Frontline employees are the ones who frequently interact with clients. These customer-facing employees are part of various departments such as sales, marketing, retail, hospitality, etc. And their job roles could be that of a customer service executive, bank executive, in-store salesperson, receptionist, to name a few. The main attribute that these employees need to have is good social and interpersonal skills. They are trained to influence clients to try out a product/service and handle difficult situations like finding a quick resolution to a problem, trying to calm irate clients, etc. As they are the first point of contact for customers, they play a crucial role in maintaining the reputation and brand equity of your business. This is why empowering frontline employees is critical for any business.
The Importance of Empowering Frontline Employees:
Unfortunately, the role of frontline employees is sometimes undervalued. They are not given as much motivation and encouragement as needed, which has led to high attrition rates among these employees. Over the years, the top-down management approach has given way to flat hierarchies where the higher management communicates effectively with every employee in the organization. The management has also realized that pressurizing people into achieving targets or micromanagement will only lead to more employees leaving the organization.
So how do you retain and empower your frontline employees and ensure that they are well prepared to face the customers?
Such an important task force requires a compelling and well-designed training program. Your frontline employees represent your brand, so it is important for you to train them well so as to enhance your brand perception in the eyes of the customers. An effective training program will help upskill these employees and encourage them to perform better at their job. Viewing these training programs as a development opportunity, they would even choose to stay with your company for a longer time period.
These days, when it comes to staff training, mobile devices are the preferred platform. Gone are the days of rigorous classroom training sessions. With mobile-based training, employees do not have to take time off work and can continue with their course while on the job, in between meetings, during break times or whenever they want. It helps managers to constantly equip their staff with the right amount of knowledge and information at the right time, helping them improve the customer experience – CX.
Here are some ways to empower frontline employees with mobile-based training delivery:
1. Provide Continuous Learning Opportunities:
Continuous learning means regularly upgrading your skills. Customer facing employees are expected to be up to date and well-aware of the happenings in their industry. How else can they convince customers to try out your product/service. Using a mobile app will allow you to provide training materials to all employees at one go. It has been observed that employees who receive constant training and learning opportunities stay with the company for a longer time, as they see room for career growth. Today, employee retention is a legitimate challenge. Organizations cannot afford to lose out on these staff as they are the face of your business. And some of them have built good client relations over the years. Providing professional development opportunities will also help them to move to other roles in the future.
2. Broadcast Relevant Industry News and Daily Updates:
For in-store employees, sales professionals, customer service executives, it is very important to give out the right information to the customer. An employee who seems unaware about the current trends or the product/service details might lead the client to rethink about the company’s credibility. Frontline employees required to interact with customers, must be made aware of the new product features, and industry laws and regulations. Sometimes, managers conduct briefing sessions either before or after shift hours, or a quick huddle to discuss the updates. This can be replaced with emails which can be sent to everyone at once. It will also keep them updated so that they are aware of the daily agenda of the workplace.
3. Make the Courses Accessible Offline as Well:
A customer-facing employee always needs to be ready to meet new people. Some of them might be required to travel or be in locations with poor network connections. Although almost everyone has an internet connection these days, it might sometimes fail to work. At times like this, having an offline training guide comes really handy. With an offline accessibility option, frontline employees can access the courses even without an internet connection.
4. Keep it Short to Save Time:
Take in-store sales staff for example, with a shop full of people, do you think the store manager would let them take time off for training? Using a mobile device, course creators can design short knowledge nuggets which employees can easily go through in between their work. Mobile training is usually kept short, within 3-5 minutes, so that employees can consume the content on the go, without affecting their work.
5. Communicate Leadership Messages Across the Organization:
Often the communication sent across from the leadership teams are not conveyed down to the last level of employee structure. This gap in communication leads to disengagement in many cases. Frontline employees are an important part of your organization, as they play a crucial role in providing a good customer experience. Instead of eliminating them from the communication process, include them in all organizational communications and campaigns so that they feel valued. A word of appreciation goes a long way in motivating employees. Remember that an engaged and satisfied employee will make your clients happy and keep the sales funnel running. Through mobile devices, one can send over emails, or links to webinars which the employee can listen to whenever they want.
6. Include Game-based Learning:
Most of the workforce being millennial and tech savvy, have a competitive attitude. You can motivate them further with gamification and rewards. Earning reward points boosts their morale and motivates them to score higher every time, which is the psychology behind most online games. Utilize this trend to generate interest in the training content. Game-based learning includes a process where employees receive points or badges for every test completion or module completion. You can take it a step further by actually rewarding them with certificates for best performance or for scoring the highest in a test. Gamifying training modules empower frontline employees to perform well at their jobs.
7. Use Interactive Elements to Keep the Learners Engaged:
Reading the text, however short, could soon turn into a boring affair. To keep your frontline staff engaged in the training content, add multiple interactive elements to the training content. Even if it’s a five minute course, add a video to make it more interesting. For assessments, instead of the usual MCQs, use drag and drop, or click and reveal techniques. These small elements help in keeping the course fresh and your learners engaged in the training, leading to better retention of information.
Here’s a short video to help you understand better-
Being in a customer-facing role, frontline employees hardly have time to attend training sessions. This is where mobile training comes handy. With mobile-based training, the frontline employees can always have access to data and information relevant to their line of business. Mobile training allows them to access information anytime and anywhere. The courses for frontline employees could range from product descriptions to skill-based certification courses. While designing a frontline employee training program, you must ensure that it is effective, engaging, short and relevant. A lot of times, customer experience depends on the frontline staff. So empowering frontline employees must be one of your critical business goals.