A call is all it takes
Have you ever received a call from a business you frequent to ask you about the service? Or — even better — has anyone ever called you to thank you for complaining?
I once had a problem with the air-conditioner of my car and the dealership simply couldn’t seem to fix the defect. I complained to the service department, only to later receive a phone call from the general manager of the dealership. He thanked me for the call, explained that my car would be sent to a new air-con specialist at their expense to have it seen to again and that if it wasn’t fixed my bill would be refunded in full.
He invited me to come into the dealership to discuss it further if I wished. Although my car air-con wasn’t repaired, I really appreciated the manager going the extra mile to phone me and address my concerns.
Related: Customer Service Success Secrets
A phone call to address customer comments or complaints is a method that should be used by all businesses. The script is simple:
- Thank the customer for their feedback.
- Address their complaint.
- Tell them how it’s going to be sorted out.
- Thank them again.
- Invite them to come back soon. This is yet another way to turn a possibly damaging incident into a positive customer experience.
The sound of your own name has a certain magic about it. It makes you feel special, and it establishes a connection with the person speaking to you.
We all feel that way, so try to make your customers experience that special bond by using their first names when dealing with them. It elevates your interaction to the personal level from being just a bland transaction. You learn someone’s first name by introducing yourself by name when they come into your shop or from your business communications.
When speaking to your customer, pay attention to how they pronounce their name, then use it accordingly, and best of all, remember it. Practice using people’s first names as you address them. “I can do you a half lamb for just under R1 000, Dave. How does that grab you?”
This kind of thing will be sure to grab Dave a lot better since you’re using his first name. You’ve established a special personal bond, right there in your butchery.
Online customers, online customer service
Whether you do business on the Internet, or your store simply has a Facebook account, you have an online presence. You need to have an online customer-service ethic.
Be sure to deal with every query and comment you come across online. Do web searches for your company’s name on Facebook and Twitter. Visit your store’s Facebook page regularly and respond to every comment
on there. Check your company email inbox.
Online conversations are personal, in the same way a chat with a customer in your store is a personal one. So show the same sincere, positive, personal attitude you do in your shop. Make it personal, and someone who was initially having a rant about what they thought was a faceless company, will calm down and become reasonable.
Don’t look at your Facebook page or your Twitter account as a one-way broadcast for you to announce your promotions. It is a two-way forum for communication, and a great tool for customer service and to build positivity about your business.
A site like hellopeter.com is specifically for consumers to report on the service that they receive from suppliers. Go on there from time to time and do a search for your company name. If you find a comment — positive or negative — engage the individual. The same applies to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
In the case of an upset individual going on a bit of a rant, be reasonable and try to take the conversation offline. Ask for the person’s email address so they can explain their problem more fully. If necessary, give them a phone call. Show you care and address all issues sincerely, just as you would in real life.
Social media protocol
On social media like Twitter and Facebook you have a chance to interact with customers about your store or your brand. It’s a great opportunity. Here are a few pointers:
The point of social media is that it’s a form of multi-user interaction. Don’t think of it like a television ad or a newspaper promo that goes out from you to your customers. Everyone has the right to an opinion on your brand. Luckily you know it better than anyone. So get on there and join the conversation. Accept praise, manage complaints, and correct any possible misunderstandings.
2. Have an account manager
If the volume of your social media traffic is large, or you’re not an expert, hire a social media manager to look after your account. They will handle day-to-day interactions and flag any serious issues for your input.
3. Be positive
As in life, positivity is contagious. Negative comments from you reflect poorly on your business. So don’t diss your competition or any unhappy customers. Come at it from a positive, constructive point of view. Get on it, pronto. A message on your FB page, or on Twitter is not something to be put on your to-do list. It needs to be addressed immediately. Engage the person and start a conversation. Leaving them hanging or ignoring them is rude.
4. Don’t feed the trolls
If someone descends into abuse and disrespect, stop the conversation. State your case, and if people are unreasonable or abusive, move on. If necessary, block them.
More haste, less speed
You know that some of the fastest service is not always a sign of good service. If I place an order at a restaurant and my meal arrives 40 seconds later, I’ll be slightly suspicious.
