Within the past few years, in our rapidly changing business world, there has been a shift in what is viewed as most important. While profits and revenues are a good measure of your professional success, attracting and retaining happy clients is a critical indicator of the Facility Manager’s performance. The ability to be flexible and innovative is key to your customer’s triumphs and, ultimately, yours. After all, the needs of one client may be to maintain a more efficient mailroom, while another’s may be to create a happy, healthy and more productive work environment. Adapting to your client’s ever-changing demands and anticipating what they will need is what your job as an FM is all about.
Obtaining the attention of prospective customers, gaining their interest and converting them costs up to 6 times more than retaining existing customers.The real FM trailblazers are continually seeking out ways to better serve their clients-- even when they already seem satisfied. This satisfaction will likely yield you a happier relationship with a long-time customer, as well as the ability to attract new clients.
Client feedback is the best way to determine the value of the services you are providing, as well as what areas should receive more intense scrutiny. Create a monthly or bi- monthly schedule in which you choose a focal point of your business and ask employees to respond to a few questions. After all, the employees work directly in the field you are trying to facilitate--who better to receive input from? Gather their feedback regarding what is working and what is not and arrive at a satisfaction score. Frequent feedback provides you the opportunity to bring improvements to the table quickly, in comparison to a yearly, or even quarterly, basis.
Based on the feedback you receive, generate new ideas, with a schedule of your target implementation date. Discuss your plan with the executives, encouraging their participation as well. Ensuring you have a clear understanding of what is valuable to top management will give you a clearer vision of how to align your facility management plans with business goals.
Anticipate Their Concerns
One of the best ways to address customer concerns is to head off issues before they arise. An experienced FM knows the ins and outs of their client’s field and, in turn, can anticipate many issues before they arise. Unexpected complications, however, are unavoidable, in any industry. Through careful planning, listening to their clients and maintaining an open line of communication, FMs can ensure that those complications are negligible.
Set up a quarterly meeting in which a prioritized list of concerns can be brought to your attention. This information will allow you to start a list of both big and small ￼complications, enabling you to implement a systematic way to address each one. Through this approach, you gain powerful control over managing the facility, and arm the on-site management with a facility management software to address a situation as it takes place. With this approach, you will find that the list of complications diminishes to a manageable number. Additionally, you not only yield an enhanced appreciation, but will arm the workforce with the tools to know WHAT issues and concerns are best brought to your attention and when.
Maintaining an active presence in the facility itself counts for a lot. Although you are receiving regular feedback, your own eyes and ears are some of the best tools at your disposal. Making rounds to the various departments and communicating with the executives will arm you with the first-hand sense of what might need preemptive attention. Visibility reminds your customers that you are not only available, but that you care.
Maintain a Balanced View
Educating your clients on why you are there and the value you provide will be instrumental to the success of everyone involved. The account executives sometimes take on a hard-nosed, skeptical mindset regarding the extent of the FM’s value. Preserving a balanced perspective, providing the executives with solid numbers and evidence provide you with the support you need. Ensure management knows that your priority is not just to cut costs, but to cost manage. Effectiveness at managing costs to generate higher benefits is the primary objective. The ability to determine what tools yield the highest results sets you apart from the rest.
Ask Them What They Think
The most direct approach to know how happy your customers are is to simply ask them. Even if your client does not have an assessment policy in place to gauge satisfaction, you can always take the initiative to evaluate opinions (seek corporate clearance before doing so).
A few items to inquire about:
- What are their expectations (what do they see as the FM’s duty)
- Do they feel respected by facility staff?
- Are there any specific areas of concern?
- How would they rate current response times?
- Perceived value
- From an IT perspective, does your facility meet their needs?
Don’t be hesitant to ask for executive opinions about you, their Facility Manager, as well. Are they satisfied with your services, interactions, presence in the building, etc.? Decide in advance how you will assess the data and be prepared to take action on the results.
A happy client is a sign of management success. Constantly strive to find ways to provide better customer service you are likely to see your metrics rise alongside their satisfaction. That is enough to make everyone happy. A facility management software plays an important part here by helping facility managers really focus on what matters. Schedule a demo to learn more.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in January 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.