We Are Forgettable…

by Chris Arlen on May 3, 2010

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Service providers are forgettable…until something goes wrong.

Service is Forgettable until it Fails

Because service by its nature is invisible / intangible, so are we. Most of the time.

That is, until we fail, and numerically speaking we fail very infrequently. When we do, it’s more likely to be in some small way rather than in one large catastrophe.

Forget to empty one office’s wastepaper basket one night – and it will contain a stinking pizza carcass – and be outside the CEO’s office.

You can forget about the 100s of other wastepaper baskets emptied that night, or the 100s of nights without mistakes. Your end-users/customers have forgotten about all your successful service delivery.

Making service’s daily successes visible requires two practices, and one of them isn’t even a real word.

  • #1 Tangibilize Your Service
  • #2 Prep & Plan –> Not Ad Hoc

#1 Tangibilize Your Service

Here are several suggestions for helping your end-users/customers realize they’re receiving service almost continually, and it’s good.

Quantify & Report

You may already be doing this but nothing makes service more real than numbers. Tangibilize service by quantifying and reporting it frequently and proactively.

Data amount and format vary, but consider some combination of:

  • Weekly status emails
  • Monthly 1-page Recaps
  • Quarterly Performance Assessments
  • Annual Reviews

Remember, anything can be quantified. Even the most qualitative, subjective end-user/customer experience. Numbers make it real, but only if they’re reported to those who should know.

Attract Eyeballs

A) Consider placing a banner or banner stand when performing selected work in front of end-users/customers.

Like a “Men at Work” sign, yours would be professionally produced with your service promise on it.

Of course you’d get the appropriate permission and would never get in the way of your end-users/customers.

B) Add a high-visibility uniform component. This would be for service employees who work in front of end-users/customers. A brightly, or unusually colored tie, hat or vest will make them standout. Have you seen janitors with red-shoes? If you did, you’d probably remember.

Of course you’ll ensure your workers behave courteously and appropriately now that they’re even more noticeable.

Initiate Participation

Tangibilize your service by seeking the participation of end-users/customers in special projects.

These projects can be different from typical service and may require some political finesse and diligence to pull off. Although not wildly creative, the following can build high awareness of your service and workers. Consider:

  • Design sessions with end-users/customers addressing new/changed service needs
  • Focus groups of end-users/customers on quality improvements, cost-cutting
  • Your service team’s participation in other company community projects
  • An all hands cleanup along a road in front of your building

Market Internally

“Heads-Up”, or “FYI” communications make your service visible to end-users/customers, especially where their help is needed, or they’ll be impacted. You may be doing this already with scheduled carpet shampooing or security scenario drills.

You can tangibilize this even more by using printed leave-behinds. Either as stickers or door hangers notifying end-users/customers of a service event soon to occur in their area, and what to watch out for.

For larger projects, consider emailing group aliases with the appropriate information.

Of course, all communications must be authorized and appropriately worded and produced.

#2 Prep & Plan –> Not Ad Hoc

Putting in the time and effort to plan, prepare and then implement means getting exponentially greater ROI.

Frequently Visible

Planning can address regular service events throughout the year, for both required and additional services.

The point is to schedule them for repeated visibility to end-users/customers. The frequency of service events can vary by size, such as:

  • Large events quarterly
  • Medium monthly
  • Small every 2 weeks

Positively In View

Plan to tangibilize service to selected audiences. Think about those who can help make your worklife successful, but where you rarely come across their radar screens (except of course, when something goes wrong).

Plan for service events that touch:

  • Senior executives
  • Procurement
  • Finance
  • Legal
  • IT

Of course, this means you’re already competent in delivering your service promise.

Look Good When Seen

In addition to planning and scheduling service events, you’ll need to ensure that your materials and communications look good. No point in attracting attention when you’re sub par in appearance.

This means preparing your communication vehicles. Hire outside help as needed if you lack the internal resources to do it well. Consider elevating the level of your:

  • Report documents & slideshow formats
  • Presentation skills for reporting sessions
  • Service worker uniforms
  • Banners, banner-stands
  • Notification emails
  • Leave behinds: stickers, door-hangers, table tents

Of course, with lean budgets finding money can be challenging. However, consider how a little positive visibility can go a long way towards the health of your service department.

Summary

Services should be memorable for the right reasons. Only you can ensure that happens. Left to their own, your end-users/customers focus on your failures because they don’t remember seeing your successful delivery.

Even out the score. Tangibilize and market your service continually, frequently and visibly.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Maurice January 23, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Being in the commercial cleaning profession for close to 15 years you certainly learn soon that no matter how well you clean and miss certain task, you will miss something that will count as a strike against your company. Sometimes the least bit of uncertainty can cause us to do a walkthrough of everything. Sure it may cost us more money as a business but it helps keep an account. Cleaning is a very demanding task and no one is perfect. Great post, very eye opening.

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