Can Putting Data In The Hands of Your Frontline Employees Pay Off?

June 24, 2020

A recent study from Harvard Business Review of 464 business executives indicates putting data in the hands of your frontline employees – your reservationists, front desk, and sales representatives –  can empower them to easily make decisions in the moment and convert inquiries into bookings more efficiently than those without.

While 87% in the study said their companies and organizations will be more successful when frontline workers have access to the data and tools they need to make in the moment decisions, only 20% say these employees are currently empowered to make these decisions.

Here are 5 takeaways from the study needed to successfully implement a process by which data and tools can rapidly become more accessible to more people within your company.

Empower Your Front Line

Those in the study strongly believe that both quality of work and productivity significantly increase when frontline workers can make data-driven decisions in the moment. In the case of the 20% that said their current frontline is empowered nearly half said they have grown revenue by 10 percent or more in the past year, with 16 percent growing it by 30 percent or more. This group is identified in the study as the “leaders”.

The areas of customer engagement and satisfaction, productivity and efficiency, employee engagement and satisfaction, and product/ service quality yield especially apparent results.


Few Companies Have Are There Yet

43% of those in the study admitted their frontline was neither empowered to make decisions nor were well equipped with the data and technology needed. This group is identified as “laggards” in the study.


Give Your Employees the Tools They Need

Frontline workers can resolve more issues on the spot without the intervention of a supervisor when armed with the right information. They are also the best people to correctly relay and report the voice and distress of the guest after an interaction that does require a manager or supervisor to get involved.

More than 50% of those surveyed said systems with self-service analytics, easy communication tools, and collaboration opportunities are among the top technologies their frontline workers will be using over the next two years to achieve this.


Put Change Management in Place

44% of respondents said that more than any other factor poor change management would be a barrier to success. Meaning providing tools, analytics, and technology will not generate any value unless you also provide structured learning and training for your frontline.  Staff must know how to evaluate the information they are seeing so they can act accordingly and make the appropriate decisions.


Your Technology & Your Culture Go Hand in Hand

The “leaders” in the study said that their employees are not only equipped and empowered to make in the moment decisions, but they are positively encouraged to do so every day. This requires moving to a more distributed way of working where more decision making is pushed to the edges than is with a traditional hierarchical model. The adjustment makes each workday more efficient allowing management to focus on the big picture.


So, the answer is yes! Putting data in the hands of your frontline employees can pay off and it starts at the top. Adjusting your company’s culture and improving your systems to empower customer service staff, sales teams, and other frontline workers to use data in their everyday jobs can lead to significant gains for your business in efficiency, productivity, and ultimately your bottom line.