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Three Not-So-Good Reasons That Facility Managers Ignore Complaints


When Building Operating Management surveyed readers on complaints, and asked facility managers to share stories, the responses ranged from tales of wrangling about baby geese to elevator scheduling to a whole bunch of stories that couldn't quite be printed. But facility managers know that complaints are no joke. Attended to willy-nilly, they can multiply endlessly and suck up all your time. Ignored, they can breed resentment, even bigger complaints, and the perception that you're not doing a very good job.

Some facility managers do just avoid addressing the issue altogether and hope it goes away. "Blatantly disregarded. Done" said one respondent to a Building Operating Management survey on complaints, when asked for strategies in reducing frivolous complaints.

Facility managers might be motivated by a variety of factors when choosing to ignore a complaint, says Kit Tuveson, a facility management consultant, Tuveson & Associates. To be clear, ignoring complaints is not the norm in the industry, but it's also not unheard of, especially when the complaint is deemed frivolous. Tuveson offers three reasons facility managers might "not respond in a way that's in the best interest of their organization."

First, the culture in the facility management organization might not be focused at all on customer service. Second, there might be no policy or procedure for addressing complaints. Instead of addressing the complaint, the facility manager might ignore it until someone significant enough in the parent organization starts complaining.

Third, acknowledging the complaint might be an embarrassment and the facility manager doesn't want to personally look bad or make the team look bad. Lastly, the facility manager might worry there's no budget or other resources to address complaints, and so avoids them.

"Most of those are perceptions," Tuveson says. "It's not uncommon to have a facility management or service organization saying no before they understand what (the issue is), because it looks like a Pandora's box. It's 'avoid' versus 'try to understand.'"

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