Client Experience: Redefining Your CRE Roadmap

by | 26 August 2020

Now is the time to revisit your internal customer journey

As we emerge from the pandemic, it is critical for CRE leaders to be in active discussions with internal businesses about their future direction. You want to ensure you are aligned on the revised mission and direction of your business partners’ objectives for planning and delivering services.

In a recent update by McKinsey & Company on “COVID-19: Implications for Business”, losses from operational disruptions due to COVID-19 are forecasted to equal 45% of one years’ EBITDA. If you translate this logic to your business sector, this means you will be facing unprecedented levels to change the way your partners are doing business. Your internal clients will need to analyze what the next best steps are in order to proceed with investments, the markets they serve and the products and services they are delivering. In this discussion we focus on proactive engagement to develop new ways for CRE to help improve chances for success.

To ensure you are aligned within those areas of your business, consider mapping and executing on a revised strategy with your internal clients. A successful client experience (CX) model relies on putting your internal customer at the center of your service delivery to create impactful change to support their business needs. This varies from traditional “top down” service models, where you are setting direction based on more widely accepted enterprise practices and applying those solutions uniformly across the business. Our recommendations rely on starting with your internal customers at the center of the conversation and develop configured solutions specific to their business needs. The root of our approach is embedded in a design-thinking mindset where you ensure critical needs are elevated by importance. We recognize that this is not an easy task and will probably test the limits of your teams to be able to cover and execute against the proposed changes, but if you are going to help your businesses plan and pivot to new operating models, it will require an impactful level of engagement.

We chart three different areas for you to consider as you frame your discussions with your internal clients.

Re-evaluate the strategic planning goals and measurements used to manage the relationship with your clients. 

The first consideration is to re-examine the services and processes you are providing to your internal customers. You should engage in conversations about the state of the business and confirm which areas need to be adapted and addressed as we move into new or revised operating models. Key consideration for alignment of goals and objectives should include:

  • Level-setting of business goals and real estate objectives – Reset your overall vision as to where you both should be striving and delivering.
  • Discussion of potential challenges – Discuss roadblocks your internal customers are facing and chart the areas that will shift your approach.
  • Examination of metrics and key performance indicators – Re-examine the measures that matter and implement or revise KPI’s to reflect changes in priorities or direction. New priorities focused on cost reduction and capital expenditure savings may be emphasized in a newly formed operating plan.
  • Strategic alignment – Ensure you are on the same page with the revised outcomes for what success looks like.

The way people perceive the workplace and how they will work will change the way they occupy space.

Once you have reestablished the goals, measures and outcomes, you can turn your attention to analyzing the people, place and portfolio impacts based on the new operating and real estate goals you are setting out to achieve. Key areas for you to investigate should include:

  • Personas – How have the job functions and attributes associated with employees doing their jobs changed? What are the new workplace requirements needed? Ranging from remote, flex, and fixed office requirements now needed to support employees with completing their work.
  • Portfolio stress test – How does your real estate portfolio now support the way the employees are working? How does changing the current strategy impact your current locations and asset types? You should assess your plan of record and realign proposed metro strategies and projects to required assets that are currently being planned.
  • Re-assessment of the new workplace needs for employees – How has your occupancy and workplace needs shifted?
    • It is important to evaluate the key job functions and develop personas or work requirement profiles needed to support their work. How has their work and the place they perform the work shifted location and space requirements?

Redefine proposed and active projects and measure the results relative to the effectiveness to the business.

It is critical to review the intent and status for every transaction and project you are engaged with in the business. In our previous article, we focused on the assessment of planned and in-flight transactions and the considerations for assessing viability for implementation. We noted four key assessment areas for you to consider: business fit, risk, finance and location.

You should also be reevaluating existing locations and recently completed projects relative to their fit to the business moving forward.

If you have not implemented a continuous improvement plan that includes measures for success you should consider the following areas for business improvement:

  • Internal Customer Feedback – Gather stakeholder feedback on your service delivery and areas for change and improvement.
  • Employee Satisfaction – Are the employees providing feedback that the workspace provided, and do the services being delivered align with the expectations of the business leaders and enterprise standards?
  • Return in Investment (ROI) – Are the completed projects meeting the productivity gains and are business case requirements being used to plan projects? Where are the areas where the location has exceeded and missed the mark on the investment returns and how can you remediate implemented changes? Areas noted above focused on space utilization and functional needs should be reviewed for ongoing improvement.
  • Service Quality Levels – How have SLA’s and KPI’s shifted relative to contracted services? Re-examine the fit of the services proposed to deliver the goals of the business and revise contracts to reflect the new operating models.

Start by setting initial business conversations with each of your core business units. Layout a tangible plan for your roadmap and draft milestones for key initiatives to communicate proposed portfolio, service delivery and financial impacts to your counterparts. Make sure that you note your baseline plan-of-record and what your set of conditions are, and then what variances and impacts are relative to the plan you had in place.

Treat the roadmap and deliverables as a living document that you manage and report findings. This is key to ensuring you are clearly communicating the benefits and impact to their business. Also ensure that your business partners, managers and operating teams are in the communication stream. Provide them the opportunity to provide feedback on service delivery and obstacles to change areas as well as have ample time to prepare for the proposed changes on the horizon.

About the Author:

Chris Zlocki is part of the global executive leadership team for Colliers’ Occupier Services. He oversees consulting areas including portfolio strategy, workplace advisory, flexible workspace, supply chain solutions and workforce analytics. As the Head of Client Experience, Chris also leads efforts to grow client relationships and expand service offerings for our enterprise clients.