In an age of digital conversations and online automation, you would be forgiven for thinking that personal interactions are less important. Most businesses have a digital strategy and a social-media policy that guides their online engagement, which makes complete sense. But there’s potentially a danger that this is making customer service become too focused on processes rather than being people-driven. A franchise only exists because customers buy from them so ensuring they’re being served well is crucial. And often the human touch goes a long way.
Just think about the last time you had to complain to a company or even just wanted to ask a question. Did you wait on hold or have to punch in numbers on a call handling system, only to be referred back to the FAQ page on its website? Technology is a wonderful thing but the best way of providing a brilliant service to people is by letting them deal with your company’s best assets: your people.
One of the reasons that franchising is such a successful business model is that it attracts franchisees who are motivated, engaged and professional. They’re also closer to the customer on a local level. This creates a win-win-win scenario. The franchisee benefits from contact with their customers, allowing them to directly influence the growth of their business. At the same time, the franchisor wins because the passion and enthusiasm” a franchisee has for delivering customer service builds massive brand loyalty. And the customer also wins because they get to deal with the owner of the business: someone with a vested interest in ensuring that their experience is a positive one.
And when the customer is treated well and establishes a rapport with the brand on a personal level, they’re far more likely to share their positive experience with their friends, family, work colleagues and social-media contacts. Technology has empowered the average customer to become roving reviewers and rate their experiences on social media, their blog or a dedicated reviews website like TripAdvisor.
Savvy franchises recognise that recommendations or reviews from peers can be hugely influential and that it makes business sense to see to it that every single customer interaction is outstanding. But of course this can work in reverse too and it’s frequently said that bad experiences are often shared far more than positive ones.
At the end of the day, placing people at the heart of your business and investing in delivering exceptional customer service across all touchpoints affects how loyal your customers are and your reputation. Happy customers tend to buy more frequently, after all. So any franchise that wants to grow should always consider how they can ensure the human touch is there in every interaction.