Franchising constitutes two types of business formats, product franchising and business format franchising. If you own a business format franchise, then maintaining a healthy relationship with your customers may make or break your business. Let us discuss
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so"- Mahatma Gandhi
Customer relations rest on customer service. Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. One of the most important aspects of customer relationship is winning and retaining customers.
Customer relations mean to adopt and implement customer centric approach in conducting business and maintaining continued relationship with customers in order to improve future sales and services. This is especially applicable in case of business format franchising, as you are providing services to your customers at your franchised outlet. As the institution of franchise takes its roots from creation of an image of high quality products and services, it becomes all the more important for a franchisor to guard against its brand esteem and strive relentlessly to retain the brand image.
A customer-focused franchisee conducts all its activities relating to trade in consistence with customer’s tastes, preferences and conveniences. Every constituent member of the franchise shares this vision and attempts to deliver continuous customer satisfaction in a quest to experience good customer relations ever.
The aim of franchisee therefore, is not only to give customer a good experience but to give him a same feel that he experiences at another franchised outlet of the same brand. The quality of customer relations can make or break your franchise.
Tips to foster customer relationship
Here are few suggestions to keep good customer relationships and reap its fruits -
Customer is the boss
The consumer today is becoming more quality and service conscious. He wants to be treated like a valued customer. Although quality is important, yet he would want to do business with some one who would treat him with respect. The dominant theme today, is that those who care about both - quality and customer satisfaction, can retain customers.
Strive to uphold brand image
Customers expect consistency from every franchisee. They visit the franchisee expecting to receive the similar service experience and same standard and quality every time they visit the outlet. The brand image draws the customer first time, but the service and attention from franchisee and his salesmanship draws him back several times. At every franchised outlet the key to success is brand loyalists.
Continue image building
Image building in franchising is a continuous process. Every employee should act as a service provider first and a professional later. Franchisees are advised to appoint their team as customer relations specialists. Build service attitude through training and courses. Take care of every smallest detail of customer service and try to earn the attention of the most important person – the customer.
Know the services well
Every salesperson should have a thorough knowledge about his brand. In other words, every sales crew should to be an information expert. One may some times say, “I don’t know”, but it should be quickly followed by “but let me find out.” Ensure that no customer leaves without his query being replied properly.
Listen to your customer with full attention
Allow your customers to talk, leaving an impression that you are listening to them intently. Give them solutions for the problems their every query and make their deal get through.
Do more than expected
Always look for ways to serve your customers more than they expect. In doing so, it leaves an impression that you care for them, and they leave with a "feel good effect”. When you make some extra efforts to provide good customer service, they carry it along and the message travels onwards.
Train the staff in customer care
Train the staff to be courteous, supportive and knowledgeable. Talk to them about good customer service and its merits. Empower them to take a few customer pleasing decisions.
Address complaints promptly
Most customers come with reasonable complaints. Do not provide dejected solutions to their complaints. Make earnest efforts to resolve them fairly and reasonably. A quick resolution of their problems will relieve them and settle them as satisfied customers.
Of course, quite some times, we come across some difficult customers who are vicious and rowdy, and difficult to handle. Dealing with such customers requires a highly developed skill. Avoid indulging in confrontation; tackle them softly and tactfully.