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How to Deal with Customer Dissatisfaction as a Franchise Owner

The occasional unhappy customer is inevitable to some extent, but through preventative measures and the right response, you can maintain your brand’s reputation and foster customer loyalty.

By Erica InmanStaff Writer
8:08AM 06/04/24

Customer satisfaction is the lifeblood of any business, but inevitably, you'll find yourself dealing with the occasional complaint. As a franchise owner, navigating these moments with finesse is crucial for maintaining brand reputation and fostering customer loyalty. 

1851 Franchise spoke with Anne Huntington, president of Huntington Learning Center, and Nick Friedman, co-founder and president of College HUNKS Hauling Junk and Moving, about the best strategies for effectively handling customer dissatisfaction as a franchise owner.

Active Listening: Understanding Customer Concerns

Understanding customers' needs and desires is a fundamental component of customer service. According to Huntington, it’s important to create an environment where customers feel valued and heard. 

“Franchisees must train staff to listen empathetically, without interruption, to truly understand the customer's perspective,” she said.

However, not all customers will share their dissatisfaction without prompt, and some may choose the alternative of quietly opting out of your service or products in the future. Fortunately, this is avoidable in the right environment.

“It's crucial to encourage an environment where customers feel heard and valued,” Huntington said. “Platforms for feedback, such as surveys or suggestion boxes, can also facilitate this process.”

In addition to listening to your customers, it's vital to actually address their concerns. Friedman feels this is a vital component of the equation for dealing with customer dissatisfaction and that, when done properly, it will build trust and maintain loyalty going forward.

“Owners should be reading each review as it comes in to determine what course of action is needed as a next step,” Friedman said. “When negative feedback comes, we want to reach out to the client in a timely manner, hear their concerns, and work together on a solution that remedies that relationship as soon as possible.”

Friedman also advises following up on positive feedback to show gratitude as that happy client may well turn into repeat business or refer your products or services to a friend.

Equipping Franchisees and Staff with Essential Skills

One of the biggest benefits of being a franchisee is the support you receive from your franchisor. Be sure to take advantage of that support in keeping your customers satisfied.

"Franchisors play a vital role in ensuring franchisees have the necessary skills and resources," Huntington said. “This starts with comprehensive training programs that cover conflict resolution, communication techniques and product knowledge. Additionally, providing access to support networks and clear channels of communication with the franchisor can empower franchisees to navigate challenging situations with confidence.”

As an owner, you need to ensure your employees are equipped to handle customer dissatisfaction, as well. Consider the culture of your brand and educate your employees on the core values.

“We encourage our franchisees to consistently be talking with their staff about the importance of each interaction with a client. For us, this comes back to our core values as a company,” Friedman said. “You can always trust our team to be courteous, friendly, and respectful of your property and belongings.” 

However, even if you and your employees are perfectly equipped, we are all human and there are bound to be instances where a customer is unhappy with a service or product. “When those situations arise,” Friedman said, “our team members should always feel comfortable going to management and ownership to discuss a plan to remedy the situation.” 

Mitigating Customer Dissatisfaction: A Proactive Approach

When it comes to reducing the chances of customer dissatisfaction, you should never underestimate preemptive measures. Both Huntington and Friedman agreed that embracing a customer-centric approach can act as a proactive measure to help ensure happy customer experiences, advising franchise owners to do their best to understand customer needs and preferences before serving them.

"At the beginning of the service, we try to ask a lot of questions,” Friedman said, “to get a clear idea of what the client needs." 

Dealing with customer dissatisfaction is an inevitable aspect of running a franchise business. However, by prioritizing active listening, equipping franchisees and staff with essential skills, and adopting a proactive approach to addressing concerns, franchise owners can effectively mitigate dissatisfaction and uphold the reputation of their brand.

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