Frontline VS Head Office; Who Knows Your Customer Better?

The mission statement of every B2C organization contains some version of the phrase...

‘delivering the best product/service/value for money for our customers’

But when we think about the actual job of different people in a business, all working towards that lofty goal, who does this mission statement ring true for the most? Who really knows your customer best?

Well, the obvious answer is people on the frontline. Customer service representatives, store clerks and retail staff who liaise with customers every day. These employees observe customer behaviour and trends first-hand, and hear honest feedback straight from the horse’s mouth. As well as having insight into the consumer psyche, frontline workers also have plenty of influence over their customer’s decisions.

In a global study conducted by PwC involving 15,000 people, 73% of people say that customer experience is an important factor in their purchasing decisions. So much so that 42% of customers would actually pay more to have a friendly, welcoming experience. In the US, 65% of people find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.

While frontline staff are on the ground with customers every day and play an important part in their decision-making process, knowledge workers in head office are customer experts in their own right. Marketing teams analyze consumer data and create detailed customer profiles to deeply understand their different demographics. Product teams gather feedback from a wide cross-section of customers to build a detailed picture of what drives them. Even senior management is more connected to customers than ever before, thanks to social media. In a study of the digital presence of 790 CEOs in the US and the UK, conducted by Brunswick Group, it was revealed that 48% of CEOs have a social media presence. Of the CEOs who have a presence on Twitter, 79% are active and engaged on the platform. They may not be talking to customers in person like frontline staff, but business leaders have a way to cultivate two-way dialogues with customers.

Just as open communication with customers fosters trust and loyalty, open communication internally within a business strengthens relationships between people and teams. According to a recent study by Workplace by Facebook, for businesses that operate without collaboration tools, only 48% of employees feel that their head office understands the role they play and the value they bring to the organization. However, for employees of businesses that do use collaboration tools, 63% claim that head office understands them and the value they bring. 

When it comes to the question of who knows your customers best - frontline workers or head office teams - the jury is out. And in fact, it doesn’t matter which team is made up of more customer aficionados. What matters is that your business can make the most of this collective customer knowledge by communicating and collaborating openly to deliver top results for happy customers.

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