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WE are very proud to present our latest innovation; ladies and gentlemen, clients and friends (cue fanfare), this is the brand new RealService Dashboard.

Created over the last 12 months from a RealService brief by Jon Saville, of our tech partners at Walnut Innovation Limited, and our own data supremo Lasha Gegidze, this live reporting tool will make it possible for our clients to analyse their data in real time and in more segments than a chocolate orange.

“It’s a brilliant, new versatile tool which will bring up-to-date statistics and customer insight to our clients,” said RealService director and chief operating officer Louise Freethy.

It’s especially useful for clients with diverse portfolios who might want to monitor trends by country, or by sector and it provides both the macro and the micro view. Want to know your NPS score over the last five years? It’s all there. Want to know what a specific occupier said in response to a specific question in a specific building in Poland? That insight is there too, in Polish and English, at the click of a button.

Lasha Gegidze … RealService data supremo

Daily refresher dynamic

“It has a daily refresher dynamic, it looks modern and enticing and the information is easily navigable,” said Lasha. “Clients can add new pages so it’s bespoke to them and the data is sliceable and diceable in every way.”

While RealService was the driving force behind the brief, it was Jon Saville at Walnut who had the technical know-how to make it happen.

Based near Peterborough, Walnut have worked with RealService for around 10 years.

It started with our Quest system, the cloud-based client portal which securely stores the transcripts from the thousands of interviews RealService conduct every year.

Jon Saville … dashboard designer

“We were given the opportunity to redevelop the Quest system, which was a substantial piece of work – in fact, it took two years,” said Jon.

Focused on the needs of clients

“This dashboard is similar and it has been an interesting journey. RealService are completely focused on the needs of their clients and they want to deliver the best service. It’s our job to give them that support.”

Jon sees the dashboard as a real value-add.

“It is completely integrated into the Quest platform so any data put into Quest is reflected on the dashboard.

“The other advantage is that all you need is a web browser or mobile phone in order to see it. It has been designed so there is the least amount of ‘friction’ between the data and the user.

See at a glance and track trends

“The immediacy in the way the information is presented means you can see at a glance what it’s trying to say and track the trends. It’s pretty much piped into your eyeballs!”

If you are thinking of conducting Voice of Customer research and would like to hear more about the dashboard and our other services, please contact Louise Freethy, our chief operating officer, at the email address below.

Louise Freethy can be contacted at: Louise.freethy@real-service.co.uk.

Walnut Innovation can be contacted via www.walnutinnovation.co.uk.

THIS is the second interview in our series of CX Conversations and it’s with Kaj Bakker, the head of sustainability (Europe) for global REIT Cromwell Property Group.

Kaj is a passionate convert to the importance of customer experience in the property industry and talks about how annual feedback gathered by RealService across the continent has enabled Cromwell to better understand their occupiers.

Kaj Bakker
Kaj Bakker, Head of Sustainability (Europe), at Cromwell Property Group

He also touches on being the middle-man, the asset manager serving two masters – occupiers and investors. It’s understanding occupiers, he says, which will drive retention, reputation and revenue – and keep investors happy.

Next time, David O’Sullivan, director of occupier and property services at Great Portland Estates, emphasises the importance of customer feedback and how ‘over communicating’ during the pandemic has forged closer relationships between landlord and occupiers.

Welcome to our series of CX Conversations.

If you are a property company unconvinced as to the value of customer experience, please listen to our series of interviews with key figures from different sectors. We’ll be posting over the coming weeks and our interviewees include:

  • THE CUSTOMER. The head of real estate for PwC speaks stridently about the levels of service and engagement he expects as a major customer and he offers up a future of the office as ‘business theatre’.
  • THE ASSET MANAGER. The head of sustainability, Europe, for a global REIT talks about the importance of retention and reputation as key drivers for revenue.
  • THE LANDLORD. The director of occupier & property services for a major UK landlord explains the value of communicating with customers and how building relationships will serve them well in what are likely to be tough times following the pandemic.
Chris Richmond

1. The customer

This first interview is with Chris Richmond, senior head of real estate for PwC.

We asked him about the services he expects as an occupier, the role of managing agents and their preparedness for post-pandemic office life. Oh, and we also touched on the future of the office itself.

Next time, Kaj Bakker, head of sustainability (Europe) at Cromwell Property Group, will talk about being the middle-man, the asset manager serving two masters – occupiers and investors. It’s understanding occupiers, he says, which will drive retention, reputation and revenue.

PROPERTY management and customer experience will be key to the future value of real estate, said Professor Yolande Barnes, chair of UCL’s Bartlett Real Estate Institute, at a British Property Federation webinar focusing on tackling the property industry’s skills gap.

