With CEOs and business owners continually stressing the "bottom line", it is very easy to overlook the importance of customer service. Since the number of customers in your pipeline directly affects a company's bottom line, facilities managers are recognizing that strong customer service is a tool for the future success of their company. While sustainability, compliance, asset management and maintenance and hundreds of other issues are fundamental, leaders in the FM field are realizing they must add customer service to their list of essentials.
With technology as advanced as it is today, customers can easily share their experiences across the web with the click of a button. And, since it is human nature to share more negative experiences than positive ones, customer satisfaction is of utmost importance. After all, what could effect your bottom line more than not having enough clients? Creating an environment with a direct line of communication between the customer and your company not only ensures the ability to rectify an issue as soon as it arises, it also provides your facilities management team the information you need to head off any future issues. If there is a procedure that needs to be abandoned or improved upon, your customers are often the first to know.
Recognizing that a solid customer service base and strong client relationships are critical to the success of the entire organization, it is necessary to continually interact with your clients, for the sake of their company and yours. The pool of competitors is rapidly expanding, placing customer relations center stage in the competition. Educating your employees on the importance of customer service and how to successfully build these relations should be a focus for every organization. It is the facilities management team's task to find the right balance between dollars spent on the proper tools and the return on those investments. Here are a few strategies for success:
Who IS Your Customer?
As the manager of an organization, it is critical to recognize that the key to customer service success begins at "home". Consider your employees your first set of customers. The tools they are provided, the training and knowledge they are given and, ultimately, their happiness, have a direct impact on customer service. If your employees do not have the proper tools to successfully complete their job, your client's needs will not be met effectively. In the "tech age" we are currently faced with, employees have come to expect a repertoire of tools at their fingertips to send and receive information in real-time. And if your employees are unhappy in the workplace, their attitudes both in and out of work will be affected. They may leave work and discuss these issues in a social setting, potentially diminishing your pool of potential new clients.
Your job as the facilities manager is to aid the HR department in the quest to educate the employees in the company's overall vision. Once you have accomplished this, it is time to set your sights on your second set of customers, the actual clients. Defining who your clients are, what they stand for and what they seek from your company will paint a more intelligible picture of how best to satisfy their needs. Fundamental to your triumph is to remain mindful that there may be numerous personalities and needs that make up your customer base and you must be able to sort them all out, to a level of satisfaction that satisfies both of you.
Build Your Strategy
Once you have identified the needs of your customer base, your facilities management team must devise a strategy to meet these demands. Your strategy will likely include the goal of increasing customer satisfaction for one set of "customers" (employees) in order to fulfill the needs of the second set of customers. With your workforce being the face of your company, arming them with the professional tools and training to excel in their job will evoke a positive attitude and confidence that will shine through in every aspect of their work.
Investing for Savings
Seeking out effective ways to cut costs and increase savings will affect every aspect of your bottom line. Find savings in the workspace to make the building both more energy efficient and appealing. Invest in a management software tool to streamline processes. Arm your employees with PDAs or tablets, along with the relevant apps, allowing them access to important information while in the field. Your ability to adapt with the latest in technological advances and aligning those advances with your company's needs is paramount. While your bottom-line will be positively affected by this tactic, productivity will be enhanced as well.
The budget-conscious environment we live in today has caused a shift in what's important in the professional world. CEOs and boardrooms are continually looking to their facilities managers to find ways to do more with less. Many have lost sight of the importance of customer service. How we satisfy our customers, however, directly affects the bottom line. Organizations that wish to succeed in the long haul need to expand their focus from profits, to include customer and employee satisfaction. After all, the core of your foundation IS the clients. Without them, you have nothing.