31 May 2017
I get varied responses when I ask new and prospective clients this question.
Some clients talk about risk and the need to know who is on site and when, while on the other hand I also hear, “as long as the job gets done, it doesn’t really matter when they come, they know the site…”
So which response is correct?
Is there a correct response at all? …or does it simply depend on the nature of the clients’ business or perhaps the site where the work is being carried out?
To assess the need for notifying of visits, I would identify the potential risks associated with a visit or schedule of visits to a client’s site using the same risk management strategy when assessing the need for any business process be it an activity, communication or transactional in nature.
Asking the question; “what could go wrong if….” Is usually a good starting point.
So, let’s revisit the need for notifying a client of a service partners’ visit and let’s make the following assumptions:
- All Safety information such as risk assessments and method statements have been assessed, completed and shared with the client.
- We are dealing with repeat visits as part of a service contract
- The same team visits the site each time.
- The team is familiar with the site.
Given these factors is it necessary to inform the client of an upcoming visit to site?
“Question…. What could go wrong?”
- The site conditions may have changed between visits.
- There may be other activities on site that may clash with the visit that the client forgot to inform the service partner about.
- The site may have been closed at short notice.
- There may be vulnerable people or animals on site that present new safety hazards / risks
- What about the financial consequences of the aborted visit.
- ….Nothing, conditions haven’t changed and the visit will progress the same as every other visit.
These are just a few examples and of course there may be many more.
What about this question: Who should stand the cost if the visit is aborted;
The client because they forgot to notify of the changes on site, or
The service partner because they didn’t check it was still convenient to visit?
This could seriously harm the relationship.
I am sure you will agree that I have made many assumptions in the example above and I haven’t listed every possible permutation of what could go wrong either.
Even if we know a site very well, and visit at an agreed day and time each week, conditions may have changed since the last visit.
Furthermore, unless a client is reminded of a visit, they may have simply forgot to tell the service partner that it is inconvenient to visit.
So back to my first question,
“What are the benefits of being notified of contractor visits?”
Well here are a few:
- The client is reminded of the visit – (great customer communication)
- The date and time of the visit has been confirmed for the benefit of all parties – (expectations have been set)
- The client has an opportunity to re-arrange the visit if necessary – (great customer service)
- The visit has the ‘all-clear’ to proceed as arranged – (effective planning)
- Fewer assumptions have being made – (reduced the likelihood of something going wrong)
- Reduce the cost of any aborted visits – (efficient management)
- Remove the issue of who should stand the cost of an aborted visit – (maintaining relationships)
- The service partner has reached out to its client and kept them informed! – (a happy customer)
In summary, communication of site visits makes all parties aware of upcoming works and will enable all parties to manage any risks associated with the visit and plan for any necessary disruption to business activities or services. Most would agree that it is better to be informed than not and have to make assumptions which may or may not be correct.
To avoid becoming a nuisance, perhaps agree the communication parameters and expectations at the start of the relationship or contract.
Being notified of upcoming visits is great and serves as a timely reminder,
however things change and sometimes at short notice.
A pro-active service partner will remind you before a visit
to enable you to check if the visit can still go ahead.
Great communication makes great customer service!
Do you have any communication success stories or examples of where communication can be improved? If so, I would like to hear. Please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and feedback with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on LinkedIn here.
Want to know more?, please take a look at my related article, ‘Service Contracts… Getting it right at the outset (part 1)’
Nick W Calcutt