The Rise Of The Frontline Worker with Cristian Grossmann – CEO Beekeeper – E124

Episode released on: 01. May 2023

The Rise Of The Frontline Worker with Cristian Grossmann – CEO Beekeeper Customer Experience Goals with the CX Goalkeeper

The CX Goalkeeper had the great opportunity to interview Cristian Grossmann

LinkedIn Headline: CEO at Beekeeper || 👷🏽‍♂️The Frontline Success System👷🏻‍♀️


00:00 Game Start
00:57 Cris Grossmann’s introduction
01:23 Cris Grossmann’s values
02:21 Beekeeper
03:45 The Frontline workers
05:37 Their role in society
06:43 The needs of Frontline workers
08:46 The hotel story
12:44 Digitalization and Frontline workers
14:46 An engagement tool
16:58 The frontline experience
20:38 The Future
21:50 Book Suggestion
22:47 Contact details
and much more

Cristian’s Contact Details:

His book suggestion:

  • The Rise of the Frontline Worker by Dr. Cristian Grossmann
    Unleash the Power Within by Tony Robbins

Cristian’s Golden Nuggets:

  • “The fascination with the frontline and an invitation to take a closer look at your day-to-day life, because frontline workers are everywhere, and their work is so essential and amazing that observing it more closely and sometimes asking them, ‘Hey, how do you do the job that tends to be so different from others’ work?’ is fascinating.”

“The fascination with the frontline and an invitation to take a closer look at your day-to-day life, because frontline workers are everywhere, and their work is so essential (…)” Cris Grossmann on the CX Goalkeeper Podcast

#customerexperience #leadership #cxgoalkeeper #cxtransformation #podcast

What did we discuss?

Gregorio Uglioni
Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the CX goalkeeper podcast your host, Greg will have smart discussions with friends, experts and thought leaders on customer experience transformation and leadership. Please follow this podcast on your preferred platform. I am sure you will enjoy the next episode with the guest I selected for you.

Ladies and gentleman today. It’s really a big pleasure because I have Christian Grossman together with me, Hi Christian, how are you?

Cristian Grossmann
Good, are you Greg, nice to meet you. And thanks for having me here.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you very much. I’m very, very happy and very thrilled that you accepted my invitation to share your story what beekeeper is doing, I know that you are very, very busy. And you will find time also to share your story with with others. And therefore Thank you very much for your time. I’m really pleased that you are you.

Cristian Grossmann
Thank you, Greg

Gregorio Uglioni
Cris, perhaps some people don’t yet know what beekeeper is. But before we start introducing beekeeper, we would like to know something about you. And therefore Cris, could you please introduce yourself?

Cristian Grossmann
Yes, for sure. My name is Cris Crossman, I’m the CEO and co founder of beekeeper. I’m originally from Mexico. I lived there the first 20 years of my life, and I’ve been living the next 20 years in Switzerland.

Gregorio Uglioni
Great, thank you very much, Cris. And we would like also to learn a bit more about you. For example, you are a father of great child, and which which will just drive your life.

Cristian Grossmann
Thank you so much. Great, great question. So yes, I’m a happy new father, three months old, of my little daughter. And what kind of values drive me in life, I think for me when when important one has always been working hard. Like that’s how I learned from my grandfather’s from my father. And the working heart is definitely one of the values that I that I follow in. For me also the topic of not only working hard, but also doing something good is really important. That’s a little bit what a story of beekeeper entails, which is really helping all of those frontline workers that are out there that would leave have been forgotten and disregarded for a very, very long time. And it’s time to fix that.

Gregorio Uglioni
That’s That’s a great story and a great introduction for the topics we would like to discuss today. Today we are speaking about empowering the frontline workers. And I think we have different understanding about who are the frontliners. But before we deep dive in this topic, perhaps could you please quickly share what beekeeper is doing?

