Beyond the two main trends wrapping Build to Rent’s modern-times transformation – digitalisation and ESG – we observe a third one getting in line: customer experience.
Historically, a transactional segment of real estate without a strong prioritisation of tenant journey and satisfaction, Build to Rent is now adopting a new approach that is inspired by business models where experience-building is important, such as the hospitality and retail segments.
Office building operators were leading the way in implementing this new approach to space-managing, mostly to bring employees back in buildings after the pandemic. Now, the residential segment is getting its share from the wave, as even slightly poor service is less and less tolerable for today’s tenants.
Much like digitalisation and ESG, the trend has seen its buzzword days and now left them behind. In 2023, Build to Rent landlords and property operators take customer experience more seriously than ever.
Experts that talked at RExperience, an event focused on customer experience in real estate, connect real estate’s customer experience understanding to terms such as happiness, inclusion, wellbeing and engagement – while both customers and experiences vary substantially in each building.
“This is why customer experience management is something that needs to be customised – per building, per portfolio, and per customer group.”Lukas Balik, Spaceflow
The first steps around customer journey and experience
For landlords to start building an elevated customer experience strategy, it is important to remember what Dragana Marina from CBRE noted during the event.
“It starts with knowing your customers extremely well. This happens by constantly collecting customer data via surveys and direct communication, being present in communication platforms that resonate with the specific customer groups to understand and act upon the general behaviour that they show within the building.”Dragana Marina, CBRE
Talking about a physical space:
“Customer experience starts at home and ends at home. If you are not outside, you are inside. When you are inside, you’re in real estate – so we need to make sure that we have hassle free customer experience in our homes.”Dr. Andreas Muschter, EDGE
Finally, talking about when the customer journey or experience begins:
“…right at the building entrance…It is important to care about how we help people decompress once they arrive in the building. Give tenants a great, memorable threshold experience. Hotels do that with a signature scent, as an example. Providing a frictionless arrival to the building to shrug off the travel is an important touch. How you make that transition is very critical. Nobody goes to a bad restaurant or hotel twice, so it is important to keep the threshold experience to keep people coming.”Sarah-Jane Osborne, Avison Young
The essentials of great customer experience
Now, Build to Rent not only knows how to implement a great guest experience strategy, but also how to level it up.
Beyond the basics, such as knowing your customers well and creating a positive first impression in the building, some of the other vital elements of customer experience are:
- Purposeful Amenitisation – Offering in-demand functionalities is vital in attracting people. Introducing a community room, dry cleaning service, parcel pick-up room, and other functional benefits in the building, or offering perks and incentives from nearby service providers.
- Experiential Consumerisation – Today, people pay for values and experiences. Opening low-demand common areas for purposeful public use (family gatherings, community events, etc.) will help elevate the overall experience.
- Operational optimisation – Real estate is a people business, and it is always great to have the key building personas like receptionist and facility management on site. However, technology brings a huge impact on optimising their day-to-day operations, so that property staff have time and resources to attend to customer demands and needs. Introducing digital parcel services, keyless access, a tenant application and other technologies to streamline customer-facing operations may make a great difference in elevating building operations and decreasing the operational and labour costs.
In conclusion, by leveraging digitalisation and prioritising customer demands and needs, the Build to Rent sector is entering an era of becoming a customer-oriented B2C business.
As landlords and property operators continue to customise their approach, ensuring every tenant, building and portfolio receives personalised attention, the Build to Rent industry is set to redefine modern living experiences.