HOW HAPPY ARE YOUR CLIENTS, RE­ALLY?

What is the best way to col­lect and mea­sure how your clients feel about your ser­vices? Brock Fisher out­lines the key el­e­ments and most com­mon mis­takes.

Elite Property Manager - - Contents - Brock Fisher

If you are pas­sion­ate about mea­sur­ing the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and keen to im­ple­ment mea­sur­ing tools, there are two books that you should read: The Ul­ti­mate Ques­tion and The Ul­ti­mate Ques­tion 2.0 by Fred Re­ich­held. Mr Re­ich­held is one of the world’s fore­most au­thor­i­ties on cus­tomer loy­alty and the met­rics at­tached to it, and ex­plains his sys­tem of mea­sure­ment in a log­i­cal and sci­en­tific way that is backed by years of Har­vard re­search.

In the fol­low­ing points I will dis­cuss what I con­sider to be the most im­por­tant el­e­ments of mea­sur­ing how happy your clients are, and also cover some com­mon pit­falls.

KEEP­ING IT SIM­PLE

With the best in­ten­tions, peo­ple will of­ten spend days or some­times weeks painstak­ingly com­ing up with a list of ques­tions that they would like a client to an­swer, then pre­par­ing and send­ing out a sur­vey which is a page or two long. This then re­quires their client to spend their valu­able time read­ing it, think­ing about it, writ­ing their re­sponse and then re­turn­ing said sur­vey. The ques­tion is: Would you?

Re­sponse rates are tra­di­tion­ally very low, and the re­sults are of­ten not in a for­mat that is able to be col­lated and com­pared over time. Are you ac­tu­ally get­ting feedback from the clients who have the most valu­able feedback to of­fer, or just those who have the most time? And has the out­come been a con­struc­tive use of your own time?

NET PRO­MOTER SCORE

The cor­ner­stone of the Net Pro­moter Score model is one sim­ple ques­tion, hence the ti­tle of the book. But the data that this pro­duces over time is valu­able in so many ways. We’ve been sur­vey­ing our own­ers us­ing this method since 2009 and it has al­lowed us to clearly see par­tic­u­lar trends in our client base.

With over six years of data to graph, we can mea­sure the ef­fect that is­sues like prop­erty man­ager churn in port­fo­lios, changes to de­part­ment struc­ture and tweaks to ser­vice delivery have on cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion lev­els. We now sur­vey in such a way that al­lows us to drill down into spe­cific ac­tions and pro­cesses that we per­form, to see which are well re­ceived by both own­ers and ten­ants, and which ar­eas have room for im­prove­ment or re­quire im­me­di­ate re­me­dial ac­tion.

SUR­VEY EV­ERY­ONE AND CLOSE THE FEEDBACK LOOP

The value in sur­vey­ing is find­ing out what you are not do­ing well. What all your clients think of you is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant, not just what the happy ones think. Some busi­nesses seem to sur­vey only those clients who are likely to be happy, which ends up be­ing a false pos­i­tive. Whilst this does pro­vide a nice stroke to the ego, it com­pletely misses the point of sur­vey­ing in the first in­stance.

Get­ting in front of is­sues be­fore they fester and drive clients to leave is pre­cisely the point of sur­vey­ing in this con­text. If you ask a client for feedback, al­ways be sure to ac­tion and re­spond to the is­sues they raise in a timely man­ner. A sys­tem that en­sures that this oc­curs and noth­ing is missed is in­te­gral to your suc­cess.

Sur­vey­ing peo­ple badly is ac­tu­ally more dam­ag­ing to your busi­ness than not sur­vey­ing at all. Clients will quickly be­come dis­trust­ful, un­re­spon­sive and dis­en­gaged if you ask them for feedback, they of­fer it, and then noth­ing changes and their is­sue is not solved.

CLIENTS WILL QUICKLY BE­COME DIS­TRUST­FUL, UN­RE­SPON­SIVE AND DIS­EN­GAGED IF YOU ASK THEM FOR FEEDBACK, THEN NOTH­ING CHANGES AND THEIR IS­SUE IS NOT SOLVED.

