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22 August 2017

Better Service Management on a smaller budget

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How do you invest in better services when you don’t have a lot of resources? Tim van Leeuwen, Manager facility department at NHTV, a University of applied sciences in the Breda, the Netherlands, shares his tips for great customer and employee satisfaction.


Nobody’s making it rain for Tim van Leeuwen’s facilities department at NHTV. Still, they get an 8,5 out of 10 in customer satisfaction surveys and are looking to improve that rating? So, what is their recipe for high customer satisfaction? Tim talks about the philosophies they implemented.

One organization, one goal

You work in Service Management. But what does your organization ‘work in?’ Align your goals with those of the organization you’re part of. NHTV is in education. “So that’s where they want the money to go,” Tim says. “The important investments should enable teaching staff  to do their work well, so you don’t want too much money going to facilities.”

NHTV strives for excellence in education. Teachers need to inspire, students want to learn and innovate. And you can pull them forward. “It’s different for each organization. One thing we do is create classrooms that allow teachers and students to engage more.” Plus, NHTV has recently acquired a former convent that’s close to their main buildings. “We’re creating one large, green campus that connects all of our buildings.”

But how do you navigate the friction between delivering excellent service and working with a tight budget? If all the money is going to the core business itself, how do you become the best at supporting that core business? That’s where Tim brings in the Fish! Philosophy® concept created by Charthouse Learning.

Providing a better work environment

Tim proposes the Fish! Philosophy® to flex your service muscles. The Fish! philosophy® lets you improve customer experience without an an ocean of money.

Fish!® was inspired by Pike place fish market in Seattle and it is based on four principles:

  1. Choose your attitude
  2. Play at work
  3. Make someone’s day
  4. Be present

How do you apply this in service management? That part is surprisingly simple. As Tim puts it: “We gave each team a small budget to use for an activity. They were free in deciding what they were going to do as long as it was fun for the students or staff.”

It wasn’t hard to get the teams hooked on the concept. The teams started to think out of the box and came up with lots of creative ideas: an upgrade of a toilet block that wasn’t used much, a Christmas dinner with teaching staff for international students who are unable to go home for the holidays and much more.

“One team even put up smoke detectors over the entrance of the building to keep people from smoking right out front. The detectors can be triggered manually, so the janitor always has a way to make sure nobody keeps smoking in front of the entrance.”

Other teams are starting to get on board as well. “The housing department recently did an activity,” Says Tim. “They had to make some noise early in the morning around where the students live. To make up for it, they went door to door and they took care of breakfast.”

Tim and his team have found the perfect way to go the extra (sea)mile for their customers. Would you like to find out more ways to delight your customers and save time to reach your long-term goals at the same time? Read our free e-book on Customer centricity.

Download the Customer Centricity E-book

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