That’s because it’s not easy to reach all those frontline employees who aren’t sitting in front of computers all day. For companies in retail, healthcare, restaurants, hospitality and other service industries, the default method for communicating with these employees is usually to cascade information through their managers.
But not communicating directly with this audience means missing important opportunities to engage and inspire the people who are the face of your brand. Here are five reasons to make communication with your frontline audience a business priority:
Forgetting they create the customer experience
The employees working the front line are the ones who deliver on your brand promise — or not. Your brand can spend zillions on advertising to attract customers, but the customer experience comes down to that person working the front desk, delivering the meal, or handling the luggage. If your frontline people don’t understand what the company stands for, then there’s likely to be a major disconnect between what your company advertises and the reality of the customer experience.
Ignoring your largest employee audience
If most of your communications go only to corporate employees, you may be ignoring the majority of your workforce. As part of Tribe’s discovery process with a new client, we generally create a graphic depiction of the employee audience segments. Although most clients with frontline employees know that this group is large, they are often stunned when they see it represented visually. Sometimes they realize that they are communicating directly with only a very small portion of the company.
Not asking what they know that corporate doesn’t
Employees on the frontline understand things about your customers that it’s impossible for people in corporate to know. They see firsthand when something about your product or service creates an issue for customers, and they can sometimes offer brilliant solutions to those problems. Providing a channel for frontline employees to share their customer intelligence with corporate can improve the business in significant ways.
Communicating only through their managers
Having at least one channel direct from corporate to frontline people is important — and demonstrates respect for the roles they play in the company’s success. Not all managers will do a great job of cascading information to their frontline employees. Some will do it better than others and some may not do it at all. Even though it can be more difficult to reach this audience, it’s worth trying to figure out how to make it happen.
Not understanding the realities of their workplace
There’s no substitute for getting out to the retail stores, hotels, restaurants or wherever your frontline people work. Take note of where they enter the building, where they take breaks, whether they’re standing or sitting. Without doing that, you won’t be able to see the potential touchpoints that make creative use of their physical environment — things like a giant magnet on the walk-in freezer, mirror clings in the employee restroom or an iPad stand in the breakroom.