Occupiers give big thumbs down to service levels from property sector

facebook-thumbs-downThe property sector offers its customers pretty appalling customer service, according to a ‘damning’ new report from the British Council of Offices (BCO).  The study, based on the experiences of just 64 occupiers claims that fewer than one in five (17 percent) rate their property management service as “good” or “excellent” and fewer than one in three feeling that their suppliers understood their business needs. The survey found that although customer service is lacking, satisfaction with the end product itself was high, with two out of three occupiers happy with the quality of their office and three out of four perceiving quality to have improved over the past 10 years. The report sets out a 10-point action plan to improve the service occupiers receive, including adopting a new definition of “building performance” set by the BCO and encouraging more transparency.

The report, ‘Building Performance: Rethinking The Relationship Between Owners, Managers And Occupiers’, suggests that the property sector is ‘lagging behind’ its customer service offering and should adopt a new definition of building performance to help close the gap.

The BCO defines building performance as “the way that a building supports the occupiers’ differing aims and needs, including driving quality and value; meeting sustainability objectives; and providing environments that meet the needs of users, resulting in efficient and effective workplaces”. It says that this new definition would “help owners and managers better understand what a well-performing building looks life from an occupiers’ perspective”.

Chris Richmond, chairman of the BCO Occupier Group and head of real estate, PwC, said: “‘The customer is always right’ is a motto that exhorts business to give a high priority to customer satisfaction. While this may be true of many service sectors, UK office occupiers’ perceptions of real estate suppliers continues to be one of disillusionment and frustration. Some landlords have already identified a need for reform, and are forging a cultural change, recognising that it is business occupiers who drive the commercial buildings they develop, and manage, and with whom they need to engage to understand ever-changing modern business practices.

The ten point action plan outlined by the BCO incorporates:

  • Adopt the new definition of ‘building performance’;
  • Increase engagement on ‘quality and value’;
  • Create a building performance scorecard;
  • Define service standards;
  • Encourage more transparency;
  • Rethink role and basis of remuneration for property management;
  • Make it easier for valuers;
  • Encourage use of ‘voluntary service commitments’;
  • Recognise and award outstanding property management; and
  • Promote the property-management profession and increase training.