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 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.
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.
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!
Product Updates |
Actionable feedback from the front line
Do you ever hear about issues long after the fact? Are your employees wary of providing honest feedback to management? Does morale seem down at times, but you don’t know why? Shift Feedback is your answer. Timely, actionable insights You can now collect feedback from your front line staff to resolve issues as they occur and gain valuable insights. Are staffing levels too low? How well are your teams communicating? What about team morale? Your front line staff are the best people to ask. A tool for Employee Engagement Actively seeking ways to improve your company culture and employee engagement before problems develop is one characteristic that differentiates a good culture from a great culture – W, Craige Through continuous feedback, Managers can identify potential engagement issues before they escalate, and always be on the lookout for ways to improve company culture for a happier, more productive workforce. How Shift Feedback works Once a week after a shift, employees will be prompted to provide feedback on that shift. They will select from a predefined list of topics to express what went well, and what didn’t go well. Managers and Admins receive a summary email with feedback from teams they manage. Feedback from employees will be anonymous. The anonymity is important in making employees feel safe and comfortable providing honest feedback – employees will more likely to provide constructive criticism on business operations and say what they’re truly feel. How to get Shift Feedback Shift Feedback is a powerup that Admins can turn on at any time. Turn on the Shift Feedback powerup in your Tanda account or learn more about the feature on our help guide.
Events & Media AU |
Steve Baxter’s 5 Tips on How to Grow a Startup
“There’s lots to be excited about, startups are full of typically young, very talented people trying to solve big problems,” says Steve Baxter, one of Australia’s most successful tech entrepreneurs. With a background in everything from the Australian Army to Google, Steve is now an active investor and mentor to startups. In 2012, he founded Brisbane’s well known co-working hub, River City Labs. In 2014, he joined Channel 10’s Shark Tank Australia where he judges contestants’ business concepts and products. He is now the founder and CEO of Transition Level Investments, a company that invests in early-stage startups. How does he do it? What makes a successful startup in the first place? Tanda sat down with Steve to get his thoughts on how to manage startups from the ground up. Steve Baxter on Shark Tank Australia. Photo Credit: CEO Magazine 1. Now is the best time to start a business “Even 12 years ago, you would have needed hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of IT. Nowadays you can do it with tens of dollars a month in Dropbox accounts and other bits and pieces,” Steve explains. “So the burden to actually start a business is remarkably low, which is just fantastic.” In fact, according to the StartupBlink Startup Ecosystem Rankings 2019 report, Australia is now the fifth-most startup-friendly country in the world. It has leapt forward six places in just two years based on the number of startups and supporting organisations and the business environment in general. So if you are planning to start a business, now is the best time to do it. And the best cities to start your business in? The same report lists Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Adelaide as friendliest to startups. 2. Sit in one room and go from there “I always encourage people to start in one room,” Steve says, when asked about his advice for those just building their business. He presents a scenario where there are six people in a room. “One person starts, and he needs to apply a second person, but the person sits next to him but there’s only has six people in the room. So if you have to manage workflow, you can literally pass a piece of paper around,” he continues. It will help the team understand who needs what information, when they need it, and how best to present it to them. Afterwards, the team can decide what parts of the workflow can be replaced with software. “So don’t jump with both feet for the windows just begging for some solution,” he advises, sit in one room and go from there. Read more: How to Achieve Culture by Design with Career Culture Lab’s Amanda Lutvey 3. Hire within your means “The problem with all startups is their cash restraint, so you get a lot of stuff that you think makes a lot of sense when you’re applying. ‘Don’t employ that person unless they’re the best person in the world’, that’s crap, alright? The best person in the world is actually very hard to find,” Steve shares. For him, the right strategy is to find someone who is fit for the job but will do it within the budget. “So you [need to] be careful, you need to get the quality you can afford,” he adds. It all comes down to understanding exactly what the business needs at a particular stage. “It doesn’t mean employ dunces or employ rocket scientists, it means level and person. Therefore, that’s smart, that’s what we can settle for.” Evidently, hiring within your means is one of the first skills that a startup founder needs to master. Read more: 3 Strategies to Master Your Wage Costs in 2019 4. Don’t push people around “The world is also people. But remember, we’re talking about people here, they’re not pieces of timber you can push around on a chess board, right?” he