Alex-Ann Green, MBA, MS
Back end staff is anyone who works at the establishment who does not come in direct contact with “the customer”. I had to put “the customer” in quotation since we generally think of the person purchasing from us as our only customer. We have another customer though – our coworkers. Our coworkers are the internal customer and the person purchasing from the company is the external customer.
Most times, we do not acknowledge our coworkers as customers and the treatment we give each other is less than wonderful. We move slowly to execute our tasks and our position is, “well she can wait” or “she will just have to wait”. We send each other to the next person for help because “I don’t have the time” or “I’m busy”. One of the hardest pills to swallow for front line staff is when they are doing their best to go above and beyond for the customer and there is nobody to turn to for help in a situation that the team could resolve if they pulled together.
It is time for us to realize that front-line staff are not the only ones responsible for the external customer and they need the help of the back end staff in order for the business to win. This is true on two fronts. First, let us consider the work atmosphere and the demands of the job. Front-line staff should wow customers, be cheerful, kind and enthusiastic. I could go on and on with the positive adjectives. The back end staff play a role in making that possible. How are front-liners going to maintain a positive disposition when they have to fight with back end staff constantly to get things done?
That is a very draining situation. Imagine being frustrated and angry after the exchange. You feel like you are at your wits end. You have tried all your options and are left to stand alone. You now have to go right back out to the customer and somehow gather yourself to exude positivity, try to think of another option or face the wrath of the customer when you try to deliver your best no.
Secondly, how are deadlines going to be met for the external customer? Business processes do not function effectively and efficiently when the team cannot align itself appropriately. Even though the back end staff do not converse with the external customers on a frequent basis, the work they do is integral to business function and ultimately meeting the customer’s needs.
It is not ok to subject the front-line staff to berating from the customer because the team could not pull it together as a whole to get the job done. Back end staff have to see they have a role to play. An important role to play.
At times, the issues for the front-line staff might be very personal. It may be an HR matter relating to time off, sick days, pay or the like that is taking an extended period to be resolved. It can be difficult to perform at the highest level in this situation. It would behoove all involved to consider these possibilities as well.
As usual, there are other factors to consider. The workload may just be too much for back end staff or the processes in place may be inadequate or even nonexistent. Those we will tackle another time. In the meantime, let us ensure all our customers enjoy great service – internal and external.
Alex-Ann Green is aCustomer Experience Strategist – SP!KE Consultancy
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