It’s Monday and you are running late for work. You haven’t had breakfast, so you find a burger joint nearby. The attendant greets and asks for your order. You hastily ask for a cheeseburger. The attendant says, “Please take a seat and it will be 5 minutes.” Oh, great. You can grab the burger and be off for work.
Alas, it’s 15 minutes and there’s no sign of your food. You walk up to the attendant and enquire. He gives a blank look and suddenly the face lights up. ‘Oh yeah. We’ve been looking for you. We didn’t get your order clearly. Barbecue Burger, did you say?’ He looks at you expectedly.
What just happened? You waited for 15 minutes and they couldn’t even get your simple order straight? What kind of service was that? Did he not listen to what you said? How difficult is it to understand the word ‘cheeseburger’?
Furious and hungry, you walk out of the diner. Once seated at your desk, you post the experience on social media and it begins to go viral. Later that evening the diner near your house calls you and begs you to take out that post, as it has begun to affect their sales. All because one person in the outlet didn’t hear one customer’s request properly.
This is just a simplified example of the impact the frontline teams can have on the overall reputation of an organization. Often, clients trust or distrust your business merely on the behavior of your frontline staff. They interact with the front, understand their pain points, and present the organization’s value proposition to build trust. Considering the importance, they need to adapt to the situation and mood of the clients in order to manage them. Therefore, it becomes critical to train frontline staff in a way that prepares them for the challenges that may arise during client interactions.
Now, the nature of training should be clearly distinguished for client-facing team and the back-end team. While it’s important for back-end employees to be aware of work-related challenges and be trained for that, frontline employees are trained for challenges with respect to client relationship.
Here’s how your training can help them carry out their job well and increase customer satisfaction:
Teach them to think from the client’s perspective
A 2018 PwC report established that 73% of consumers regard customer service as one of their purchase drivers, with 65% emphasizing that customer service has a much greater influence than costly and great advertising. Frontline training thrives on clients’ demands. Begin from the clients’ perspective and their expectations from your frontline teams. The training should provide real-life scenarios to the employees and put them in challenging situations, albeit virtually, where they get to face and resolve them. You must present the consequence of their choices. For instance, what could be the consequence of speaking angrily with an already angry client versus sympathetically listening to their grievances and, in the end, and providing resolving measures.
Make them understand the business first
Your frontline team is the face of your organization. Train them on the core values, the business proposition, and the organizational vision and mission. Most importantly, they need to know why you’re in the business. The team should be able to make this an inherent quality and posit it in front of the clients so that they see the value in doing business with the organization. Frontline employees are expected to deliver organization’s vision to the customer. Increase employee engagement and make them feel that they are critical to the organization’s mission statement. Show the real situation in your training videos and how one mistake can have a domino effect on the rest of the team.
Build situations and Personas
Dealing with clients requires a gift of gab. You can train your frontline team to be able to resolve queries and provide just-in-time solutions. Yes, it requires a lot of experience and on-the-job mistakes to learn the tricks. But, how about letting them make these mistakes during the training. Make it a simulation-based or scenario-based that they can commit these mistakes as part of the scenario situations. Provide real-life situations that can include decision trees. Help them see the ideal way to respond to a customer query so that they don’t fail during their interactions. Video-based learning can help greatly. Review the video ‘The Right Words at the Right Time’: Designed to enable leisure and hospitality staff with a clear checklist of customer service recovery tools and techniques, this customer service video uses real-life scenarios to train the staff. Consider similar ideas for your specific business.
Along with real-life scenarios, build different personas of customers. Since organizations deal with different types of clients, help your frontline teams in understanding their clients better through personas. Carry out periodic frontline surveys / focus-group discussions to understand different types of customer personas that the teams deal with. Categorize these personas based on interaction, trust in the organization, or size of the company. Then, design content according to these personas.
Provide continuous learning opportunities
Many training programs lack the ability to upgrade as the quality of employees go up. The training that is designed should help in continually upgrading their skills. Customer facing employees are expected to be well-aware of the developments in their industry. This is the only way in which they can convince clients to try out their products / services. A new employee might not be able to manage multiple customers in parallel, but an experienced person might. Hence, it’s important to upskill the training with more complex situations as the employees grow with time.
Give them Competition
Organizations need to be aware of the competition and tailor their strategies accordingly. So do frontline employees. Build scenarios where the employee is made to play against the frontline staff from the competitor. The same customer is made to face both the teams. Who would win over the customer? Although this would only a virtual game, the team would learn how to deal with competition and what tactics to deploy. You can even have the leaderboard display how different team members are performing with respect to external competition. What’s more, this would also help them learn how to manage workplace stress.
Your Brand’s success story starts with the Frontline..
Training in-house employees involves dealing with situations related to the business processes or production; training frontline employees involves dealing with situations related to customer relationships and problem-solving. Also, one does not design training that helps manage just one type of customer but prepare the ground for all available types. The team should be able to delight every customer that walks into the reception and ensure that they never leave. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Such scenario-based training programs can help build emotional intelligence too and prepare them for challenges in real life. Also, try monitoring the results via the LMS Analytics tools so that you can capture the skill and knowledge gaps and plan training interventions accordingly. Your training should be able to prepare, inform, enable, and empower the employees in the right direction to grab every opportunity with the customer. Remember, great customer experience starts with your frontline team. So, set them up for success.