It is apparent that in both the shopping centre and retail industry; footfall is on an all time high and our clients are really reaping the benefits! For example, prestigious assets such as Westfield Stratford City have reported footfall in excess of 42 million each year! This heightened footfall is clearly great news for the industry; it is now down to the operations teams to ensure the schemes remain clean, secure and safe for customers to enhance their experience and inevitably enhance asset value.
In recent times, there has been an increased emphasis on security so for any operational team, it is paramount a centre is secure and safe. The potential threat each scheme faces can be anything from a single shoplifter to a terrorist attack; the ever expanding list of security threats has facilitated the demand for additional training for onsite staff for emergency procedures as well as an increase in seniority and experience of personnel. We have supported our clients in recent months to recruit for customer focused security positions to not only drive the prevention of these potential threats but also, to ensure the customer FEELS safe. The sense of security that a customer feels has a significant effect on the performance of each asset as a whole – impacting on; dwell-time, the probability of a repeat visit and average spend.
There is a clear need for vigilant, well-trained security teams that are fully up to date with legislation and recommended procedures. This emphasis on security has seemingly had a knock-on effect on how visual team members are throughout the mall which has an even bigger onus on why security team members need to be customer service trained. Historically, in the retail sector, it seems the “man guarding” approach has been used to deter shop lifters and other threats but, if you put yourself in your customer’s shoes, how does this make them feel? We have noticed an expansion in the brief we are taking from clients to recruit for these individuals – customer service experience is a necessity.
We are observing so many changes throughout the industry at present to drive the customer experience as it is clearly having a positive effect on dwell-time, footfall and average spend. Not only are customer service teams being encouraged to offer an even higher level of experience, but, security, cleaning and all other visible members of staff on the mall are too.
With the potential threats to shopping centres being widely publicised and reported, it is imperative that our facilities management teams not only have the ability to make our shoppers feels a sense of comfort and security but, that they are also looking to achieve a high standard of service.
Sebastian Osborne, Facilities and Building Management, Foundation Recruitment