Tenant experience is one of the hottest topics in the commercial real estate (CRE) industry. In Part I of this series, we suggested a definition based on all the elements that combine to form the experience of commercial building occupants during a typical workday. (Spoiler alert: It’s not just about amenities!).
Even so, we get the sense from many CRE organizations that they are struggling to understand the role they play in this experience, let alone the best approach they should take to delivering it. Given that the tenant experience isn’t just one thing, this is understandable. It’s a tough nut to crack!
The key to formulating a successful tenant experience strategy is to think about it holistically. Mostly this means thinking outside the walls. The reality is that everything—from the commute to the neighborhood to the common areas to suite itself—impacts each individual occupant’s experience at a commercial building.
At first blush, this seems overwhelming. How can property management be expected to deliver a great tenant experience when so many parts of it are outside of the building’s control? It’s easy to panic and try to grab more control, often by adding expensive amenities in the building. But taking some time to reflect yields a liberating insight: It will never be property management’s role to provide every single element of the experience directly.
Instead, commercial building owners and managers have a different role to play, one they are uniquely positioned to perform. And that role is that of a curator—identifying the best of what makes it great to work in their buildings, packaging it together, and communicating it to the ones who need to know. Being a good curator means answering two important questions: What information should I share, and how should I share it? (We already know that the who part is essentially the entire population of building occupants.)
1. Know what customers want to know
Of course, it’s important for building occupants to be notified about what’s happening in the building: upcoming renovations, maintenance issues, major events, and anything else that might affect the workday. But it doesn’t end there.
For example, our Tenant Experience Gap Report discovered that nearly three quarters (72 percent) of tenants want to know about services near the building, not just inside it. Only about half of CRE professionals correctly anticipated that their customers would find this kind of information important enough for the building staff to keep them up to date.
The range of what occupants want to know presents property management teams with an opportunity. Chances are the team already knows a tremendous amount about the neighborhood, so why not connect the dots for the occupants and let them know too? This will enrich their experience at the building by connecting them more closely with the neighborhood. Beyond this, it’s also a way for property teams to separate themselves from their peers simply by stretching their thinking beyond the physical structure of the building.
2. Talk where customers want to listen
It’s one thing to undertake the effort to gather information and package it in a way that demonstrates a commercial building’s differentiated positioning. It’s another to actually get that message in front of the people who need to see it.
The best way to communicate effectively is to put the message where the intended audience will see it. (This is not rocket science!) For most people today, including building occupants, this means mobile devices. Flyers on a bulletin board and email blasts simply won’t cut it anymore. Occupants are starting to expect to get information directly on their smartphones, including through text messaging. They’ll be much more likely to engage with information that appears on the same channels most of them are already using to communicate with friends, family, and even coworkers.
Practically every property management team wants to provide the best experience possible for its customers, but not enough are thinking about the true end-to-end experience of occupants. Even fewer are getting the message across effectively. It’s a daunting challenge, but it means that the property teams who figure it out will stand out. Stay tuned for Part III of this series to learn more about trying out this new approach.