The image of an accelerating, ever-enlarging snowball rolling downhill is one of the most universally understood symbols of a force; once begun, it continues to grow with a powerful, unrelenting, and unstoppable momentum of its own. A seemingly insignificant, hand-fashioned frozen sphere may start its journey unassumingly, gathering in diameter and energy as it descends across a snowy slope. It may slow or change course in obedient acquiescence to its surroundings, shedding material as it ricochets off obstacles in its way. Or it comes to an abrupt, snowy, and spectacular end, wreaking damage and disintegrating as it meets an irresistible mass that is greater than itself.
The tenant experience, central to success in the commercial real estate industry, is very much like that snowball. As building managers, we can consciously and strategically set the best course to establish and maintain an exceptional environment, or we can step aside and let inertia and gravity set an arbitrary, serendipitous path and let the flakes fall where they may.
The tenant experience is a complex system composed of many diverse components, but we’ll simplify building your snowball with four key ingredients: property, people, process, and proptech. The first — presenting a physically attractive, well-designed, and well-maintained property — is a long and well-established hallmark of success in the commercial real estate industry. It is also where the most money is spent, ranging from capital improvements, landscaping, and art installations to utilities, supplies, and seasonal decor.
No matter how splendid the surroundings, however, a building is simply an empty shell without the people who staff and operate the facility daily. Setting the tone of your asset’s relationship with tenants depends heavily on the people they encounter along their journey through the workday, whether they are your own employees or are third-party contractors. To the tenant, they are all part of the same team and the most visible and accessible ambassadors of our brand. It is more essential than ever to ensure that your team understands the expectations of building management, that they are provided with clear direction, and that they fully appreciate how essential their role is to the continuing success of your business. Instilling your team with a sense of purpose and pride in their workplace can inspire our tenants to feel the same way about your building.
In addition to delivering an exceptional atmosphere to our tenants and their guests, your building team is also responsible for managing smooth and efficient processes in your facility. They coordinate the security measures to protect tenant safety, ensure a visibly clean and healthy environment, and maintain the physical plant. Each one of these functions contributes to the perception of a building that puts the best interests of the tenant ahead of all else.
The final component of your tenant experience snowball is proptech, or the digital platforms that serve both the team and the tenants, providing productivity tools that simplify and accelerate workflow and one-stop access to the services, information, conveniences, and content that contribute to the quality of the workday. A well-designed customized building app is yet another distribution channel for delivering a positive customer experience, providing value and maintaining a direct relationship with the tenant even at times they are not physically in your offices.
Now that your tenant experience snowball is hard packed with these four components — property, people, process, and proptech — it begins its journey down the slope. Every positive tenant interaction adds to its growth, its momentum, and its staying power. Every component contributes additively. A consistent, relentless focus on the customer service experience adds layer after layer of substance to the snowball and purposeful energy to its journey. The trajectory slows, but does not stop, when the tenant is not physically working in the building. What keeps it moving is the experience delivered through your customized building app, providing connection, value-added functionality, and content all day, every day.
From time to time, your snowball hits a rough patch; an obstacle or challenge to your success, or an outright failure to provide a world-class tenant experience through any one of these four channels. If your snowball has accumulated enough layers of positive experience, you might lose some of your mass and momentum, but you can get back on track to rebuilding the tenant loyalty and the trust you worked so hard to earn. But, you must consistently and conscientiously keep adding to those positive experiences daily, so when you do hit an even larger impediment, it is the obstacle that gives way and your tenant experience snowball regains its energy and process of rebuilding. Every day offers multiple opportunities to add to the depth of the experience. Never stop rolling.
Frank Supovitz, an award-winning experience designer, producer, event organizer, and author, has played a leading role in the success of such world-class properties as the Super Bowl, the Indy 500, and the South Street Seaport in New York City. A respected global thought-leader in sports, entertainment, and facilities management, he brings more than three decades of expertise to the HQO Team as a senior consultant for Tenant Experience. Contact HQO to put our Tenant Experience team to work for you.