Three Areas Where Training Pays Off for Customer-Facing Franchise Employees

Training may take a significant investment of time and energy, but it’s one area where franchise leaders shouldn’t cut corners. Excellent employee training leads to better outcomes overall, from delighted customers to loyal employees and more. Let’s consider three areas where training will provide real value to franchisees.

DEALING WITH UNHAPPY CUSTOMERS

The “front line” of customer service will always be dealing with customers who have a complaint, concern, or unhappy experience to communicate.

It’s critical that employees at every location are well- trained and equipped with all the information, tools, and policies they need to handle customer concerns while maintaining their own dignity and boundaries.

 

When dealing with unhappy customers, the first step is always gaining an understanding of why, exactly, the customer is upset enough to address the issue with an employee. What are some of the most common reasons that customers are upset?

  • A product or service that they came to purchase might be
  • Their experience might not have met their expectations, for one reason or another.
  • They are already having a difficult day, which simply spills into their interaction with
  • They are frustrated to learn that they have previously been given incorrect or incomplete information.

Remember: customers are just people too, and any number of reasons can cause unhappiness, so it’s important for employees to be able recognize the underlying causes.

Helping your team improve their customer service skills simply makes good business sense, especially when it comes to navigating customer complaints– and it can affect your bottom line, too. According to research by PwC, positive customer experiences can offer businesses up to a 16% price premium.

On the flip side, even when people love a company or product, 59% will walk away after several bad experiences – and for 17%, it just takes a single bad

experience for them to walk away from a company for good.

So, when it comes to handling customer concerns, with what skills should your employees be trained? Conflict resolution is a must, which goes hand-in- hand with active listening. It’s important for customers to feel like their concerns are genuinely being heard and that employees are making good-faith efforts to find a resolution, even if it’s not an ideal one. Prioritize critical thinking, as well, to ensure that employees can navigate in-the-moment situations and apply existing knowledge in the appropriate ways.

CROSS-SELLING AND UPSELLING

Cross-selling and upselling are valuable parts of any business, and employees need to have the skills to help customers see real value in the additional sales, not feel pressured.

Improving customer service skills simply makes good business sense.

In general, cross-selling and upselling techniques are part of an overall great customer experience strategy. According to data from the Temkin Group, a great customer experience results in customers who are 16.5 percentage points more likely to make additional purchases and 7.1 percentage points more likely to immediately try a new offering. In other words, providing a great customer experience in general makes it easier for employees to successfully cross-sell and upsell.

Training employees in these techniques really does work! Consider the most well-known example: the famed McDonald’s “Would you like fries with that?” which, according to one analysis, adds between 15 and 40% annually in revenue.

It’s important that employees understand the difference between cross-selling and upselling as well. Cross-selling is all about encouraging customers to purchase related products or services, in addition to the ones they already plan on buying. The employee persuades the customer to buy more by demonstrating how the purchase of additional items maximizes

the customer’s value. On the other hand, upselling focuses on the original item that the customer intended to buy. A successful upsell means that the customer still buys the original category of item, but a higher-quality (and higher-priced) version – think, a deluxe coffee machine versus a quick cup brewer.

 

At a basic level, training these techniques involves teaching people what to ask. At a more sophisticated level, employees can then learn how to frame and ask questions in a way that nudges customers towards the desired outcome. Focus is also put on the details of the interactions: Are they smiling? What’s their tone of voice? Are these suggestions slipped into the

conversation organically? Remember: some employees are naturally more comfortable asking these questions than others.

WHEN CORPORATE CULTURE NORMS ARE BREACHED

While training employees to know what to do if the “rules” are broken is tricky, training for all eventualities is necessary. This is especially true for training on what to do when there are infractions against company policy or culture, such as racism, bigotry, rudeness, bullying, or harassment.

 

This kind of training should focus on building a sense of belonging and fairness and creating a place where people can feel safe and excel. The data backs up the importance of creating (and maintaining) a workplace culture of belonging:

    • SHRM reported that a feeling of belonging is the single biggest factor correlating to engagement, productivity, and retention, and that correlation is even higher for historically underrepresented 
    • The Center for Talent Innovation found that the majority of employees overall (56%) say that leaders at their companies fail to see value in ideas for which they don’t personally see a need or have personal experience with.
  • A LinkedIn survey revealed that 70% of employees would not work at a leading company if it meant tolerating a bad workplace Forty-seven percent also say that they are proudest to work for companies that foster a culture where they can be themselves, while 46% say that they are proudest to work for companies that have a positive impact on society.
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THE BUSINESS RATIONALE BEHIND TRAINING

In the end, franchises are businesses – so training must have solid links to positive business outcomes. And it definitely does.

According to the Customer Experience Professionals Association, it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to retain a current customer. More than half of Americans have changed their mind about a purchase they had planned because of bad service or negative customer experience. Thirty-three percent of Americans would consider switching companies after having just one negative customer experience, and the same percentage would pay more to have a better experience.

Customer experience is so important that 65% of customers say that positive customer experiences with a brand have a greater influence on their buying behavior than great advertising. Consider robust training as a part of your overall customer experience strategy.

After all, those employees are the ones delivering that strategy directly to your customers, so when they excel, so does the franchise overall.

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