2 Customer Service Principles

2 Customer Service Principles

2 Principles for both Property and Facility Managers

From janitorial services, to environmental control, to tenant-lease renewals, facility and property managers are responsible for a host of customer expectations. So how can you have the greatest influence over a building, its owners and its occupants? Try exceeding their expectations.

There are two principles both property and facility managers can use to exceed building owner and occupant expectations.

  1. The Principle of Overwhelming
  2. The Principle of Small Things

The Principle of Overwhelming

In 1200 A.D. the Mongolian conqueror, Genghis Khan, was the greatest ruler in Asia. Empire after empire fell under his forces. However, his fame and strength wasn’t founded on the lands he conquered. Rather, it was founded on the principle of overwhelming. His ability to exceed his enemies’ expectations brought fear in the eyes of those he sought to conquer. He exceeded his enemies’ expectations in terms of organization, discipline, and maneuverability to conqueror. (I had a demonstrative history professor who when telling history stories with dramatic emphasis would shower the students with his saliva. Though gross, I still vividly remember the stories).

Because the exceeding expectations principle is a natural law, it worked in conquering nations. Fortunately for us, we’re just trying to conquer the owner or building occupant’s loyalty. Whether it is janitorial services or HVAC systems, we can conquer the building owner and occupants’ expectations too.

Genghis Khan exceeded his enemies’ expectations through powerful vision, inspiration, organization, discipline and maneuverability. We must do the same with our customers. You see, exceeding expectations is a function of a leadership perspective, not management (see my post Leader or Manager. What are you?). A management perspective is focused on meeting the general expectations because the efficiency paradigm rarely allows managers to exceed expectations. “It takes too much time and it’s too costly,” says the manager. However, the leader working under a leadership perspective is worried about influencing people and will spend extra time in planning and organizing so the outcome is assured.

Here are some actions that leaders can take to exceed expectations.

  • Constant flow of professionally presented ideas that help improve building occupant’s Net Present Income (NOI)
  • ganttProfessional looking project plans (Gantt charts) of all frequency work. (What an incredible way to communicate work completion, construction projects, etc.)
  • You and your team members’ personal professional appearance (down to your janitorial services)
  • Written processes and documentation
  • A professional, formal training program
  • Frequent updating through visual presentations like graphs and charts that show the benefit and value you’re providing
  • Self-directed work teams who are building themselves and building others and who are part of an empowered work environment
  • Mounted job aids and posters in closets that show the customer what your team stands for.
  • Frequent flow of thank you and holiday cards, recognition of birthdays, etc.

The Principle of Small Things

The principle of small things is an extension to the principle of overwhelming because it adds to the overwhelming effect, and it is the absolute essence of leadership. In a nutshell, the principle of small things says that through small and simple things, great things come to pass. What really builds and creates great long-lasting relationships are the small and thoughtful actions. It’s taking time to play with your children when they want to play. It’s taking the time to really listen to them. It’s the frequent praise we give. It’s the avoidance of criticism or conditional love.

If you want to add real value to a customer relationship, give uncompromised dedication to the small things. Drop things in a second to fulfill one of their immediate needs. Follow-up to see if the customer was satisfied with your actions resolving something as minute as a temperature or janitorial service complaint. Take time to listen to your customers to discover their additional needs. Avoid criticizing or complaining. Make the customer feel like he or she is the most important person in the world.

SmileYou see, exceeding building owner and occupant expectations is no mystery. It’s simple and clear-cut —overwhelm you customers with the small things to fulfill their core human needs. Things like helping your janitorial services company teach their employees to smile around building occupants. Implement a DOWNTIME program to reduce after-hour plug loads to boost NOI for building owners. Do the small things.

And one final note, don’t come at them like Genghis Khan. Do so, and you’ll terrify them—it was just a history example.
No customers should be terrified or injured in the implementation of these principles! wink

 

Marc Collings

Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Varsity Facility Services
Marc Collings is Varsity's Vice President of Marketing for Varsity Facility Services. Marc oversees the company's growth, branding, positioning, customer support and analytics. In this role, he has positioned the company as a customer solutions leader for lowering cost and improving quality. He also led the company-wide rebranding and strategically positioned the company as a sustainability leader, serving on a committee for the EPA, obtaining the Ashkin Group award for sustainable leadership, leading Varsity's CIMS Green Building certification with honors, and developing Varsity's S.H.A.P.E. sustainability strategy, which improves service results along five dimensions: Safety, Health, Asset Preservation, Productivity and the Environment.

In 2011, Marc's team won the large company category, "Best in the Industry" marketing materials from the Building Service Contractor Association International (BSCAI). Marc also directs Varsity's proposal writing, sales process and tools development, marketing campaigns, corporate website SEO performance and customer support center.

Marc has spent his career developing strategic capabilities that enhance value to customers and the company. A Lean Sigma Green belt himself, he developed the company's Lean Sigma offering, providing an innovative solution to customers' need to lower cost while raising quality. He led the development of JanOPS, an industry-leading janitorial operating system, which brings standardization and service consistency to large campus and geographically disperse national accounts.

Prior to this position, Marc was responsible for strategic management at Varsity. He has initiated or directed multiple strategic technology initiatives, ranging from a corporate website, a corporate intranet, a web/smartphone based quality control system, a learning management system, a corporate content manager and knowledge wiki, salesforce.com deployment and customization, and an Android app which facilitates the GROW sales process he has developed.

Marc is the author of several leadership and management training manuals, field guides, marketing collateral and case studies. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and holds a bachelor degree in English/Technical Writing and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Idaho State University. Marc enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and golf. He is happily married, and he and his wife Victoria enjoy raising and spending time with their four children.

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