Every organization has a variety of departments: Human Resources, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Operations and Information Technology. Each of these have customer service relationships to each other. Without cooperation and a team work environment, one department cannot be effective without the other. Occasionally, day to day chaos, kerfluffles and developing bedlam can disturb the balance of a well oiled, smooth running management team.
- a new update causes a software application to malfunction.
- A holiday falls on a payroll processing day.
- Checks issued to vendors are distributed without signatures.
The impact is widespread, dozens of properties or individuals are affected. Each trying to be the most helpful by emailing a notification of the problem, followed up by a phone call to make sure the information was received. The efforts to be helpful are met with a less than cordial response. Feelings are hurt, well wishers are crushed…”I was just trying to be helpful..” the source where the repair is needed is swamped by the deluge of helpful information.
Consider “control central,” the HR department head, the Accounting Team Leader, the IT guys. In many organizations single individuals support the entire company. As the helpful information is coming in at a fast and furious pace, the source location is working just as fast and furiously identifying the source of the problem, researching the best method for a resolution and how the “fix” needs to be implemented.
Individuals working on a property voice their frustration with the corporate team. Inquiries are received : a copy of an invoice is needed, can you set the computer for hosting, the new hire paperwork was not received; could you please send it now?
“I can’t look for the information right now, I’m with a prospect, a resident or in the middle of a lease presentation. Don’t THEY know how busy we are?”
The mirror image of this situation applies on the corporate side as well. Every corporate function, Accounting, Payroll, Support, comes in to their workspace each day with the tasks scheduled to be completed. New hardware to be shipped, invoices to be processed and payments authorized, reviewing updates to software, security deposit refunds to be processed, files to be copied for collections. When the crisis hits, the scheduled tasks are delayed. Just as the on-site staff voices a frustration with the busy pace of their day, the same is true within the support departments. The Accounts Receivable team is not simply sitting in front of a computer waiting for someone to call with a question or a problem. When the phone call comes, the task in process is set aside to give attention to the caller. Remembering this, being a good customer can benefit the customer relationship.
Team building exercises encourages maintenance and leasing teams to trade roles for a day or two. Using a trading places for an accountant to spend time on a property or a site manager to shadow functions with the IT department can create shared awareness. Its important the shared time treats the “visitor” as if they are a new hire, not a day of Show and Tell.
Departments are customers to each other, the internal customer service has a huge impact on the work place environment. As often as we encourage, train and support a customer service mentality for our residents and prospects. Remembering Customer Service begins at home might put a smile on a colleague’s face.