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Research Shows Frontline Investments Produce Significant Yields

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Image: Nataliia Nesterenko - Alamy Stock Vector
Customer experience software provider AskNicely recently partnered with Metrigy Research to study how companies with frontline teams create better customer and employee experiences that increase customer satisfaction, revenue, and profitability.
Robert Galop, VP of Marketing, AskNicely, kicked off the keynote session of The Global Frontline Experience Summit, by discussing the research project’s findings in “The State of Frontline Work.”
Galop explained how AskNicely surveyed companies in the study about the impact of their frontline enablement and customer experience programs on revenue growth, customer experience improvement employee, employee efficiency improvement, and cost increases. Then AskNicely and Metrigy took those financial figures and returned to see how those participating companies fared against its customer experience maturity model.
The industries represented in this report range from healthcare and hospitality, to retail, to government. Among the participating companies, nearly 36 percent consisted of less than 4,000 employees, 31% were 700-4,000 employees, and 33% were less than 700 employees. Sixty-seven percent were in the U.S., with nearly 21% in the U.K. and 8% in Canada.
What Does 2022 Look Like for Service Businesses?
Galop noted that AskNicely heard rumblings about chief customer experience officers becoming a "pivot and inflection point," underscoring how such a position works to advance AskNicely’s top three priorities for 2022: developing a better customer service experience, improving employee efficiency, and increasing revenue. "Half of the companies we interviewed already have commercial or chief customer officers in place today (48%) or plan to have this position fulfilled (15%).” This person will serve as the champion of the customer—driving a better customer experience, Galop said.
AskNicely questioned how it could improve business results by leveraging those frontline teams. The answer? Specifically, in terms of frontline empowerment and how companies can assist in achieving the customer experience, Survey respondents are investing in the following areas: focus on improving processes (33%), investing in frontline worker training (26%), purchasing new technology (25%), as well as filling critical roles (15%).
Discovering what practices could drive better results for customer-facing companies was one of the driving motivations of the study AskNicely did with Metrigy The survey results showed four focus areas that stood out as driving the highest business impact. They are:
Define and publish your service standard for both customers and employees—Simply put, customer service standards ensure consistent levels of service performance while improving the customer experience. Creating effective service standards—quality, speed, efficiency, and accuracy, to name a few—sets an example for employees and communicates the company’s promise to customers and employees. When you publish your service promise, it not only tells customers what to expect, but it relays to frontline workers precisely what a valuable experience looks like without wonder. Only a handful of companies surveyed (18%) do everything necessary to get the most out of their customer service , which includes having documentation and processes in place for staff and customers, Galop explained. Putting those customer service standards in front of the employees, are as equally important as putting the service standards in front of the customers, he added. It may appear to be a minor detail, but establishing and communicating your customer service standard helps your team understand what success looks like in these situations. This seemingly insignificant act directly improves employee efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Track, share, and act on feedback—A little more than half (54%) of service businesses gather customer feedback today and use it on a regular basis, which is better than the non-service business counterparts, Galop said, but is still “surprisingly low” relative to the importance of the customer experience. Only a handful of companies surveyed (16%) are doing everything they can to get the most out of their feedback—tracking the feedback at the team level and communicating that feedback to the frontline as soon as possible, preferably in real-time. Businesses that master the art of gathering, sharing, and acting on feedback outperform their competitors: out of the companies implementing everything correctly, 41% improved revenue growth, and 68% experienced higher employee efficiency gains. The same group reported a “whopping 105% higher customer satisfaction impact out of their customer experience initiatives,” Galop said.
Empower and reward frontline employees—Frontline workers play a significant role in delivering the customer experience. As part of the survey, AskNicely polled leaders on the factors that impact customer service and customer experience the most. What stands out, Galop noted, is that nearly two thirds (64%) of the customer experience is impacted by things delivered directly via the frontline. AskNicely found that companies with frontline worker experience and satisfaction programs outperform their peers on customer satisfaction, revenue growth, employee efficiency, and cost reduction. Less than 55% of companies surveyed had a functioning frontline worker experience and satisfaction program in place. Companies that don’t already have these programs in place are losing out Galop says: Businesses with formal frontline experience and satisfaction in place achieved greater results when implementing customer experience and issues when compared to their peers, similar to collecting, sharing, and acting on feedback. Galop said, “There's a 25% increase in revenue, a 64% increase in employee efficiency, and a 73% increase in customer satisfaction.”
Personalize coaching to increase training effectiveness—This data point demonstrates where the lack of training lies and highlights reasons why frontline workers don’t feel empowered. Galop stated that one of the key pieces of training is reinforcing that training over time because it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Less than 25% of companies that invest in training initiatives provide personalized coaching to employees. Galop added that this low number is understandable when thinking about traditional feedback and management systems that make it difficult and time-consuming to address every employee on a regular basis. “But what happens when you overcome those challenges and master the art of personalized coaching?” Businesses could continue to see better results compared to their peers when they're implementing their customer experience measures. “We've seen a 13% higher impact on employee efficiency, 30% higher-end taxes projects on revenue, and 38% higher impact on customer satisfaction from those projects,” Galop said.
As you think about where to invest and what you need to advocate to the leadership team, Galop said investing in your frontline team “creates a resilient, reliable growth story for your business.” He added, when talking about business change, you need a strong business case. “These numbers presented today make a good case for starting the conversation. But there's much more needed to get you over the finish line in order to really sell that program.”