Property management companies are recognising that the lack of time FMs have is posing a major concern. And, it is becoming widely acknowledged – across the industry – that a helpdesk is now a necessity, to support the FM’s in their role.
‘Helpful’ helpdesks service both the properties and the tenants. They need to offer a consistent and professional service – centred around freeing up the FM’s time. All in all, they should provide the backbone of the service provision.
A helpdesk is not there to carry out the FM’s job, but more to act as a first port of call for the tenant, and to enhance the overall management of the property.
Do not mistake a helpdesk with a call centre; the latter is designed to provide a call answering service and not to act as an extension of the overall FM service.
The majority of property management organisations have opted to outsource their helpdesk solution. Clearly, this highlights a huge leap of faith – they are – in effect – leaving the first port of call for tenants in the hands of a third party.
For those considering this option, here are some useful tips on getting it right:
- Know what you want from the helpdesk, and what level of involvement you want from it – before you select this route.
- Take time to understand and appreciate the pitfalls of getting the wrong helpdesk involved.
- Follow a proper (and rigid) tendering process.
- Remember that helpdesk operations are people operations, without the right people you won’t achieve the right service.
- Empower your helpdesk, but provide them with the right materials in the first instance.
- Encourage face to face engagement with your helpdesk – they need to know how you operate, and you need to work together to build the relationship and levels of trust.
- Make sure the operator doesn’t just ‘sit on the phone’ all day – get them out to see sites and appreciate a typical landlords demise.
- Ensure the helpdesk acts as an extension of the – already professional – service you provide.
Chris MacDonald, Managing Director, Propertyserve UK