Cristian Grossmann
Yes, for sure. So at beekeeper we have a big mission, which is connecting frontline teams and we’ll talk about what frontline teams are. But connecting frontline teams with everything they need to do a great job. We’ve learned over these last 10 years of building the company that frontline workers enjoy and love doing a great job. And we believe when we do empower them with technology, a two great things happen. One is frontline workers live better lives, they enjoy more of their work, they stay more loyal to their companies, and the businesses they work for also thrive. So that’s I would say our big mission, what beekeeper does, is to provide what we call a frontline Success System, which is an application that the frontline worker will download onto their phone. And in there, they will find everything they need in order to be productive, engaged and informed at work. So we cover really everything they need. We have studied a lot, what they need, what are the needs of a frontline worker, and we’ve distilled it in a very simple way and a very a frontline specific way for them to be more or

Gregorio Uglioni
what a mission. It’s incredible. I think you are already doing a great job. And I am looking forward to see the growth path of beekeeper. And perhaps now read to make that understandable. If we speak in our industry about frontline, we always think about contact center agents and perhaps also a bit about hospitality. But you have a bit a different view on that. And I think it’s really interesting. Who are the frontline workers from your point of view?

Cristian Grossmann
Yes. So frontline workers is I would say the umbrella term we use for everybody who’s typically not sitting in front of a desktop like probably you and me. And many of the people hearing this podcast, we spend our time behind the laptop, we have all of these browsers and tools open. That’s the way we work with Zoom. We use Microsoft Teams for video calls and so on. And it happens to be that people that work like that is only about 20 to 25% of the global workforce. So there’s a vast majority 70 80% of the global workforce who are longtime workers, they have to stand on their feet. They have to do physical jobs, and it’s everything from people working in a hotel. The staff in a hotel housekeepers, food and beverage in the kitchen. It goes on to retail people in the shops, filling up the shelves, working in logistics, and travel less well, manufacturing people in the factories in construction. It’s a really big class of workers. Some of them are oftentimes called blue collar workers, deskless workers. So there are many names. The one we liked the most and find it describes also the fact that they’re also on the front of the business is the word frontline. So those are the frontline workers, a for us, and as we understand in the most generic possible way.

Gregorio Uglioni
And I think what you’re saying, Bring me to think about that. There are a lot of people that have such roles. And if they’re up in their life, they have a big, big impact on our society. Because for us, it’s normal to go and buy something, but it’s something should be there in the store at the right time at the right place. And this This is their role. It’s a big, big role in the society, correct?

Cristian Grossmann
Totally, totally. I mean, we went through it in the pandemic a couple of years ago, I think it became very evident and very clear how essential they are. They were also called during that time essential workers, right. I think they they kept our world running while everything else stopped. And there were lock downs, the ones that had to keep on working were frontline workers and be essential workers, right. So as you say, they are the fundament and the basis of a lot of what our businesses do our economies and the society at large.

Gregorio Uglioni
It’s extremely interesting. And you said you are working on this topic since roughly 10 years. What are the needs of these frontline workers?

Cristian Grossmann
Yes, so we spent a lot of time studying and understanding what drives a frontline worker, what do they need in order to be successful at work? And there are a number of insights there. So we’ve identified for example, in terms of needs to your questions, what do they need? A we’ve asked many of our customers from the US from Asia, from Europe, what do you need in order to be successful? And what you will always hear are things like, I want to know when I have to work, like, what’s my schedule? With whom do I have to work? What’s my team, they tend to be very loyal and very close to their immediate teams, maybe not so much to the company, but to their immediate teams? How much do I earn. So the topic of payment is a really important one that you typically live almost from paycheck to paycheck, they sometimes have to juggle one, two or three jobs. So the topic of payments and making money is an important one, right? And of course, what’s the bigger picture of what I’m doing. So if you compound all of these a questions that they have in their head, you will quickly find out that it’s really hard for them to get that information in a very simple manner. There’s sometimes that type of information tends to reside in systems that are spread all across the company, too many of them they don’t even have access, they have to ask their manager. So there are a lot of hurdles for them to actually get to the information that makes them be focused and at peace of mind, and that they can serve better the customers and do their job. So the needs are very, very particular are very different from the type of needs that an office worker would have. And that’s why we believe building software and the name and technology for the frontline is like a completely different ballgame than building software for Office. Workers we see it as one is like playing tennis and the other one is playing baseball, both of them do have something you need to hit the ball with. But it’s not quite the same. The rules are different, the players are different. And the way of winning, and making them successful is very different.

