How to maximise customer experience in a flexible workspace

How to maximise customer experience in a flexible workspace

This is a guest post for Foundation Recruitment from Zoe Ellis-Moore – owner of Spaces to Places and an expert in the flexible workspace sector.

Any good business owner wants to make (and keep) their customers happy. Positive customer experience is maybe more important for flexible office operators than anyone else, though.

Customers save a lot of time and effort by using your flexible office space. Not having to worry about all of the hassle of leasing a traditional private office, a process which distracts from their own business, is one of the biggest draws for potential occupants. This is especially true for startups and SMEs, who are generally interested in agile solutions.

However, the convenience and low barriers to entry that are a hallmark of flexible workspace (and one of the factors that makes them so appealing in the first place) work both ways. It’s usually just as easy to leave a flexible workspace as it is to join one.

The lack of personal investment means that occupants don’t have a lot to hesitate over if they want to go elsewhere. This is exactly why providing the best customer experience possible should always be a priority. Here’s how you do it.

Focus on placemaking

Placemaking is becoming an increasingly important factor in the success of any physical business. Our surroundings have a massive impact on our mood and as studies have shown that happy people work better, it’s a vital element to think about when assessing how to maximise customer satisfaction.

If possible, it’s always a good idea to enlist the help of a placemaking specialist or an interior designer but, if that’s not an option, here are the key points to consider:

  • Embrace activity-based working in design – The space we work in plays a big part in how effectively we can work. It’s difficult to concentrate on a complicated task in a loud area, and hard to be creatively inspired in a dead one. Activity-based working is a concept that acknowledges this and says that, to maximise employee productivity (and therefore experience), you should make sure you have diverse spaces to account for all different types of work.
  • Using aspirational décor – Remind people what they’re working towards with the use of aspirational design features. Being inspired by their surroundings will keep occupants motivated and make them feel good, which could positively affect their productivity. Even better, if people find they work more efficiently in your space, they will keep using it and may even recommend it to others.
  • Optimise the layout – If possible, providing a range of workspace options is a great idea. Private offices, hot desks, breakout areas, and meeting rooms will all give your customers the flexibility that they require. It’s also important to consider the overall flow of the space – is putting the ‘quiet area’ next to the front door (or any high-traffic area) really a good idea?
  • Create a calming environment – It’s important to not go too crazy with the design, even if you think it’s fun or makes for a USP. At the end of the day, your customers need to be able to focus and not getting distracted by bold or garish designs that over-stimulate is a big part of this. If customers come to your flexible office to get work done, they want to be in an environment that encourages them to do just that.

Target customer needs

However, it’s not enough for flexible workspace operators to focus solely on the visual impact of their space. Functionality and properly targeted services are just as important.

No flexible or co-working space is doing its job right if the people using it find themselves having to look elsewhere to ensure all of their needs are met. What exactly ‘all of their needs’ are depends on the type of occupant that your space is designed for.

For example, if, like Techspace, you’re targeting scaling technology businesses, access to cutting-edge IT infrastructure is going to be an important thing for you to offer. If you’re aiming to corner the freelancer market, regularly hosted networking events are perhaps a more appropriate offering.

Ignoring specialist operators, though, there are some general services, facilities, and benefits that I’ve seen help to build and maintain customer satisfaction across many flexible workspaces, including:

  • Mail collection services
  • Receptionist and phone-answering services
  • Virtual office services
  • Hospitality discount packages
  • On site gym (or discount for a local one)
  • On site cafe (or kitchen)

How you provide these services to your customers can vary. You might want to offer an incredibly basic package for occupiers who just want a place to sit down and plug in, and any additional services can be hand-picked at an extra cost. Or, it could be that the best solution for your customers is a flat-rate comprehensive package that ensures anything they need has already been thought of and provided.

One other thing to consider, if you haven’t already, is putting on events. Doing so enables you to tend to your customers’ needs in plenty of ways – whether through mindfulness seminars to support mental health, networking events dedicated to building a local business community, or educational talks from industry professionals.

Loneliness is a growing issue as more of us work from home, and it’s going to become an increasingly important factor in the exodus of workers into flexible workspaces. Arranging networking events or even just regular Friday socials gives the opportunity for occupants to blow off steam in a more relaxed environment, while making new contacts and potentially gaining new business – who wouldn’t be happy about that?

Provide the best customer service

It goes without saying that no matter the business, standard of service plays a huge role when it comes to overall customer experience. It’s absolutely no use having a well-planned out space with plenty of meeting rooms if booking those meeting rooms is a lengthy, frustrating procedure.

Being able to recognise and address areas for improvement within customer service is a vital feature of running a successful office. Some areas that might require work include:

  • On-boarding process – Early impressions count and guaranteeing a smooth on-boarding process will set you and your client off on the right foot. This is especially relevant now, in the early to middle stages of growth in the flexible workspace industry, as it’s likely some of your new customers will have never worked in a flexible space before.
  • Payment plans – There are a range of reasons why flexible office spaces are becoming more popular, but the main USP is the flexibility itself. Offering price flexibility through varied payment plans and a fair off-boarding process ensures your customer service aligns with that USP.
  • Access to services – Consider building an easy to use online portal for administrative tasks such as room booking or event signups. This removes friction from the process for customers, making their lives that little bit easier.
  • Physical upkeep – The state of your space, how well it’s maintained, and the general standard of cleanliness is more important than ever when it comes to customer experience in a post-COVID world.

There is one thing that always underpins excellent customer service – excellent staff. Without the right employees, who understand your tenants’ requirements and get the job done with a smile on their face, the standard of service necessary to keep your customers happy is often not met.

Zoe has built an 18-year career out of being passionate about commercial spaces and how people engage with them. In her role at Spaces to Places, she works with investors, landlords, franchisees, and operators in the flexible office space. Her approach is built on the concept of marketing intelligence – driving value through research-led market insights that make a difference. She has taken on diverse projects with Spaces to Places so far, from advising investors on the administration of The Clubhouse London to carrying out a full rebrand for Worting House in Basingstoke.

Get in touch with Zoe
Email: hello@spacestoplaces.co.uk
Phone: 01932 500 088

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