remarks. Taking care of people matters for the business in more ways than one. A 2016 SHRM survey showed that the average cost per hire is $4,129 and the average time to fill a position is 42 days. It costs a lot of resources to get the right person, and it costs a lot to lose them too. A high turnover rate can even ruin your company’s reputation. That’s why employee experience is a gamechanger. The best talents expect a great employee experience, and it greatly influences their decision to join or stay in a company. “They won’t be pushed around, they’ll do their own thing regardless of how much you push them,” he emphasises. Read more: Revolutionising Employee Engagement with Pragmatic Thinking’s Mikey Ellis 5. There’s always more error than trial Steve likes to emphasise being adaptable when it comes to startups. “High growth can sometimes be a pitfall in itself, that always has a lot of trial and error, always more error than trial, if you know what I mean. So it does require some flexibility, it does require some freedom of thinking, and some people aren’t here for that. The older you are the less geared you are for it,” he says. But in the end, anyone can run a successful startup. All it takes is a good business concept, an engaged team with the right set of skills, a scalable workflow, and the willingness to change with the times. There is always some risk in a new business venture, but with every risk there is reward. As Steve says, the only way to find out if it’s going to work is to do it. Looking to begin your own startup? Finding new ways to manage the business you already have? Learn from Steve Baxter and other topnotch speakers at the Workforce Success Conference on 26 July 2019. Get your tickets now!
Awards & Rostering |
Want to retain frontline employees? Pay them properly
Eat out at a trendy restaurant or stroll into a store for some window shopping and the first person you encounter can set the tone of your interactions with the business as a whole. The demanding job of pleasing paying customers falls squarely onto the shoulders of frontline workers. They’re the first touchpoint someone has with a business and could be their last. You can be a loyal customer to your favourite brand for years and never interact with someone who works behind the scenes, at a desk in the head office. Numbers support the value of a well-trained frontline workforce providing high-quality customer service. According to a HubSpot research, people no longer trust businesses as they used to, preferring the opinion of family and friends. But who influences that opinion? Around 90% of the research participants consider an immediate response from customer service support very important, while 72% expect a response within 30 minutes. And they aren’t afraid to spread the word about their experiences, good or bad. So to keep doing good business, you need to retain your best-performing frontline employees. How do you make them stay? Give frontline workers their due Sometimes struggles with employee retention can be traced back to the basics. Are you paying them the right way, with the right wage, at the right time? Wage compliance is a big deal for frontline staff, most of whom are casual workers. When managers are too busy chasing down employees to wrangle data on clock-ins, overtime, and leave balances, and payroll managers are unavailable for hours every pay period, they lose precious time that could have gone to improving employee engagement (understood to be a key factor in retention). A few employee engagement strategies managers could be missing out on implementing: Instituting more transparency Creating programs for appreciation and recognition Professional development training and career planning Regular communication and candid feedback The Australian award system can be a roadblock to this, however. It has been steadily undergoing review since 2014, and businesses can expect many policies to change this year. While the review’s main aim is to simplify the language used in regulations to make them easier to understand, there’s also the possibility of slight changes in rates. These award changes are yet another factor businesses need to adapt to—and combining that with an already-complex system means without the right workforce management tools, administrators may make mistakes. Streamline pay processing with an online payroll calculator When manual payroll errors hold you back from improving frontline engagement, it’s time to find automated tools to do it for you. Save time by avoiding the need to encode each clock-in, set up spreadsheets, and manually calculate staff wages. Using an online payroll calculator makes it easy. Just input your employees’ start and end times, their hourly rate, and any breaks they’ve taken and the online payroll calculator will automatically present their final wages to you. You can add as many employees as you want and print the completed calculations when you’re done. With an automated tool, not only do you reduce time manually calculating, you can also be more assured that what you’re paying staff is accurate. Timesheets shouldn’t take days on end for any company, and software is taking care of these tasks to give back time to many HR and payroll officers. Is an online calculator not enough for your more complicated wage calculations? Then it might be time to invest in a workforce platform with more features. For more extensive payroll automation, Tanda’s Award Interpretation Engine automates rostering and payroll for any business, taking into account overtime, allowance, and higher duties. It also automatically updates for any new Fair Work regulations. Try Tanda for free, for 14 days, no credit card required.