Starbucks baristas at work
PHOTO: Vaishnav Chogale

Customer experience (CX) is hot right now. Everyone wants to provide their customers with a great experience that keeps them coming back and inspires them to spread the word about your company. For some business owners, though, the digital portion of their customer experience is completely out of their hands. 

Franchises are often at the mercy of their corporate overseer when it comes to digital support. Sure, franchise owners have the possibility of localizing search and social ads, and they can offer top-notch customer experience within their own store, but how can they overcome the digital hurdles if they have no say?

Corporate Needs to Be a Tech Company

Franchises come in many shapes and sizes. When you first hear "franchise," you probably think of fast food chains, which usually have major corporate overlords. But many are smaller, lesser-known brands, such as tire stores or even home improvement contractors. Corporate in those cases might not have deep pockets or even a digital mindset — which puts franchisees in a bind when it comes to digital CX. 

Customers don't care about how the franchise model works. They see a brand with multiple locations, not the hard-working entrepreneurs who make each franchise run. If a customer is unhappy with one location they won’t go to any location, despite the fact that one might deliver a much better customer experience. Another challenge franchise owners face is the fact that the search for a company often begins online. If the franchise can’t be found, they’re already behind the curve. But even if they are found, what about the competitor that is right above them in the search engine results that offers a seamless checkout process? 

Franchisees have to rely on corporate to make the right investment in their digital strategy. Franchisees, even digital experts, can't go rogue and start their own digital efforts. They are at the mercy of corporate, who should create a seamless experience on behalf of all their franchises.     

Related Article: The In-House Tech Experts Your Company Should Listen to

Easy Access to Corporate Material

No matter corporate's level of involvement in the digital space, franchisees still need regular access to corporate materials. Whether the franchisee is printing posters for ads, or a local version of a catalog, they should have easy access to corporate material through a single source of truth. Corporate should set up and give access to a digital asset management (DAM) platform or product information management (PIM) platform, depending on the franchise type. 

With a centralized location for all material, there is no danger of using outdated or unapproved content. This not only keeps the franchise safe from mistakes but keeps messaging from corporate safe and professional.

Related Article: Make DAM Your Single Source of Truth

Content Localization

Whether you’re a franchise owner in Kansas City or Tokyo, if your corporate headquarters is in New York City, you’ll likely have some localization to do. Whether it’s translations or sponsoring a local event or sports team, your audience wants to feel like you’re a part of the community. Having someone available to translate or design material suitable to your location is imperative. Of course, this is likely part of a field marketer’s role who works under the corporate umbrella. Maintaining a good relationship with your regional field marketing team is important to getting the right localized collateral for your franchise and market.  

Related Article: Translation, Localization, Transcreation: What's the Difference?

Understanding the Impact of Digital CX

The franchise owner or an employee at the franchise should have some digital acumen. Even if they’re not responsible for the technology and the messaging, they are still reliant on it and should therefore understand it well enough to articulate any concerns or ideas they may have. Depending on the size of the corporation, it might not make a difference, but as we noted before, most franchises are not owned by huge conglomerates, so the franchisees’ voices could be heard.   

Franchise owners are on the frontlines. They understand better than anyone the experience of their customers. He or she should be getting feedback from their customers on a regular basis. Corporate will likely send occasional surveys and secret shoppers, but there is bias from both. The franchise owners and employees should talk to their customers and get genuine feedback from actual customers so they get a true feeling for the actual consumer sentiment.

Digital CX is a complicated project for any corporation, but those that rely on franchise owners to drive the company forward face unique barriers to success. By investing in the right tools and reinventing corporate as a tech company, franchisees can rest assured that their customers are getting the customer experience they deserve long before they ever walk into their store.