I wanted to buy a new car and went to the showroom. The showroom was clean and welcoming but not the salespersons. I was invited for the launch of the new model and when I went to the show room I was ignored, despite many salespersons lounging around. As I was walking away someone suddenly chased me and try to pull me back into the showroom with not a word of apology. I was wondering if all the efforts of the manufacturer are only focused on the product and not on sales!
When I visited an office sometime back and was offered a cup of coffee, the pantry boy who came to serve me was preceded by his body odor. His uniform had the name of a multinational service provider. That is the impression I carry of the company.
Have you noticed that when banks courier a credit card they choose a company like Blue Dart while for all other documents they prefer a local courier. I am sure all of us have experienced the difference in the courier boy who delivers.
All of us have at some time or the other bought something we did not plan for, because the salesperson was compelling or just pleasant.
What does all of the above tell us? We are all impacted by the person on the frontline we deal with. At such moments of personal interactions, we evaluate the product or the services rendered by the company based on our experience. The brand is then perceived through these interactions.
For a service provider such as a Facility Management company or a Courier company or E-tailing company the man in front is the housekeeping or the delivery boy and is the only contact with the customer. The company is perceived through the performance of these individuals and not by all the systems and the management behind the housekeeping or the delivery boys.
Unfortunately, most companies do not hire such frontline staff directly and outsource them to contractors. As it happens, these people are not considered important enough to warrant attention from the top management and are left to the lower management to deal with, rarely with sufficient support from the top. Only when a disaster happens they get noticed and for all the wrong reasons.
Let us look at what happens on the manufacturing side, at the factories and warehouses that produce and stock products. A lot of attention is paid to the infrastructure, technology, machinery, systems etc. But these are only as good as they are operated. People who run these machines, people who operate the material handling equipment that moves the product in the factories and warehouses deeply impact the efficiency of the process and the quality of the product. They are at the bottom of the employment pyramid. Again as in the services sector, they do not get sufficient attention.
We should not forget these employees are part of the value chain and an important link in the overall efficiency of the organization and every chain is only as good as the weakest link. They therefore deserve some attention and focus. Not only should they be taken care of, they need to be trained and motivated at all times. So what are the issues we need to address at these levels?
- Dignity of labor: People at these levels tend to lack self-confidence and self-respect as they feel that they are compelled to do such jobs for survival. They need to be counseled and motivated to understand that their jobs are as important as anyone else’.
- Part of the whole: Most of these employees do not know the big picture. They do not understand their role in the overall scheme of things. If they are exposed to their role vis-s-vis the rest of the processes, their comprehension of their jobs increase and they become more contributory. This has been experienced by some of our clients whose frontline employees have been trained by us.
- Team work: Although these employees are at the front end, they are part of a larger team that includes their supervisors and their colleagues. Importance of team work is never to be underestimated and it needs to be inculcated in them.
- Recognition: People at these levels thirst for recognition. They need to recognized and rewarded.
In conclusion, companies need to recognize that the frontline staff are vital to organizational efficiencies and effectiveness. They are the brand ambassadors of the company and the consumer touch points. If they remain motivated and integrated into the organization, they provide a vital link to the market.
Article is written by Mr. S Narayan, Founder & President, Integron Human Capital Services Pvt. Ltd