Five Steps To Building a Customer-Centric Culture
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Five Steps To Building a Customer-Centric Culture

Five Steps To Building a Customer-Centric Culture

For a franchised business (or any business, for that matter), the customer should be at the center of their universe. Creating a customer-centric culture based on a brand’s vision and values will build a loyal following, which translates into profitably and growth.

What franchisee wouldn’t try to turn their customers into a loyal fan base? Actually, based on data from the CMO Council, most of them do try to varying degrees, wrote Denise Lee Yohn in the Harvard Business Review.

“Companies have been trying to adopt customer centricity for nearly 20 years now,” she wrote. “But the CMO Council reports that only 14% of marketers say that customer centricity is a hallmark of their companies, and only 11% believe their customers would agree with that characterization.”

Part of the struggle to create a culture centered on customer service is the overwhelming volume of customer data available today. “Some companies don’t have the systems and technology to segment and profile customers,” she wrote. “Others lack the processes and operational capabilities to target them with personalized communications and experiences.”

To simplify reaching what can be an elusive goal, here are five steps to build a customer-centric culture that will be a win-win for franchise businesses and the customers they serve. 

Step 1: Define your values

The first step to creating a culture focused on customer service is to define the values you want represented in every interaction with customers.

Chick-fil-A may be known as much for the “My pleasure” response from employees when thanked by customers as they are for their chicken sandwiches. The popular brand keeps service as a core value.

“We keep the needs of our local owner-operators, their team members, and guests at the heart of our work, doing what is best for the business and best for them,” the Chick-fil-A website reads, showing their culture of not only making customer service at the center of the franchise, but also of making Chick-fil-A a great place to work.

Step 2: Hire the right people

Faster Capital recommends careful hiring to make sure the people on a franchise team share the same customer-service vision and values. Among hiring factors Faster Capital recommends are passion about the brand, willingness to learn and grow, and adaptability.

Customer experience expert Paul Hagen suggests embedding customer-service language in job descriptions to set customer-centric expectations early, and making questions about customer service part of the interview process.

Step 3: Train your team

New employees won’t learn about an owner-operator's customer-service vision by osmosis. Franchise businesses should take the time to train those great new hires on products, services, policies, and handling customer feedback, complaints, and issues. Follow that up with refresher courses to keep customer service training a focus.

Training team members to provide excellent experiences by treating customers with respect, kindness, and friendliness also will go a long way in preventing hard feelings when everything isn’t perfect or things go wrong.

Step 4: Empower and reward employees

To best help customers, franchise employees should be empowered to make decisions that will help an unhappy customer quickly. After all, a dissatisfied customer is an opportunity to earn back their trust by solving their problem—quickly! Giving employees the freedom within company guidelines to act in customers’ best interests will improve customer service.

The other side of that coin is to reward employees who deliver excellent customer service and contribute to the creation of a customer-centric culture.

“Recognition and rewards are powerful tools for reinforcing a customer-centric culture,” Grace Gupta wrote in the blog Customer Service Collective. “When you acknowledge and celebrate employees who consistently go above and beyond to deliver exceptional service and are responsible for outstanding customer interactions, you foster a culture of excellence that inspires others to follow suit.”

Step 5: When customers talk, pay attention

Listening to customer feedback and reading reviews are vital to building a loyal following for a franchise business. Research shows that 40% of customers form an opinion of a business after reading just a few reviews, and 86% will hesitate to purchase from a business with even one negative review.

Paying attention to customers’ opinions is an essential part of creating a customer-centric culture. A franchise business owner should collect and analyze customer data and insights from multiple sources, including surveys, reviews, and social media posts. Some experts even call for transparency in reviews, displaying all, upping the pressure to deliver consistently excellent customer service.

Franchisees and their team members should then act on the feedback received, making changes to enhance customer service and communicating with customers to let them know how their concerns are being addressed and thanking them for their loyal support.

Annie Oeth, a freelance writer and editor with degrees in journalism and project management, covers business and franchising topics including public relations, marketing, technology, and organization. An experienced feature writer and PR specialist, she tells the stories of franchisees and franchising. Share story ideas with her at annieoeth@gmail.com.

Published: May 21st, 2024

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