Gregorio Uglioni
What you’re saying it sounds really extremely clear, and we see the big need of finding solution for them. But I think when you started it was not so clear. And perhaps where does this idea to create this this app, the solution from front frontlines worker from you shared with me in a private discussion and the hotel story, I hope that you can share that also today and keen to listen, how did you create this this great product?

Cristian Grossmann
Yes, for sure. And so the story goes as follows. So that are two parts. One is more of a bit of a background story. A personally, both of my grandparents were frontline workers, they worked in a factory. So I spent countless summers and afternoons with them. And I would say I was sensible life with how the whole world worked, at least in the 80s. But bad news is it hasn’t changed that much. It’s still a lot of paperwork, bulletin boards written and notes and so on. So it’s very old fashioned a steel nowadays, and we save with all our customers. How did we get started so we initially have a another idea it was a student community that we were trying to build up a in Zurich, turned out to be a great place for students to get to exchange, it was some something like an anonymous Twitter, we got quite some some nice traction in the end through that we started putting some advertisement on the platform to make some money. And through that, a we got in contact with different HR departments. And some of them told us, hey, the platform looks really good. It’s a it’s a great tool, would it be possible to also use it internally for us? And initially, we said, No, we want to focus doing only what we want to be doing. But at some point, we said, You know what, it’s not such a bad idea. Why don’t we give them the technology that we’ve built, and the skills that we’ve built to bring people together. And we offer that as a service for companies. And that’s how it started. And one of our very first customers where I would say we had our whole day come moment was with Swissotel, the brand that A was acquired by Fairmont. And then of course, the hacker group. But a they were basically going through a transformation after being acquired PMI project, where they needed basically to rebrand everything internally towards their own employees in terms of what’s the new strategy, what are the new values, what are the new processes, and so on. And they were struggling to get to all of their frontline workers they had at that time, around 50,000 People in 120 hotels, and none of them had an email address, it was really hard to reach them. And the typical methods of cascading information were too slow to intransparent. And really hard to know if they weren’t having the impact that they wanted to have. And that’s where we started with a small pilot in a couple of properties in Switzerland, we deployed our platform to bring people together together with the idea that you need to help them and bring them onto the platform. So we drove from hotel to hotel, helping each and every single one of the employees to get a board. And by the end of the day, when we got back to the VP of HR and the CEO and said, You know what, you can write a message on your phone. And everybody will read it right now that were completely mind blowing, because that’s something that in the hospitality industry had never happened before. And it wasn’t the right moment for them, but also for us, because we were thinking, well, we’re just helping them to bring people together. It turns out, we solved a much more fundamental problem, which is how do they reach, interact and enable all of their frontline workers? Right? So that was, I would say, the turning point where we said, wow, we’re on to something bigger here. It seems to be a really big problem. We took a bit of a step back and said, Well, is it only a hospitality issue, or something that in manufacturing, retail logistics, all that happens, and we were mind blown by by the scale of this opportunity?

Gregorio Uglioni
It’s really a great story and the tools again, that it starts small. And if it’s the right idea, and it solves a problem that companies have, then it can it can really scale up. But basically the question that I would have now it’s you shared example on the hotels, now perhaps speaking about manufacturing, and so on, how can you bring this digitalization to the front line? What are the reasons? Yes.

Cristian Grossmann
So I would say that the reasons vary from company to company nowadays, the reason is quite clear, in an economic environment where there’s pressure around costs, increasing from labor, from energy, and so on, all the companies are looking for ways to become more efficient. We’ve heard also about the chronic, a labor shortage that there is, so imagine us a company, you’re seeing more and more demand, your cost basis is increasing, you don’t have enough people to cope with that. And one of the few ways of dealing with it is well, you make the people that you have been more effective and more productive, and you give them better tools to be more efficient. So that’s certainly one of the triggers that brings companies to do this. A couple of years back, it was more even the pandemic, when they realized, well, how do we steer a whole team with 1000s or 10s of 1000s of people, if we can not even send the messages or let them know where we’re going as a company? Right. But I think in general, those would be certainly a some of the main reasons why they why they start engaging with us. There are others more on the personnel side, in the sense that companies want to become a better employer and it’s also this war for talent in the frontline. It’s equally true as for the office, and being a modern employer offering the right tools more flexibility to your frontline is certainly something that allows them and helps them to cope with this war for talent on the frontline.

