Table of Contents
What is training and empowering the frontline?
Frontline training is crucial because it forms the backbone of your customer service. Frontline workers play a major role in determining your reputation among customers. Positive customer service experiences can go a long way in bringing loyal customers and increased revenues.
Frontline employees act as the representative of the products and services you sell. They guide the customers and influence their decision-making. In order to make the most of your frontline employees, you can offer them training materials.
Knowledgeable employees will be unlikely to make errors and risk your brand image. According to a study by the University of Tennessee, one of the primary underlying factors of accidents in the workplace is the “lack of appropriate training.”
Employee engagement is linked intricately with customer satisfaction. Training can lead employees to behave more amiably and perform better. According to the “Udemy in Depth: 2018 Millennials at Work” report, only 42% of millennials received learning and training opportunities from their employer. In the same report, 42% of employees stated that learning and development was the most important factor they considered when choosing a job.
Dissatisfied frontline employees often lower the quality of customer service. It is important to motivate them so that they deliver their best performance in front of customers. Old-school training focused heavily on the technical aspects of frontline service. Newer training models also focus on improving emotional intelligence and social quotient.
How can I improve my frontline service?
Frontline service can be highly taxing. Employees are often not ready to deal with the challenges and responsibilities. Erratic schedules and challenging customers can demotivate workers who feel that the company does not care about them. Frontline workers also complain about how stunted careers. According to Forbes, the turnover rate in the United States in 2018 for retail was between 60% and 70%.
An organized training program is essential for them to learn professional techniques and skills. Engaging and interactive training materials attract employees and challenge them. LinkedIn found that talent development teams devote just 15% of their time to employee engagement with learning. It is important to make frontline education training exciting.
Using modern digital tools and being creative when creating the training material can make a huge difference. In a report titled, 'What Digital Forgot: The Retail Frontline', Incisiv found that 82% of workers under the age of 34 regard technology as a crucial factor when choosing a job.
Disengaged learners yield no results.
Best practices for frontline training
In order to improve frontline training, you should implement the following practices:
Frontline employees will perform well if they understand the customer journey. Customers always prefer personalized treatment. Frontline staff training can include role-playing exercises so that employees can experience different situations without any fear of consequences.
Training for the positive is as important as training for the negative in this case. Employees who do not want to participate directly will benefit from observation.
Traditional classroom training methods are no longer viable in the modern workplace. You have to ensure standardized frontline training among all your employees in different parts of the world. Digital learning offers many opportunities to upgrade older training methods.
The LinkedIn Workplace Report 2019 said that 59% of talent developers have a higher budget for online learning since 2017. Companies have already begun incorporating digital tools in their training plans.
YOOBIC's ‘Frontline Employee Workplace Survey 2021’ found that 47% of retail staff would rather have training delivered digitally. 74% of employees reported that they would appreciate mobile learning because it is more flexible. Engaged employees will learn faster and be able to apply what they learn to their work.
- Emotional intelligence training
When dealing with customers, it is always best for employees to keep their emotions under control. Emotionally intelligent people are able to recognize emotions in other people and adjust accordingly. Frontline employees with high emotional unintelligence do a great job of catering to the customer's needs by understanding their pain points.
While it is important for employees to know all about the technical aspects of their job, it is even more important they are able to connect with the customers on a personal level. Customers are likely to feel more comfortable with employees who are knowledgeable and empathetic at the same time. Conflict resolution is a necessary skill for any frontline employee to master.
- Use customer journey analytics
Mapping customer experiences and tracing customer-product touchpoints can help improve the communication between customers and frontline employees greatly. Be transparent during your frontline online training and share customer analytics with the learners. They will be able to grasp the situation more readily when faced with it during work.
Difference between training and education
Training refers to the act of teaching a particular behavior or skills to employees so they can operate smoothly. On the other hand, education refers to a process of systematic learning in an institution. The training process does fall under the umbrella of education when it comes to employees.
However, education covers many more topics that workers need to learn about as professionals. This includes theoretical knowledge about the work they are doing and the codes and ethics of their employer.
Training focuses on skill development exclusively and ensures that the employees can carry out the specific responsibilities of their role. For example, training for frontline staff is a part of their overall education at the workplace.
Training is a way to develop specific skills. It moves away from the theory and focuses on practical applications. Companies develop training plans to ensure that employees perform to their potential and are aware of how to handle different situations.
Frontline staff training is crucial to the smooth functioning of a company in the public sphere. Customers form their impressions of a company based on the initial interactions with frontline employees. A survey indicated that 38% of frontline retail workers still have no formal training.
