#1 Posted: 12 Jun 2013 09:05
Front line personnel are tasked with providing a great customer experience - whether it be face-to face, via phone or web chat. An organization's success at retaining customers is dependent upon the skills of those rendering service. Did you know that it's important for your front line personnel to be relaxed and confident during their encounters with customers? Let's take a look at three ways to frustrate your front line.
Unrealistic Expectations - One of the leading frustrations for front line personnel are unrealistic expectations. I have often witnessed organizations create goals based on a mathematical formula that doesn't take into consideration what is actually required to perform job duties. Unless one actually first of all understands what's required to complete a task, it's almost impossible to assign an achievable goal to that task. Unless one remembers to apply the capacity vs demand theory, frustration is sure to follow. When front line personnel are responsible for multiple tasks, it's critical to determine how much time is required to complete all tasks in order to establish reasonable expectations. The main complaint that I've heard over the years is "There's only so much time in a workday! How am I supposed to get all of this done?" Unrealistic expectations lead to your front line making choices that may negatively impact the customer. Taking shortcuts, leaving tasks undone or exhibiting an "I don't care anymore!" attitude are some clues that you may need to take a look at what's expected of the front line personnel within your organization. Now I hear some of you saying "Employees should always be ready to service the customer." Unless you have spent time in the front line person's shoes as they attempt to meet unrealistic expectations, it's probably a good idea not to let them hear you making that remark - it's not conducive to creating good morale.
Dictating From On High - Another "frustration maker" is being the recipient of "orders from on high" which negatively impacts ones performance. It's important for leaders to have a comprehensive perspective of their organization. Should one not possess the employee's perspective of what is required to consistently create a great customer experience, decisions which create negative morale usually follow. I have often heard "They don't really know what we do here!" or "Those people at corporate don't have a clue."
It's important to get the perspective of the front line when making decisions that will ultimately impact their workday. When considering implementing changes, be sure to remember who and what will be impacted by the change. Take the time to get the opinions of those who will be responsible for tasks created by the proposed change. Should you choose not to take these steps, you're surely opening the door of frustration. Remember for every action there is a reaction. Make sure that you create positive reactions.
Sub-Par Supervision - One of the leading reasons for front line personnel frustration is the front line supervisor. Does the supervisor possess the knowledge and people skills to lead the front line personnel? Does your organization provide comprehensive supervisor training? Will the front line supervisor go to bat for their team when it's clear that proposed changes will negatively impact his/her team? Front line personnel look to their supervisors for guidance and support. While in the position of supervisor, my own personal motto was "My job is to make sure my team has what they need to do their job and then to get out of the way so that they can." Make sure your supervisors understand that in order for them to be successful, their team must first be successful. Do your organization a favor by developing a supervisor training program to ensure that supervisors possess the skills required to fulfill their role as a leader. A supervisor that is totally numbers oriented in regards to performance will eventually create an air of resentment amongst front line personnel. In the supervisor role, it's a plus to get the story behind the number. Are there issues beyond the front line personnel's control that may negatively contribute to their overall performance? In my opinion, it's the supervisor's role to identify and remove obstacles that hinder their team's performance. Be careful when selecting a front line supervisor. Front line personnel are depending on you to make the right decision.
The day-to-day performance of front line personnel is important to the customer's experience. It's critical to create a positive workplace environment. Do all you can to eliminate frustration by staying far away from Unrealistic Expectations, strive to not Dictate From On High and do not subject front line personnel to Sub Par Supervision.