Tim Morris, managing director of Cymphony, provides essential advice on why both franchisors and franchisees need to remove barriers and ensure their customers experience smooth customer service
A survey in 2022 found that 42 per cent of people would rather clean a toilet than call ‘customer service’ lines. But why is that? Most franchisees do their best to provide a professional, friendly and prompt customer service experience. The problem is, despite their best efforts, a large percentage of businesses are still not getting it right.
We all know from personal experience the type of thing that can make this process so painful. The long holds, the transfers – usually to the wrong place or, even more unhelpfully, a full mailbox.
Dealing with an automated agent who can’t solve your problem or deviate from a script and having to repeat yourself. It can be nothing short of rage-inducing.
What makes it even more frustrating is that as consumers, we often know we are dealing with a bot when interactions are online, or that the solutions we need are obvious, just not implemented.
New research has also revealed that 80 per cent of customers say they have switched brands because of poor service experiences, and 43 per cent were at least somewhat likely to switch brands after only a single negative customer service interaction.
If this is the impact on existing customers, imagine the leads and new business enquiries that never even make it that far, having been lost along the way. The potential loss of income for franchisees is eye-watering.
So, what can you do?
One of the fastest and simplest ways to eliminate several of these top triggers at once is to ensure that when someone calls your franchise, they get to speak to a real person on their first attempt.
From this point, there should be a solid process in place for converting that lead to a prospect by actively moving them into the sales pipeline.
This will look different for every franchisee depending on the nature of your business – anything from making an appointment for a telephone consultation or a home visit, to booking on to a class or answering a specific question and being signposted to the point of sale on your website.
It’s possible that you won’t have the time or resources in your franchise to ensure every single call is answered. Perhaps because you have a small team or are an owner-operator, too busy doing the ‘doing’ to spend time answering calls.
In this case, outsourcing your telephone answering service is a low-cost, high-value investment that will revolutionise your customer’s experience.
Secondly, with a whopping 41 per cent of consumers preferring to contact a business via web chat, banishing the bots and providing quick and personal online assistance is a must.
Implementing a web chat service that is 100 per cent human-operated will ensure that the dreaded chat loops are avoided and visitors to your website get the information they want and need for a positive experience.
Why does it matter?
No one reading this, whether franchisor or franchisee, is actually going to ask that question, because it’s obvious why you need to remove barriers and ensure your customers and prospects have a smooth and positive experience when contacting you.
But the point that really needs to be driven home goes a level deeper than ‘keeping customers happy’.
Time is money
What many franchisees fail to realise is that how prompt you are, and how effective you are during those initial interactions with your business, has a tangible impact on your bottom line.
Whether it’s online or over the phone, the speed at which you respond and move an enquiry through to an actionable next stage will either make you money or cost you money.
A great example of this comes from global tutoring giant, Tutor Doctor. Marketing manager, Michelle, confirms that leads from web chat are the franchise network’s lowest cost per sale.
From a brand that is one of the best in the business at lead handling and data analysis, that’s an impressive result and one which Cymphony is incredibly proud to play a part in.
Web chat equals quality leads
One of the biggest challenges for any franchisee is generating new leads. We know that web chat, when powered by a real person, enables consumers to have meaningful and convenient interactions with your business.
What this actually means, from a sales and marketing perspective, is that every single visitor to your website is a lead waiting to be captured. And, once engaged in ‘Live Chat’, their ‘warmth’ and potential for conversion increases dramatically.
You should maximise the number of visitors you engage through web chat by ensuring they are automatically greeted and asked if they need assistance when they land on your site.
An impressive 76.42 per cent of visitors engage with a web chat following an automated greeting as opposed to just 23.58 per cent who initiate the chat themselves if no greeting is offered.
The lesson here is that proactivity leads to increased engagement, increased engagement leads to increased conversions and, therefore, increased opportunities for sales and business growth.
When you factor in the number of people who utilise web chat facilities out of hours, the business case becomes undeniable.
Outsourced web chat services, such as the one that Cymphony provides for Tutor Doctor, operate 24/7, 365 days of the year. It’s not hard to do the maths.
It’s time to reframe the question ‘Why do consumers hate contacting customer service?’ to ‘How can my customer service generate leads and improve conversion?’ It’s possible, it’s practical and it’s profitable! In today’s instant gratification marketplace, franchisees and franchisors alike can no longer afford to wait to capitalise on this potential income.