The point of contact where your front-line staffers serve your customers is the “make or break” point where the perception of your company and your brand is established.
How do you get the right things to happen on your front line? Here are three critically important steps to take.
First, Hire the Right People
You need to hire front-line people who are friendly and outgoing. But you also need to identify – and screen for – the specific traits, aptitudes and skills that your front-line people need to have. Simply hiring high-potential people is not enough.
Second, Provide Effective Training
When many companies plan their training for front-line employees, they list dozens and dozens of skills they want to teach, then they design training that covers them all. That’s logical, but it usually doesn’t work. If you try to convey too many “must have” skills or information, your employees will feel overwhelmed and, in many cases, will learn hardly anything.
Instead, pinpoint a small number of critical tasks and skills and focus on them first. Maybe the cashiers in your store should look up and greet customers when they enter. Or perhaps the service writers in your car dealership should learn good listening skills so they can focus on what customers are telling them. If you focus on the most critical skills first, you can then move on to “nice to haves” and get a bigger ROI on your training.
Also consider using blended training. In a store setting, for example, that can mean having salespeople go online to take training, then take classes to reinforce the fundamentals that they need, then work one-on-one with a supervisor or manager who says, “Let me take you over to the cash register, and let’s see how you can apply what you learned.” Well-designed blended training teaches lessons that “stick” with your front-line staff.
Third, Develop Metrics and Measure the Results of Your Training
To make sure your training is moving the needle, you need to know what you will measure and how you will measure it. You can measure how effectively employees are using the most important skills you taught them, or you can keep an eye on reviews that your customers are posting online. You can also look for changes in your Net Promoter Score.