Your Frontline Workers Must Be Part Of Your Digital Transformation
14 Dec 2020
Digital transformation, as defined by Salesforce, is the process of using digital technologies to create new or modify existing business processes, culture and customer experiences to meet changing business and marketing requirements.
A business may take on digital transformation for several reasons. However, the most probable reason is likely due to survival. Technology has driven the need for organisations to constantly evolve and in order to ensure business continuity, organisations need to understand how to merge technology with strategy or risk falling behind their competitors.
That being said, digital transformation does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process in which organisations have to prioritise the lines of businesses that needs to be digitally-infused, while managing operational issues, service delivery and distracting issues of the unpredictable such as major cyberattacks or data breaches.
When leaders embark on a digital transformation strategy, frontline workers are often overlooked. Leaders tend to focus on areas such as employee and customer experience, as well as career growth opportunities. Yet, these frontline workers’ needs are equally important for organisations that aim to increase productivity, reduce turnover, boost engagement and enhance customer experience.
Frontline workers are so named as they sit on the frontlines of most industries – retail workers, flight attendants, bank tellers, restaurant workers, nurses and so on. They are the first faces to represent the organisation and engage customers. As such, their interactions can have a huge impact on how customers perceive your organisation.
Why is it necessary to drive digital transformation for frontline workers
Enhancing frontline processes with technology and equipping these workers with relevant skill sets can contribute to organisational growth and productivity in the long run. It will also encourage these workers to use the right enterprise applications to further drive productivity and operational efficiency.
For example, a hotel can invest in a central IT system that seamlessly connects every aspect of the customer experience, from online room reservation to follow-up reviews after checkout. Every room is also installed with a tablet to allow guests to make requests, saving on time from having to dial 0 for the front desk. At the same time, real-time data and requests can be collected, allowing hotel staff to access and attend to customers’ requests immediately.
The core principle in driving digital transformation for frontline workers lies in enhancing the experience of customers and employees, not how complex and fancy the technology may be.
How to initiate digital transformation for your frontline workers
Digital transformation is a huge term in which different people may have varying interpretations. The first approach is to understand how digitalization is perceive by these frontline workers and what problems it will solve for them. Digitalization for frontline workers should be logical, specific to their daily tasks and relevant with the overall implementation of enterprise applications. Ideally, the outcomes of this digital transformation should focus on speed and convenience for them to carry out their daily work with precision and consistency.
Understand their work challenges
The first step in implementing digital transformation starts with understanding the needs of frontline workers – what works well for them and what are their core roadblocks at work. Sometimes, the biggest challenge is identifying what they need to know and understanding how certain business processes can be streamlined to drive operational efficiency. This is where business leaders and the IT department need to collaborate to recognise the troubles and complications that arise from their daily tasks. Concurrently, business leaders should also involve every employee, from the most senior to junior staff, when gathering feedback on business processes. This then helps business leaders and IT department to drive better digital solutions targeted to streamline and simplify processes and employees’ work environments.
Invest in training
Once the preliminary scoping and analysis is done, it is time to get employees’ buy-in on the concept of digital transformation. It is imperative to ensure that employees are on board with the digital transformation journey to achieve maximum benefits and output. Start off by educating employees on the benefits of digital transformation and how it benefits them, while leveraging on real-life cases as examples. Instead of stating what the digital changes will be, help your frontline workers to navigate through all the available digital tools and platforms. This could include scheduling training programmes targeted at specific groups of employees or creating simulations to allow employees to better relate to the scenario, challenges and the respective digital solution.
Give them only the tools and features they would need
Once employees have warmed up to the idea that digital transformation is going to make their work environment easier and convenient, they are likely to be receptive towards utilising the digital tools and devices. Suggest for them to use only the digital tools and features that are relevant to their tasks and will allow them to truly perform at work. Once these frontline workers are able to leverage on these digital tools to accelerate their productivity, efficiency and accuracy, they will turn into true adopters of digital transformation.
The first interactions that customers have is with your frontline workers. And in order for them to deliver a great customer experience, these workers themselves have to be engaged and motivated. After all, a positive employee experience can ultimately improve performance and retention levels. Including them as part of your digital transformation strategy can go a long way in making your frontline workers your biggest and most sustainable asset.