Customer satisfaction is the staple of success in any service industry. As cleaners, we need to know that we are meeting our customers’ needs and standards, or better yet, exceeding them.
Unfortunately, customer feedback is often elusive, and the feedback we do get may not always be reliable due to the way we go about getting it.
A TV commercial from a few years ago showed a man approaching his fellow employee and asking how he was doing. The second man, while scratching his arm says, “Well, I have this rash….” That was a good commercial because it portrayed what seldom happens in reality—an honest answer to that question.
Many cleaning organizations use regular client visits to elicit feedback. While that’s one way to obtain feedback, it doesn’t preclude losing accounts for a variety of issues. Those issues can range from performance to cost and everything in between.
Unlike the response in the commercial, the answer to the question, “How are you doing?” is usually, “Just fine,” which isn’t really valuable in terms of feedback.
Though you’ve undoubtedly met some exceptions, human nature deems that in face-to-face encounters, we often respond in the least offensive manner to avoid conflict. Even scheduling a feedback session or asking specific questions can result in vague reactions rather than targeting service that is lacking or needs improvement.
I believe this is the result of a lack of anonymity. Allowing customers to anonymously give feedback is often a more reliable way to get an honest response.
Sending out regular customer surveys is another way companies solicit feedback. While it solves the anonymity problem, this method isn’t perfect either. The typical survey garners a response rate of only 2 to 5 percent. That’s hardly enough to be of value.
Here are some other challenges that arise when surveys are used to garner feedback:
- Surveys that are too long can be seen as an intrusion on a client’s time.
- Surveys that cover a variety of issues, such as those given to hospital patients at discharge, may frustrate respondents before they get to the cleaning questions, which are typically at the end.
- Surveys sent more than once per year are often ignored or elicit negative responses because they occur too often.
- Surveys sent only once per year may not pinpoint problems in a timely manner or be cast aside until later when the client has more time.
In researching this article, it appears that one of Europe’s leading health care systems, Aleris, may have come up with the best solution. It relies on a web-based system to solicit and track feedback, eliminating the issues of face-to-face meetings. Additionally:
- It asks just one question per day—keeping it short.
- The system analyzes the feedback the minute it’s received—making it timely.
- Managers are able to respond quickly to any issues identified—improving customer satisfaction.
Aleris uses this system for both patient and staff feedback, depending on where its focus is at any point in time.
Getting and using client feedback is critical to your company’s success. Whether you use client meetings, surveys, or something in between, just make sure it’s timely and accurate, and represents a good cross-section of your customer base.