Customer Experience

5 best practices for coaching frontline employees to deliver exceptional CX

"Customer-facing staff are the human face of your CX strategy, and they play a make or break role in the quality of day to day experiences. Here’s how to help them perform at their best.

When staff are happy, engaged and on board with your CX strategy, great things can happen. Here are five practices to implement if you want your CX levels to soar.

1. Start at the recruitment stage

If you believe in CX and want to deliver the best possible results, your clarity of purpose should be visible everywhere along the employee journey. Perhaps the most important point to express your values is at the recruitment stage. Recruitment is when you can identify new team members who can help you deliver and filter out the candidates who are better suited elsewhere.

Job ads and job descriptions should state clearly that a high level of customer experience is your goal and that the employee is part of delivering on it. These documents should also outline some of the skills and personal qualities you’re seeking in new recruits so that the right candidates can self-select.

Interviews are also a key touchpoint for embedding your CX approach and making sure you hire the people who align with your approach and will be helpful in delivering what you want to achieve. Depending on your recruitment process, you could use competency-based questions, surveys or even roleplay to identify the strongest performers.

2. Make the communication process crystal clear

Achieving and maintaining great CX involves a continual dialogue between customers, frontline staff and your wider business. Feedback is used to pinpoint issues affecting experience and can also be analyzed to discover the drivers underlying customer behavior. So the better quality your original data collection is, the better your results will be.

Employees contribute by sharing feedback on their own experiences, since a positive employee experience is a precursor to a great customer experience. They can also act as a proxy for the customer by feeding back on what they observe and the comments they receive during their day-to-day work lives.

For the end-benefits to be felt, it’s important that you have a robust, scalable and easy to use method of collecting feedback, and that all of your staff know how and when to use it.

Whether you use a pulse survey, touchpoint feedback, or a regular performance review to gather experience data from your employees, emphasize the importance of providing and seeking feedback and validate employee efforts by appreciating and acting on the data they provide. In short, you should always be working towards a culture of feedback in your organization.

3. Tie rewards and recognition to CX

You can think of CX as a value you’re instilling on a business-wide scale – something all your activities and efforts point back towards. One way of supporting that culture is to bring CX into your employee reward and recognition programs.

It’s important to note that simply paying staff more isn’t the way to lasting results. You may see some short-term lift from attaching material rewards to results on one-dimensional CX-related metrics. But this kind of approach places emphasis in the wrong place. Not only can it be ‘gamed’ by staff, it can lead to missing the bigger picture – the fact that great customer experiences stem from strong shared values and relationships.

Instead, reward and recognize qualitative, rather than quantitative achievements. Draw a direct link between CX improvements and employee value by celebrating examples of staff action that has produced positive results.

Managers can help here by picking out ‘case studies’ of CX-led behaviors. These can indicate who should be rewarded, and can also be used as best practice examples for other staff and new hires.

4. Share customer journey maps

Help staff to understand the role they play in a customer’s experience by sharing customer journey maps. Seeing where they fit into the bigger picture, and how important their work is to the end results, can be a major motivator. This is especially true for frontline staff, whose work directly affects the customer journey at multiple points across the lifecycle.

5. Close the feedback loop

Employee reviews and feedback are a best practice for any business, but when it comes to building a culture of CX, the importance of two-way feedback is paramount.

It’s crucial for staff to see how their contributions affect the business as a whole, and how their efforts translate into results. We’ve touched on the value of employees providing feedback, but for the best results, it needs to go the other way too.

This is partly because CX is holistic. It comes from a combination of processes, attitudes and actions across an entire company and can’t be pinned down to a single metric or job role.

At review time, let your staff know how their efforts and behaviors have supported or affected your company’s CX goals. Having personalized, concrete examples will accelerate their learning and improve their confidence in the longer term.

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