Products and services, in general, are directly aligned to customers’ preferences which are influenced by factors that are inversely proportionate to their company standards, policies and requirements.
As T.K. Chandrashekar-VP Operations, Faber Sindoori Management Services puts it, “A successful company today first asks their customers what they really want and listens to the answers. Several FM organizations have a mission targeted on the customer requirements. The way the organization is working from its customers’ perspective and in satisfying its clients, has become a priority for facilities managers.”
Customer preferences, however, cannot be compartmentalized or sized down into a common frame that can be universally adhered to. The challenge is firstly in understanding the complexity of changing preferences of the customer which are largely circumstantial.
Take mechanization for instance, says Alka Joon, Director- A to Z Housekeeping Solutions & Facilitators Pvt Ltd, that customers want all cleaning processes to be mechanized. “Europe and the US have moved on to Robotic cleaning but it is definitely not feasible to get quality results using robots in India, especially in the given climatic conditions.”
The dust levels are high and without manpower intervention or for that matter without a proper mix of man and machine, the quality work delivery is a challenge. Here again to run the machines we need skilled manpower.
Speaking of cleaning chemicals, Green products are yet to become the choice of the day. At times, the customer preference would need to be moulded in the common interest of the customer and the service provider. “Traditionally, chemicals used for cleaning follow a process. The focus during this process follows a philosophy in which certain chemicals could cause harm the people and the environment. The choice of cleaning products is certainly vital. Products can contain toxic chemicals. A safer option is to choose environmentally preferable products that are certified. Certification standards for safety and sustainability help facility managers identify products that are formulated to protect water and air quality, human health, and the environment,” says Chandrashekar, who is managing over 5000 staff. Faber Sindoori has been servicing facilities for the last 15 years.
Not just green chemicals, Alka says, “We are lacking in the right kind of cleaning agents itself in India. The one’s in US and European countries are better and more effective for any type of cleaning. We get common cleaning agents for different applications. In India, it is like each surface has a different solution.”
The challenge is not just in understanding the customer’s preferences but also in implementing them. In the absence of the comprehensive cleaning agents, the consumption cost of multiple cleaning agents rises without a corresponding increase in payments.
Experienced player in servicing in the railways and airport segments, Sachin Rana, Director, Aroon Aviation Services Pvt. Ltd, is pleased that the awareness among customers has increased following the Swachh Bharat mission. “Four years ago, nobody was aware about cleanliness. After Modi’s SBM, client’s attitude has changed and is changing day by day.”
With operations in over 20 airports, railways, corporates, educational institutes and hospitals located in more than 30 cities in India, AASPL, which started in the 1970s, has experienced sea changes in customer expectations both in product as well as service wise.
Servicing the government sector, especially railways and airports, meeting customer expectation is a big challenge. Take the railways, for example, there are all kinds of people who walk in and out of this space. “There is lack of cleanliness awareness among the people. The way they use the railway station or the washrooms is a common knowledge.” Littering and spillage are common. Educating people is most important here.
Meeting customer expectation and customer satisfaction in the railways is much different from that of aviation. “Usually, the upper- and middle-class people travel via flights. The level of awareness and cleaning standards is known to them.” Hence, the maintenance becomes feasible and consequently, the customer satisfaction.
More than 6000 staff engaged with AASPL also provide other facility services besides housekeeping.