“Your front-line staff are your research team”
That headline recently stopped me in my tracks. In the Feedback Ferret world of customer feedback, improving customer experience, listening to the voice of customer, I couldn’t help but be struck by the simplicity and obviousness of that headline.
I found that headline in Matt Watkinson’s book “The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences”. The subsequent paragraphs read as follows:
“On most of the projects I work on there is a requirement for research. We need to get a feel for the territory and get to know as much as possible about customers and the movements of the market. The usual approach is to hire a research consultancy to come in, take a brief, then disappear to report back in a month or two. Most clients also conduct workshops where customers come into the office and voice their opinions.
This has always struck me as a bit odd. Surely we have people who are dealing with customers every day in shops, call centres or out on the road? Better still, why aren’t management spending time on the shop floor themselves to develop a rich feel for what’s really going on? Why aren’t software developers working an hour or two a week on the helpdesk so they understand their customers’ frustrations?
In the last seven years I have seen a senior manager perform a customer-facing role zero times. Before paying for research, why not make the most of what you’ve got? Get down on the shop floor and ask your staff: they’ll appreciate feeling involved in making improvements. Better still, walk a mile in their shoes and see for yourself. Ask yourself “Are the front-line staff contributing meaningfully to improving our customer experience?”
Have you seen your senior managers ever out on the shop floor? Are your front-line staff ever used as a “research team”?
Your employees are very often the ones at the coalface of your operations. They are making products and following your business processes. They are talking to customers day in day out. They are up close and personal to the nuts and bolts of your organisation. They see and understand how it operates and – most importantly – they see what works and what doesn’t work. Seeking out, listening to and acting on employees views does not necessarily mean an organisation has to do what its employees want. But it does need to demonstrate that its leadership is listening to its people by inviting feedback and responding to it.
In today’s changing landscape for organisations worldwide, engaging customers and employees in the right ways is critical to business success. The two are intrinsically linked – happy, fulfilled and valued customers are easier to deal with and therefore make the lives of service employees that much easier. Happy, fulfilled and valued employees undertake their responsibilities with more enthusiasm and energy and if they are customer-facing, this has a significant knock on effect on customers.
“Employee Feedback – are you missing the vital link in the customer experience chain?” is our White Paper on this subject and includes our 7 steps to actively engaging your staff. Check it out and find out why we, like the author of the above article, Matt Watkinson, feel that employees merit a say in the “Customer experience”.
Reference taken from “The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences” by Matt Watkinson:
By Nicola Douglas, Head of Sales & Marketing