The backbone of an organization's customer service function is the team of people who answer the phones, provide online chat support and deal with customers face-to-face. These frontline personnel require oversight by supervisors who can balance what customers want with what the organization can feasibly do to make them happy.
Developing Strategic Goals
Most supervisors come from the front line, which means they know firsthand what it's like to serve the public, from angry customers to happy customers. Front-line supervisors develop strategic goals for their teams of customer service personnel. Some goals focus on business operational objectives, such as number of customers served per hour and percentage of satisfied customers. Other goals focus on managing people, such as hiring the right people and motivating them to perform well in their interactions with customers.
Alignment of Strategic Goals
It's important for strategic goals for front-line supervisors and their personnel to be aligned with the organization's overall strategic goals. The front line exists only to provide the customer service function. However, these supervisors are also in a great position to motivate employees to achieve strategic goals and increase the impact of their personnel for the overall good of the organization. Supervisors can serve as effective advisers for the management team charged with developing recruitment management strategies. They can also develop specific recruitment plans -- including employee qualifications and interview questions -- for people who will be hired for their front-line departments.
Strategic objectives of front-line supervisors should not just focus on operational goals and recruitment management strategies. Supervisors must concern themselves with how they will better develop employees already on their teams. This should include addressing the gaps between what supervisors want to provide for employees and what they actually need to succeed. For example, supervisors can focus more on creating employee development plans and meeting with employees one-on-one to give them coaching and mentoring. They can also take more time to audit employee performance to determine if specific employee training efforts are working.
Front-line supervisors also need objectives related to their development as leaders, whether they will stay in the area of front-line supervision or groom themselves for moving up the organizational ladder. Each supervisor needs his manager to write him a professional development plan that identifies any gaps in his skills or training in leadership and management. Over time, getting more leadership development opportunities will help front-line supervisors become better at developing their own staffs.