Workplace Services: The Missing Link in the Successful Customer Journey
Lines between products, services, and user environments are blurring. To serve end customers better, companies of every size are focusing on improving customer touchpoints along the way. But within the workplace environment, who, exactly, is the customer? And are we missing critical opportunities to craft a seamless – and singular – customer experience?
Growing numbers of companies are coming to recognize the benefits of customer-centric strategies: higher revenues, lower costs, and stronger employee and customer loyalty. In the effort to transform customer journeys and improve customer service, however, many companies neglect to engage the whole organization, including its support functions, in a customer-centric transformation. By leveraging customer experience best practices, to deliver support services, the workplace itself can also be transformed.
1. Understand the Journey
The starting point for delivering value to customers is understanding the end-to-end journeys your customers take to accomplish a task, such as buy a product, plan a meeting, experience a product, resolve a dispute, adjust a service, etc. These journeys are often complex routes across websites, social media, stores, customer service, and myriad other interaction points.
Within the workplace services environment, these interaction points could be viewed as “micro-touchpoints” – small, behind the scenes support tasks, such as requesting a conference room including specific requirements, ordering inventory, maintaining a facility, or shipping a product. The routes these various tasks and items take – across one site or multiple sites –create “micro journeys” – and the way they are tracked, accomplished and delivered, has a pretty big impact on the overall customer experience.
When crafting a customer experience, getting support services involved is essential to understanding the hundreds of touchpoints across the workplace environment that offer opportunities for improved experience – places where bottlenecks historically happen, for example, or points along the journey where financial risks increase. Outsourced CRE providers, too, have a wealth of workplace knowledge and can often help set new metrics for improved service for your customer.
2. Know your Customer
And speaking of customers, how, exactly, do we define them? In a workplace environment, your customer may of course be your end client, but it is also your employee.
As consumers, we have a strong preference for processes and technologies that drive efficiencies, productivity and enjoyment in our personal lives. For employees, these same preferences are clamoring to be deployed in the workplace – today’s workforce wants consumer-driven tools (like personal apps and mobile devices) that bring the same productivity to their professional lives.
Whether an end client or an employee, individual workplace services can make or break an experience – and be critical to success. And while each customer may have different interaction points, experience different impacts and anticipate different outcomes, they all have come to expect workplace services to perform without any perceptible glitches.
3. Make Every, Single, Touchpoint Visible
Even when workplace services are attended to with the customer experience in mind, silos of information make a seamless journey a real challenge. In most workplace environments, customer interaction points are managed by multiple different functions within the office (various departments, business units, sites, and roles) and multiple silo tools. Data may reside in technologies that never speak to each other. That means an employee who orders a supply will often have no idea that inventory is available right across the hall, for example. Or a service that was requested yesterday was never actually issued -- and an employee arrives to discover their conference room in complete disarray. Or one property in a CRE portfolio is utilizing space efficiently, while another may be sitting completely empty. The issue, of course, is lack of visibility – and whoever your customer is -- they expect you to act consistently across all these touchpoints, when none of the touchpoints are even aware of one another.
4. Design Workplace Technologies from the Outside-In
Along with lack of visibility comes a long-standing and semi-myopic view that begins and ends with the desire to simplify an internal, back office support process – without factoring in the customer at all. Companies have typically designed their workplace support services using technologies and methodologies with an eye toward simplifying internal processes. They may build systems that automate internal transactions such as “request to delivery” and forget all together the need for employee desktop or mobile automated notifications and alerts. In the most basic sense, people have been the missing variable in the digital workplace equation. Instead of the prior decade’s obsession with business IT alignment, enterprises must now pursue a more balanced approach to technology that’s equal parts business, and human experience.
Because automating a task without providing easy access to data, or generating reports you can’t run on demand, or streamlining a process you can’t check on from your mobile phone or your computer – does not help the workforce, or ultimately, the workplace.
In the workplace, understanding the experience and expectations of employees is crucial because they can become the unifying principle for the business. Employees stop thinking only about their own functions and individual tasks and instead start thinking about customer journeys in which the client, or the co-worker, transfers data seamlessly and transparently from one phase to the next. That requires an integrated process, so that each part of the business delivers consistent, timely, and relevant content as part of a complete customer journey experience.
