Mark Murdoch, Customer Experience Manager at Corporate office FM specialist, Anabas, discusses the customer experience, how this begins with Front of House and why it’s important to provide the right training
Richard Branson once said, “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.” It’s about getting the right people to do the right things at the right time in order to deliver a memorable customer experience… Your Front of House staff are the face of your business. They are responsible for the first impression and so it is vital to ensure they have the confidence and competence to not only meet but exceed expectations and deliver every single day.
So what makes a great customer experience in the corporate office environment? For many it’s about speed, efficiency and accuracy, but is that really enough? What about positive interaction? We all too often hide behind emails and forget to really engage with one another. Self check in and automation has its place in the workplace and can really help to ensure speed, but the art of conversation needs to not only be maintained, but in some instances resurrected. A positive interaction and conversation can truly make someone’s day. If your Front of House team are able to remember someone’s name, birthday or even just a prior conversation, it can immediately make someone feel special and know that they are important to you. Positivity is infectious, and so never underestimate the influence your employees can have on your customers.
All too often, businesses focus only on the customer experience, however, as an employer; it is your responsibility to create great experiences for employees too. Treat and train them well and they will deliver consistently great customer service on your behalf.
It all begins with recruitment. Businesses can benefit from recruiting individuals who show drive, ambition, motivation and a desire to learn. You should always hire for attitude and train for skill. When recruiting for a Front of House role, you need to first understand the emotional intelligence of the client. What are their needs and requirements? What is the company culture like? Who is the right ambassador for them? Remember that personality and attitude are often just as important as skill and experience. If you hire correctly then you can train along the way.
Contrary to popular belief, training is not just about teaching, guiding and shaping your workforce; it’s also about planning for the success of your business. Great retention will reap huge rewards for your reputation and well trained staff will deliver the best service to your clients, helping to build those long term relationships that deliver the best form of customer experience.
When it comes to training, everyone requires basic skills but one size does certainly not fit all. Your Front of House team needs to be responsive to the clients brand values and be able to emulate their culture. As the face of your business, your Front of House staff need to be able to handle all situations and deliver positive face to face interaction under all circumstances, even when challenged. It’s not easy to offer service with a smile when someone is behaving in an aggressive or accusatory manner towards you. Which is why learning how to handle these situations, including when to walk away and ask for help to resolve a challenging situation is a skill that must be taught. Emotional Intelligence is a key skill requirement in a Front of House role as it provides you with the capacity to be not only aware of your emotions but how to express and control them empathetically.
There are many different types of training and it doesn’t all have to be done behind a desk. Training should be a journey, it should be ongoing and it should develop based on the individuals in your organisation, your customer’s needs, changes in the industry and legislation. Delivery wise, no one size fits all. Online training has its place, as does learning in the classroom environment but not all training has to be this formal; learning on the job, shadowing, being mentored and practical skills sessions are all relevant too.
When asked what makes a great Front of House member of staff it’s obvious that they need to be presentable, carry themselves well, be bright, organised and articulate, but it’s also about a certain personality and desire to go above and beyond. It is often the smaller details that create a great customer experience from the start of the journey and that initial point of contact. At Anabas, we call them small decencies. We encourage our Front of House staff to build relationships, to deliver the very best service with a friendly smile where nothing is too much trouble and to surprise and delight. If you can make one persons day more special from interacting with them, then you can create a ripple effect which ensures that the experience will be remembered as a positive one.