DON’T FOR­GET YOUR TEN­ANTS

Ten­ants are clients too, and ar­guably the most im­por­tant part of your busi­ness. They tend to be the ones that are most fre­quently for­got­ten in the cus­tomer ser­vice dis­cus­sion, but rep­re­sent a dis­pro­por­tion­ately high amount of online feedback in most busi­nesses. So sur­vey them, and lis­ten to what they have to say.

Sev­eral years ago, we sur­veyed a se­lec­tion of our ten­ants; the re­sults made us go cow­er­ing into the cor­ner, lick­ing our wounds. Tak­ing a few brav­ery pills and pluck­ing up some courage, we com­menced sur­vey­ing and col­lect­ing re­sults again around a year af­ter that. We now sur­vey ten­ants as fre­quently, and us­ing the same meth­ods, as we do our own­ers – and en­joy the same ben­e­fits of know­ing what is work­ing and what needs work in our busi­ness.

We’ve also been able to dis­pel the com­mon myth that ten­ants can­not be happy. Al­ter­ing our pro­cesses as a re­sult of tenant feedback, along with train­ing

in the right ar­eas, has led to an ex­cel­lent im­prove­ment over time. We have worked hard in this area, and our tenant sat­is­fac­tion rat­ing is now in line with that of our own­ers, hav­ing started at a pretty low point as I will openly ad­mit.

CON­STRUC­TIVE, NOT CRIT­I­CAL

Cus­tomer ser­vice mea­sure­ment is an in­grained part of our busi­ness cul­ture. We cel­e­brate it, we re­ward it, and we pro­mote it by hav­ing dash­boards in each of our of­fices that dis­play real-time scores from own­ers and ten­ants. Our dash­boards also dis­play the com­pli­ments and tes­ti­mo­ni­als that they of­fer our prop­erty man­agers and BDMs for the fine work that they do.

Prop­erty man­age­ment is of­ten re­ferred to as a thank­less pro­fes­sion, so in a world where peo­ple are quick to vent their prover­bial spleen on so­cial me­dia the mil­lisec­ond that some­thing goes wrong, our team mem­bers find it a real morale boost to reg­u­larly re­ceive com­pli­ments and high scores from their clients, and for the rest of the team to be able to see what a great job they are do­ing.

Ad­di­tion­ally, many of our quar­terly and an­nual award cat­e­gories are based around our Net Pro­moter Score re­sults, and this also forms one of our prop­erty man­ager KPIs.

Per­haps most im­por­tantly, we use the re­sults for coach­ing. Be­cause we sur­vey in such a way that al­lows us to see which pro­cesses in­di­vid­ual prop­erty man­agers ex­cel at and which they need im­prove­ment on, we can cus­tomise the train­ing and coach­ing we give that par­tic­u­lar team mem­ber. This ac­cel­er­ates their pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment, lead­ing to higher self-es­teem in the work­place.

HOW TO LEAD THE WAY

In all in­dus­tries, those busi­nesses that lead the way in cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence out­per­form other com­pet­ing busi­nesses. Con­se­quently, the im­pact of ef­fec­tive cus­tomer ser­vice met­rics in our busi­ness can­not be over­stated. These have been an in­valu­able part of the growth and de­vel­op­ment of our busi­ness and pro­cesses, and an in­te­gral part of the pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment of our team mem­bers.

Tak­ing those first steps can be the big­gest strug­gle, but well worth the ef­fort. Achiev­ing mean­ing­ful out­comes in this space will form a cor­ner­stone of your busi­ness growth for years to come.

Ini­tially we sim­ply used Sur­vey Mon­key, an online sur­vey and data­base man­age­ment pro­gram. Im­por­tantly, nor­mal databas­ing rules ap­ply, so you must make sure that you have ef­fec­tive ‘Un­sub­scribe’ and ‘Opt Out’ man­age­ment. Ev­ery quar­ter we would upload the de­tails of a se­lec­tion of our clients, and col­lect re­sults ac­cord­ingly.

Over the years, as we grew, this method be­came pro­gres­sively more dif­fi­cult, and ul­ti­mately not scal­able due to its highly man­ual na­ture. We’ve since in­vested in soft­ware that matches with our trust ac­count­ing pro­gram and our dash­boards to pro­vide one seam­less, in­te­grated and au­to­mated sur­vey sys­tem.

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