Forging the Workforce of the Future: Why frontline employees matter
Think back to the last in-store purchase you made. Were you promptly welcomed or was the store too busy for you to get their attention? Did staff assist you while you were looking for items, and given advice on deals or discounts? Was the cashier polite or uncommunicative? These small interactions with frontline employees often […]
6 May 2019 |
Think back to the last in-store purchase you made. Were you promptly welcomed or was the store too busy for you to get their attention? Did staff assist you while you were looking for items, and given advice on deals or discounts? Was the cashier polite or uncommunicative? These small interactions with frontline employees often shape their opinion of a brand, regardless of how good the product is. They perform all kinds of customer service roles. This includes answering phone inquiries, assisting clients who visit a store, performing consultancy work, and fulfilling installation or maintenance jobs. At the end of the day, clients remember the experience that staff create. Frontline workers are vital to any business. But as the face of your organisation, they face high levels of pressure and stress. They juggle time pressure and quality of work to deliver the customer promise. If frontline employees are highly motivated, they are able to provide great customer experience, increase customer retention, elevate the brand, and grow the business. That’s why at this year’s Workforce Success Conference, we are inviting students to propose ways to motivate frontline employees. Read on to know more about why frontline employees matter and sign up for the student cup today! Providing Great Customer Experience Making sure the customer experience is stellar should guide all business decisions and methods regardless of industry or size. When businesses, especially large ones, go out of their way for customers, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Businesses need to leverage their ability to deliver the customer promise and surprise the customer with extra care and support. In fact, consumers are willing to pay up to 16% more for better customer experience. This underscores the fact that customer experience isn’t just a small part of the sales process, it’s a genuine gamechanger. Conversely, PwC suggests that globally, 60% of consumers would stop doing business with a company due to unfriendly service. Many consumers (46%) also would not patronise a company with poorly trained employees. Due to this, companies are increasingly relying on chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) to answer customer concerns. But the same survey suggests that a balance between human interaction and automation is what customers actually desire. It seems the verdict is in: consumers still value the human element, perhaps because great customer care is hinged on empathy — something AI cannot emulate. Read more: Keeping up with the Customers: Why feedback matters for every business Elevating the Brand According to a survey by PwC, 65% of respondents find great customer service more influential than great advertising. Getting customer service right is actually a better investment than spending millions on ads, because it becomes an advertisement in itself. In the age of social media, interactions with sales staff, cashiers, customer support, and other frontline staff make their way onto posts, stories, and tweets. This becomes even clearer when we consider that 84% of millennial consumers do not trust advertisements anymore, especially when making an online purchase. Instead, they seek third-party validation, whether through reviews left in the comments or through mentions on social media. Unsurprisingly, many comments left on websites are not about the product, but about the company’s customer service. When reviews about customer service are positive, they can create advocates out of customers. At this stage of the customer journey, they are already a valuable ally in maintaining the popularity of the brand. When negative, however, it can result in boycotts and massive losses in profits. Consider the United Airlines incident, where musician Dave Carroll saw baggage handlers damage his custom-made guitar from his airplane window. His band made a song about it which went viral, and reportedly cost the airline $180 million (10% of share value) in 2009. Social media has given consumers the power to be heard instantly around the globe. Harnessing it makes a successful modern business; failure to do so means losing out to more tech-savvy companies. Free download: Empowering Frontline Staff with Modern Technology Increasing Customer Retention “The most important customers are those that come back consistently and invite their friends,” says Michael Barnard, Workforce Success Champion and General Manager of consultancy firm Customology. Customer retention, or the ability of a company to retain its customers over a period of time, is impacted by how many new customers are acquired, and how many existing customers churn. It is important because it costs 10 times as much to obtain a new customer as it does to retain an existing customer. According to a survey by PwC, 73% of global respondents say that a positive experience is among the key drivers that influence their brand loyalties. The phenomenon is intuitive — why would you go back to a company that didn’t treat you with urgency, empathy, and importance? That’s why businesses need to invest just as many resources in retaining existing customers as in selling to new customers. A big part of this is making sure that frontline staff is empowered to deliver the best services so that customers feel they are a priority. Putting customers first through excellent customer service allows brands to make a lasting connection with them. Read more: Michael Barnard’s Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Customers for Life Expanding the Business Frontline staff have access to a wealth of information when it comes to understanding your customers and how the business is really doing. Owners and managers don’t always make time to converse with frontline workers, but they should. Being the first point of contact, they have unique insights that can improve how business is done, whether it’s about the product or the way stores are constructed. Keeping the lines of information open is not something all businesses currently do. According to a Gallup study, only 17% of workers strongly agree that they are able to freely voice their concerns and suggestions. Leveraging the knowledge, experience, and skills of frontline staff are key to expanding businesses. Without them, managers will not have a real pulse on the clients and what they want. The impact frontline workers have on customer experience, business branding, and customer retention cannot be understated. They can make or break your reputation. Managers on the frontline are also allies in growing the business and training new staff members in the company’s values and goals. When frontline workers cater to customers’ interests, they are contributing to the success of the overall business for years to come. Ready to forge the workforce of the future by motivating frontline employees? Form a team of 3-5 students and sign up today. A cash prize and internship awaits!