There is little doubt that customer service impacts a company’s brand identity. There is also little doubt that happy, satisfied employees translates to happy, satisfied customers.
Effective, two way employee communications is a key factor in ensuring that staff are motivated and effective. However, this sector of the workforce is usually remote from main offices and may experience higher staff turnover than other parts of the business. These factors can have several implications:
- Training is a constant and on-going challenge
- Staff don’t always know where to go for the right information
- Establishing effective feedback channels can be difficult
- Engagement is constantly being built from ‘the ground up’
To make the situation even more complicated, staff may be employed indirectly, for example via a franchise, and therefore even harder to reach.
Top tips to communicate with front line staff:
Simplify the message
Use simple, easy-to-remember, messages. IT Staff Make sure that there aren’t volumes of messages already ‘out there’ talking about the same concept, but expressing it in different ways. Boil down the key messages into a few key priorities. Think about: How can you sum this up in one sentence? What language do people typically use?
This can help focus thinking and simplify what you are trying to communicate. Tom Harvey, Head of Internal Communications at Nationwide, argues that the role of internal communications ‘is akin to the narrow part of an hour glass’ – there is a vast quantity of information that exists which could be communicated to staff, but only a small amount makes it through the ‘narrow part’ to be read. The trick is to make certain that the filtered information is that which is most likely to draw interest.
Try these tools
Consider an on-screen scrolling news feed to targeted employee groups. Simply write your own headlines, include a quick summary and add click-through hyperlinks to further information as required. As employees see a headline of interest, they can click-through to read the full message or article there and then, or make a mental note to review their news feed history at a later time (e.g. when they are less busy interfacing with customers).
Headlines can be kept discrete if computers are located where customers may be able to see the screens. Employee’s can click to shrink a feed down to a discrete notification icon which can be clicked on later. A desktop alert format that can highlight the latest updates or notify staff of breaking news. Concise alert messages can be read and digested in a matter of seconds. Click-through links to further information, allow staff to dig deeper as required. An initial alert notification can contain an appropriate message for customer facing computers.
Reduce information overload
Staff can feel deluged by information and it can be a major source of workplace stress for them. In addition, an overload of information means staff may be unable to effectively identify and assimilate important information due to excessive background ‘noise’. As new forms of communication have grown, internally communicated messages have to compete with more and more traffic; if there is no appeal, internal communications will simply not be read.