Learning the art of proactive customer service

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on December 23, 2013

One of the most challenging aspects of facilities management is enduring the everyday grind of customer service. All users of your office building, ranging from low-level employees to the executives at the very top, should have the freedom to connect with your department and share their thoughts on the facilities management solutions in their buildings. It’s up to you and your team to level with these people, giving them suitable answers to all their questions and offering them the guidance they need.facilities management needs to learn proactive customer service

These days, a transition is afoot in customer service. It’s no longer good enough merely to man the phones and answer when your co-workers come calling with facilities management questions – that’s the lazy way to go. Simply answering user inquiries is the reactive approach – you want to be proactive. This means identifying facility issues before they even happen. Rather than solving problems, you should nip them in the bud first.

Learning the art of proactive customer service isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. Changing your approach to delivering service might be hard work in the short term, but over the long haul, it will pay off, enabling you to cut down on user complaints. According to Customer Service Investigator, this will pay off. The news source cited a recent report from Enkata, which found that using preemptive service strategies can reduce the volume of calls you receive by as much as 30 percent. It also increases retention of customers by up to 5 percent.

Customer service expert Kristen Hicks believes that reactive customer service methods may be passable, but she told CSI that the proactive will undoubtedly work better.

“For many businesses, the default approach to customer service is to respond to problems as they arise,” Hicks stated. “This reactive method might satisfy the customer, but it won’t surprise or delight them. Instead, imagine if you could solve problems before customers had to call you. Or even better, if you could address issues before they even became aware of them. This proactive approach to support is not only possible, it’s profitable.”

How can you become more proactive in your approach to customer service? A few strategies might help.

Implement new technology
 We’re not in the 1900s anymore, and today’s consumers have many more ways to get in touch with the facilities department beyond picking up the phone. Pay attention to your co-workers and customers. Look at what channels they’re using for communication. They might prefer calling, texting, chatting online, using social media or logging into a mobile app. Try to cater to consumers’ needs and let people use the technologies they like best. It will help you consider feedback from more sources.

Solicit more feedback 
Speaking of feedback, you need to seek out more of it. Every time you make a facility change or implement a new software solution, you want to be able to gauge users’ opinions, so reach out to people and ask for their thoughts. You can do this in person, though informal conversations, but if you want to be more comprehensive about it, you can send out office-wide surveys to collect responses from everyone. This way, you’ll have the full scope of what’s working and what isn’t in your approach to facilities management.

Drive for more data
 According to Help Scout, one of the keys to offering better customer service is to be data-driven. The news source pointed out that 80 percent of businesses believe they’re providing superior service, but only 8 percent of customers agree. This vast disparity can only mean that intuitive thought isn’t working anymore. If you really want to find out whether your approach to facilities management is working, you need to collect cold, hard facts.

Customer service today isn’t just about solving problems – it’s about actively fighting every day to eliminate them. Being more proactive will ultimately make you more effective.


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

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