The average customer has an expectation of what their shopping experience should entail and it is up to FM teams to provide the bulk of it. Traditional FM services, such as cleaning and security, have a substantial impact on customer experience, but a best-in-class service provider should be doing more.
Front-line colleagues receive direct visitor feedback and can provide excellent insight. They are often the ‘face’ of the premises and can be a valuable tool in helping service providers act as a genuine business partner for retail clients.
Another way that cleaning and security colleagues can add real value is in customer service. We work with our front-line operatives to provide them with the skills and knowledge they need to provide assistance to shoppers, including those shoppers with hidden disabilities, improving the overall customer experience.
Guest services, such as helpdesks, gift-wrapping and porter services, is another way in which FM providers can add value. Traditionally managed in house, increasingly, this is becoming part of FM contracts.
Arguably, the most important way that FM can provide valuable support to retail centre operators is through safety. A watertight emergency plan is just one of the challenges that comes with the modern shopping centre, as cinemas, bowling alleys, restaurants and pubs have become a familiar part of the experience. The wider range of leisure and entertainment activities on offer attracts a more diverse crowd, which brings new challenges.
The hospitality industry is likely to increase its presence in the space, so it is imperative that FM suppliers can meet this new demand by going above and beyond in the services they offer and the standards they aspire to. FM should be viewing this as an opportunity to cement itself as an indispensable partner in the rejuvenation of the shopping centre experience.
For more details on the services we provide, visit our Retail page.
This is an abridged version of an article that first appeared in i-FM.