While communities have always been important to Spaceflow, the way our community focus manifests has evolved over time. Case in point: Our evolution from community management to customer success management.
From the inception of our platform, we were interested in helping the property companies that partnered with us develop great communities at their buildings. Whether you’re talking about offices or apartments, a good on-site community boosts tenant retention, helps spread the word about how great the property is, and simply keeps people happier as they go about their lives. In the workplace setting, a strong community also boosts productivity.
Our strategy from the start was to have an add-on community management service available alongside our tenant experience platform, to help companies implement Spaceflow, get to know their tenants, and build and grow the community on site. We produced creative content and helped property firms engage the people that used their spaces. When I took over the role of Head of Community Management two and a half years ago, this community management offering was a very popular add-on with many of our clients, who often didn’t have a big enough team to handle the planning and execution of community-building and community events themselves.
But popular though it was, we started to pick up on some inherent limitations on the idea of community management within most offices and apartments.
While there are plenty of other companies out there that run plain and simple community management programs, Spaceflow community management wound up being a blend of a number of different functions, all critically important. Our community managers were part account managers, part support, and part community managers. This made it harder to execute the role and more challenging to make a positive impact for clients.
This is because Spaceflow inherently crosses so many different functional areas. We are a tech platform, but we are all about real spaces and people. We market to real estate companies, but build communities with occupiers. We were community managers, but we did so much more.
We realised that the outsourced community management solution we provided was ultimately not an adequate substitute for clients themselves being engaged with their tenants and residents. We hosted some great events, delivered advice, and set the groundwork for communities in buildings across Europe, but at the end of the day found that our clients needed a different type of support to get their communities off the ground and then keep them going.
That’s why we took Spaceflow Community Management back to the drawing board and thought long and hard about how we could add extra value for our clients. We made the decision to relaunch Spaceflow Community Management as Spaceflow Customer Success Management. Customer success managers work closely with their clients, helping them understand and solve for their own needs. This new angle gives us more focus and the ability to deliver long-lasting results for our clients, who can call on our customer success managers any time they need advice – whether it is doing something with the Spaceflow app, or strategically planning communities of their own.
Customer Success Management
Customer Success Management is not the same thing as customer support. We’re there to share proactive, strategic guidance on how Spaceflow fits into their overall business strategy. This new angle gives us the ability to create value on many different levels within our customers' businesses. Whether that means finding and implementing solutions for improving tenant satisfaction, improving retention rates or saving time and money on tedious internal processes. With this evolution, we are shifting from a micro to a macro perspective and developing better alignment between our own objectives and those of our customers.
We leverage our expertise and understanding of real estate business objectives via a consultative approach to help clients derive the most value out of their Spaceflow platform.
Large or small, our customers need guidance through the implementation, management, and success of Spaceflow and with a Customer Success Management approach, that is where our team comes in. We leverage our expertise and understanding of real estate business objectives via a consultative approach to help clients derive the most value out of their Spaceflow platform.
This differs markedly from our previous approach, which focused solely on developing onsite communities. Sure, community development activities are sometimes part of the agenda, but with a Customer Success Management angle, we are able to be much more holistic yet focused on delivering better client outcomes.
Customer Success Management will be easier for us to grow as a service, as well. Where community managers need to be located in proximity to their assigned properties, in order to meet face to face with community members and execute well-planned events, customer success managers can be located anywhere. This gives us the opportunity to hire more widely, retaining the best talent possible for the role. That doesn’t mean the community management as a service is going away – it will still be available in the Premium plan.
We still face challenges, such as the difficulty of relating the social ROI of our efforts – an important yet hard to measure metric that requires taking into consideration costs and qualitative outcomes and giving them a quantitative value – to often highly traditional, bottom line-focused real estate leaders. How do you demonstrate the value of something that can’t be directly figured into NOI? It’s a difficult challenge but one we are addressing head on.
Customer Success Management, as a function, is barely a decade old within the broader SaaS world. And we still have plenty of research and iteration to do, in order to deliver the best possible results to our clients and their occupiers. But innovation is in the Spaceflow DNA, and we’re excited for what the future holds.