By Nicole Attias
Exceptional customer service is one of the most important components of business for franchises of all types—and it begins in the franchise system with the relationship between the franchisee and the franchisor. Customers will be quick to pick up on a positive work atmosphere and strong company culture when they decide where to make a purchase.
To begin practising effective customer service, you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses. Do you tackle problems or avoid them? Do you like working in a team or solo? Do you notice lots of details when interacting with other people, either on the phone or in person?
Keeping these questions in mind, customer service skills are really a matter of common sense, patience and respect for others.
Additionally, as the franchisee, you need to hire the right team of employees, with a belief in teaching by example. Customer service representatives (CSRs) should be viewed as equals working together during both good and challenging times, not as competitors to one another. They will need to believe in the franchise and act in ways that are best for its development, with everyone on the same page.
Without question, the franchise needs to start with the right team in place. Next, customers need to be treated as the most important element of the business.
To ensure your franchise provides stellar customer service, you and your CSRs alike should follow these steps and basic principles:
- Understand the importance of your role
Any role involving servicing customers face-to-face and/or answering their incoming phone calls will be extremely important, as it is the front line of the business and the customer’s first point of contact. If the customer enjoys the experience, it reinforces a good feeling about the franchise as a whole. If, on the other hand, the customer dislikes how he/she is treated, a negative feeling is associated with the brand.
Customers remember how they feel when dealing with a company. Thus, the CSR’s job is to make them feel important and valued during every interaction. And this job is a demanding one, requiring a lot of patience, especially when problems arise. For this reason, not everyone makes a great CSR.
- Display common courtesy and respect
CSRs should address customers by name whenever possible. It is important to be friendly and warm, showing empathy and appreciation for their business each and every time.
If your franchise takes customer phone calls, they should be answered by the second or third ring. And customers should not be kept on hold for long.