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Partnering for Success: Effective Workflow Management


March 07, 2016     3 minute read

Let’s be honest: as anyone in business knows, a facilities issue almost never takes place during business hours. Whether it’s a power failure, cleaning crew that did not show up for service, water leak or some other problem, it’s bound to happen outside of typical business hours. Avoiding problems where possible and troubleshooting to get back on track without delay to the locations entail a major commitment to communication on both the retailer’s part – and ours.


We’ve found that it’s critical to use the best and newest technologies in addition to our stellar customer service – but also to remember that we are a critical extension of our client’s facilities team. Our job is to understand how our corporate culture affects theirs, and merge the two seamlessly to ensure the customer experience is on point. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a healthy debate with our clients prior to implementation – while we always strive to examine the business through their eyes, we also bring our own experience to each conversation. And those discussions usually result in a best practice that saves everyone time and money.

In terms of re-occurring work, clients bring their own nuances and brand standards to managing a facility to meet their brand expectations. Some managers request certain services performed more frequently within a given time frame, while others require a less rigorous schedule. For example, a specialty retailer may want its VCT floors scrubbed and burnished the first Tuesday of every month at 7:00 a.m. Through our recurring service platform, we can pre-arrange this service for the entire year, so the store manager can proactively plan for the occurrence. That said, we are always prepared for the occasional last-minute emergencies or change to that schedule.


When those rare occurrences do take place, these relationships, commitments to service and both a 24/7 headquarters and local presence help keep a store and a job on track. For example, if a location loses power, it requires an electrician’s service – right then – to avoid any loss in business. As part of our Service Level Agreement (SLA), we have designated time frames for specific repairs, and can guarantee a NEST Independent Service Provider (ISP) will be out to the site within a specific timeframe, whether that’s at 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. These SLAs can be customized by client, service category and other factors to ensure we are always meeting the expected completion timeframes.


While technology is an important asset to keep these client nuances up to date, customer service is the next piece of the puzzle. Each client has an account manager who becomes an extension of its own staff, with someone from our call center always available around the clock. We also have quality assurance managers in various locations around the country to help vet, coach and train our ISPs when needed. In fact, when one of our clients had a fire at a facility, a NEST quality assurance manager with years of experience was quickly on site, taking photos and offering recommendations, along with real-time data updated via our mobile technology platform. All team members have a tablet that allows us to communicate with our clients and ISPs in real time – and allows them to take the necessary photos needed and send this helpful documentation to the command center (and on to our client). This helped the client recover much more quickly from the disaster. (In fact, our local staff is often there even before a retailer’s headquarters executives can arrive.)


But we have to do more than ensure that an ISP or in-house team member is there; he or she must be properly equipped. NEST has always been an early adopter of technology, believing that we should use every tool available to communicate better with our clients. The last piece of the puzzle is equipping our ISP base with tools to be successful. Thus, we provide the same transparency to our ISPs at no charge. This allows them to see the feedback we receive, gives them quality control over their business and possibly helps them create opportunities for more business. (That’s in addition to the discounts on supplies we can provide through our affinity programs.)

Because whether we’re dealing with clients in various vertical markets or our ISPs, workflow management — and all management – is all about partnership.

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