Speakers at the event also included RealService founder and managing director Howard Morgan and Experience Makers producer Harriet Jones.

“The things that make real estate valuable are the people and what they do in the space,” Prof Barnes said. “There was a weird time in the 20th Century when money was made through inflation and the value-adders were those who could trade property at rising prices.

“However, the closed club of big-building real estate is dismantling. Upward-only rent reviews won’t be what creates value in the future, it will be the long-term performance and management of the building.

‘Property managers have come from central casting’

“It’s about the income which can be generated from the people in the building and that puts property management and customer experience front and centre.”

However, according to a report for the British Council for Offices, written and researched by customer experience consultants RealService, the industry is not blessed with a customer-centric culture and those who have been employed in customer-facing roles have come largely from outside the sector.

“Property managers often look as though they have come from central casting,” said Howard Morgan, the author of the BCO report. “We found there is nothing in the major real estate universities or in the APC process which emphasises the importance of customer experience. People are graduating without an understanding of who their customers are.”

In an effort to transform real estate and provide training to ambitious young property professionals, BREI has teamed up with Experience Makers to launch an executive short course – CX in Real Estate:  Future Leaders Programme. The course directors are Prof Barnes and Howard Morgan.

Experience Makers is a research, education and networking community which aims to put ‘life and soul into property’ and has a number of major landlords among its members. Many have contributed to the course content and endorsed it as a much-needed game-changer for the industry.

“There should be alarm bells ringing because landlords need to future-proof against what’s going to be a major change in the office sector and the impact of the internet on the retail sector,” said Harriet Jones.

“Customer experience is not just about making sure there’s a smile at the front desk, it’s about designing all your strategies around the customer and developing those processes. It is beginning to happen, and Experience Makers members can vouch for that, but it’s not happening quickly.

“The Future Leaders Programme is calling for pioneers to come and challenge the system, challenge RICS and change the language and processes of real estate.”

Other areas covered by the panel included the lack of diversity in the industry and discussion around how young people from different backgrounds could be attracted into property management.

The CX in Real Estate: Future Leaders Programme aims to address many of these shortcomings and will be run over five sessions, starting on May 6. Core to the course will be modules on customer experience strategy and design.

For more information on the Future Leaders Programme, please contact harriet@experiencemakers.com

To see the BCO report please head here

For the full BPF webinar please click here

A VITAL cog in the RealService business is the in-house research team.

These skilled researchers conduct the interviews which give RealService clients the in-depth feedback upon which they base key business decisions.

Many of the interviewers have worked for RealService for many years, returning to projects they know intimately on an annual basis. Others have backgrounds in languages, which enables the company to carry out research in the native tongues of customers all over Europe and beyond. For the Cromwell Property Group, for example, interviewers operate in French, Dutch, Italian, Danish, Finnish, and German.

This week, director and chief operating officer Louise Freethy registered her thanks to the team who have brought invaluable insight to RealService clients over the past 22 years, with a special emphasis on research carried out during the pandemic which, she said, has helped clients sketch out “the new normal”.

“Our research team are the unsung heroes of our business,” she said.

“They are practised in gaining invaluable information which can be analysed and presented to our clients. This has been true since RealService was founded in 1999, but especially over the last months where the real estate industry has been hungry for  intelligence around what they can expect the world to look like post pandemic.

Vast knowledge of the property industry

“We are not a market research company. We are a company with vast knowledge of the property industry and the insight our interviewers glean is used by our clients to inform their strategic business decisions.

“Major property companies will be establishing their post-pandemic offerings based on the findings of our research.

“The interviewers have to be highly proficient. They have to engage busy people in a conversation which will provide important feedback on specific questions, and, most importantly, they provide an independent voice.

“We rely on them and I wanted to take an opportunity to thank them for their work.”

So, what makes a great interview?

“A great interview is a conversation which is directed by the interviewer to cover specific points,” said April Davies, who has been with RealService for 12 years and whose projects have included Cadogan, Great Portland Estates, The Crown Estate and others.

April Davies … skilled interviewer

“We are often interviewing very busy people so we need to engage with them very quickly and convince them of the value of taking part in the research.

“It is about covering all the bases in the questionnaire and providing real-life examples, so when our client reads the transcript they know exactly why their customer thinks they are doing a good – or bad – job and what they can do to improve.”

The value of RealService feedback is described as “crucial” by David O’Sullivan, Director of Occupier and Property Services at Great Portland Estates.

“The feedback from the RealService surveys is not just important, it’s crucial, critical,” he said.

