Companies spend big budgets on product development, retail stores, brand advertising but pay little attention to those who are going to present or face customers of these products coming to stores after being enticed by larger than life ad campaigns. Counter or floor staff in many large stores are the least compensated among all the employees.
The situation in middle east is not very different. Almost 100% of front-end staff in the UAE and other GCC countries are from abroad, mainly from Asian and Levant countries. Majority who are lured to work in GCC come from humble backgrounds. In order to get out of tough living conditions in their own countries they accept to work at any cost. However, upon their arrival, during the induction phase of their dream job many are faced with the reality of life in the UAE.
While settling in a foreign, competitive environment, many fail to maintain the high morale level they are expected to display on job. This becomes evident in their lack of interest in customers who are expecting a high level of service. Misguiding customers due to the lack of product knowledge, maintaining a stiff attitude when required to show flexibility, and frequent arguments with customers become a regular practice. Therefore, the overall experience of customers turns into a nightmare and all the investment in product and retail environment goes down the drain.
When front line staff are not happy with their living conditions and compensation, then it is quite futile to expect superior service from them. In reality the budget required to provide decent living conditions comprises of a fraction of what is spent on other marketing essentials.
Front line sales people are found in the customer service, sales and after-sales departments, behind counters and on the merchandise floor. They interact with customers on a daily basis and should possess strong knowledge of customer needs. They can provide valuable inputs on customer reactions to newly launched products or in the developmental stage of new products. But they are rarely consulted, being stationed at the lowest segment in the corporate hierarchy.
If the front line staff are adequately empowered and trusted, they can bring a huge difference in improving customer experience as compared to projecting an image of inefficiency, uncertainty and disinterest endorsed by their action of having to consult the supervisor or line manager all the time for minor decisions. Their obvious frustration stirs up similar sentiments of discontent in the customers who interact with them regularly.
Empowerment requires trust in their capabilities and recognition of their potential. With regular training sessions, the risk of loss inherent in misjudgement and taking wrong decisions related to various customer scenarios can also be minimised.
Adequate product training is essential to increase the confidence level of the staff so that they can face customers with more confidence and explain key benefits of the product more effectively. Proper provision and allocation of incentives to these staff members could bring huge dividends in terms of profitability and customer loyalty.
Motivation drives innovation. If people are motivated they will improvise on their own to solve customer issues while enhancing their professional growth and experience. In contrast, lack of motivation based on a culture of nonchalance towards concerns of the lower staff will lead to consequences debilitating to the very foundation on which a corporate organisation stands on.