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How Front Line Associates Drive Great Customer Service

Great leadership is important.

A fantastic product is crucial.

Organizational objectives are great.

But without a great front line team you will never win.

That is because the front line team is the key to driving fantastic Guest experiences.  But we all know that right?  Or do we?

Sometimes the lack of care taken with putting the right front line associates in place is fairly obvious.  We’ve all visited those businesses that have an okay product, but the people keep us coming back for more.

I have a favorite place to get my hair cut.  It is a small locally owned chain that does a decent job with my hair – not that anything they do to mine will make me a super model.  But they kindly cut it once a month and the same folks work there pretty much daily.  They aren’t the cheapest; they don’t have a flashy waiting room; they sometimes have a longer wait than I’d like.  But the folks who work there keep me coming back.  They are always in a good mood and remember my name.  They know what I do for a living and ask me how my book sales are going – and they even pretend to be interested when I tell them.  But it is the front line team there that keeps me from going to someplace different.

Let’s face it, most of us don’t have a competitive edge in the marketplace.  And even if we did, that can wear off.  The fact is that our biggest asset and Customer service champions are those on the front line.  They handle almost every rubber-meets-the-road moment we have with our Customers.

They are the face of the company Our Front Line Associates are the conduit between the organization and the Guests we seek to serve.  When it comes down to it, most Customers relate to the folks on the front line rather than some large company. Sure Guests see the companies in commercials, and know their brand, but once inside the doors it is all about the person looking them in the eyes and serving them.  That personal connection makes all the difference and is where true brand loyalty is born.  It can also lead to negative connotations if those on the front lines are not delivering on the promise of great service.  So keep in mind that those serving Customers directly can give either a positive or negative impression of their organizations.

They are the ones who will advance your mission Those on the front lines are the ones who must buy in to the mission.  They are the ones who have to adopt the service culture and live it daily.  Those on the front lines are uniquely positioned to exude your business values and make sure that all the steps of service are taken. They will be the ones to welcome Guests into your business, make sure that they are treated well, and they will be the ones who thank them for their business.  If you want Guests to feel the quirky or upbeat service you seek to provide, it will be your front line teams who show them.  If you want Guests to buy into the extra items with the “suggestive sell,” it will be the associate who serves them that will close the deal.  In other words, the overall impression of your business will be determined greatly by those you trust on the front line as you brand ambassador.

They know what your Guests want Guests are very vocal to those who work on the front lines.  They are more apt to share their wants and needs with them than any survey, comment card, or online questionnaire.  Have you trained your front line teams to listen and share?  Chances are you haven’t – and that’s okay.  You can fix that today.  Take a moment to be sure that your teams know that they are expected to have their fingers on the pulse of the Guest experience.  They should be taught and encouraged to listen and ask questions, then share what they hear quickly.  Then your job is to keep quiet and let them share.  Remember not to judge or dismiss so that they will keep bringing you information.  They should be taught how to ask follow up questions and get additional clarity when Customers offer up suggestions.  That is the best way to make sure they are maximizing their potential as a communication conduit.

They have the power to deliver the service your Guests deserve (or not) Front line associates are the ones we must trust to get it right every day.  They are the ones who must deliver excellence at the moment of truth – and they are the ones who can deliver the great service our Guests want and deserve.  They are the ones who will say “thank you” and “my pleasure.”  They are the ones who will smile and serve Guests warmly.  They are the ones who will seek out those Customers who look lost or need help and make sure they get what they need.  Or maybe not.  They can also be the ones who ignore Customers; they can be more interested in their cell phones than in serving the next person in line; they can apathetically close the transaction with “no worries.”  This is a lot of power and when we understand the impact that the front line can have on the Guest experience, it becomes even more imperative that we make sure they understand what great service looks like and why it is important.

Be Choosy

Which means we have to take care of our teams.  We have to treat them well, hold them accountable, and make sure they feel valued.  It is a rare thing when we have those amazing folks on the front lines who really deliver every day. Keep a close eye on your star performers and protect their attitude – make sure to value their thoughts and praise their accomplishments.

The key is to coach those who need work, reward those who excel, and move out those who aren’t making the grade.  You don’t want a revolving door, but you also must cultivate a front line team who strives to champion the Guest experience.

Until next time, treat your team like the most cherished of friends and most valued of assets.


Tony Johnson Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker

Check out my FREE Resources and Training Tools: Web: YouTube: Twitter:

Check out my book: RECIPE FOR SERVICE Available on

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