‘The feedback loop is essential’

“The feedback loop is essential and it’s one of the reasons we moved our survey from a biennial event to an annual one. Two years is too long to go without talking with your customers.

“To the question, what do we do with that research, the answer is we create action plans from the feedback.”

Before the start of each project, the interviewing team is briefed by the project manager. All have been trained around issues such as confidentiality and data protection. Last month, all undertook  Interviewer Refresher Training.

“We believe our research team is our point of difference,” said Louise Freethy.

“We do not contract out our interviewing to a call centre. We use an experienced, in-house team who are a key component of our business.

“They go above and beyond when interviewing to provide the sort of insight which allows RealService to go above and beyond for our clients.”

RealService, Founder & MD, Howard Morgan will chair a webinar in the British Property Federation’s ‘MyBPF – Digital Series’ on 29th March. He’ll be exploring the customer experience skills gap and how we can ensure our industry has the right skills for the future. Full details and sign up here

https://bpf.org.uk/events/property-s-got-talent-new-skills-required-for-a-post-pandemic-world/

Nurturing a diverse and skilled workforce is a key element of the BPF Redefining Real Estate long-term agenda for change.

Pre-pandemic research by RealService for British Council for Offices (BCO) identified that “the disruptive forces reshaping the way we work call for an equally disruptive response in the way we serve our customers” and that “there is a wide and increasing skills gap in both the quality and quantity of talent able to deliver the customer experience expected by occupiers” The Coronavirus Pandemic has widened the gap and called into question how we educate and recruit in the property industry.

This webinar will explore “What is the mindset and what are the skills that the property industry needs to nurture for the post pandemic world?”

Speakers include

Prof Yolande Barnes
Chair
Bartlett Real Estate Institute

James Ainsworth
Head of Estate Management
PwC UK

Lynne Keenan
Executive Director, Head of Scotland
MAPP

Harriet Jones
Producer
Experience Makers

 

Announcing a new strategic partnership between RealService and CGA to support the drive for change in the real estate industry

REALSERVICE is delighted to announce an exciting new collaboration which will bring even more insight and opportunities to our clients as they revitalise following the pandemic.

We are teaming up with customer-experience consultancy CGA to provide clients with the best of both worlds: RealService’s renowned expertise within the property industry plus CGA’s insight from other sectors.

Howard Morgan, the founder and MD of RealService, said: “This is a crucial time for the property industry and we believe it needs the best thinking from both within and outside its boundaries.

“The industry is looking for radical thinking to help it quickly reposition and rethink its products and services.

“With CGA we believe we have found a partner with a similar real-world outlook and new tools, such as Heartbeat®, which will enable our clients to monitor customer experience with even more precision.

‘A great fit’

“We are a great fit in terms of culture and believe this will put us in an even stronger position to support our clients’ ambitions to become even more customer-centric.

“By speaking the language of customer experience and of real estate, we can offer our clients a fully integrated service covering customer insight, change-management consulting, performance measurement and training.”

RealService clients cover all sectors of the property industry and include The Crown Estate, Cromwell Property Group, Schroders and Great Portland Estates.

Chris Garthwaite, the CEO and founder of CGA, said: “The timing is right for the property industry to think in a radically different way about its customer relationships.

Thinking in a different way

“The industry is realising it must engage in a different way. It is finally thinking about the practical and emotional experience that the end user and business customer wants today and will expect in the post-pandemic world.

“It can learn a lot from the way that other industries are responding and changing their products and services.

“Bringing Howard and his team’s deep knowledge of real estate and customer experience together with our outside-in perspective from 20 years of working with blue-chip clients across the world like Coca-Cola European Partners, The Telegraph, Renault, and many more, is I believe a compelling proposition.”

RealService and CGA have already combined with great success on a project for Transport for London.

Dan Lovatt, head of property management and head of build to rent at TfL, said: “We have enjoyed working with both consultancies over the past year and the collaboration is exciting in that it gives clients like us access to fresh thinking about customer experience from within and outside the property sector.”

For more information please contact Howard Morgan at Howard.Morgan@real-service.co.uk or see the RealService website at www.real-service.com

RealService, founder & MD, Howard Morgan, has been appointed joint course director for the new CX in Real Estate – Future Leaders Programme launched by Experience Makers and the Bartlett Real Estate Institute .

Experience Makers is the real estate industry champion for customer experience professional training and research. The Bartlett Real Estate Institute (BREI) is part of University College London’s world-class faculty and the focal point for all built-environment professionals to re-think real estate.

The CX in Real Estate – Future Leaders Programme is the first short course of its kind to combine academic research with industry insight to provide a vital understanding of customer experience strategy in property, and the skills to implement it.