Case Study: How One Micro-Touchpoint had Several Macro Impacts
The beautiful thing is that even a single, micro-touchpoint improvement can greatly improve the overall customer experience. For example, one of world’s top 10 banks saved money AND improved customer satisfaction by shoring up a single internal support process, using Bear River’s flagship product, Bear Tracks™. Banks and other financial service companies receive and send debit cards between their branches. In order to secure this process and comply with numerous laws and regulations, the bank needed a complete chain of custody and total visibility of the inventory delivery and shipping process, from start to finish. They set out to track an end-to-end micro-journey – to improve a single internal process that would provide a complete chain of custody of these debit cards through space and time. In the process, they saved $300K annually in debit card stock distribution and avoided $500K annual cost through centralized office supply distribution. But perhaps most crucially, they significantly enhanced the customer experience. The visibility they received by automating and integrating this one, end-to-end micro-journey improved the delivery time of debit cards for customers – going from a 12-day delivery cycle down to 2 days.
Agile, integrated, workplace technologies like the BearTracks solution, can provide visibility across key touchpoints and various interaction points along the journey, with the goal of capturing a record of every, single transaction on each task or item that travels across the workplace. This provides a dataset that can not only help you better understand the journey for continual improvement, but also directly impacts the experience of your employees, clients, and service providers.
This Week’s Sponsor
Bear River’s flagship product, BearTracks, is a fully scalable enterprise software designed to help companies of every size track, report and manage critical office services – from mail & parcels, print & copy, supply & assets – to facilities & hospitality. Whether you have one site or hundreds, BearTracks provides real-time operational insights to help meet and exceed even the most ambitious service goals, turning everyday workplace functions into true competitive advantage. www.bearriver.com
Where Will the Most Innovative Executives in
Below is a partial list of those companies attending...
Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Be on Nov. 14 & 15?
UPCOMING REALCOMM WEBINARS
Technology and the Impact to a Commercial Real Estate Strategy – Innovators Weigh In - 10/3/2018
For today’s Commercial Real Estate CIO, new technologies continue to emerge that are changing the landscape daily. Long gone are the days where property management, budget and forecasting and e-mail are the only concerns. Today, digital transformation, smart buildings, occupant experiences, automated leasing, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and cyber are just a few of the new technologies impacting the role of CIO. This webinar will discuss the wide-ranging set of technologies changing the commercial real estate industry and more importantly, the types of strategies necessary to navigate at an ever-increasing speed. Hear from some of the industry’s most successful CIO’s regarding this “Age of Acceleration”!
Founder of Realcomm Conference Group, an education organization that produces Realcomm, IBcon and CoRE Tech, the world's leading conferences on technology, automated business solutions, intelligent buildings and energy efficiency for the commercial and corporate real estate industry. As CEO, Jim interacts with some of the largest companies globally pertaining to some of the most advanced and progressive next generation real estate projects under development.
Susan Gerock currently serves as VP, Information Technology and CIO for Washington REIT, a publicly traded REIT based in Washington, DC. She has over 20 years' experience in various technology roles spanning manufacturing, consulting, application service provider, and commercial real estate organizations. Her specialties include ERP selection and implementation, project and change management, and cybersecurity. She is also a proponent of the use of social media and the overlapping relationship between technology and marketing.
Phil Klokis is currently the CIO for the Public Buildings Service (PBS) of the General Services Administration. He is responsible for delivering Information Technology (IT) solutions and services supporting PBS' diverse real estate operations and portfolio management consisting of 1,500 owned assets, 9,000 active leased assets and nearly 350 million square feet of office space.
Ron Victor is a Silicon Valley based technology entrepreneur with 20 years of experience and expertise launching new ventures at start-ups and fortune 1000 technology companies. To-date he has enabled raising more than $30Million in start-up capital for multiple start-ups in silicon-valley. Ron has founded and led three companies to-date with successful exits. His latest venture is IoTium Inc. – a Silicon Valley start-up that provides a secure, cloud-managed, easy-to-deploy software defined network infrastructure for all IoT verticals.
Marc is a pioneer in leading the Intelligent/Smart Buildings and M2M movements pushing the industry forward and has contributed to transforming and changing the Intelligent Buildings and M2M (now IoT) industries. As Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Lynxspring Marc leads corporate and product marketing, strategy, brand management, public relations and communications that support the company’s strategic and growth initiatives.
Scott Sidman has 14 years of CRE technology experience leading sales and marketing efforts. He is responsible for supporting company growth goals and assuring company and product direction aligns with market needs as well as leads. Scott is CRE tech evangelist and host of a CRE Tech Talks podcast.