Frontline managers have difficult jobs. They have to know the business (better than their staff). They are expected to supervise and coach their employees not only on how to do their jobs, but how to do so with their right attitude and behaviours. And they have to be able to step into the breach in that inevitable moment when a disgruntled customer utters the words ―I’d like to speak to your manager.
Most businesses have gotten so large that there is a considerable divide between the executive team and frontline. Frontline staff perform different functions depending on the industry: in retail they’re cashiers and sales clerks; in healthcare, they’re triage nurses and doctors and administrative staff; in travel they’re flight attendants and reservationists; and in the service sector, they’re call center staff.
Customers are demanding, and why shouldn’t they be? If they’re willing to spend their money on your product or service instead of patronizing your competitors, they should have a pleasant experience (or at least not have an unpleasant experience). And if something goes wrong, the best companies have frontline staff and managers who are trained and skilled at fixing the situation, which can make or break a customer for life. Imagine being in the unfortunate position of being a frontline manager at the stadium earlier this month whose staff had to tell 400 ticket holders that they couldn’t sit in seats they had paid for to watch the Super Bowl. This situation is ripe as a case study in so many things, but for a moment, consider the skills and attributes needed to successfully weather a similar situation in your business: empathetic and understanding; confident, but not arrogant (or panicky); informed and empowered.
Coach your frontline managers. Instil in them the company’s values and remind them of the pivotal role they play in representing the company to its customers. Help them to be as efficient as possible while empowering them with the flexibility to resolve customer issues quickly and to their satisfaction.
Take a look at how your customers interact with your business, especially your frontline staff and managers. Are they an asset or a liability?