This exciting initiative is the culmination of research and consultation carried out by Experience Makers and partners that highlights an alarming gap between current training and the skills required for a fast evolving and increasingly service-driven industry.

The impact of coronavirus has plainly revealed the property industry’s reliance on its customers. The call for new and improved knowledge on how to create attractive and healthy places that respond to customer need has only increased.

Fellow course director Prof. Yolande Barnes, chair of the Bartlett Real Estate Institute, said: “This new short course is an exciting next step in our journey to explore the richness and diversity of the value that real estate generates.

 “The programme sets out to open minds to new ways of thinking about real estate in the Covid-19 era and will equip students with practical tools to put this into action. Our ambition is to foster a new generation of professionals who see real estate not as a commodity, but as means to deliver an outstanding experience to customers.”

The CX in Real Estate – Future Leaders Programme is aimed at ambitious individuals working in all areas of property and its related fields, who recognise that real estate has evolved and who see themselves leading CX programmes at asset, team or business level.

Initially delivered online via eight units over six weeks, the intensive short course provides participants with a rewarding learning experience, equips them with practical tools to take back to their business and offers the chance to be part of a new alumni of property professionals with a customer mindset.

The CX in Real Estate – Future Leaders Programme is supported by Experience Makers members and developed in consultation with an Advisory Group of leading organisations passionate about pushing the industry forward.

These include The Crown Estate, Get Living, MAPP, Savills and Transport for London. Their involvement ensures that the programme is rooted in real-world aims, actions and successes.

Howard Morgan, said: “RealService was founded 20 years ago with the ambition to transform our industry’s approach to customer relationships. RealService is a proud supporter of Experience Makers with it’s mission to champion education and research in customer experience in real estate. I am thrilled to be collaborating with Professor Yolande Barnes and UCL Bartlett, an academic partner that shares our ambition to rethink real estate.

 “I believe that this programme is an international first and am excited to welcome participants from the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

 

Following the success of the first programme held in June the next programme will start in November 2021. Information about the next course is available here:

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/real-estate/study/short-courses/cx-real-estate-future-leaders-programme-short-course

 

 


 

 

About BREI (+ UCL press office number +44 (0)7747 565 056)

 

The Bartlett Real Estate Institute is a new global institute that is rethinking the traditional view of real estate. We offer MSc programmes, short courses and research opportunities that critically evaluate real estate within its wider societal, economic and environmental context.

 

About Experience Makers www.experiencemakers.com

 

Experience Makers are the real estate industry champions for customer experience professional education and research supported by a network of leading organisations and trailblazing individuals committed to pushing the industry forward.

 

02/08/2021

IT’S the ski season, or it would be in normal circumstances.

But is your business enjoying a view from the top of the mountain, or in danger of sliding down the icy slopes?

Even in the property industry your customers are your most important assets; treating them well will help with your retention, your reputation and, vitally, your revenue.

So, how well do you know your customers?

Take our fun quiz and let’s see how you’d go on the customer-experience slopes. Are you ready for the black runs? Or stuck in ski school?

 

YES!

5pts

Hmm

3pts

NO!

0pts

Your website and published documents refer to ‘customers’, not ‘tenants’
Your staff refer to your customers as ‘customers’ not ‘tenants’
Your mission statement refers to your customers
You have a senior manager with a customer experience remit
Staff training includes sessions in customer experience
You know what your customers think of you
You regularly survey your customers internally
You regularly have an independent body survey your customers
TOTAL

 

35-40 points

You’re sitting back in the ski lodge, sipping a vin rouge enjoying the view. The Ski Sunday music is playing in the background. Well done! You are very aware of the importance of your customers, they have told you what they need and you are making every effort to meet their expectations. However, you also know that there are icy patches on the run home so you might need our expertise to keep you ahead of the game.

Contact us and we can help you devise a CX strategy which will enable you to make customer experience your point of difference.

 

20-35 points

You’ve mastered the snow-plough and the beginners’ slopes but you have loftier ambitions. You are aware that you need to get closer to your customers but you’re not quite ready to point your skis downhill and go for it. You need a good instructor to get you past the basics.

We can help you move onto the red and black runs with Voice of Customer research and training programmes for your staff. You can trust us to get you down the mountain safely.

 

0-20 points

Oops, you’re in danger of losing your bindings or heading off-piste! You need to get onto the beginners’ slopes as soon as you can and we can help you with our CX starter pack. We can carry out a baseline study of your customers so you know immediately what you are doing well and where you need to improve. This is really vital knowledge, especially in these challenging times.

We are the equivalent of the fabulous ski instructor who made your trip something special. Call us.