The same customer service best practices that apply in sales or hospitality may also apply to facilities management. Practice active listening—when you’re talking with a customer, repeat back what they’re saying or ask them questions to show that you’re paying close attention to them. When a customer submits a work order, let them know that you’ve received it (if you don’t have an automated system that does so already), and give them a timeline of when they can expect the problem to be resolved.
Preparing workers for customer interaction can be an excellent way to boost their customer service skills. Consider holding sessions looking at facilities problems from the customer’s point of view and discussing how to interact with irate employees. Or have someone from human resources lead a training session to highlight how facilities and HR can work together to provide a better experience for their “consumer base.”
When things go awry, learn how and why. Was a problem that was supposedly fixed occur a few days later? Was a repair promised and never delivered? Look at the circumstances surrounding the mistake—the people involved, the timing, the communication—and see what could have been done more efficiently, so the department can provide better customer service the next time around. Of course, never underestimate the effect of saying “I’m sorry.” Acknowledging the error and accepting responsibility for it can also help you establish a stronger connection with other departments.
Oftentimes, a customer may have valuable feedback, but you may not receive it if you don’t ask. Even if it’s negative, it’s still valuable to gain input on what the team could be doing better. Consider doing periodic surveys to measure the facility department’s performance, or simply ask a customer face-to-face if they have any suggestions for the maintenance team. Talking directly to other employees can also help you establish a rapport, which will itself increase the quality of your customer service.
See if you can find ways to make the environment more convenient and comfortable for other departments, without their ever having to ask. That may take the form of purchasing wayfinding software so that they can find their way around more easily. Or it could mean switching the office lighting from fluorescent to LED. Or installing another water cooler, so that workers who sit far from the break room don’t have to walk quite so far. While it’s often said that workers only think about the facilities team when something breaks, and making these subtle improvements won’t win the department more praise, you can take pride in knowing that you’re meeting a need before the customer even realizes it.
If a customer does praise facilities for a job well done, be sure to let your team know. Sharing positive feedback with facility workers can also help them serve customers better. They’ll see that their work is being noticed and appreciated, which can in turn motivate them to be better customer service experts, and your company’s internal customer service will radiate outwards.
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