Thanks to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, franchises can’t shy away from addressing negative feedback
Thanks to the power of social media, the old cliche ‘the customer is king’ has never been truer. Now, if you offer bad service or sloppy workmanship, your customer has the means to tarnish your reputation in seconds with a scathing tweet or Facebook post. As Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, said: “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000.”
This is a sobering thought and an issue felt even more keenly in the world of franchising, where your brand name is represented by dozens or even hundreds of other business owners. That’s why getting to grips with social media is important for franchisors and franchisees alike. But how can everyone involved in the industry harness social media and employ it to their advantage?
The first step is to create platforms that convey the right message. To start with, every franchise’s head office needs to be represented on Facebook and Twitter and these sites need to be constantly monitored. The reason this job sits well within head office is that it can respond quickly to any feedback – especially unfavourable comments – and turn a potentially negative situation into a positive one with a swift resolution. Whilst it is important to acknowledge customers who take time to recommend you or share a positive experience with your company, it is vital to be all over a review that paints your company in a bad light.
Though not traditionally defined as social media, the same thing arguably applies to customer-review websites such as Trustpilot, Trip Advisor or Which? Trusted Traders. They can generate great interest in your business but negative comments must again be dealt with professionally and expediently.
More than just dealing with customer commendations and condemnation, these channels can also bring you new business. By tracking key words – in our case ‘tyres’ – we can see instantly if a Facebook user needs new tyres in Glasgow and put them in touch with our local branch. Meanwhile, on a local level, franchise owners can also set up their own social-media pages to link to other local businesses or groups with which they share a common bond.
Compared to franchising, social media is in its infancy but, handled right, it will expand brand recognition, drive sales, boost profitability and inspire customer loyalty. It is a phenomenon to be running alongside, not hiding from.