Back Line Employees are Just as Important in Servicing Customers as Front Line Employees
We traditionally define customers as those people who pay money to your company for a product or a service. These customers could also be referred to as patients, members, students, patrons, etc., depending on your organization.
Traditional thought continues with the belief that only our front line employees can impact customer experience. If this is true, then that leaves about 50% of your employees, the “back line” employees, without any customer responsibility at all…or, does it? This mindset that back line employees do not serve customers is simply misguided.
Back line employees serve each other:
The truth is, we all serve each other in our organizations as if we are each others’ internal customer. The human resources department, for example, serves each and every employee by managing the benefits program and ensuring payroll is completed accurately and on time. Every person in each back line department whether it be Finance, Research and Development, Human resources, or Operations, etc. has a role that serves internal customers. And, when our internal customers are served, they can better serve our external, or paying customers. Do each of the people in your organization understand who THEIR customer is?
Back line employees equip and support the front line:
The role of each person in the back line is to support and equip the front line with what they need to ultimately serve their customers. If the front line employee is responsible for selling a car, for example, the back line can support the front line by providing a great product (R&D and manufacturing), enticing financing options (marketing and finance), and product knowledge and skills to make the sale (Managers and learning and development). And this is just a simple example. Do each of your organization’s departments understand what role THEY play in supporting the front line?
It is easy for front line employees to understand their connection to traditional customers, and successfully connecting Back Line Employees to their customer may require a concerted effort. Begin with these four tasks:
- Communicate the concept of serving internal customers
- Visually illustrate the path from each back line employee business unit to the traditional customer
- Discuss with back line employees their roles and how if performed well will support the front line and if performed poorly will inhibit the front line
- Remove barriers, such as outdated or irrelevant policies and procedures, to serving internal customers
So, if you are one of those working in the back line, or leading back line employees, please take pride in the fact that your role is also one of service. Remember that your efforts and actions are crucial in the pursuit of serving our customers…ALL of our customers!