During my customer service career, I have often heard the statement – “It doesn’t matter what I think, no one’s listening to what I have to say anyway.” Often, these words were verbalized by a front-line employee. It’s important to appreciate and listen to your front-line employees.
Here are three reasons not to take your customer service heroes for granted.
They Are the Face of the Company – Whether face to face, on the phone or web chatting with customers, front-line employees are the company to your customers. By the very nature of the position, front line employees can provide invaluable insights into how customers really feel about your products and services.
Remember to treat them in the same manner as they are required to treat the customer. Your willingness to do so sends the message that they are an important component of the organization. Sooner or later, it will be easy to spot an unhappy employee – body language, voice tones, customer complaints, attendance or all clues to employee morale. It’s important to keep morale high as happy employees create happy customers.
They Have Solutions – It’s common for front line employees to create “custom” resolutions for reoccurring issues. Through personal experience, I have witnessed front line employees put their “custom” resolutions in motion to deliver a great customer experience. Maintain open communication with front line personnel as this encourages the sharing of information. Their solutions keep customers happy which contributes to the profitability of the company.
During a corporate stint as an operations analyst, it was common to conduct process analysis projects. I often found that front line personnel knew the process and its shortcomings much better than their respective managers. Upon further examination, more often than not, a communication gap existed between management and front-line personnel. The communication pattern was one of “do this because it’s your job” vs “if we ask you to do this, how does this impact your job?” When more of the latter exists, the customer benefits as frontline personnel feel that their opinion matters, which leads to the provision of a better customer experience.
They’re Human – Probably the most important reason to listen to your front-line personnel is a simple one – they’re human. Front-line personnel want to feel valued and respected for what they do. Not everyone is capable of servicing customers. I repeat – not everyone possesses the ability to provide customer service day after day, minute by minute. It takes patience coupled with a good attitude and a highly developed listening ear to consistently meet customer expectations. I often hear people say, “Anyone can answer a phone.” or “It’s pretty simple to take customers’ orders.” Yes, anyone can answer a phone or take customers’ orders – the key is, do you know what to do next?
Not everyone has the personality or demeanor to turn an angry customer into a long-term purchaser of the company’s products/services. The next time you feel like your front-line personnel are not performing to company expectations, carve out some time to get in their shoes. Take on their duties. Ask questions and really listen to the replies. You might be surprised by the knowledge gained from this simple exercise.
Are your front-line personnel an untapped information reservoir? Remember – They Are the Face of Your Company, They Have Solutions and They’re Human. Spend time with your front-line personnel today!
About the Author
Recognized as “one of seven useful Twitter people for retailers to follow” by Mystery Shopping Experts of the UK, Customer Service Speaker, Author and Consultant Errol Allen utilizes his 25+ years of practical hands on experience to assist organizations in developing customer service strategies for maximum customer retention. Errol believes that a systems mindset is critical to an organization’s success in providing great customer experiences.