Workers in customer-facing roles are stressed and nearly one-third (31%) think about quitting their job multiple times a month.

According to new research from Qualtrics, more than two in five (44%) say their workloads have increased, and one-third say customers have become ruder over the past year.

While many customers’ first interaction with a brand may be online or through another digital channel, frontline employees such as retail sales associates, customer service agents and restaurant staff are typically the first human point of contact between customers and a business. They, therefore, play a major role in the overall customer experience. Bad customer experiences put up to 8% of sales at risk for organizations. Globally, this adds up to $3.1 trillion of sales at risk every year.

But challenges facing frontline employees could make it harder for companies to retain this critical part of their workforce. For example, 38% of these employees say they are stressed at work at least half the time, and 41% feel emotionally drained from their work. And even though nearly 60% say they got a pay raise in the last year, about half of those workers say it is harder to keep up with living expenses than it was a year ago. It’s worse for employees who haven’t received a pay raise; two-thirds of them say it’s harder to cover their expenses.

Fabrice Martin, Head of Customer Experience Product at Qualtrics, commented:

Frontline employees are aptly named, often acting as the first – or only – point of human contact between a customer and a company, so their impact on the overall customer experience cannot be underestimated.

It’s essential that organizations provide their human frontline with resources to support their well-being and help them be more productive so they can consistently deliver excellent service and develop loyal customers.

Fabrice Martin, Head of Customer Experience Product at Qualtrics

Key Takeaways for Leaders

This research reveals strategies to improve retention among frontline employees and ultimately help prevent employees from quitting their job:

Demonstrate that leadership is investing in customer-facing teams

When workers don’t believe their company leaders invest in their team, they are more likely to seriously consider quitting. In fact, more than half of workers who do not feel supported by leadership are likely to think about leaving.

Be aware of the toll of being understaffed

Understaffing is a major contributing factor. Employees who say their team doesn’t have enough people to handle their workload are twice as likely to think about quitting multiple times a month, and 11% of workers who say their team is understaffed think about quitting daily.

Streamline responsibilities to boost frontline productivity

Dividing frontline workers’ attention among multiple channels such as social media, in-person customers and online service tickets can make matters worse for understaffed frontline teams. About 40% of employees who say their team isn’t well staffed also say there are too many channels for them to manage in their day-to-day work.

Give employees the opportunity to provide feedback

While 40% of employees say they are regularly asked to provide input on improving business processes, about one third (34%) of frontline employees say they aren’t. Asking for this type of feedback can help retain workers. Just 28% of workers who have the opportunity to weigh in frequently consider quitting, while 37% of employees who aren’t asked for their opinions do so.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.