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One of the biggest ways to kill a business is by disappointing or angering customers or clients. Frustrated consumers will not return to your franchise, and they can also spread the word that your business is not worth patronizing to others.
Whether you currently operate a Canadian franchise or are considering opening one, it's important to know how to create and maintain a service culture in your franchise that ensures customers will come back and encourage others to come as well. While there are many ways to help do this--and your specific industry may impact how you go about creating a customer-first environment--here are four general steps nearly every franchise needs to take to create a strong service culture.
Know you are in the service business
This may sound odd, but some business owners fail to realize they are in the service business. A coffee shop owner, for example, may just think they are in the coffee-selling business, but they are in the service business, too. Even the best coffee in the world won't keep bringing customers back if the coffee-ordering or receiving experience is terrible.
Look at your operations for customer-misery inducers
Examine all of the systems, procedures and policies you have in place that could make life miserable for your customers. You could have the friendliest staff in the world but rules, hours or procedures in place that simply irritate your customers and keep them from coming back. If you find anything that may damage the customer experience, it's time to make adjustments. If the offending policy comes from your franchisor, it's time to talk to them about it and make your case for why it needs to be changed.
Empower your employees
Employees should be able to make some fast decisions for the customers. Of course, there are some areas, such as refunds, where an employee may need to call on a staff member for help. But simpler issues, such as an ingredient substitution or service adjustment, should be something your employees can do on the spot, if possible. If your workers constantly have to call you or a manager for approval on every little matter, your customers are going to feel inconvenienced and probably annoyed.
Be careful in your hiring
Having all "A" employees instead of a mix of "A", "B" and "C" team members will have a real impact on the customer service experience. It will take longer to assemble a team of all top-tier employees, but the end result is worth it.