Multi-location businesses face a handful of shared struggles regardless of industry. Whether you help manage a university, a brand with multiple retail locations, a bank, an online service, or a company that has recently begun working remotely, it can be difficult to keep up with employees and customers spread across the country. You can’t be everywhere at once, so technologies that facilitate communication and collaboration with your teams and customers are essential to keeping your business running smoothly.
1. Internal Communication
The most common issue facing businesses operating across multiple locations is communication. Social media content and strategy or operating protocol may fall through the cracks without established communication channels. For companies marketing streaming services or consumer package goods, content marketing strategy may be implemented unevenly or tone may be inconsistent if your content creation team is working from separate locations and aren’t on the same page. With earth-shaking events like the Coronavirus pandemic that have led us to change our everyday lives, universities that are transitioning to online learning or have multiple campuses may have trouble keeping teachers and staff up-to-date on the latest protocols.
2. Low Engagement
Unfortunately, sometimes your team creates content and it simply doesn’t reach or resonate with your audience. Often, this is a result of not knowing your current and target audiences well enough. Although it may be difficult to gather the data to create specific content targeting consumers in each location, personalized content is key to creating brand loyalty. Businesses such as banks may want to create content centered around community issues and events to be seen as a part of the local ecosystem and receive more engagement from local customers. Studies have shown that 66% of people believe brands can create real change, so they may expect businesses in their communities to use their platform to participate in public discourse. When brands meet their expectations and prove themselves to be invested in the community, customers in that community are more likely to form a positive opinion of them.
3. Employee Productivity
With employees spread out and many working from home for the first time, multi-location businesses may struggle with maintaining and monitoring the productivity of their teams, especially as teams are shrinking due to economic decline and responsibilities are being shifted. Multi-location or remote work environments can create an us-vs-them mentality among team members that, combined with low morale from shrinking teams, can lead to a decrease in overall productivity. Open communication and consistency of management between locations will help reduce these
4. Customer Service
The more locations you have, the more chances there are that something can go wrong or a customer’s experience can be inconsistent. A lack of unity among locations can lead to varying perceptions of a brand based on customer opinions of a location. One location may have different policies in place or enforce them differently than another, leading to confusion and frustration for the customer. And on social, 72% of brand engagement occurs on local pages rather than corporate pages and tend to garner high-quality engagement. This does mean that localized content diversity is necessary, but that doesn’t mean the customer experience is different. Although content may differ, the voice, style of the message, and quality of customer service can still be consistent. Differences in core customer experience by location can lead to a decrease in engagement and long-term brand loyalty.
Brands marketing consumer packaged goods should ensure that the packaging and branding of their products are consistent and that the goods are consistently available from the same retailers, so their customers know what to expect and where to find their favorite products. This can be hard to maintain as third-party sellers and counterfeit items can create an inconsistent customer experience. Multi-location retail stores and banks can control the consistency of the aesthetic and general layout for each location, but employees can be a wild card. Training helps them to know what you expect of them. And most will do all they can to meet those expectations. Any changes to customer service should be communicated quickly and clearly for easy and unified adjustment.
So, now that you’ve recognized the problems you may be wondering, “How do I solve them?” We have good news: the first step is identifying which problems your business is facing. Good content management tools can help your marketing teams communicate, strategize, and collaborate between locations and teams. Social listening tools will help you learn the needs and expectations of your audience, meet them, and increase engagement and brand loyalty. Empowering your team with the right tools is key to crafting effective marketing strategies that preemptively solve any problems you may encounter.