Franchise brands are few and far between on list of top brands in customer service!

Despite repeatedly hearing that exceptional customer service is paramount in today’s economic environment, franchising sees few brands make the list of top brands in customer service.

Do you believe it’s possible for a franchise brand to consistently deliver positively memorable customer service along the likes of Apple and Amazon.com, just to name a few of the brands that are repeatedly mentioned when discussing exceptional customer service and customer experience?

Are franchisors dedicating enough resources on customer service training? Are franchisees focused enough on providing exceptional customer service?

Personally, I believe it all starts with the culture of the Franchisor and the same must be conveyed to franchisees, not only through training, but in the way franchisors treat franchisees. It must be a top-down effect to start the process and must be on the forefront of everyone’s mind at all times and at all levels of the franchise organization. I also believe an extremely high level of providing positively memorable customer experiences is a key component towards improved unit-economics, and also in helping increase interest in franchise opportunities.

50 Brands Named ‘Customer Service Champions’ as posted on MediaPost.com March 15, 2012

In the faltering economy, the importance of customer service has reached new highs, overtaking even price as a purchase determinant, according to a J.D. Power report.

Read the complete article.

Want to learn more about customer service in franchising?

Mindy Golde, Director of Sales at Listen360 (formerly Systino) discusses Consumer Sales and Customer Experience at the upcoming Franchisee Sales & Marketing Summit. Listen to what she has to say about franchise brands and customer service! FranSummit is March 26-29.

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Accountability Begins With Respect

The following article was submitted by franchisEssentials Guest Author, Diane Helbig. As a certified, professional coach and president of Seize This Day Coaching, Diane works with people starting their own business, salespeople who need and want to improve their skills, and business owners who want to master challenges and realize greater success. She is also co-founder of Seize True Success, a coaching practice dedicated to helping franchisees grow and prosper.

Accountablilty Begins With Respect
By: Diane Helbig

Many small business owners struggle with making their staff accountable. They know what they expect their people to do. And, as long as everyone’s performing effectively, all is well. The trouble occurs when someone falls short of the owner’s expectations.

respectThe struggle is rooted in fear – fear of confrontation, consequence, repercussions. The solution is rooted in respect. When you respect yourself, your staff, and your customers, you’ll find accountability easier to achieve.

1. Respect yourself – This sounds simple, and it is. You should have a healthy respect for yourself. You took a chance and launched a business, putting your ego, income, and reputation on the line. At the same time, you’re not superman (or woman). When you respect yourself, you appreciate your accomplishments and own your limitations. When you respect yourself, you understand that you have a right to expect reasonable levels of performance and attitude from others.

2. Respect your staff – They are working with you to help you realize your vision. They bring valuable skills and sensibilities to your organization. You respect them when you have clear, written expectations and consequences – not only for their job function, but for their behavior and attitude. Have enough respect for them to let them know what you want. At the same time, have enough respect for them to remove obstacles, especially when those obstacles are co-workers who aren’t up to par. Put yourself in their shoes. How do you think it feels to consistently do a good job while Susie over there skates? In addition, respect them enough to believe in them. After all, they believe in you.

3. Respect your customers – They are the reason you and your staff are able to do what you do. When you respect your customer, you are aware of anything that can have an impact on them. And, rest assured, they’ll know if you are or are not making your staff accountable. It’ll show in their work, their attitude, and most of all – in yours.

A healthy respect goes a long way. If you’ve made your expectations and the consequences clear, and someone isn’t up to snuff, when you keep them anyway, you are doing a disservice to you, them, their co-workers and your clients. Making people accountable is the respectful thing to do!

About the Guest Author: Diane is a COSE Mindspring editor and writer for www.examiner.com. She is also a member of the Top Sales Experts panel at www.topsalesexperts.com. Diane is also a contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms. Diane earned a BS in Social Science from Michigan State University and received her coaching certification from The Coach Training Alliance. To learn more about her coaching practices please visit www.seizethisdaycoaching.com or www.seizetruesuccess.com

Customer Service and the Ripple Effect in a Franchise Organization

Here’s a story that was told to me a couple of months ago. I posted it on one of my other blogs, 21st Century Franchise Coach, but recently thought about how such an experience ultimately affects the franchise brand. So, franchisors, and anyone else that wants to chime in, when you’re reading this article, please keep the following questions in mind:

really-bad-customer-serviceHow would you handle this situation if you became aware of it through a customer complaint?
If asked by a franchisee, about what to do in a situation like this, or how to avoid it completely, how would you respond?
Are situations like this, covered in initial and ongoing franchisee training?
Ultimately, if similar situations are repeated, how could it affect the franchisors’ bottom line?
Do we, as a franchise organization, go the extra mile in working and communicating with our franchisees, who are basically the organization’s customers?

One Lost Customer Could Cost Thousands

I immediately thought about a question that was posted on a social network discussion board about what companies were prepared to do in order to retain customers during the current economic crisis.

Late one morning, a client of mine was told by his boss to purchase gift cards to be given as prizes for that afternoon’s golf tournament. The company had decided to increase the number of prizes as the response to participate by local businesses was overwhelming. The tournament was to start at 12:30PM and my client was playing in the event and had several of his clients playing with him. Therefore, it was imperative he make it to the golf course by noon at the latest.

At 10:35AM he went to a national chain restaurant and found it closed but saw alot of activity inside by the front desk. He knocked on the door and explained his desire to purchase $1000 in gift cards. He was rudely told the restaurant didn’t open until 11:00AM. My client explained his circumstances and the need to get across town to the golf course and not having to wait 25 minutes would really help him. He asked to speak with a manager. He was emphatically told no.

Instead of waiting, my client went across the street to another national restaurant chain location and found it didn’t open until 11AM as well. However, as he was looking in, a cook noticed him and opened the door. The cook cleaned his hands and helped one of the girls in the restaurant dig out enough gift cards to make up the desired amount and complete the transaction.

Okay. Here’s a few things to consider. My client frequently takes clients out for lunch. Do you think he’ll frequent the first restaurant in the future? The gift cards were given to ten participants at the golf tournament. Do you think they may spend above the gift card amount when they redeem the cards? And, is there a possibility their experience at the restaurant may be their first to the restaurant and if they enjoy the experience, they may return? How many people will my client tell about his bad experience at the first restaurant and how many people will he tell about the second one?

By not acting “outside the box”, how much revenue will the first restaurant potentially lose over the course of a year? Thousands?