenue models — one transactional, the other subscription-based — using two common elements that are relevant to all industries: customer feedback, and future spending by individual customers. To see the effect of experience on future spending, we looked at experience data from individual customers at a point in time, and then looked at those individual customers’ spending behaviors over the subsequent year.”
To clarify, an example of a transactional business model would be Starbucks, it relies on frequency of customer return and average order values. An example of a subscription based model would be AskNicely customer Shine - a window cleaning services company, where the product or service stays the same, and the business relies on repeat customers and upsells.
For transactional business models, customers with the most awesome past experiences spend 140% more than those with the poorest past experiences.
And for subscription based business models, customers who had the most awesome past experiences had a 74% chance of remaining a customer for at least another year (hello customer loyalty).
Forrester also analysed the correlation between customer experience and revenue growth across various industries.
They found that superior customer experience drives three types of customer loyalty: retention, enrichment, and advocacy. They found that customer experience undeniably drove superior revenue growth in industries where customers are free to switch business and competitors deliver a differentiated customer experience (the case for almost all experience brands).
In the airline industry, for example, Southwest Airlines scored near the top of the Forrester CX Index Rankings, while United sat at the bottom of the leaderboard. The study concludes that Southwest’s revenue grew more than three times faster than United’s revenue in correlation to customer experience. Southwest also outgrew United on revenue passenger miles. During the 2010 to 2015 , Southwest’s revenue passenger miles (i.e., a paying passenger flying one mile) grew by 4.8% while United’s revenue passenger miles shrank by -1.5%.
Harley Manning, Forrester VP and research director, who led the study says: “Our conclusion: superior CX drives superior revenue growth.”
The proof is in the pudding. We know that incredible customer experience drives loyalty which drives growth.
But let’s take a step back for a second, what comes before CX?
As Blake Morgan, customer experience futurist, author and keynote speaker says “Engaged employees lead to happy customers.” And as we’re now certain, happy customers lead to growth.
Many businesses make the mistake of trying to improve customer experience, without first addressing frontline employee experience. There are 3 main red flags to this approach:
- You end up making guesses and assumptions about your customers from the boardroom, without talking to the very people that deal with and know your customers better than anyone else.
- We know that people deliver a better experience when they are having a better experience themselves. If you don’t make an active effort to improve employee experience, the frontline won’t make an active effort to improve customer experience.
- When you don’t provide the frontline with the support, feedback and impact oversight, you provide no roadmap to improving experiences and driving growth.
It’s no coincidence that Southwest Air, a company with such a high Customer Experience Index Ranking, was also named as one of the Forbes’ 2021 America’s Best Employers.
The company has seen rapid rewards on its revenue by tapping into the employee experience.
“Our guiding principle is to engage our employees early and often because they know how to best serve our customers and deliver our renowned hospitality,” said James Ashworth, VP, Customer Support & Services for Southwest.
When a company invests in the frontline, incredible things happen. Like this.
Aaron Ward, CEO of AskNicely believes “The manifestation of this airline's one-of-a-kind commitment to its customer on the tarmac was the result of what I'd describe as "unmuting the frontline," which is the seventh habit from our company's ebook. The habit is built around a central belief that so often, frontline employees are muted by policy or practices (i.e., "follow these rules"), with leadership neglecting to actively solicit their input to improve the customer experience.”
The stats are un-ignorable. EX → CX → Loyalty → Growth.
So what does this all mean?
Get step 1 right first, and invest in your frontline.
The folks wearing uniforms, safety vests, pinafores and badges are your key to differentiating your service business and your secret weapon to growth. When you provide these teams with the technology, support, coaching, feedback and care they need to excel in their work, you unlock out-of-this-world customer experiences.
Looking for a technology solution to empower frontline employees and ensure they live your service promise every day, in every location, with every customer?
Learn more about the ultimate coaching platform for mobile workers here.