Frontline employees are undoubtedly the eyes and ears of any organisation. They are the faces that customers interact and transact with the most. They are the experiences that customers remember.
So, why is it that most organisations do not utilise their complete potential?
A study published in the Harvard Business Review concluded that 56% of frontline employees said they have suggestions for improving company practices, and 43% said their insights could reduce company costs.
According to a report by Gallup, organisations that have an engaged front-line employees and customers can experience a 240% boost in performance-related business outcomes compared to organisations with neither engaged employees nor customers.
Therefore, it is extremely pragmatic to engage and empower the frontline employees for maximising profits and productivity. It is essential to bestow the front-line employees with independence and information so that they can influence a customer’s opinions.
How do you empower your frontline employees?
There are two pre-requisites-
- The management and the top management team, in the company must provide the front-line employees with the authority to act based on customer information.Empowering frontline employees with authority can be extremely beneficial to an organization.As Ron Kaufman, an award winning Customer Experience Consultant claims, “Companies should empower frontline staff to do what the supervisor ultimately does, without having to check with the supervisor each and every time. This means staff must get training to know what’s right – and have authority to do what’s right to improve customer satisfaction.”
- Ready access to actionable information– A frontline employee must have access to a dashboard that showcases customer feedback and comments so that he can see and analyse the daily challenges or issues and formulate an appropriate action plan.
Power to Individuals
The driving idea behind ‘Power to Individuals’ is that for maximum efficiency, every employee should be able to control his interactions with the end customer. They should have the independence and the information required to be able to influence the customers’ opinion.
Let us look at a few instances of how an empowered frontline employee can be an asset to an organisation.
- When a disgruntled customer at a crowded airport provides a negative feedback because of having to wait in line for too long and a full of hassle boarding, a frontline airport employee can take appropriate measures the very next day. Armed with some authority and detailed information, he does not have to wait for the feedback to go to the headquarters, get analysed by managers and come back days later. He can resolve the issue quickly and effectively.
- Similarly, an employee at a car service centre, if provided with some power and access to the feedback dashboard can swiftly reach out to a dissatisfied customer and by offering a free service, secure the customer’s loyalty. In a situation like this, front-line employees truly have the power to turn Detractors into Promoters.
Usually, frontline employees only play a small role in the life cycle of a customer. But by empowering and engaging them, you allow them to develop a comprehensive understanding of the customers’ experiences. This, in turns leads them to adjust and adapt in order to serve the customers better.
Therefore, granting power and information to every single employee instead of just the decision-makers has an enormous influence on the perception of an organisation in public imagination.