Facility executives have multiple customers to serve when performing their responsibilities. These customers have similar and diverse interests that the facilities executive must coordinate to serve the best interests of the organizations they work for.

This article describes the types of customers of facility and building services organizations and how to effectively serve them.

The Building Occupants

The primary reason for the facilities organization is to serve the building occupants. Creating a comfortable, safe, and environmentally friendly environment is important. The building occupants, when they have a need for facilities and maintenance services, want services to be provided quickly. Most service calls relate to being too hot or cold, having trouble with plumbing or lighting. The primary goal of the facilities organization is to provide these services quickly. Building occupants want to be kept informed of work progress and to know when work is complete. The building technician or custodian providing the services needs to communicate this information to them verbally, through the email system, the work-order system, or by leaving an attached note to let them know that work is done. Discomfort and inconveniences must be attended to quickly.

The Departmental Users of Your Facilities Services

The next customer type is the departmental organization within an organization. Depending upon the organization served, this could be the marketing department of a company, the geology department of a university, the sheriff’s department of a city, the pastor’s office of a church, etc. Beyond comfort considerations, these sub-units within an organization may have specific needs relating to cleaning or maintenance. Facilities organizations must have knowledge of what these needs and requirements are and to appropriately respond to them. For larger organizations, an internal services level agreement may be negotiated between the facilities organization and the using department. These agreements clarify roles and responsibilities and determine the level of reporting and accountability needed. When these departments internally pay for special services, cost effectiveness is important to them as well as responsiveness. If the departmental services come from an overall facilities budget, they may not be as cost conscious when requesting work.

The Overall Organization Itself

The facilities organization has a fiduciary responsibility to be cost effective for the overall organization. This responsibility may, from time to time, be at odds with the requirements of the building occupants and the departmental users of facility and building maintenance services. An excellent facilities organization knows how to balance the needs and interests of these different customers within the framework of the facilities budget and the strategic direction of the organization. For example, a company that is growing fast may want quality services provided as fast as possible to be able to increase revenue faster than the incremental cost increases for faster or excessive services. Other organizations may be short on cash requiring the organization to forego some long-term beneficial capital investments and maintenance projects. It is imperative for overall organization to know financial boundaries, organizational cash liquidity, and to optimize cost effectiveness within the constraints of these boundaries.

Your Employees, Subcontractors and Suppliers

Yes, in many ways, the facilities organization must treat its employees, subcontractors and suppliers as customers with dignity and respect. Good communications and relations with them motivate them to go the extra mile to serve the organization when a special need or emergency occurs. The best systems, technology, and programs cannot work without a highly motivated and trained workforce dedicated to the organizations and people they serve. Balancing all these different customer interests in a positive manner, understanding what success factors are important in a given situation and picking the right course of action will go a long way in your organization to successfully serve its multitude of customers.