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New research from Business Services Growth (BSG), a business services consultancy, with The Brookeside Group, suggests loyalty in the Facilities Management (FM) industry is lower than in any other sector.
The UK FM Industry Survey – which used Brookeside’s patented software to measure the strength of business relationships between service providers and clients – has found that providers in the FM industry are failing to adequately maintain and manage client relationships, with only 6pc considering their providers to be ‘trusted advisors’. In comparison to other industries ‘trusted advisor’ relationship levels are, on average, nearer to 25pc.
Findings also revealed that a third (30 per cent) of relationships were found to be ‘antagonistic’ and a further 22% of respondents were found to have ‘transactional’ relationships with their supplier.
Commenting on the results, Andrew Shaw, managing director of BSG, said: “The evidence from this report is clear. The fact that only a small fraction of respondents consider their providers to be trusted advisors, clearly reflects the poor level of client relationship management in the FM sector.
“Relationships found to be ‘antagonistic’ or ‘predisposed’ are ones that we would consider to be potentially at risk. Suppliers are likely to find it hard to successfully renew these contracts if nothing is done to improve the relationship. From these results, we have seen that more than 50% of suppliers are in this ‘at risk’ category. This is a shocking result, which identifies again the lack of client management capability within the FM industry. If suppliers don’t pay more attention to how they manage their client relationships, they will suffer contract retention losses that will hinder their growth.”
While loyalty levels were generally low, the research also found that regular client surveys were central to achieving stronger client relationships. Approximately half (44%) of FM managers stated that their suppliers conducted periodic surveys to collect client feedback, which proved to be a worthwhile investment, as these suppliers gained client loyalty scores that were 56pc higher than those that did not conduct surveys. Some 85pc agreed that a benchmark for client management would help improve standards.
The results also show a need for a better, more consistent service as well as more pro-activity from suppliers. When asked about how they perceived their suppliers, ‘integrity’ (77pc) was rated most highly by respondents whereas ‘competency’ and ‘pro-activity’, which drive satisfaction, were relatively low (71 per cent, 66pc). Many respondents also stated that clients wanted their suppliers to show a greater interest in their business and most importantly, wanted them to bring new ideas, help them avoid surprises and take the initiative.
Shaw continues, “What these findings clearly show is that suppliers need to pay much more attention to how they manager their client relationships. Effective account management is the key to retaining clients within this challenging market. A basic first step is to establish a disciplined process for capturing and responding to client feedback. Providers must speak to their clients and understand what is truly important to them and their institution. They then need to take action and make the changes that their clients want.”
The company offers consultancy to business services companies who are looking to grow and improve client relationships. For more information about the services provided by BSG, visit: http://www.BusinessServicesGrowth.com/