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News release

AUSTRALIA

Strong business case for increasing customer service and engagement for workers in commercial office buildings

JLL Survey across Asia Pacific finds that key amenity differentiators for office buildings like childcare and gyms are still rare, while lobby events bring a sense of engagement for workers in a building who are from different firms


Global real estate services firm JLL has completed a snapshot of the range, innovation and delivery of customer service and experience offerings across commercial office buildings across Asia Pacific.

JLL's inaugural Regional Customer Services and Experiences survey is a regional snapshot of 62 JLL-managed properties across 8 countries.  Half of the properties surveyed were in Australia. 

The survey revealed that whilst some amenities, such as end-of-trip facilities, retail and concierge services are becoming widespread in commercial buildings, other differentiators such as childcare, shared meeting and conference rooms, gyms and lobby lounges were still rare – with only 5-10% of buildings surveyed offering them.

JLL's Head of the Premium Asset Group, Property Management, Mike George says, "Customer service is increasingly a strong differentiator.  In the current competitive market, it is increasingly difficult for a commercial office building to differentiate itself from its neighbour or a similar building down the street.

"And the good news for building owners is that improving customer service doesn't necessarily result in additional expense.

"Mostly it can be done for little or no additional cost to the normal day-to-day operations of the building.  Some measures, like end-of-trip facilities, require a capex commitment but other measures are about changing mindsets, attitudes and behaviours.  It does take an investment in time and effort, but done properly, can reap significant rewards, including attracting new tenants, retaining existing tenants and enhanced brand strength for the property and owner," said Mr George.

A JLL Paper titled, 'Putting the customer first' outlines the Business Case for offering superior customer service and engagement in commercial buildings. 

Amenity and Convenience

With commercial office workers spending between 40 to 60 hours a week at work, there is increasing demand for more lifestyle conveniences within the workplace.  Employers recognise that they can and should cater for these conveniences, like dry cleaning services and on-site physio, if they want to retain the best employees and foster a productive workplace.

Mr George said, "End of trip facilities once served as a key differentiator amongst Premium and A-Grade buildings.  However in more mature markets, like Australia, tenants now expect them.

"The JLL Survey found 68% of buildings surveyed provided extensive bicycle storage, shower and locker and facilities.

"In contrast, only 5% of the buildings surveyed provided childcare and these were concentrated in Australia and India and in buildings and complexes that were over 300,000 square metres in size," said Mr George.

Lobby events

The JLL Survey found 68% of buildings surveyed held Lobby Events, with the majority stating these were quarterly events.​

JLL's Australian Head of Customer Experience, Peter Merrett explains the importance of these events for building an engaged community in an office building.

"A single office tower can be occupied by dozens of companies, so creating this sense of community is a long-term project, comprising smaller steps to help build engagement.  These may include lobby events like a wine and cheese tasting at the end of the work day, a health and fitness challenge or even a lion dance for Chinese New Year. 

"These events create a catalyst for people who might not otherwise need to interact. 

"Simple things like handing out Easter eggs or as a surprise, installing a popcorn machine in the lobby for the day can build engagement," said Mr Merrett.

And what's next?

Lifestyle clubs

"Lifestyle clubs are a relatively new service with the ability to attract like-minded people from different companies within a building and enhance a sense of community.  Food and wine clubs are the most popular, but other possibilities include fitness and cycling clubs.

"Clubs need not be expensive.  They can usually be delivered via the property website and can be funded by club members," said Mr Merrett.

JLL's Customer Service specialist practice area has gone from being a trial six years ago to becoming an essential part of the Property Management business.

JLL is leading the establishment of a unique customer service offering in the commercial office sector akin to a high end hotel philosophy. In particular, the customer and guest focused approach and experience, coupled with placemaking efforts, is helping to positively transform the traditional tenant relationship.

Mr George said, "What we are delivering is a new level of hospitality and convenience services in office buildings, to assist people with things like organising sporting tickets and making restaurant bookings.  There is no cost involved for providing this personal concierge service on behalf of our guests – it is all part of the service to support business lifestyles. 

"For instance, at Liberty Place in Sydney, the concierge offers a raft of services to customers: limousine and car services, shoe shine, theatre and concert tickets, flight and holiday information, restaurant reservations and room service-style catering," said Mr George.