Gregorio Uglioni
And now let’s go on the other side. You describe the advantages for for a company but for a front frontline worker and we discuss also that already once it’s perhaps you’re outside on the road Working on the road or doing something and then you need to take out your smartphone and check stuff and so on. Out there frontline workers workers reacting on this tool?

Cristian Grossmann
Yes, yes. So it is super interesting a aspect because typically companies like when we talk to management, they’re like, oh my god, we’re afraid of releasing this type of technology. It’s typically the first time that they do it. Because so far it has been literally pen and paper and bulletin boards, the way they work with a frontline. So they’re kind of nervous and afraid of this change that comes and ask themselves questions like, Well, are they going to use an app? Are they going to be open for this? A will they want to install it on their frontline or on their phone, and the philosophy we take and what we’ve learned, it’s really the magic key to all of this is turning everything around and asking yourself, what’s really important for the frontline worker in order to be truly successful and add a lot of value for the frontline worker. So we take this perspective of what is it that a frontline worker needs, and the amount of value that we have been able to put in the app for them over these years, is immense. So we get really good feedback from the frontline workers. It’s a feelings of appreciation, what come back, it’s feelings of wow, we’re being heard, we have a voice, we have a modern workplace where we can actually get the information that we need. It’s flexibility for them to for example, swap shapes, or in or a or trade the shift with our colleagues. So all of those things are advantages and values for the frontline worker that make their life easier. And a allows them to be more engaged with the organization. So that’s certainly I would say, besides the big benefits from the company side, we always try to balance it with equally big benefits for the frontline. And I think that’s the the recipe for for the success that we’ve seen with our customers. Yeah.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you, Cris, what you’re seeing in our customer experience language is really the frontline experience, changing that improving that making, making it easy, comfortable, that you can use use that and work on that. And perhaps also to understand that how are you coping with this frontline experience? Also in future? Do you have also partner groups feedback groups that provide your feedback? Or how it’s working?

Cristian Grossmann
Yes, yes. As you say, the frontline experience is something really unique, as I was mentioning before, supposed to the office space, right? For office workers, you can have horrible interfaces, like the ones we know from old ERPs. And people just have to use it and they will use them and they will hate them, but they will use them right. In the frontline. The life is different. Frontline work by nature is hard. You might have some protective equipment glows, it’s noisy, maybe there was a lot of more of you call it like there are things that don’t allow you to see really well, if so, you have to make sure that everything that they touch and that they do, it’s super simple and quick and easy for them, right. As opposed to the office workers like we tend to work, for example, on a presentation on an Excel file. So we are working with the systems to produce the output. In the frontline. It’s different because the system is more of a guidance of a coach to let them know what they need to be doing. But they do it in the real world, right? So they need to put things on a shelf, they need to clean up a room, they need to produce something physically. So it’s a bit of a different direction and a different philosophy. And that’s why the frontline experience is so important. I think there’s one rule that we’ve learned over these years, it’s our golden rule, which is that complexity is an absolute killer of adoption and of usage. The counterpart is also true, which is simplicity is king in the frontline experience. So what we see a lot is companies trying to take office tools, rewrap them or something and just provide it one to one to the frontline workforce. And that tends to be not the best way to approach this because a exactly this complexity is something that hinders usage hinders the adoption and ultimately also the business impact and the business value that you want to have. So the frontline experience, I would say it’s one of the key things to get all of these mixed right in and it’s something that we we spend a lot of time from different areas we have user researchers that actually spend time with our users understanding this type of thing. We have a lot of feedback from our customers directly on how they use beekeeper what type of improvements that need. We thrive a lot of our roadmap based on that. And we also have, for example, a customer advisory panel or customers a more at sea level to understand more of the strategic direction that are customers need to be supported with. And that helps us also trickle down that into the whole process. So I would say it’s a very multi dimensional way of trying to understand and trying to be as close as possible to our customers. Why? Because there’s also a big disconnect and a big barrier, we ourselves, we are not spending our time like a frontline worker. So we need to invest extra effort and extra time to understand it and to know exactly what is it that

Gregorio Uglioni
I would say in our language walk into frontline shoes?

