The Voice of the Customer
As implementors of facilities management software solutions across the UK, we meet lots of people and encounter many industry challenges.
They come with a wide range of property portfolio profiles and diverse organisational structures, yet we hear the same objectives and challenges throughout. Financial performance and service excellence are key, from improving utilisation and rationalisation of estate through to optimising energy use and increasing asset availability are common threads that run through all sectors.
Despite this, our clients have wide ranging views of how the facilities management software should be tailored to deliver these objectives. One area that we see this range of opinion is within works order management and specifically job performance measurement.
Typically, facilities management software will allow targets to be set against each job being processed by the system, either manually or using automated logic. In most cases the targets are set as time, either for an initial response or to resolve a fault. Often, we align these target times with those defined in Service Level Agreements (SLA) with the end user or those defined within their outsourced service delivery contracts.
The target time serves multiple uses; allowing customer expectations to be set, differentiating job priorities, providing a benchmark for performance measurement. Despite this, the question we are frequently asked is “Can we stop the clock?”
The answer is not simple and the conversation that follows may end in the client questioning the essence of what the facilities management software is there to do, what answers it should provide, and who owns it.
Firstly, we attempt to understand the reasons why the client is looking to freeze time, whether it’s waiting for a part that’s hard to come by or for services that are outside of their control, or sometimes just good old-fashioned poor performance. Playing devil’s advocate, I voice the view I expect the customer would take:
- Why is there a delay?
- What are you doing to get this resolved?
- When can I expect the work to be carried out?
- Is this type of delay common or exceptional?
- What are you doing to prevent this happening again?
Simply stopping the clock is rarely seen as acceptable.
A simple solution can be to never allow the job clock to be stopped and then use data analysis on missed SLAs to understand where you need to target your resource in future, or work to increase responsiveness or improve secondary SLAs you have with suppliers. There is a lot to be said for this method as it’s clear cut approach encourages the service teams to deliver consistently in line with realistic customer expectations.
A more nuanced approach is to allow the clock to be stopped, but to ensure that the voice of the customer is central to the process that follows. This can involve an active conversation with the client when jobs slip to give them a clear up-to-date picture of what they can expect. Performance reporting can be provided in environments where targets are being revised frequently, and some choose to exclude these events completely. As a result, they may need enhanced governance of the facilities management software to ensure that the function isn’t abused at the customers expense.
It is important to remember that a system that tells you month in, month out, “Well done - you’ve hit 100% of your targets” is either; lying to you, being corrupted, or at the very least not helping your organisation improve in the ways it needs to stand out in today’s competitive environment.
Contact us to find out more about the facilities management solutions we support.