Communication tips for building service contractors

Wednesday, July 10, 2019
By Jennifer Meek

When you’re working in the service industry,  internal communication is absolutely critical to success. The smoothest-running building service contractors (BSCs) have consistent communication plans within their teams to ensure that everyone is aware of the needs of each building, problem areas, timelines, training schedules and more. But what about your communication plans with your customers? Have you taken a look at the ways you are keeping your clients up to date on all that you’ve been doing to take care of their buildings? To ensure that you keep clients for years to come, you will want to have a well-defined plan for continuous communication with each and every one of them.

Here’s why: They need to understand what your team is developing for them, what the timeline looks like, and why some options were chosen while others were avoided. You need to know their expectations, needs and goals. You can spend time, energy and resources on making buildings cleaner, safer and healthier, but if your customers don’t know what you’re up to, you’re missing the mark.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys
First, you’ll want to get a very clear understanding of your clients’ goals, values and needs. How do you find that out? We suggest a periodic survey, either via email or over the phone. Or, better yet, incorporate a questionnaire into in-person meetings. In this survey, you will want to ask customer satisfaction questions, but also include questions that help you better understand your clients’ needs and circumstances. Make sure to include a few open-ended questions on your survey. This will allow your customers to respond with honesty and authenticity, and may just reveal certain truths you never considered. It’s best to follow up shorter questions with a “Why?” and to keep your open-ended questions toward the end of your survey.

Remember, it has been shown that up to one-third of respondents will lie on surveys. You’ll also have to accept that people won’t always respond to surveys. In-person surveys are always your best bet for ensuring participation and honesty. However, that’s not always possible. To encourage customers to respond, consider offering a special promotion for respondents, especially one tied to saving money.

After you have received your feedback, what will you do? The great news is that you are armed with data to make important decisions at your BSC now. Communicate that data to your customers! Personalized communication that says, “This is what we learned about you,” followed by ways your business can help customers solve problems and meet goals is going to be ideal. But how do you do that?

Add a Personal Touch
No matter which medium you choose to communicate your goals and accomplishments with your clients, remember to be personal. Especially in this digital world, a handwritten note, personal call or—better yet—in-person visit can make a significant impact on your relationship.

If you notice a client has expressed certain needs or goals in their customer survey, respond in kind. Call out their responses and give them some information on how you can meet their needs.

For example, did one of your bigger facilities rate safety as the highest priority in their buildings? Then you should follow up with communication that clearly explains the ways you prioritize safety in the important work you do. Floorcare would be an excellent subject to discuss. Find options to reduce slip-and-fall options with your floor care program, and discuss these options with your customer. Then show them the data you’ve found or experienced regarding safety to prove that this is important to you, too. Keep that dialogue personalized and continuous.

Be Prompt and Accommodating
After you send your survey and receive feedback, update your clients rather quickly. You don’t want to keep them waiting for months before you remind them you took their answers seriously. We recommend following up no longer than six weeks later, tops. One month would be ideal.

You know your clients best. Adapt your communication medium to best suit their styles. If you’re sending emails to a client that’s never at a desk, you will be wasting your time. Perhaps you would like to include a question about preferred communication styles in that survey you send!

Sometimes a collaboration tool can be a welcome avenue of communication beyond just another email in an inbox. Trello, Slack, GoToMeeting and so many more tools can be customized to work for you and your clients as an interactive way to keep in constant touch, track building issues and progress, and keep tabs on goals and expectations. No matter what medium you choose for your daily communications, keep phone calls and in-person meetings in the mix. You’ll want to hop on the phone periodically to be able to have open and transparent conversations about your work and to get up-to-date feedback from your clients.

By asking the right questions of your clients to better understand their needs and goals, choosing the right channels and making sure your message is clear, relevant and personal you will be on your way toward lasting relationships with your customers.

Charlotte Products is a manufacturer of cleaning products with manufacturing facilities in Canada and the U.S.

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