This is why your franchise customer service is no good

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Here’s a fun fact: consumers are twice as likely to share a bad customer experience than they are to talk about positive ones. In the age of social media, this is especially true. It’s now much easier for customers to share reviews, criticisms and complaints in a public setting. Now, businesses need to be wary of word-of-mouth and social media. Unless, of course, their customer service is on point.

When it comes to the franchise model, franchisees are often provided the perfect tool kit of product, service, pricing, location and fit out. But what about the people? In many franchises, especially in the service industries of food, hospitality, maintenance and fitness, the people are absolutely critical to the success of the business. They are, after all, integral to customer service. With this in mind though, why are so many businesses failing in the customer service department?

Why customer service is so important

The way you deal with customers is top of mind for consumers. In fact, it’s highly likely that service decides whether a customer is prepared to use your brand again. And more often than not, this is hedged on the customer’s very first interaction with your brand. For loyal customers, a minor slip up in service may not be the end of your relationship. But for new ones, well, that’s the first and only experience they’ve had with your service. And if it’s not up to scratch, chances are they’re not coming back, and they may even spread the word.

According to the Customer Experience Impact Report, 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. It’s almost guaranteed that these consumers who turn away from your company are going to share their experience with their friends, whether that’s in person or online. According to the report, more than a quarter of consumers posted a negative comment on social media following poor customer service.

On the flip side, for good customer service, consumers are willing to pay 25% more. When it comes to falling in love with a brand, the response was overwhelmingly in favour of customer service with 73% of responders saying that friendly employees make them want to support a brand even more.

Customer service builds trust. It matters more than price. Do it right and it builds brand awareness. It’s crucial to all elements of your business.

Why your customer service isn’t cutting it

There are several reasons why your business may be having issues with customer service.

1. Young and inexperienced staff

If staff are young, chances are they haven’t had much experience as a consumer. Have they had the opportunity to be on the other side of poor customer service? If not, they may not be able to recognise when they’re failing in that regard. Franchises rely heavily on casual staff that are often underage or just inexperienced.

 

Young, inexperienced staff are the majority of employees in some franchise models. Training on ‘soft skills’ is critical.

 

2. Antiquated systems

Outdated systems do not reflect poorly on the technology. Staff end up taking the blame. And while it may not be the employee’s fault that check-in at the hotel is taking two hours when it should take two minutes, it’s the employee who is going to bear the brunt of the blame. Outdated technology makes staff look incompetent and it continually makes them apologise for the slow service.

3. Training that focuses solely on processes

Training employees is not an easy task. But it’s crucial to train employees not just in the products or the processes, but also in culture. It’s important to train employees in people skills.

While a lot will come naturally to most people, there will be some staff members who struggle with managing customers, and there will be some staff who need a helping hand in terms of language to use. Remember though, there may also just be some staff who will never change. Person-job fit is important.

4. Lack of incentives

Some employees may not need an incentive to do their job in providing good service. They’ll simply do it because they love it. For others though, they may need a little push in the right direction. Being named ‘Employee of the Month’ because of customer service goes a long way in the eyes of staff. 

5. Cumbersome processes

Needing a manager to process a $10 refund is quite simply, ridiculous. However, these processes exist, and when they do, they frustrate the consumer to no end. Having these processes in place not only makes the staff member look junior and incapable, but it’s also a reason for consumers not to use your services any more. If they can’t get simple things done because approval needs to go up the hierarchy, they’re not going to bother coming back.

Customer service is essential in any business. Whether you deal with thousands of consumers or just a couple of clients, your customer service is your brand. It shapes your brand and it’s a huge influence on whether people will use your products or services again. So, if you’re not doing it right, it’s time to shape up.