Similarly, customer service is not always just about speed. Sure, we are all under time pressure, but we still require quality service from the businesses we support. The Gallup Organization has conducted research that found satisfying the emotional needs of customers is equally, or more important than the speed of service.
So don’t neglect the personal aspect of your interaction with customers. Favouring speed above courtesy and effectiveness can actually be counter-productive. Who wants a meal prepared in a minute by grumpy staff that tastes awful?
Also, if your customer’s experience in your store is pleasant, the time they spend there can be irrelevant. They might spend a fun 20 minutes chatting to the waiters, watching sport on the big screen and reading your store magazine. Then their tasty meal arrives!
Most of the time, quality of service trumps speed.
What To Know About Franchising Your Business
For many businesses, franchising is an excellent route to growth, opening up new opportunities and markets. Laurette Pienaar, National Franchise Manager at Nedbank, unpacks why it’s worth considering this route.
- Player: Laurette Pienaar
- Position: National Franchise Manager
- Company: Nedbank Limited
- Visit: nedbank.co.za
What type of business is ideally suited to the franchise model?
Franchising has been proven successful across all industries, including the automotive, food, entertainment and retail industries. However, several key qualities ultimately determine a concept’s ability to successfully become a franchise.
Firstly, the business model must be scalable and able to be repeated in several locations. Secondly, there must be demand for the products sold and, thirdly, the franchise model must be proven as profitable.
Why is franchising a good growth option?
Franchising is often used as a cost-effective growth strategy for businesses. A key benefit of this strategy is that no capital layout is required for a new franchised store as opposed to corporate-owned stores.
Franchised stores are also proven to be more successful than corporate-owned stores. This is mainly due to the fact that the franchise owners have a vested interest in the store, whereas corporate stores are supervised by a manager. Franchising is therefore also a great way to build your brand.
What should business owners focus on?
Franchisors should set up good infrastructure to support their franchisees, including good upfront and ongoing training to both the franchisees and their staff, the correct legal advice and assistance, and a strong operational team to assist franchisees daily.
Many successful franchisors provide support by expanding through vertical integration, which provides franchisees with logistics, supply chain security and product consistency.
Several franchisors advocate a structure with both franchisee and corporate-owned stores. This enables a franchisor to keep in touch with the daily challenges franchisees experience and new products and solutions can be tested at a corporate store before being rolled out to the franchise network.
How can franchising consultants assist business owners?
Franchise consultants provide daily operational support to franchisees. They are responsible for daily store visits to assist with quality checks, process flows, supplier relationships and, often, financial assessments. They are a helpful soundboard on any improvements to be made in the business model and can convey suggestions to the franchisor.
What challenges should business owners be aware of?
Businesses looking to franchise need to ensure that their business is teachable to others. Overcomplicated products and systems may deter franchisees from investing in your brand.
Franchisors have to do ongoing introspection regarding their company culture. For example, does the culture promote innovation and inspire franchisees and consumers, which ultimately is a culture worth investing in?
New franchisors’ selection criteria for franchisees are often not sufficiently thorough and comprehensive. For a new franchisor, it is important to choose good quality franchisees and to have strict selection criteria to ensure that your brand remains reputable and stable during fast-expanding cycles.
What lessons can be learnt from SA’s successful franchises?
Businesses looking to expand through franchising should consider setting up several corporate-owned stores first. This assures potential investors that your business is based on a proven model with a track record and supportive infrastructure.
There is not always a one-size-fits-all model. Many franchisors have created custom models to accommodate and adjust to the need of a specific property or consumer market. A great example of this would be the food industry where many franchisors offer shopping centre concepts, drive thrus and kiosk or express concepts. Consider this when developing your model.
Develop Digital Marketing Competency In 3 Simple Steps
Conquering the digital revolution needn’t be daunting. Polish up your tech skills and watch your digital marketing prowess increase throughout your franchise.
As a franchisor, digital marketing may be proving to be a challenge due to the unique structuring of the business.
“The very nature of franchises is ‘structured’, however, when it comes to marketing, that structure often lacks,” says Marcela De Vivo, Founder and CEO of Gryffin Media.
