As someone who’s been involved in customer loyalty research for over 15 years—including 12 in commercial real estate, the past 2 of these at Building Engines—I can say without equivocation that the field has changed. A lot.

The first customer research project I worked on was a telephone survey. (And yes, believe it or not, that was during this century!) When I first came to CRE, more than half of tenant satisfaction surveys were fielded at least partially with paper questionnaires, complete with instructions to use a No. 2 pencil. Email delivery was the big innovation, and it really did make things better. It led to less expensive projects, shorter field times, higher response rates, and better data quality.

But something happened on the way to Electronic Survey Nirvana: Email got old and busted. I’d even argue that email surveys have become a negative part of the customer experience they are intended to measure. Why? Because the role of email has changed.

As I look at my email inbox today, the message count is a 5-digit number. It feels like email lists have become like Euripides’ Hydra: Every time I unsubscribe from one list, I somehow end up on 2 more to take its place. With all this clutter, when I get repeated email invitations to participate in surveys, it feels not only antiquated, but really annoying. (I’m looking at YOU, airlines and hotels!)

Today, new, more nimble communication channels have arisen, and they have become integrated into many customer experiences. Mobile apps were not a thing 10 years ago; now, they’re ubiquitous. Messaging and chat applications have exploded. And the idea of purposefully integrating feedback mechanisms into digital customer experience has gained meaningful adoption and big attention.

What does this mean for CRE? Well, it means we need to re-think our approach to measuring customer sentiment and loyalty. At Building Engines, we’re not only thinking hard about this, we’re dedicating resources to helping our clients figure it out. And why not? After all, our platform enables a huge part of the customer experience at commercial properties.

To get a sense of what we’ve learned so far, check out our 2 Easy Steps to Better Understand Tenant Loyalty guide. When you read through the guide you may realize you need better insight into your customers’ experience. If so, then please reach out to learn more about Tenant Pulse™, our newest product addition focused on measuring tenant sentiment.