Front-line personnel are the face and customer touch point for many companies.  The interaction between the frontline employees and the customers can significantly impact the business relationship.  We have all heard the saying, “first impressions are lasting impressions” and, unfortunately, all future interactions are judged by that first impression.

When customers have a negative customer experience, that sub-par experience will stay with the customer for a while. To ensure employees are equipped to provide an outstanding customer experience, companies must adequately train their employees in the technical aspects of their jobs as well as sharpen their people skills to drive engagement.

The Consequences of Not Training for Engagement

Employees who are poorly prepared may cause the company to miss the opportunities to engage emotionally with their customers and to create a loyal customer. A lack of training can also cause the company to miss the chance to engage its employees and, therefore, lose the opportunity to create loyal, responsible employees that provide excellent customer service. Companies do not capitalize on the opportunity to emotionally satisfy their customers because their employees are often not properly trained to service and interact with their customers. Proper training provides employees with the confidence they need to engage customers.

Emotionally Satisfied Vs. Rationally Satisfied Customers

The book Human Sigma shows that emotionally satisfied customers versus reasonably satisfied customers are more likely to become loyal customers. We are presently in a culture where the bar has been raised to secure and maintain loyal customers. It is no longer enough for a company to provide goods or services; they must also provide the “experience” to go along with it. Many new employees are trained to provide the company’s goods or services in a timely and accurate manner. Fluid processes, procedures, and technical expertise will enhance customer service; however, the attitude, tone, and helpfulness of an employee is what the customer experiences first and will leave a lasting impression. Companies must realize that training their employees in both the technical aspects of the job as well as the people skills create that positive “experience” for their customers.

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What the Customer Thinks

Engaged employees affect whether customers are engaged or emotionally satisfied. In doing a verbatim analysis of transactional survey comments for industrial customers, we found that customers talked about their service experience with regards to their relationship with the company, technicians, and inside sales staff. They did discuss their service experience with regards to tangibles like price, equipment, and parts. This fact demonstrates that customers value their relationships with the staff that services them, and engaged employees are more apt to maintain healthy customer relationships.

How do we engage employees?

There are several ways to engage employees like recognition and praise, informing the employee how their role impacts the mission and success of the company, valuing employee feedback and opinions, providing a safe work environment and the proper tools to do the job, and, last but not least, providing excellent training so they can effectively do their job and provide excellent customer service. When companies take the time to train their employees properly, it sends a message to employees that they are valuable to the company, and they are willing to invest in them. When an employee feels valued by the company and equipped to do their job, they become “engaged.” When an employee is engaged, it shows in their interaction with the customer and their ability to provide not just excellent customer service but an awesome customer “experience.”

Training is the Key

After conducting employee engagement surveys across several clients, we found that “more training desired” was one of the recurring themes. This theme is not surprising because training is a tangible way employees can gauge whether the company is vested in them. Although there is a cost associated with training employees, it is worth not missing the opportunity to create loyal, engaged customers through the excellent customer service they will experience because of happy, engaged employees.

Lynn Daniel

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