Cristian Grossmann
Yes, yes. Very true. That’s exactly the way to describe.

Gregorio Uglioni
I am very aware of timing, we are coming to the end of the regular time of the self this game, I still have one question in the regular time. In 10 years from now we are back on the CX goalkeeper podcast and what we are discussing about

Cristian Grossmann
I think, in 10 years, I would like to discuss how the frontline and the perception of the frontline has changed. And the bowl, it is something that is out. That’s the frontline to wow, it’s something exciting, it’s something respected, and it’s something that is equally empowered as the office worker. So that’s certainly one thing I would love to be discussing. The other one that maybe 10 years is already passed or happen. But I think data is also a really strong topic for the frontline. We’re talking here about even introducing basic systems to them. We’re already thinking one to three steps ahead, which is by digitalizing. So many paper processes, you suddenly have data and insights that you didn’t have before about frontline engagement, how your organization works, where are the bottlenecks, how can you become more efficient. And I think that’s the topic that in the next decade, for sure will gain a lot more attention.

Gregorio Uglioni
And I’m very looking forward to discuss this topic together with you also in future on the CX goalkeeper podcast. They now the extra time the last three minutes of this podcast are starting three questions for you. The first one, is there a book that you would like to suggest to the audience that helped during your career or during your personal life?

Cristian Grossmann
Yes, well, I mean, a, if they’re interested about the frontline, I wrote a book about the rise of the frontline worker. There you go. Thanks so much, Greg. It’s certainly one that I would recommend to read. And it captures some of the insights and learnings we’ve had over the last 10 years of building beekeeper and serving the frontline that are others that I have been super helpful. One is certainly the one by Tony Robbins called the Unleash the Power Within I think it was I read a couple of years ago, more from the personal side. It was certainly a very good read, and they changed a lot for me.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you very much. The second last question. It’s about your contact details people would like to reach reach what’s the best way?

Cristian Grossmann
Yes, so the best way is a either to write me directly on LinkedIn, I’d be more than happy to connect with you follow our handle of beekeeper on LinkedIn as well. We’re always publishing the latest research and content around the frontline. Right now we have, for example, the frontline trends, and our insights from a frontline survey that we’ve done recently. So if you want to learn more about that, that’s certainly one way to stay connected or directly go to our website, you can check out our product directly there with our free trial. It’s So

Gregorio Uglioni
thank you very much. You will find all this information also in the show notes. The last question is Cristian’s golden nugget, it’s something that was discussed or something new that you would leave to the audience.

Cristian Grossmann
I think the fascination for the frontline and an invitation to look closer in your day to day life because frontline workers are everywhere. And their work is so essential and so amazing that it’s fascinating just to observe a little bit closer and sometimes just ask them, Hey, how is it doing the job that you do that tends to be so different from the others work?

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you very much, Cris. It was really a great pleasure to have you on the CX goalkeeper podcast. Please stay with me to the audience. It was a great pleasure to have Cristian Grossman, the CEO and founder of beekeeper on the CX goalkeeper podcast. I hope that you enjoyed this discussion as much as I did. As you know feedback is a gift please contact me contact beekeeper they have a great product product for your frontliners and if you want please leave a short review on Apple podcasts. Thank you very much. Bye bye.

Cristian Grossmann
Thank you so much Greg. Thanks everyone.

Gregorio Uglioni
If you enjoyed this episode, please share the word of mouth. Subscribe it, share it until the next episode. Please don’t forget, we are not in a b2b or b2c business. You’re in a human to human environment. Thank you

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