08 Aug Are Your Cleaners Customer-focused?
With the availability of online reviews and comments and rapidity with which news (in particular, bad news) spreads, customer expectations are higher than ever before. Customers are also more discerning than before; they will compare your business with competitors on their personal experience. Customers want to feel like you know and understand their expectations and needs.
Why is customer focus important?
There is a habit in the cleaning industry that sales and customer support staff are the only ones responsible for customer service, that they are the only ones that should be customer focused. Sadly, what is forgotten is that the primary ‘face’ of the cleaning business, the ‘face’ that the customer really sees, are the cleaning staff. Even if the customer and cleaning staff never see each other face-to-face, the entirety of the cleaning staff actions, behaviour, attitude, and work are what the customer sees. This is why cleaning staff must be customer focused – they are the face, the representatives, of the company to customers.
There is a prize to developing customer focused cleaners – customer loyalty. Study after study shows that 75% of customers will go out of their way to buy from companies they feel understands their expectations and needs, even if that means spending more money. On the reverse, around 50% of customers who have a bad experience will switch to a competitor, this increases to nearly 80% after two bad experiences.
Reputation is a long and hard fight to win, but so easily lost.
What is the end goal of your work? It is to meet the expectations and needs of the customer by providing a quality cleaning service, but how do you know you have reached the goal? How do you know you have achieved customer satisfaction? Remember that the true meaning of quality is always striving and improving and always being customer-focused, it therefore follows that quality is the automatic result.
However, this does not mean we can just sit back and do nothing, or that we are judged solely on the end result. Customers will judge our cleaning standards, but equally customers judge – whether they realise it or not, and to varying degrees – every aspect and stage of the work, from the moment of first contact to return the room or area back to use.
It therefore falls on you and us as cleaners to actively and visually demonstrate the quality of service the customer is expecting throughout the contract or while working. What can we do to demonstrate this?
Throughout the service we provide we should ask ourselves the following 5 questions:
Reliability: Does the cleaning service deliver the service accurately, dependably, and consistently?
This question assesses whether the service is performed as promised, meets customer expectations, and is error-free (free of rectifiable mistakes). Key factors to consider include:
- Consistency: Consistency in service delivery over time and across different touchpoints.
- Dependability: The extent to which the service provider can be trusted to deliver the service reliably.
- Accuracy: The precision and correctness of the service provided.
- Fulfillment of promises: The business’s ability to deliver on its commitments and promises made to customers.
Assurance: Does the customer have confidence in you and the company?
This question relates to the knowledge, competence, and professionalism exhibited by employees and the business as a whole. It focuses on building trust and confidence in customers by demonstrating expertise and reliability. Key elements include:
- Employee competence: The knowledge, skills, and training of the employees to perform their tasks effectively.
- Credibility: The reputation and trustworthiness of the business.
- Communication: Clear and effective communication with customers, including providing accurate and understandable information about the service.
- Trustworthiness: The ability of the business and its employees to inspire trust and confidence in customers.
Appearance: Does the visual quality of cleaning meet the customer expectations?
This question encompasses the physical aspects and appearance associated with the service. It includes the facilities, equipment, materials, and visual elements that customers interact with. Key aspects of tangibles include:
- Equipment and materials: The condition, cleanliness, quality and appropriateness of the cleaning equipment, and materials used to deliver the service.
- Cleaning Standards: The visual appeal of the service environment, including signage, branding, and aesthetics.
- Personnel appearance: The appearance and grooming of the employees, reflecting professionalism and attention to detail.
Understanding: How well do you understand the needs of the customer?
This question focuses on the level of care, individualised attention, and understanding demonstrated by employees towards customers. It involves considering and addressing customer needs and concerns. Key components include:
- Personalised service: Tailoring the service to meet individual customer needs and preferences.
- Listening and understanding: Actively listening to customers, empathizing with their situation, and demonstrating understanding.
- Supportive and caring behavior: Displaying a genuine concern for the well-being and satisfaction of customers.
- Responsiveness to customer emotions: Recognizing and appropriately responding to the emotions and feelings of customers.
Flexibility: How flexible and adaptable are you to meet the customer needs?
This question relates to the willingness and promptness of the business in providing efficient and timely service to customers. It involves being proactive in addressing customer inquiries, requests, and concerns. Key factors in responsiveness include:
- Promptness: Timely and efficient service delivery without unnecessary delays.
- Availability: Being accessible and present to assist customers when needed.
- Helpfulness: Willingness to go the extra mile to assist customers and provide appropriate solutions.
- Problem resolution: Promptly addressing and resolving customer issues and complaints.
How We Can Help You
We can turn your cleaners into quality-focused and customer-focused team members. Our training courses teach the practical work of cleaning and housekeeping, but we always start the training with a detailed look at the customer, their expectations and perceptions – it is all about the customer, not about you! The courses continually stresses the number one most important person, the customer and how everything in cleaning impacts the customer, the brand and reputation of the organisation.