Do you know who your customers are? If not, how do you know if you are serving them?
If we were in the retail industry, I am pretty confident that we would have a darn good understanding of whom our “customers” are or at the very least who we intent our customers to be.
If I provide Countryman Microphones, then my customers will likely be any organization that has a public speaking component where the orator(s) does not want to be tethered to a hand-held microphone or a wired lapel mic.
If I were in the bass boat market, my target customers would be fishing and outdoors-men (and women) enthusiasts.
If we sold Mercedes Benz vehicles, I believe my target market would be people that either have relative high net worth…or want to “convey” that they do (whether that is real or an illusion).
But what if I am a Facility Manager? Who are my customers? Who am I serving? Who am I striving to please? Who is reliant on me doing my very best so they can provide there best to “their” customers?
Most of you who read our blog are involved in church work in some form or fashion…so the idea of a “customer” may feel foreign or contrived. Some of you may even bristle at the use of this word in your church setting…but think about this definition of a customer:
The recipient of a good or a service, or a product, or an idea, obtained from another via a financial transaction or exchange for money or some other valuable consideration.
We recently received the following in an e-mail from Nathan Parr, Facility Manager at First Baptist Church, Belton, TX. Pay particular attention to his last sentence:
“Scheduling events and maintenance in a church is tough. Add a full-time daycare and a private school it gets complicated very quickly. With over 11,000 room uses a year, we needed a system that was easy to understand, robust enough to handle our demands, accurate enough to avoid all scheduling conflicts, and with enough features to be a “one-stop shop” for all we needed. We found it with Cool Solutions Group and their eSPACE Event Scheduler and Work Order Management systems. Meeting the varied needs of different ministries can be challenging, with Cool Solutions Group the easiest part of my operation is now event and maintenance scheduling. The systems allow for more time to be invested in our ministry of supporting every other Ministry Team at First Baptist Belton.”
Did you catch that? To me it is pretty clear as to whom Nathan’s customers are.
So…how to you best serve your customers? Here are 3 steps that will improve your customer service:
Identify the customer. Most organizations have two sets of customers, each with different needs. In hospitals, the ultimate customer is the patient. But the most immediate customers are nurses, doctors and therapists. In K-12 schools, the ultimate customers are students, the most immediate customers are teachers and principals. In a church setting, your guests, members and attendees are the ultimate customer…and I would actually say the guest is the primary. However, the most immediate customers are the other ministries, staff/leaders and organizations that use your facility.
Set goals. By understanding the needs of each type of customer, you can set realistic goals and expectations that will help your team meet those needs. It will also help your customers know the limits of what your team can and cannot accomplish or at the very least, set realistic expectations as to bandwidth and duration of tasks.
Communicate…OVER-Communicate. I can not emphasize this enough. Having regular and proactive lines of communication to and from your customers is critical…may I say imperative?!?! Do the people you serve know what you are doing to serve them? Do they know the status of one of their requests? Do they think (remember…perception vs. reality) they are being heard? Have you ever bought anything online from Amazon? Did you get notification when the item was processed…shipped…and a projected ETA? Think how that made you feel as their customer…now repeat that to your customers.
Customers should NEVER be seen as a “pain in the neck” or the bane of our existence. Remember, without customers, you are out of a job.