Running a franchise organization is a tough job. It would be impossible without good information and the tools necessary to help you make solid, informed decisions.
One frequently underutilized source of information is your call data. When do customers call? Where do they call from? How often do they call? Are they first-time callers or repeat callers? And last, but certainly not least, why are they calling?
Beyond the basics of who, what, where, when and why customers are calling, even more information can be gleaned, including analyzing how your staff members are handling calls when they come in.
Knowing where your customer calls are coming from; gathering information about these calls; and then correlating that data with other data such as demographics, sales, marketing campaigns and spends, and financial results can provide you with a host of actionable information that you didn’t have previously. This can help identify opportunities for new franchise locations, catch process problems early before they become severe, improve marketing ROI, and monitor and enhance the quality of your customer experience, just to name just a few.
Who knew that call data could be so useful?
Use #1: Identify areas to expand your business
What if you could view your call data on a map, either by individual calls or aggregated and layered with other data such as population density, income demographics and sales? Would it be helpful to instantly see where your current customers are located or which areas may be ripe for additional franchise locations?
Could this also help determine how franchise territories should be valued?
In order to fully exploit your call data in this manner, you’ll need to incorporate advanced georouting, which captures and displays your call data geographically. This simply means geocoding your call data with latitude and longitude markers so it can be plotted on a map. The call data can then be viewed in aggregate and compared with other data to visually identify patterns and trends quickly. Seeing disparate, complex relationships laid out visually has provided some organizations with “Aha!” moments where, within a matter of seconds, previously hidden trends practically leaped off the screen.
One franchisor simply viewed his call data plotted geographically and within 30 seconds identified the need to expand in one metro area. Another franchisor used these visualization tools to map call data against the locations of her stores and the locations of her competitors to make the best possible decisions when determining new store placement. Neither of these franchisors brought new data into the mix. They simply used geocoding to better use the call data they already had.
Use #2: Improve the ROI of your marketing efforts
You’ve launched a new marketing campaign for your franchise organization, with your typical tracking procedures in place. This may be as simple as asking new customers where they heard of your business, creating a special offer that is only communicated in select advertisements, or establishing a unique toll-free number to track responses.
But if there is a sufficient time lag between when responses come in and when you receive and process the data, you may not be able to make campaign changes in time to improve results or fix problems, particularly with non-print mediums such as radio, broadcast, and online advertisements. A better scenario would be to see results in real-time, so that you can stop funding ads that aren’t working and put more resources behind those that are.
Franchisors frequently use toll-free numbers as one of the ways to build their brand across the country and internationally. By using enhanced call tracking to obtain call data in real-time on these toll-free numbers, they can measure and improve their returns on their marketing investments.
For example, a franchisor can establish a suite of toll-free numbers that are associated with specific promotions or use specific toll-free numbers for limited area promotions as a test case. As call data from each number is tracked, the franchisor can immediately see what’s working and what’s not, so he or she can make any modifications to improve response rates — or stop spending money on promotions in areas that aren’t producing results.
Franchisors that rely heavily on print media have found that this level of real-time call data paid for itself in a matter of days by clearly demonstrating where print media was working and where it was not, sometimes within the same medium. Other franchisors use the real-time ability to gather and analyze call data to support daily cable and radio buys, achieving a better return on their marketing dollars immediately.
Use #3: Monitor and improve the quality of your customer experience
Whenever a customer has a poor experience in one of your stores, one of several things can happen. The most benign might be that the customer silently switches to a competitor. The most malignant would be that the customer switches to a competitor and blasts his story all over the Internet, driving away other potential customers.
In the social media age, one poor customer experience can easily become a big customer crisis, eroding years of brand-building efforts.
Think about how your customers feel whenever they interact with your brand — when they receive your marketing pieces, when they visit your web site or mobile app, when they call your store, while they wait on hold, when they purchase your product, or when they try to solve a problem. Issues can occur at any point, from the initial discovery of your brand, to initial purchase and use of the product, to repeated purchases and use.
Customer experience problems that relate to phone calls typically fall into two categories: getting calls to the right place as quickly as possible, and ensuring that the callers are handled appropriately. Nothing is more frustrating than being transferred two or three times before finally connecting with the right staff member or the right store, or being told by a staff member that “it’s not my job.” Close seconds include dropped calls, missed calls, and long hold times. These problems can be identified — and addressed — through proper tracking and analysis of your call data. Simple process improvement techniques can be applied to catch problems early and to refine workflows to provide the most efficient handling of callers.
A sophisticated call routing system can bypass call centers and connect callers directly with the franchise location which will be helping them. They can even recognize and handle first-time callers differently than repeat callers, which could be very beneficial, depending on your business.
Once you ensure that calls are getting to where they need to go as quickly as possible and you have streamlined your workflows for the greatest efficiency, call recording can allow you to exercise quality control and quality assurance checks. Listening to statistically random calls can also support training and verify that staff members are handling calls appropriately. In extreme cases, all calls can be listened to for compliance reasons. You can also monitor data such as dropped calls, missed calls, the number of rings before answer, and more.
In all of these cases, identifying and addressing mishandled or misrouted calls helps to improve the customer experience you offer.
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