By: Shelly Bouren, SVP of Strategy and Consulting
Most quick-serve restaurant companies understand that having great customer service does wonders for business, but not all of them have the same amount of control over CX as others. QSRs like Shake Shack, Chipotle, and Starbucks all have one thing in common: they’re chains, not franchises. This means that their frontline employees are corporate employees, managed directly by the corporation that owns the chain. This system allows big corporations to have their finger directly on the pulse of their individual business locations, allowing them to stay in control of training, operations, and organization processes. Franchise companies, on the other hand, don’t have the same luxury. Each individual franchise owner controls operations, meaning that customer experiences from one franchise location to another could vary greatly.
Customer experience all starts with frontline employees, so how can company headquarters be sure that company-wide policies are trickling down to each and every restaurant location, whether employees work directly for corporate or for a franchise owner?
It’s different for every organization, but it generally comes down to communicating clearly which tactics work best for business. Franchise owners want their business to succeed just as much as HQ does, so although they operate somewhat separately, they ultimately have the same goals in mind. If corporate can present sure-fire ways to boost customer experience and back it up with data, franchise owners will want to do what’s best for the business.
A lot of research is centered solely around what the corporations’ ideal CX model is, but that doesn’t perfectly represent the actual experiences at each individual location. Whether there are communication issues between corporate and their frontline employees or between corporate and franchise owners, large-scale businesses can struggle to keep consistency in their experience design. That’s where experience audits come in.
For example, frontline employees might think they understand their roles, the company’s expectations, and feel confident that they’re representing their brand the way they’re supposed to. However, there could be gaps between the corporate expectation and the actual delivery at the frontline. An experience audit can uncover this problem (and many more) to understand where experience gaps are happening, and how they can be closed.
EBG is equipped to enter these situations ready to tackle the problems at hand in four simple steps:
First, we speak with corporate to understand what their ideal brand representation and customer experience looks like. To keep experience expectations consistent across the company, it’s important to know what the brand is aiming for. What do they want to be known for? What don’t they?
Then, we conduct experience audits at multiple individual locations to gather data about how much experiences vary from location to location, and how closely the current experience matches the ideal. This helps us find out what’s really going on on the frontline, and find where the experience gaps are happening. We talk extensively with frontline staff to get a 360º view of the current experience design.
Once the audits are complete, we create a plan to tackle the experience gaps it uncovered.
Lastly, we integrate our plan into the frontline employees’ operations and processes. It’s easier to control employees directly employed by corporate rather than those working for franchises, but ultimately communicating the changes that need to be made as far across the organization as possible is the key to making lasting improvements.
When companies partner with EBG to gather meaningful experience research that uncovers what makes customers come back and what systems might need some work, we can translate this data to their frontline workers to shape customer experiences for the better. Identifying issues and creating training and processes to mitigate those issues is in everyone’s best interest. There are many ways to tackle messaging trickle-down, and however it’s done, the key to ensuring organization-wide commitment to CX prioritization is keeping everyone on the same page.