How managers can move their organization from reactive emergencies to planned activities
Angela Testa, senior vice president of operations at American Campus Communities, strengthens operations without compromising a healthy work environment
Successfully confronting and resolving the complaints the facility management department is faced with on a daily basis falls in line with a quality management system (QMS) or “the whole plan, do, check, act cycle,” says Kit Tuveson, facility management consultant, Tuveson & Associates.
A key step in a QMS is gathering feedback. Facility managers can start by seeing what other departments within the larger organization might also be gathering employee feedback, so that the facility management department isn’t reinventing the wheel. “HR has employee surveys. IT has surveys,” Tuveson says. “There may be things going on that you can leverage and get support for.” He suggests starting small with some simple surveys vetted with occupants friendly to the facility management department.
Other resources to explore in creating a QMS are other facility managers and property managers, and educational modules from organizations such as BOMI and IFMA.
And, naturally, involve your in-house people and your vendors as well, he says. It is not likely that all the service providers touching the facility are going to align around a common QMS, so facility managers should establish some metrics that providers can report back on. And for any vendors who are not already doing QMS, make it a part of the specs and requirements going forward. “It’s not difficult but it might be complicated,” Tuveson says.
Contrary to a once popular perception, invisibility is not the hallmark of good facility management and will certainly not improve any situation around a complaint.
“The best facilities teams are out there engaging their customers, setting expectations, managing perceptions, and being really clear about what limits are, what affordability, processes and procedures are,” Tuveson says. “They don’t leave it up to the panoply of occupants to figure out for themselves because they will ask for the moon.”
68% of survey respondents said temperature was the single biggest complaint they receive from occupants, followed by restrooms (10%) and parking/grounds (5%).
|How much of your department’s time is typically spent responding to occupant complaints or request every month? R = 317|
|Less than 25%||25% to less than 50%||50% or more|
|What percentage of complaints or requests would you describe as purely subjective or frivolous? R=318|
|Less than 10%||10% to less than 25%||25% to less than 50%||50% or more|
Have you had success with any of the following steps to minimize the time spent handling subjective or frivolous requests?
|Complaints/Requests||Very Successful||Somewhat Successful||Not Successful||Not Tried|
|Automated work order systems R=135||48%||38%||4%||10%|
|Education of/ Communication with Occupants R=136||34%||62%||3%||1%|
|Training of Facility Staff R=134||43%||54%||2%||1%|
Source for all: Building Operating Management Survey
Readers shared their best complaint horror stories — and some that just made them chuckle. Every week we’ll post a new batch of stories at myfacilitiesnet.com/complaints so you can select a favorite. There’ll be space to share your story too. Here’s the first round.
"A professor complained about having no water in the building and complained all the way to the president of the college. Come to find out he had changed a faucet the evening before and never turned the water back on."
"Director complained that locks and keys were not supplied/changed as requested. Mid level manager filed complaint, said lower level admin person had entered requests, and why was it not done. System showed that no requests were ever entered…Exposed the weak link which was the person who said it was requested, who in fact didn’t ask for the work at all."
"I’ve received multiple calls from different tenants regarding having no lights and when maintenance arrives all they needed to do was flip the light switch."
Which one was your favorite? Vote at myfacilitiesnet.com/complaints
Survey Results: How Facility Managers Handle Occupant Complaints