From Front Line to Back Office
Front-line customer service training too often views the “customer” only as being the person who gives you money. They view the skills taught as being those used by individuals on the “front line,” those that have to know how to communicate well.
But so much of these skills (e.g., having appropriate body language and tone, diffusing the upset customer, call handling, using/avoiding specific phrases, asking the right questions and conveying appreciation) apply to the back office personnel in companies as well. Keep in mind that typical back office functions are those that most directly impact co-workers. Those functions could include purchasing, information technology, finance, warehousing/materials management, human resources, etc.
Although employees with the titles that include the words “sales” or “service” or “customer” or “representative” often are “facing” the customer that spends the money, employees in these back office positions also face important customers – their co-workers. The attitudes that the back office personnel convey to the co-workers they serve, the responsiveness they offer to issues and inquiries, the clarity with which they communicate to the front line staff – all these characteristics of customer service impact their co-workers.
The back office staff can have an enormous impact on their front line co-worker’s ability to serve their external customers. Back office and front-line staff are all part of a system that works internally to serve those outside the organization. Therefore, the relationships, responsiveness, simplicity of internal processes, and general customer service attitude of the back office staff impact the co-worker’s ability to serve the external customers.
So the next time you’re considering customer service training or determining what customer service skills are needed in the organization, think more broadly.
Think from Front Line to Back Office.