A 5-Step Process for Investing in Your Front Line Team Members

I recently facilitated in a 3-day gathering of Guest Experience leaders from 15 of the largest churches in the U.S. There were many differences in our group when it comes to Guest Experience practices, but a common thread soon developed: the critical importance of the front-line volunteers.

One of the resources we discussed was a book by Chris DeRose and Noel Tichy entitled Judgment on the Front Line. During a study of some of the leading companies in the country, the authors developed a set of principles for moving well beyond the basics of customer (guest) service by putting power, resources and trust in the hands of front line personnel. By doing so, these companies have enabled their employees to more rapidly address customer problems, anticipate unarticulated needs and drive customer-facing innovation.

DeRose and Tichy discuss their findings in an article on HBR.org; here is an excerpt outlining an important process for church leaders to use when investing in their front line team members:

> Step 1: Get Started: Connect the front line to the customer strategy. Senior leaders need to help match their customer promise to the capabilities of the front line while listening closely so they can help align the culture, training, work processes and reward systems.

> Step 2: Empower Your Workforce: Teach people to think for themselves. Employees at every level need to understand the customer strategy and they also need simple problem solving frameworks that are used throughout the organization to promote cross-hierarchical dialogue.

> Step 3: Experiment to Implement: Grant front line workers latitude to experiment. Teaching front line leaders the basics for designing simple experiments enables organizations to test many more ideas than could ever be orchestrated centrally.

> Step 4: Eliminate the Barriers: Break down the hierarchy. Freeing front line capacity requires frequent, diligent effort to eliminate decision processes or administrative work that gets in the way of enabling the front line to expeditiously serve customers.

> Step 5: Invest in Your Frontline: Put budget behind it. Too often, companies reserve big budgets for senior management training while spreading funding thin for front line personnel. Similarly, too many companies are content to hire front line staff without carefully considering whether they possess the right attitude and values to represent their brand.

Delivering a great Guest experience is a fundamental that every organization needs to practice, and organizations that excel in this area focus on how to get the most from their front line. As organizations reconsider how their team members interact with customers, they will be challenged to move beyond just rhetoric.

If they are truly serious about turning their people into their greatest asset, they’ll invest in the front line.

Read the full article from HBR here.

Download our SUMS summary of Judgment on the Front Line here.

Want to know about Guest Experiences in your church? Contact me for more information.


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Bob Adams

Bob Adams

Bob is an absolute fanatic about Guest Experiences, growing up watching his father serve customers at the gas station he built and operated for 44 years. Bob is continually connecting with corporate leaders in the customer experience world, learning and then translating practices for ChurchWorld. He writes, speaks, and consults on the topic frequently. Best of all, he is a front-line practitioner at Elevation Church, serving in various roles at the Uptown and Lake Norman Campuses. Vocationally, Bob has a dual role at Auxano, a clarity first consulting firm serving the church. As Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader he researches, edits, writes and publishes online content. As Guest Experience Navigator, he leverages his passion, providing Guest Perspective Evaluations and Guest Experience Blueprints. Bob and his wife Anita have been married for 38 years. They have 4 children, 2 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and 4 grandchildren.

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
— Debra
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
— Laurie
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)

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