Asking the Tough Questions to Measure Performance

A few years ago a dear friend in our industry told me about measuring performance in his company’s customer relationships. As he spoke, I was already thinking ahead of him in terms of Technician efficiency on the account, Account Manager sales volume and margin performance, and perhaps how did the customer feel about his company’s overall performance.

The shock came though as he described not one element of his financial profile with the client; instead, he focused on how his company was satisfying that clients’ needs. His firm was conducting reoccurring self-assessments with the support of his client to improve the performance of his firm for THAT client. To accomplish this requires asking tough questions.

Effectively, what is being described is a report card, a performance review, an evaluation report. Do we, practitioners in the security industry, have the ability to curb our egos, open our ears, and listen to what our clients have to say about us? We need to. The first step is asking those tough questions. Let’s take a look at some tough questions:

  • Is the Account Manager professional and timely through the interactions and surveys for your recent projects?
  • Overall, is the M3T Team responsive to your questions and concerns?
  • Do M3T Team Members display a positive attitude while on the job site or with you and your team members?
  • Are technicians arriving onsite fully informed on what services are needed?
  • Are technicians coming on-site properly trained and have the knowledge base to perform needed services?
  • Are projects being completed in the most efficient manner? (same techs from start to finish, no unjustified start/stops, correct material)
  • Are schedules being communicated well in advance and changes communicated as soon as possible? (Projects at least a week out and service 24-hour notice)
  • Do technicians notify the POC on the way to the site that they are coming and what they are coming to work on?
  • While the Technician is working at the site, is the POC regularly informed on the status of work being performed?
  • Are quotes or change orders being completed within one week of when requested or after the survey is completed?
  • Are new products/technologies being introduced regularly?
  • Does the Project Manager respond to your service request email within 2 hours of when it was sent notifying that it has been received and will be scheduled?
  • Does the Account Manager check in with you regularly and after projects are completed to determine if your organization’s needs are being met?
  • Do you recommend M3T to others for their security needs?

We ask our clients to answer these questions as follows:

  • All the time,
  • Most of the time
  • Sometimes
  • Occasionally
  • Not at all

We score each and have developed a grading range to create a snapshot statement on the relationship. Our grading is as follows:

  • Healthy relationship needing minor adjustments
  • Relationship exhibits mediocrity and needs work
  • Relationship is in trouble and must improve

When clients take the time to engage with you in this manner, they will also want to know that the information is reaching the highest levels in the company; they want to know where challenges exist, and that they will be addressed to be eliminated or improved upon.

That is why the report card results, if you chose to do them, must be elevated to the highest levels in your organization. They must be shared across the client services team – the good, the bad, and the very bad.

Transparency in your client relationships is liberating. If your firm operates internally in a transparent manner, it is highly likely you do the same with your clients. Therefore, do not be afraid of the report card. Take one to the most problematic client you have and sit down for the discussion.

I can guarantee that the client will be very grateful for the forum you provide to say what is on their mind. Your relationship will be better for it.

Two final thoughts:

  1. Those financial performance indicators……..they’ll take care of themselves if we take care of our clients
  2. Report cards should go both ways; have your team grade your client’s performance and share the results with the client. Here are questions we ask our team members from technicians to PM’s and AM’s:
    • Provides comprehensive information on the service request to be able to instruct Technicians on what needs to happen. 
    • Provides a POC, location where encountering the issue, (physical location), explanation of the problem
    • Provides clear communication on project expectation and timeline for completion
    • A 1-week notice is provided when an unexpected delay impacting a previously confirmed project start date occurs
    • Communicates support issues through the proper communication channels without going directly through a technician or account manager.
    • Provides prioritization of multiple service requests
    • Pays invoices within terms
    • Provides introductions and referrals to other organizations

The only time it is too late to start asking the tough questions is when your customer is not interested in answering them. That means they’ve already decided to move on. Don’t let that happen, start this process now.

John Maffey