Front office operations typically refer to the part of a business that deals directly with customers or is visible to customers and observers. In contrast, back office or support positions are removed from the customer. For many companies, front office operations positions might include those of office manager, sales representative, investment advisor, receptionist, customer service representative or reservation agent. The personnel who make up front office operations manage the experience of the firm's clients and are critical to the firm's financial longevity.
The hotel industry is often used as an example in studies of front office administration. Many positions in a hotel chain would be considered to be front office jobs since these employees consistently interact with guests and help to shape the customer experience. For example, the check-in agent is responsible for making sure the guest feels welcome when he arrives, becomes acquainted with the location and can trust that his personal information will remain secure. The role of front office operations is dynamic since it requires a mix of service, salesmanship, and service recovery.
Two cornerstones of front office operations are service and service recovery. Professionals who choose to work with customers often have a desire to gain intrinsic rewards from their work, such as improving a customer's experience or solving problems. They gain satisfaction from contributing to a person's contentment. For example, in the information technology industry, help desk agents and support technicians are considered to be front office jobs since they provide service assistance and education to a firm's external and internal users.
In the banking industry, front office jobs might include tellers, personal bankers, financial advisors and branch managers. These are the individuals who customers interact with in order to perform account transactions, get information about potential account services, resolve discrepancies and process account changes. Customers may seek advice from front office personnel prior to making a decision, which is where the component of salesmanship often comes in.
Sales representatives and managers make up a large percentage of front office operations. These positions are responsible for increasing revenue for the firm by persuading customers that the firm's products and services will meet their needs. Sales representatives must learn how to read people, ask appropriate questions and address customer concerns. They are often involved in evaluating the client's current situation and making recommendations based upon a match between the firm's products and a gap or need.
Administrative assistants may be a front office job in some cases. In a small company or medical office, front office personnel help greet and funnel requests and inquiries through the organization. While assistants are primarily considered to be in a support role, they may be the ones who interact the most with patients or customers. Support personnel can also serve as gatekeepers, which can prevent certain individuals from gaining access to a company's executive team.