Franchisors and franchisees often struggle to reach common ground when looking to achieve different marketing goals. While the franchisor needs to control the brand in its entirety, the franchisee wants to market their business using particular strategies suited to their location.
Research has found that smartphones are the biggest influencers of 82% of users when they make their in-store purchase decisions while. It’s for this reason that the importance of digital marketing for franchises has increased.
Here’s how to harness its power of influence, amplify foot traffic and solidify brand loyalty:
1. Recruit digital natives and early adopters
As much as you’re the leader of your franchise network, there are franchisees in your chain you could learn from. The global increase in millennial franchise owners means it is highly likely that you’ll be able to identify early digital adopters within your franchise network.
“The best people to learn from are those who have been in your shoes before,” says Matt Forman of the Franchise Centre at Griffith University.
“Encourage and support their efforts and use them as case studies to demonstrate to the rest of your franchisees the value of digital marketing, and how to do it right.”
2. Invest in training your team
“Each digital competency level requires more education and resources in order to integrate digital marketing with your physical stores,” says Forman. For this reason, regularly investing in continuous training for your team so as to ensure they keep abreast of any new and emerging trends.
Proactivity and adapting to the constantly evolving digital landscape led KFC to open a LinkedIn account for its founder and mascot Colonel Sanders. KFC’s out of the box tactic is a fresh approach to what has long been considered a B2B platform, under-utilised as a B2C platform.
3. Apply custom targeting techniques
The discovery of new and small businesses is being fuelled by Google searches, social media and online reviews, making these platforms a goldmine of invaluable tools.
Leveraging certain custom targeting techniques like easily searchable keywords and exposure on other reputable and high-traffic websites, gives your franchise’s digital marketing efforts a boost. This results in an effective campaign, favourable reviews and meaningful and lasting interactions with consumers “whether it’s a reply to a Facebook comment or a retweet,” says Entrepreneur’s Emily Conklin.
How To Hire Skilled Workers For Your Franchise
Your staff run your business – you just have to show them how. This is why employing the best people for the job is essential.
According to the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA) 2017 Franchisor Survey, one of the main challenges facing franchisees is finding the right staff.
“Staffing your franchise can be one of the most challenging parts of running a successful business. Without a great team of employees, you cannot run your business effectively,” says Saxon Marsden-Huggins, founder of WebRover.
These three tips could help you find the best employees for your franchise outlet:
1. Don’t hire in haste
While you may be rearing to go and keen to fill gaps to speed up profitability, research your candidates thoroughly.
As the job applications keep flowing into your inbox, keep in mind that not all of them qualify for the positions available – it may even be a small percent who are actually viable candidates. This is why your hiring process should include:
- Taking the time to thoroughly screen CVs to develop a short list
- Creating a carefully crafted list of interview questions
- Setting aside adequate time for thorough interviews
- Getting to know the candidates through a second round of interviews to confirm your choice.
Giving the hiring process dedication and attention will ensure you get the cream of the crop, contributing to the long-term success of your franchise.
2. Demonstrate support in the workplace
While you can instil the necessary skills into new recruits, it’s difficult to train for culture. This is why choosing the right employees from the beginning will make the rest of your franchise management system will run more smoothly.
“The manner by which you run the franchise will influence employee perceptions of the brand as well,” says Hireology’s Erin Borgerson. “Your staff must become ambassadors of your franchise system to attract the target consumer market.”
The best way to do this is encouraging staff to give you their honest feedback. Your commitment to creating and upholding a positive culture will result in increased loyalty from your current staff and a superior pool of applicants.
3. Offer appealing incentives
When advancement opportunities are clearly communicated, staff is keen to hear how they can get there, as they have career goals of their own. Encouraging this ambition will draw good employees to your franchise.
“Helping employees understand the steps to advancement helps them to view their current job as an important part of a career with an upward path, not just a pay cheque for this week,” say financial reporting technology experts at Qvinci.
Performance bonuses and employee benefits incentivise staff’s efforts, therefore increasing their income alongside the profit of the business. “This serves to make employees a part of the business and not merely people ‘who work there’,” they explain.
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