How to turn feedback into better commercial property outcomes
At Spaceflow, we’re major proponents of careful listening: listening to the voices of users, clients, and partners. We built our platform based in many ways on the input and feedback of our community, and we built a variety of feedback gathering features like ticketing, messaging and polls into our app to ensure that our clients can also benefit from listening and collecting their own feedback at their properties and across their portfolios. We discuss some of these feedback-gathering features, such as our new survey options and group messages system, in a couple of 2021 articles.
But let’s say that you are able to effectively gather data. You write useful questions, get them in front of your occupiers or their management teams, and bring back a lot of useful information. In the process, you get to know more of your occupiers than ever before. First of all, congrats are in order – you’ve already accomplished something substantial and just by asking questions you create a relationship with them. But operationalizing these insights isn’t always easy. Here are a few tips to make it a little more practical.
Go in with a plan
Before even putting pen to paper on your first survey question, it is important that you develop a plan of attack to guide the questions you ask and inform how you might institute the learning you gain. According to PeopleMetrics, a provider of customer experience software, “Your strategy will define what you measure, why you measure it, and how to act on it. It will help you plan how to fix the things your customers care most about right now, and also guide the prioritization of future improvements.” Of course if you’re just asking a one-off question about the type of event you should plan for next Friday, that’s one thing, but if you are actually looking to drive improvement through your feedback gathering, strategy setting is well worth it.
You may want to set a scope that is on the more specific side, such as tenant experience or support for hybrid work (as opposed to overall satisfaction with your space as a whole) to help funnel the outcomes of your survey into a few functional areas within your organization and make follow-up easier. Make sure that you have a good representation of decision-makers within these functional areas when you are planning questions so each one is as impactful and actionable as possible. Don’t be the kind of manager who writes questions for the IT team without understanding their challenges.
During this strategy scoping process, you may want to put together some suggestions for what possible implementations might look like. For instance, if you are surveying your occupiers on their satisfaction with your lobby space, perhaps think about a few improvements that would be feasible to achieve after your survey is complete. Maybe you estimate that updating furniture, visitor management systems, and art on display is doable, but more substantial alterations will not. By doing this, you’ll not only develop more practical questions but you’ll also set the stage to more readily implement your insights after the survey or feedback collection process is complete.
Make your data accessible
Once you complete your data gathering campaign, it’s important that your data gets to the people that need it. Regardless of whether you use Spaceflow, email, or something else entirely to gather occupier insights, make sure that the information you collect is shared, and that managers throughout your organization have access to it. You never know when some perspective or occupier soundbite on touchless access or the most popular building amenities will come in handy for the marketing team or the investor relations people. According to Tim Greulich, managing director for Deloitte Consulting, “Leveraging all the available data calls on everyone in an organization to be more courageous and to step outside of previous lanes to challenge assumptions.” Of course, be sure to protect confidential information, but democratizing data is very often a good thing.
"Leveraging all the available data calls on everyone in an organization to be more courageous and to step outside of previous lanes to challenge assumptions. "
Sharing data can be as simple as ensuring that the managers in your organization have access to a shared Google Sheets file. If you are going to real effort for your survey project, consider publishing a brief takeaways summary to accompany the raw data and help draw your coworkers’ eyes toward the most important, impactful data points or quotes you gathered. There are other benefits to sharing data internally, as well. According to Leela Srinivasan, SurveyMonkey’s CMO, “Our research shows that 83% of employees who perceive that their company has high customer satisfaction think they’ll be at their job in two years. When employees think their company has low customer satisfaction, that number drops to just 56 percent.”
Be willing to follow the data
In the course of executing your survey, you very likely went in with some expectations and preconceived notions about the kind of results you’d see. You may well see results that confirms these expectations, but you are also likely to find responses that are completely different than what you expected. Perhaps they go in a completely different direction than you expected entirely. For instance, to use the lobby example again, perhaps you expected to see the greatest dissatisfaction with your interior design when in reality it is the friction of entry that occupiers are frustrated with.
Being open to seeing where the data takes you might be able to open up completely new and unexpected areas of improvement for your company. If all you’re looking for is confirmation of your theories, why even bother surveying to begin with?
These are just a few tips to keep in mind as you start investing time and resources into collecting feedback. Regardless of whether you start surveying casually or as part of a major improvement campaign, following these tips will help you maximize efficiency and more effectively respond to the needs of your occupiers.