FM Customer Service Goal: Occupant Convenience
Facilities managers must think about how to make occupants' lives easier: That's truly all they want from a customer service experience.
Customers want convenient service. The retail world provides excellent information about customer expectations that is directly transferable to facility management. The Convenience Revolution — a book by Shep Hyken, a guru on customer service and marketing — is filled with guidance on this subject. After years of working with businesses to provide superlative customer service, Hyken finds this is no longer an acceptable mantra. Customers live in a world where they have become accustomed to using services and products that are convenient, so they value convenience over traditional customer service.
Think about the convenience factor in the daily lives of facility management customers. Out of convenience, they have meal packages delivered to them at home through Blue Apron and Hello Fresh so they don’t have to shop or read a cookbook. At work they order from GrubHub and UberEats so they don’t have to leave their offices for lunch. They give Amazon the combination to their home security system so deliveries can be placed inside their front doors and have Alexa turn the lights on before they arrive home from work. According to Hyken, more than 70 percent of the population would choose delivery of a product over physically retrieving it themselves, even if the cost is higher. In short, consumers will do almost anything to make their lives easier.
The “customer experience” factor has also become an important aspect of consumerism. According to experiential theorists such as Katherine Lemon and Peter Verhoef, customers go through stages of experience with services and products. When barriers for acquiring these services and products are eliminated, customers have positive experiences; and they are willing to pay more and repeat the service. The pet food industry offers a dramatic example of how the experience factor affects a consumer. The Petco chain is opening exhibition kitchens in their stores. The whole experience of watching pet food being made and ensuring that only fresh and wholesome ingredients go into the food is extremely important to pet owners. If they have a positive experience, they are more willing to pay more for the food and also to wait for it to be available.
Both convenience and experience are relevant to facility management. Studies indicate that when facility management organizations develop strategies for making their services more convenient for customers and find ways to make customer interaction a positive experience, customers are loyal to the facility management organization, supportive, and more apt to tolerate process and procedural changes to service delivery. Convenience and a positive experience are key factors in a productive customer relationship.