3 Telltale Signs Your Frontline Aren't Feeling the Engagement Love

October 29, 2018 - 7 minute read

From digital and mobile advancements to artificial intelligence and voice recognition, technology has become an integral component in improving the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Despite its prevalence, the future of customer experience is still very human and excellent customer experience starts with a superior employee experience. And it all starts with the frontline employees, who serve as the face of the business – and can make or break its reputation. 

The data coincides with this, as a recent study by PwC found that 78 percent of UK consumers indicated that they’ll want to interact with a real person more as technology improves. Meanwhile, 64 percent feel companies have lost touch with the human element of their interface with customers. These stats point to a harsh reality: non-desk employees are often the hardest to reach, motivate and engage. Why? It’s simple: they don’t sit in front of a computer all day, they often don’t even have company email addresses and they are often part of large global companies.

 When employee engagement is shoddy and inconsistent, it can have a negative impact on employees’ productivity levels and performance. Worse yet, customer satisfaction, loyalty and sales can take a nose dive too. But have no fear, we’re here to stop that from happening. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of telltale signs that frontline employees aren’t feeling the engagement love, along with useful tips to fix the problem and deliver a superior customer experience.

Sign #1: Employees stay quiet and don’t voice their opinions

We’ve all been there before. A manager asks an employee to perform a task. The manager has a specific mindset as to how the task should be accomplished, while the employee wants to take the initiative and be a bit creative in completing the task – albeit with the same end result. In some cases, a manager may see this as insubordination or failing to follow directions. Yet, the employee may have had the best of intentions.

Situations like these happen every day in the retail and hospitality industries. But the repercussions can be far reaching. It could leave employees feeling unsupported, micro-managed and less likely to speak up and voice their opinions – whether in team/company meetings, weekly manager updates, performance reviews or elsewhere. It’s no wonder research from Fierce Conversations and Quantum Workplace found that about half of employees don’t speak their minds at work – whether to their colleagues or their managers.

The less comfortable and less respected non-desk employees feel, the less likely they are to speak up and share an idea for a promotion, help another team member out or actively participate in team meetings. That’s a real shame because a retail branch/store (and its employees) could end up losing out on a terrific idea for a promotional campaign or be kept out of the loop about an important product launch. That could have a trickle-down effect and result in lost sales and revenue for the business. 

The fix:

  • Encourage honest and respectful interactions between employees and managers.
  • Use an internal communication tool to bridge the gap between employees and managers – and increase the frequency and quality of interactions between the two groups.

Sign #2: Distractions have become the norm

Did you know that distraction is a problem for 69 percent of full-time employees? That’s according to a study by Udemy, which also revealed that 50 percent of employees reported being significantly less productive as a result of distractions. Do you see where we’re going with this?

communication technology mobile phone high tech concept. Happy man using texting on smartphone social media application icons flying out of cellphone isolated grey wall background. 4g data plan

When employees don’t feel connected to the company’s purpose and vision, they’re less likely to invest their time and energy into doing a good job. And that lack of alignment often manifests itself in the form of distractions – be it chatting with fellow employees, checking their social media feeds or messaging friends on their personal mobile devices. The end result is that the customer experience feels the pain.

The fix:

Sign #3: Customer satisfaction rates and sales numbers are down

In the retail and hospitality industries, non-desk employees are often measured in relation to customer satisfaction rates, NPS scores and their ability to hit sales quota/targets. These metrics matter and often can impact how successful frontline employees are in their careers. So if, and when, these metrics take a dive for certain employees, that could be a clear indication that something isn’t right in the employee experience.

happy young girls in  shopping mall, friends having fun together

To quote Stephen R. Covey, the famed author of 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People': “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” Can we get an AMEN to that? Remember: these frontline employees act as the face of the business and are one of the most important – and desired – touch points of the customer experience. How these employees are treated, motivated and engaged has a direct impact on the quality of the customer experience they deliver. 

The fix:

  • Show your employees the correlation between internal communications, employee engagement and customer experience.
  • Use digital nudging to boost productivity, performance and sales from non-desk employees.
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Ragini Bhalla

Written by Ragini Bhalla

A veteran in B2B content and communications, Ragini lives and breathes for storytelling, traveling (up to over 50 countries and still so many more to explore) and trying out new foods.