Through my business, Workspace Strategies, I have developed, consulted, and managed workspace services industry businesses nationwide. In my 17+ years of experience, I’ve had the opportunity to lead my clients and their customers through hundreds of transitions, both major and minor. One fact that has been confirmed time and time again over my career is that change is hard. But, I have discovered some strategies that loosen some of the inevitable tension that comes with introducing customers to change and make the process smooth and manageable. In this blog post, I will share these strategies and how they can be applied in your serviced office center when there is an upcoming transition.
1. Before the Change
One of the largest contributors to unsuccessful periods of change in serviced office centers is lack of care and consideration in the implementation process. Many times, I’ve seen business owners and center managers put their new ideas into action without taking into account how that transition will affect their customers’ businesses. A large percentage of the professionals who use serviced office centers are solopreneurs, meaning they are operating their businesses by themselves and taking a considerable amount of risk in doing so. To solopreneurs, the center facility and the support provided there are crucial to their operation. So, if a change is made that doesn’t account for the solopreneur’s or any other customer’s reliance on the center as is, the results could mean heavy resistance to that change, customer attrition, and loss of revenue.
To ensure a successful period of change, you are best served by communicating with the customers who make the most use of your center’s facility and services before the decision to make the change is made. Don’t just ask, “Do you think [brief description of change] is a good idea?” This question makes it seem like you’re looking for support for a decision that you’re already in favor of. Instead ask, “We’re considering [brief description of change]. How might that affect the way you do business at our center? Are there any suggestions you have that would make the transition comfortable for how you use our center?” Have constructive conversations about how the potential change could cause problems, and invite feedback on how to avoid those problems.
Be mindful of all of the concerns and questions raised as you plan the execution and implementation of your change. And, once you’ve begun the transition, make sure to follow up with those customers that provided concerns to see if the process is going smoothly for them.
2. During the Change
Make sure that everyone is well educated on the changes coming. If your transition will be a multistage process, make sure to notify your customers of the various stages planned to calibrate their expectations. Also, don’t forget to give regular progress reports on when one stage has ended and when another stage is going to begin. Be aware that no matter how many emails you send or bulletins you post; some people are best served by a simple conversation.
If your transition involves a change to access to services, spend some time instructing your customers on how the access will work going forward. In some of my centers, we’ve changed how customers make reservations to the on-demand meeting space. I’ve developed tutorials, both written and video to make sure that the customers are clear on how to make reservations with the new system. And, if they still need support, one-on-one sessions are always provided at the customer’s request.
You can incentivize customer’s completion of the tutorials by offering a contest or quiz. One of my center managers did a tutorial on how to access the customer portal, and put together a 3 question quiz. The customers that submitted the quiz were put into a drawing for a percentage discount on their coming month’s services. By incentivizing your customers to engage with the educational materials you will find that customers feel attended to and that they can better navigate the transition.
I hope that these tips help you get through your next period of transition at your center with little difficulty. If you are a workspace services business owner that needs help overhauling your center’s services or facility, please contact us.