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20 February 2019
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6 November 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal


A British Council of Offices report says the UK office industry is undergoing "a fundamental shift towards a more customer-centric approach"  writes Herpreet Kaur Grewal

A British Council of Offices report says the UK office industry is undergoing “a fundamental shift towards a more customer-centric approach”. The idea that an FM or the industry at large should be more focused on the customer isn’t new, but Office Service Standards and Customer Experience: a Best Practice Guide brings the topic into sharp focus again. 

Authors Howard Morgan, Dr Danielle Sanderson and Sue Flatto, from the RealService consultancy, say that while for those who hold “a very traditional landlord-occupier relationship this change in thinking, attitude and operation may feel revolutionary, what is clear is that we are seeing the industry evolve across the board”. 


New property sector disrupters, who are driving a shift in the relationship between property owners and corporate occupiers, are accelerating this. To keep pace with their changing requirements and aspirations, property owners and managers are realising the need to build strong bonds with occupiers.  

The study guides property owners, managers and occupiers with best-practice checklists, case studies and scorecards to assist all parties in collaborating to deliver and measure a great customer experience.  


But others, such as property consultant Neil Usher, say this is the wrong approach altogether. At October’s Workplace Trends conference in London he told delegates that there should be more focus on ‘colleague service’. 

Usher, a former FM, told attendees that “many years ago the FM sector decided it needed a stronger focus on the customer and customer service and I am not sure that’s the right way to look at it”.

“I know that may sound counter-intuitive [but] we are providing services for people within the workplace and they are our colleagues. They are not customers; they are colleagues. The customers are external. The moment you create a customer service relationship within a service team you put a target on your back… you are much better off thinking about this as colleague service.”

Usher, who is due to publish a book called The Elemental Workplace in March, said it meant the standards of services delivered would be even higher as a result of this kind of arrangement because “you are in the boat with your colleagues”.

He told FM World: “There needs to be a closer relationship between those on the service side of the profession and those creating workplaces. It’s not about the age-old cry of FMs about being involved in design process – yes, that is true as well but this is about the fact that its great to invest money in creating a fantastic workplace but it does have to be serviced appropriately and professionally at the right level of quality for the rest of its life.”

He said the idea of focusing on ‘colleague service’ was given to him by a former co-worker called Nick Green. Usher says wearing a target on your back “creates the need for a higher level of self-promotion” which is ultimately “a complete distraction and a waste of resources and energy”.