In today’s world, customer experience is a huge differentiator across almost all sectors of business you can think about; not just hospitality, but also fast-moving consumer goods, luxury, automotive, plus many more. In the property sector, after somewhat of a slow start, the most successful businesses now tend to be well-versed in the importance of customer experience and its quantifiable value, even though the industry perhaps still isn’t moving quickly enough to adopt and invest in new experience-enhancing initiatives.
Unfortunately, the way we approach the property lifecycle has struggled to keep pace with the need for experience-first thinking. When it comes to experience, there is often a void between the design stages of a project and the construction stages into the mobilisation phase where customer experience can easily be lost from sight in favour of factors perhaps perceived as more directly commercial
This is exactly where the all-important but much-overlooked Experience by Design consultancy can really come into its own for owners, managers, and eventual end-users of the building or estate. This is ultimately because Experience by Design governs how the development will be activated, and therefore how end-users will interact with the asset and its management team physically, now importantly also digitally
Put simply, if the building or estate is not conceived with a clear vision for how a unique and distinct experience is delivered through the way the asset is managed, then its long-term success as an investment is being left to chance.
Proper investment in Experience by Design consultancy also allows managing agents to work smarter, meaning landlords, residents, occupiers, and end-users get more bang for their buck. This is because when the scheme comes online, the managing agents will have access to the right management, engagement, and communications systems to do their job effectively and efficiently, as well as having access to the correct facilities and front-of-house/back-of-house space. Another added benefit is that it allows more time for agents and the on-site team to be truly proactive, meaning less time is spent dealing with design defects, ill-conceived management strategies, and unhappy end-users. As the old saying goes ‘get it right the first time’ so that a managing agent's time can be better utilised to enhance the value of the places where people live, work, play & visit.
Experience by Design has traditionally been an endeavour which is more concerned with the practical aspects of mobilising the development. At LB Navana, we believe Experience by Design is inherently strategic, and developers should seek out the counsel of Experience by Design experts as early in the planning phase as possible to support their endeavours to ensure that the asset delivers a compelling customer experience.
The conventional classification of property assets is quickly becoming outdated due the deep and sustained changes occurring in almost of all of the sectors that property is exposed to; retailers are now using their bricks and mortar stores as showrooms and are seeking more flexible terms, maybe with revenue related rents, shorter break periods and lease lengths. The purpose of commercial space is changing due to flexible working practices, and looking to the residential landscape we are currently in the midst of somewhat of a well-publicised build-to-rent revolution as many younger people are delaying getting on the property ladder in favour of renting, driven by increasing house prices and shorter supply.
With the London Plan setting out the need for more mixed-use communities, the emphasis of development must naturally change to fulfil policy objectives. Even outside of London, the savviest developers are hedging their bets and creating spaces with a more balanced mix of uses, protecting them against any concentrated headwinds associated with the single property classes.
An example of this will soon play out in regional town centres across the UK, as developers with vision transform retail space into residential units and other community purposes. This, in turn, means there is a consistent, complementary daytime and night-time footfall of local residents to shop in stores and enjoy local food, beverage and leisure offerings, creating more sustainably successful local economies.
In conjunction with the shifting sands of property design and development, the evolution of PropTech continues to be important in the context of Experience by Design. There are now thousands of innovative asset, property, end-user, and community management platforms, devices, and solutions available to owners, asset managers and managing agents. Despite this, in property, we continue to see a rate of take-up and active use of new technologies which sadly lag behind other industries.
Experience by Design can help to bridge this gap by providing owners with an understanding of the management technologies available, and then by defining the most complimentary suite of tools for their individual assets. This makes buildings and estates work better for their end-users and ensures that the right flexible, open technologies from the right providers are embedded within the asset from day one, mitigating costly adaptions and adjustments to operating platforms years down the road.
For these reasons, developers should have a clear picture of how mixed uses blend together to offer a seamless customer experience. Managing a combination of these spaces on a single estate is a significant challenge for managing agents, whom often concentrate on one particular class and are frequently too linear in their view of the resident, occupier, retailer or visitor.
The landscape is changing, and property management needs to move with it by becoming a more integrated, people and community-focused specialism, whilst keeping a laser focus on offering all the technical expertise needed to run effective and efficient building operations. At LB Navana, as a direct response to the evolving property picture, we have developed an end-to-end approach to property management which we call Experience by Design.
Experience by Design, if approached correctly, is crucial to unlock great customer experience across asset classes and mixed-use schemes. The return on investment on initial consultancy, and regular review and evaluation of how schemes are being managed and activated will speak for itself over the life of the development.
PUT SIMPLY, IF THE BUILDING OR ESTATE IS NOT CONCEPTED WITH A CLEAR VISION FOR HOW A UNIQUE AND DISTINCT EXPERIENCE IS DELIVERED THROUGH THE WAY THE ASSET IS MANAGED, THEN ITS’ LONG-TERM SUCCESS AS AN INVESTMENT IS BEING LEFT TO CHANCE.