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Posted by Kerry Bodine on August 22, 2011
I started an unusual research project recently. As a follow-up to my report on the customer experience ecosystem, I wanted to dig into the highly visible role of frontline employees like call center agents, in-home service technicians, and retail staff. Specifically, I wanted to know how customer experience professionals could help these folks understand how they personally affect customers’ interactions and perceptions of the brand.
The topic was – I thought – pretty straightforward, and it essentially boiled down to two main questions: What’s the best way to share customer feedback with frontline employees? And should you compensate frontline employees based on their individual feedback?
But what made this research effort so unusual, and so unlike most of my other projects, is that as I conducted more and more interviews, the opinions and “best practices” began to diverge wildly. I found a variety of incompatible tactics. But more than that, I uncovered major differences in management philosophies and deep passions underlying those beliefs.
What’s the best way to share customer feedback with frontline employees?
A bevy of enterprise feedback management solutions can help managers collect and analyze feedback from customers – and not just about their overall impressions of a company, but about interactions with individual frontline staff members. Firms can collect survey-based quant data and/or verbatims. But what to share? The answers I’ve encountered include:
Should you compensate frontline employees based on their individual feedback?
The connections between compensation programs and employee motivation are too tangled to get into here. (And in fact, Forrester’s Customer Experience Council summer book club is discussing Drive today.) But when I’ve asked interviewees if they provide individual bonuses based on customer feedback, the answers have spanned the entire spectrum:
As an analyst, it’s always fun to step into big steamy pile of conflicting opinions and philosophical beliefs. And of course, these aren’t isolated questions – they’re inextricably linked to issues like hiring, training, corporate culture, and (of course) the quality of customer interactions.
So I’ll keep working on this . . . . In the meantime, got a success story about what’s worked at your company? Care to share something that hasn’t worked? You can add your comments to this post or join our Customer Experience Community discussions on the topics of compensation and customer feedback.