Having a basic training plan is not enough because 27% of the employees in that survey who have formal training found it to be ineffective. Companies have to put more effort into creating engaging learning content that can be consumed by employees with ease.
Training program for frontline workers
Making the ideal frontline training program might take some error and trial, but the results are worth the effort. A personalized learning experience will allow the employees to upskill properly.
- Convey the core values of the company:
Employees learn about the values and ethics of a company during the onboarding process. However, incorporating them in customer interactions requires a separate kind of training. Customers with similar ethics and values will resonate with the company and can be easily convinced to make a purchase.
- Detail the learning plan and schedule
Training is an ongoing process but it is always better to start with a comprehensive list of the topics you have t o cover. According to LinkedIn, 75% of employees are okay with taking courses assigned by their manager.
You can assign a manager to every group of trainees and get through to them easily. Set a schedule or encourage them to devote some time to the training materials daily based on their convenience. YOOBIC found that 24% of retail workers received training just once a month, which is definitely not sufficient.
- Product or service knowledge
Frontline employees must be able to talk about your products and services smoothly so that customers can trust their knowledge. They should know details about the products or services and be able to answer all common questions. They can even make a quick comparison and offer their opinion to a confused customer. When selling a product, highlighting the benefits instead of the features proves to be fruitful.
- Technical skills
A frontline training plan should focus on improving the technical competency of the employees constantly. Companies make upgrades all the time, and the trainees should become self-sufficient. With newer technologies making their way into different industries, it is time to teach frontline employees about necessary digital skills. Forbes reported that 80% of the retail workforce belongs to Generations X, Y, and Z, and they are more than willing to work with digital tools.
- Soft skills
Handling different types of customers requires patience and kindness. Frontline employees can benefit from higher emotional intelligence. They will be able to provide a smoother and more efficient shopping experience while making the customer comfortable. The importance of soft skills should not be underestimated.
- Sales training
Closing a transaction requires charisma and a knack for quick marketing. In order to convert store visitors into customers, frontline employees need to display presence of mind and the ability to sell. This includes identifying the pain points of the customer, suggesting products and detailing their benefits empathetically.
- Fire and safety training
Brick-and-mortar stores have to educate frontline employees on how to deal with safety hazards and mishaps. They must know the evacuation routes, emergency exits and safety protocols by heart.
Training solutions for frontline workers
The following training solutions will be helpful.
One of the most effective ways of consuming serious knowledge, microlearning appeals to frontline employees in every industry. Since frontline employees usually have to be hands-on at work, it is easier for them to learn new things in small doses. They can squeeze in a lesson whenever they have some free time.
Not only will this ensure a continuous training process, but also allows for better knowledge retention. According to the ‘Frontline Employee Workplace Survey 2021’, 41% of retail staff would rather learn through small modules over an extended period.
- Mobile learning
Smart-phones and tablets can play a crucial role when it comes to frontline training. Mobile devices allow employees to continue their training without taking breaks from work. Axonify found in a recent survey that 84% of frontline employees would like to access training materials and messages from their personal devices.
Managers will also have greater control over the flow of knowledge and can give timely updates. For example, if the company introduces a new device at the store, frontline workers can immediately receive a small instructional video. The ‘Frontline Employee Workplace Survey 2021’ found that only 14% of employees receive training through a mobile or app at the moment.
- Blended learning
Frontline employees have to deal with new tasks and responsibilities all the time. According to Axonify, 52% of employees did not receive the correct training after being assigned new roles after the pandemic. Not only does this affect the company's progress, but this also makes the employees prone to errors. The key is to provide a blended learning experience by combining short training modules with on-the-job practice.
- Video-based learning
Frontline employees search for training opportunities often to become diligent and confident in their work. In the Axonify survey, almost 50% of employees expressed their preference for videos and interactive modules. Videos are especially helpful when covering more practical topics. You can use a tool like Bites to customize your own training course for frontline employees.
Frontline training is beneficial for every industry, but many companies are yet to take advantage of it. Frontline employees have the responsibility of presenting a positive image of your company to customers. Not only do they need to have technical and product knowledge, but they also have to be empathetic and understanding. Customers might not always be cooperative; hence, frontline employees should have the correct training to deal with difficult situations.
Bites is one of the most convenient training solutions for the modern workplace. It is simple to use but highly effective. Most importantly, it allows you to create engaging content for your employees to consume whenever they are attentive. You can create short, exciting videos or 'bites' on any topic and compile them into a playlist.
Share them directly with your employees because Bites can be linked with commonly-used messaging platforms. Bites lets you monitor the progress of your employees through the analytics dashboard and you can give them fun quizzes from time to time. Bites is an essential component for a training plan that caters to both remote and on-site workers. It helps cut down the training costs significantly.