Ask people for examples of great customer experience and they will likely cite First Direct bank, Qatar Airlines, Waitrose and John Lewis.
“People rarely talk about FM and workplace,” said Jamie McDonald, chair of the IWFM Customer Experience Working Group, during a recent IWFM Turbulent Times Webinar, entitled Customer Experience Management.
“And that's really wrong, because across the UK and globally, our people are doing great things every day. But as an industry, we're not known for it. And I think that's a real travesty.”
McDonald, who is also the customer experience director at VIVO Defence Services, added that workplaces are full of great experiences but they sometimes lack consistency.
Determine your ‘why’
Carly Gibbs, head of guest experience at Chiswick Park, said that for any customer experience initiative to succeed there needs to be a clear reason for rolling it out – but ascertaining whether they’re fit for purpose is also key.
Chiswick Park, which has been in existence for 21 years now, is “not your traditional business park”, Gibbs argued, citing events, activities and pop-up engagements such as handing out free ice cream. The estate won the then BIFM's Excellence in Customer Service award back in 2013.
“We are an office-based facility and we need to continue to innovate and strive forward to lead the way and be extraordinary in what we do,” Gibbs said. Defining the tenants at the park as well as visiting members of the public as guests helps to direct the offering at the facilities.
“They all have very different needs, expectations and deliverables,” Gibbs explained. Understanding these unique requirements and meeting them through the experience on the estate is the difference between tenants staying at the park or seeking office space elsewhere.”
Advice from Gibbs is to look beyond the profession and industry to find ways to innovate. For Chiswick Park, this means assessing what is going on in hospitality settings, entertainment centres and amusement parks. “How do they measure their experiences? How can we bring some of that into what we do to make it relevant for us? Then you can adapt and adjust what you do.”
The key is relevance. So be sure to ask yourself and your team:
- Why are we measuring current guest/team or customer experiences?
- Do our teams and customers understand why we’re measuring this?
- Do they know how we’re going to measure it?
- Do they know when they can expect to see results?
- Do they understand what we will do with those results?
Many will be familiar with the net promoter score (NPS) – a survey question asking respondents the likelihood of them recommending a service, product or company to a friend or family member. It is a powerful tool but it is just part of the metrics solution, McDonald explained, as it fails to access the “depth of engagement”.
“We shouldn't underestimate the value of conversations. Everybody who works in our estates and our businesses has team meetings and one-to-one annual appraisals. Their boss and peers talk about objectives, goals and performance. I bet they almost never talk about the role the workplace has in their success.
“Imagine a future where, as part of the appraisal process, the boss asks their team and people: ‘how much did the workplace impact you this year? What could we do differently next year?’ That's really unusual. I think that would begin to unlock people's experience of being a user of the workplace. Clearly, measurement models and mechanisms have a role to play, but there's so much stuff that gets missed by those.”
McDonald added that having more conversations or building in the workplace effect into staff appraisals would reveal a greater insight into the value, barriers and enablers of a workplace. “You can measure it in certain ways and report in certain ways. But I think most people could easily say, ‘Well, actually, if this was different, I could do this’ or ‘this really helped me’. We don't have these conversations. Most of our leaders are focused on objectives, goals and performance, as opposed to [asking], ‘Could the workplace unlock that?’ And for me, that’s a key driver of employee engagement, really understanding how we can get people to have a shape and say in their workplace, not just the key outcomes they're tasked with."