For some managers handling facility complaints is the least liked part of their job. FMs are often doers to whom answering complaining e-mails might seem a hard task. By following some best practices of experts, one can not only change this mindset but also reduce the number of complaints.
It’s important to remember that customer service is crucial, though often patience-trying, part of the facility management profession. In cases of complaints, there are some best practices worth following for a smooth and successful client-facility management relationship. Here are the basics based on experts’ experiences and pieces of advice.
Being visible can spare animosity
One of the most important pieces of advice experts give to new facility managers is simply to be visible. That means being visible not just to upper management but also to tenants. When people in the facility know you, they’re more likely to treat your time and energy with respect. Therefore, when occupants have issues, they can bring them to your attention without any of the animosity that anonymity can sometimes bring. This goes both ways, as well: When you know the people who have an issue in your facility, you can respond to the complaint as if you’re fixing a problem for a friend or neighbour – FacilitiesNet points out.
Overlooking complaints will do harm in the long run
No matter how good you are at your job, there are going to be complaints. It is inevitable. It is a much bigger problem if you do not respond to all complaints due to poor customer service skills, budgetary concerns, etc. If a problem is not addressed, co-workers might step in and provide a fix that isn’t safe or effective in the long run. To ensure tenant satisfaction and safety, each complaint needs to be dealt with, however, the FM team needs policies and procedures to guide the response process. This can help prioritise and decide what is and isn’t your responsibility.
Ease the job with automated solutions
Having automated system solutions can help to avoid spending your entire day dealing with complaints. Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) have been available for years and they are getting more and more sophisticated, as they’re being tied into IoT devices and can predict maintenance needs. These systems can be used to respond quickly to complaints as well, automatically creating work orders when a tenant registers a complaint.
Dig deep for the real solution
Sometimes, what appears to be a straightforward complaint may be masking something much deeper. Without understanding the true depth of the problem your solution may not be an adequate fix. Office Space mentions an example when a group of workers at a renewable energy lab were placed near windows in a day-lit office. They complained about glare from the sun, but looking into the problem, management found that they were actually suffering from feelings of status loss. Previously, they’d been in enclosed offices. The problem was solved by providing the workers with cubicles away from the windows.
Ask for feedback
One of the worst things you can do in regard to complaints is to ignore them. Occupants always want to know that their voices are being heard, so no matter the “legitimacy” of a complaint, it’s important to communicate with the occupant before, during, and after the work. Close the loop with a post-work survey. This not only can help to avoid small issues growing into something requiring formal complaints, but you simply won’t know how well you’re doing unless you do.