I recently returned from the 2018 Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference, in Atlanta, and as with past FCMC events, it was a great place for picking up fresh ideas and insights from some of franchising’s most innovative and successful marketing pros and practitioners.
The lessons shared at this event apply not only to franchise consumer marketing, but to marketing within other types of distributed organizations. Here are a few of my first-hand observations and conference takeaways.
Mapping the Customer Journey
I was thrilled to have been invited to moderate a 3-hour workshop on Day 1 of the conference about “Mapping the Customer Journey.” During this mega session, the remarkable panel of experts delved into the hows and whys of creating exceptional customer experiences that can set your franchise apart from the competition. The panel kept the audience highly engaged, leading to a morning filled with incredibly valuable discussions.
Speakers included Mark Montini, CMO of Floor Coverings International, Jason Anello, CMO of Aurify Brands, and Lori Norgrove, Director of Marketing for Goldfish Swim School. Here’s some of what these experts had to say.
Montini from Floor Coverings International suggested that, “As marketers we need to shift our mindset. We are no longer in the driver’s seat – the customer is. The phone has become the ‘remote control’ to the world.”
He went on to explain, “Amazon and Uber have raised expectations for the customer experience. It’s no longer about brand building, it’s about experience building.”
He also challenged attendees with questions like, “Where is the friction in your customers’ experience? How can you eliminate it? Are you meeting customers where they are in their journey and are you communicating in a way they can understand?”
Anello from Aurify Brands said you “need to make sure the customer experience is seamless, whether digital or IRL (in real life). Digital life is as real as real life.”
He recommended franchise’s list every touch point in the journey to determine where you need to focus.
“Brand consistency is important, but remember you also need to respect the tone of the channel you are using, especially when it comes to social channels. The social realm is constantly evolving – it started as people, then brands came on the scene acting as people, now people are acting like brands.”
Goldfish Swim School’s Norgrove suggested, “Great data is at the heart of the customer journey. However, data lives in siloed platforms with integration among some systems, but a lot of manual effort involved in impacting the journey. Automation brings together disparate data sets, reduces manual effort both internally at HQ, as well as in franchise locations, improves efficiencies in sales and marketing, and makes the customer’s experience along their journey as seamless as possible.”
Norgrove’s recommendations also included:
- Understand where you are at and what your future state looks like.
- Build the business case across the organization.
- Understand the biggest areas of opportunity to automate within your current customer journey, and the impact to the customer and the internal/external teams involved.
- Select the best partners to help you move toward your future state.
Keynotes Key-In on the Customer Journey
So many of the themes that we talked about in the Mapping the Customer Journey workshop, were echoed and expanded upon throughout the conference, beginning with keynote speakers Scott McKain, sales and customer service expert and best-selling author of Create Distinction, 7 Tenets of Taxi Terry and What Customers REALLY Want, and Anders Sorman-Nilsson, innovation strategist and author of Thinque Funky.
McKain encouraged attendees to consider “the ultimate customer experience that a customer could have with your company” and then “obsess over making it easier to do business with you.”
Sorman-Nilsson provided insights into how the Internet of Things (IOT) is going to impact the customer experience. He explained that in the past, interaction was one way: brand to consumers. Today, social media has made the experience between brand and consumers a two-way experience.
Looking to the future, Sorman-Nilsson explained, “With IoT, there is a third party in the interaction – a smart object. And the scenario becomes: brands and consumers interacting, consumers and smart objects interacting, and smart objects and brands interacting.”
The Marketing Team’s Role
All of this points to the fact that delivering a seamless customer journey requires a top-notch team and coordination throughout the franchise system.
In the Marketing Team breakout session, we heard that you should map your marketing team composition to the customer journey. Trever Ackerman, CMO of Wellbiz Brands said that the key to building a high-performing team is to master how to deliver results through others. “You need to hire slow, fire fast, set the direction and clear roadblocks.”
During the Guarantee Delivery of Brand Promises panel, Tom Carr, VP, Marketing for Chicken Salad Chick noted that “operationalizing branding starts with culture.”
Franchisees and the Customer Journey
Of course, franchisees are critical to delivering a frictionless customer experience. Darrell Johnson of FRANdata pointed out that so much of what the marketing team talks about is a foreign language to franchisees. For example, he noted that less than half of franchisors track franchisee sales. Yet, franchisee buy-in requires that you talk with them in terms of revenues and profits. To this end, suggested Johnson, franchisor marketing departments should develop new ways to measure marketing outcomes and compare results, so they can speak with franchisees in terms that will inform and inspire.
Continuing the Journey
This year’s FCMC provided much to consider for shaping the franchise customer experience. I look forward to tapping into some of these lessons in our ongoing work at Vya with franchise marketers.
How would you grade your organization’s customer experience? Are you meeting customers where they are in their journey? Share your experience in the comments below.