A smiley on the receipt, your name on the coffee cup, or a complimentary biscotti with every latte – it is the little things that certain businesses consistently do that endears them to customers. Strong, enduring customer-franchise relationships are built upon the foundation of reliable, replicable customer experiences – irrespective of the physical location. This rings true whether the franchise in question is a hotel, a cafe, a clothing brand or even a travel agency. Individual franchises play a pivotal role in developing and maintaining positive customer-franchise bonds, all the while staying within the branding and operational guidelines.
Much like how franchise outlets keep their logos, uniforms, interior design layouts and ad copy uniform, the same goes for the quality of customer service provided by their employees. Regularly-scheduled customer service trainings can ensure brand consistency across all outlets. Beyond the implementation of customer service training programs, organizations must create easily replicable models of optimum customer service for their franchisees. It is only with a well-charted out customer service strategy that a company can deliver on its commitment to customer care – especially in times of rapid expansion.
Set the Mold: Steps for Standardizing Customer Service Practices
❏ Set up national and global franchises for success with simplified customer service training materials that accurately reflect your brand’s core values. There should be a pared-down, one-page outline of the service strategy that is given to every single employee.
❏ There should also be a readily-available, digital knowledge center for franchisees, outlet management and employees to refer to for guidance on customer service issues.
❏ Keeping in mind the multilingual aspect of international outlets, franchisors usually develop and update training materials in all relevant languages.
❏ Make sure that basically the same customer care processes take place, irrespective of where the franchise outlet is located, be it in Abu Dhabi, Manila, or Berlin. Some flexibility is required to accommodate differences in cultural practices and associations from the host business.
❏ The franchisee-hired management must convey the importance of maintaining identical customer service rituals and support practices to all of their staff members.
Measuring Customer Satisfaction at Franchise Outlets
Customer service provided by the franchisee’s employees should always be on-brand, as should the product or service the consumer walked in for in the first place! Customer satisfaction is hinged almost exclusively on getting the same particular experience, service or product from a franchise outlet every single time – be it visit number three or fifty-three! Reliability and consistency factor pretty high up in business being able to ensure satisfactory experiences for their customers.
One of the ways that franchisors assess how their franchises measure up is through conducting and analyzing customer satisfaction surveys, both online and off-line. They also send out ‘mystery shoppers’ to the outlets to measure the customer experience. Some of the criteria for checking franchise outlet compliance includes:
❏ staff friendliness
❏ cleanliness of the establishment
❏ availability of parking
❏ waiting time
❏ ‘limited-time’ or ‘seasonal’ promotions being offered
❏ quality of product or service being offered
Any gaps that are identified between customer expectations and the actual customer experience are then flagged and shared with the concerned franchisee and their management team for resolution. Mystery shopping, online reviews and customer satisfaction surveys are some of the ways that franchisors tally customer satisfaction at their various franchise outlets.
With clearly communicated customer service strategies and regularly-scheduled staff trainings that guarantee the same quality of service, both franchisors and franchisees are poised for sustainable success.