Why ‘listening’ versus ‘telling’ is key when empowering your frontline

Ashley Sava

Agent managers are shot callers. Agent leaders or coaches are listeners. Trust us, you should strive for the latter. Some contact center managers micromanage reps as they feel that empowering them will create chaos. These agents aren’t supported to arrive at their own solutions through learning. A lack of listening can be detrimental to an organization. Here are some reasons to listen to your agents more.

They set the stage

Frontline employees are the first impression of what your company is all about. As the face of the company, it’s important to make sure these employees feel heard, as customers can easily identify an unhappy agent. It doesn’t look good for an organization to have a team who feels misunderstood, run down or generally unsatisfied, and the subtle undertones of a dispirited rep will slip out during their conversations with current and prospective customers. Customers prefer to work with businesses who treat their workers well. Employee experience is the ultimate business edge.

They understand customer pain points and desires 

Your agents interact with customers on a daily basis. Who else knows more about how customers feel about their experience, and what doubts and objections they have with the product or service? Your frontline employees are constantly observing how your customers interact with your offerings, so they are much better sources of information than conventional research. When you fail to listen to your team, you are missing out on opportunities for customer experience improvements, product upgrades and tons of valuable insights. 

Listening promotes workplace collaboration

When team members know they’re being heard, they are far more inclined to speak up. Organizations that communicate effectively can create positive change. Implementing opportunities for free speaking such as weekly or monthly town halls can help companies prove they value the voice of all team members. Focus groups are another outlet for agents to discuss customer frustrations, roadblocks and what kinds of tools could make their jobs easier. 

Performance suffers when you don’t listen

When your team doesn’t believe their thoughts and opinions are listened to by the organization, especially when it comes to what is best for the customer, they won’t try as hard. When hard work and dedication is recognized, people tend to go the extra mile. The opposite is also true. And this is only part of the equation. Ineffective “telling” managers have a hard time recognizing and pointing out agent strengths due to their lackluster listening skills. True leaders listen first, and help their team members do the same. 

Successful leaders build strong relationships with team members across the hierarchy by truly listening to what they have to say. Organizations with strong leaders prosper. If your frontline is an untapped information reservoir it might be time to rethink your company’s strategy.