Knowing the difference between customer service and customer satisfaction is the key to winning and retaining contracts for a commercial cleaning company. Customer service often equates to merely fulfilling the terms of contract. Technically the customer is happy and the cleaning company management can adopt a hands off approach as long as their team is carrying out their duties properly. However, by not engaging with the customer and trying to exceed their expectations, or by not actively monitoring their requirements so the cleaning company can identify areas of improvement or anticipate potential problems, the cleaning company does not build the kind of relationship that leads to customer loyalty. While that may be acceptable to some cleaning company managers, all it takes is for a rival company to offer the same terms at a lower price for the customer to switch suppliers. After all, if there is no extra benefit to paying a little more for one company, why do it?
Customer service is driven the cleaning crew. By doing their job exceptionally well, they ensure the customer gets what they pay for, at a standard that reflects well on the company. Customer satisfaction is driven by the cleaning company management. It requires not only liasing closely with the cleaning crew, but also with the customer. The management have the knowledge and experience to convert feedback from the crew and customer into actionable ideas that will benefit the customer. Whether it is a way to save money, improve efficiency or provide cleaning services in a way that is more suited to the customer’s requirements, this kind of mindset is what provides the added value to a contract that every customer looks for. Simply meeting their expectations is not enough, it is necessary to exceed them. As commercial cleaning companies and their customers exist in a symbiotic relationship, what benefits the customer ultimately benefits the company.
Real customer satisfaction requires that the management take ownership of every aspect of the relationship. The customer must feel that they are intimately involved with their business and that they are available and responsive to the customer’s needs. These needs are often fluid and a commercial cleaning company that is close to their customer can adapt quickly. It’s actions like these that build customer loyalty, reputation and goodwill, the very intangible assets that often make or break a company.
Commercial cleaning company managers often have years of experience at the crew level. They understand more than most the challenges faced by a customer in maintaining a facility. That experience is a huge asset that should be leveraged. Site visits, audits of the cleaning crew’s work, regular reviews with the customer on their requirements will not only make the cleaning company more responsive and aware of the customer’s needs, it will make the customer understand that cleaning company is actively working in their best interests. Customers want to establish long term relationships with cleaning companies they can trust, not simply to trust them to fulfill the terms of the contract well but also to work with them with a long term, strategic view to improve the maintenance processes. When a cleaning company reaches that kind of partnership with a customer, they can’t be undercut by competitors because the value the customer is actually receiving is far more than the cost they are paying.
The difference customer service and customer satisfaction often comes down to the difference between cost and value. Customer service can be seen as simply looking at the contract and providing just what the customer pays for. Customer satisfaction relies on providing as much value as possible for what the customer is paying. In a business environment obsessed with cost cutting and managing expenses, it is easy to be shortsighted and focus on the first case. Cleaning company managers with a more strategic view understand that creating value, rather than simply controlling costs, benefits the company in the long run. Building a reputation as a cleaning company that not only delivers excellent service, but actively helps a customer manage energy and waste bills, avoid potential problems and gives professional advice is priceless. That kind of reputation is what leads to long term and lucrative contracts. A reputation as a company who can provide a low cost crew, who perform the bare minimum, is not conducive to long term success.
Look to the cleaning crew to provide excellent service and to the management to provide the added value that leads to customer satisfaction. A professional commercial cleaning company can deliver both, to meet and exceed the customer’s expectations.