6 Notes on Customer Service

6 Notes on Customer Service

Your entire job depends on your customer. That’s a pretty strong statement. Yet the statement is just as true for facility and property managers as it is for any other service industry worker. Property and facility management is a service. From coordination of space planning to energy management, to cleaning, companies that manage properties must coordinate a symphony of services. Ultimately, that symphony must move and influence building owners and occupants positively. The melodic notes that move our customers are played on the instrument of great customer service.

Because your customer services depends largely on the contractors you hire to service the building (e.g., cleaning companies, handyman services, HVAC), you must make sure they are playing the same notes. To help them play in tune, take the time to share with your contractors the following six customer-service notes:

NoteNote 1

It costs 5 times as much to find a new customer than it does to retain an old one.

Help your contractors realize the cost of gaining a new customer. Think about the cost of marketing and the cost of management’s time, meeting with prospective customers. On a large RFP, our company spends, on average, $1,600 per proposal, just for our janitorial services proposals. In addition, think about the long hours of a start-up and the huge increase in equipment janitorial companies must finance. It’s huge! Do they want more customers–yes! But remind them that what they don’t want is to be forced to fill the space of a customer (tenant, building owner etc..) who left dissatisfied.

NoteNote 2

The average person will tell 11 people that he/she was unhappy with a service. Then, each of the 11 will tell an average of 5 other people, with 13% of the 11 telling 20 or more.

Problems in your facility can spread like peanut butter, covering all that is good about a facility service. On average, 67 people will think poorly of your service just for one poor service encounter. Other statistics show that word of mouth is the strongest form of advertisement, which means not only are 67 people getting negative propaganda towards the company, but they’re getting it in the most influential way.  Ask your facility service contractor, “Would you go to a doctor or a dentist if your good friend said he/she had a bad experience?”

NoteNote 3

Of customers that take time to complain, 54 to 70 % will come back again if their complaints were resolved. This figure jumps significantly to 95% if their complaints were resolved quickly.

This statistic speaks to another musical blog post I published called, 5 Tips for Rock ‘n Customer Service.

NoteNote 4

68% of customers who stop doing business with a company, do so because they were unsatisfied with the service they were provided.

The key to this statistic is finding out what customer satisfaction means to your customer. To find this out, we use a LeanSigma Janitorial Approach called Voice of the Customer (VOC). Each building occupant and/or owner comes from a different environment and their expectations and needs vary significantly.  Our VOC process helps identify those expectations, determine how the customer wants us to measure them. We then survey and meet quarterly to verify the expectations are met.

NoteNote 5

It takes an average of 12 positive incidents to make up for 1 negative incident.

Doing it right the first time is a valuable time saver, customer retainer and profit generator. Your RFP process should vet facility service providers who can do it right. Doing it right the first time takes time and practice. For example, hire maintenance and cleaning companies that have been in business more than 10 years. Select companies that are 3rd-party certified. A pound of prevention is worth more than a ton of cure!

NoteNote 6

Loyal customers tend to forgive when problems arise.

music_10064305-031914When you have gone out of your way to meet the expectations and needs of your customer, he or she is more forgiving when problems surface. This is due to the fact that most people will avoid beating down a known performer. But, remember, past excellence in customer service won’t last long if the service begins to deteriorate.

Like a skilled conductor blends together strings, horns and drums, you must bring together HVAC, landscaping, maintenance and cleaning companies. These six facts are the raw notes which can form the melody for a customer service symphony. Playing these 6 notes well will result in a song of praise from your customers.

There are many more customer service notes.

What are some notes you have learned managing facilities for owners and occupants?

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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