The industry has been providing access to an asset and product (so to speak) but what the last few years have shown us, like other industries, is that the industry is providing a service or outsourcing to someone to provide the service (or rather they should be providing a service). This in itself means the approach needs changing to focus on how to handle customers, how to provide for customers and how to entice customers into our space.
Building a relationship with your customers will allow for existing (and future) real estate and spaces to really attract people – and the world is full of something that can be used oto help with attracting and retaining those customers – data. There is lots of it and if you harness it you can create something truly special. Understanding the customers, understanding the performance of the building can help create productive workspaces. I look to my day job and with very few data points (that are readily available) we can create dashboards that some basic performance metrics of an asset. So imagine how much could be done with all the additional data (providing it is being responsibly collected). Delivering something a customer wants, needs (even if they don’t know they need it) and desires.
A relationship works both ways. Having a close relationship between customer and operator allows for the delivery of something special – but you have to start with trust. A lot like a brand, you go back to it because you trust it. You know what it stands for. How many people currently know who owns a building? How do you build a trusting relationship with a customer? Well to start with be transparent when it comes to data collection. Data helps drive change but a customer wants to know what’s happening with the data and why.
Overlay on to the relationship piece an organisation that had a handful of corporate city centre based offices, and is now wrestling with a hybrid way of working. Is all the space needed – some space is needed but how much? Organisations need so much more for their employees and that is where relationships with landlords/operators become important – you may choose to have a more distributed workspace and therefore having relationships with a multitude of operators can provide the needs of your employers where and when they need it. You know flexible space. Some may say SpaceAsAService!
Customers have needs. They spend time in buildings large proportions of the day – remember, the built environment is where people largely live, work, learn and play. The industry has historically known little about them. A faceless organisation behind the four walls. Organisations have learning needs, require hospitality and administrative services and ever more technology support and upskilling. But why? Why waste our time making changes to our assets. Simple – your “tenants” will become someone else’s “customer”. Lease lengths are not indefinite, in fact they are getting shorter and shorter and provide ways for your income to move elsewhere. If you have created a true space for your customer and they value it then they are more likely to think twice about making a move. The real estate sector is renown for networking so using those networks now will allow us to build the network of support partners that can help you service the needs of your customers. Customers have more needs than just four walls – coffee
Real Estate can’t live on its past glories. Real estate is now a service business that needs to focus on the customer experience more than ever. The way we use real estate has changed and people have changed their opinions and priorities. People spend more than 90% of their lives inside real estate. Mostly, work, rest or play happens inside real estate. No other industry has as much contact with their customers as does the real estate industry. So, it’s time to focus on those customers before they go looking elsewhere. We need to re-evaluate what the purpose of the real estate is to achieve its true potential.