Insights | Jul. 6, 2023

Customer Experience Will Transform Industrial Real Estate’s Status Quo

Chief Administrative Officer

Sometimes I have to pause to consider this awe-inspiring statistic again: 6 percent of U.S. GDP, representing $1.4 trillion, flows through the businesses that use our space at Link Logistics. These businesses represent virtually every segment of the American economy. Some build train cars. Others roast coffee. Many help packages reach storefronts and porches. To me, the businesses that combine to make that 6 percent stat reality represent one thing above all: Responsibility. 

As the largest U.S.-only operator of logistics real estate, Link is on a mission to reinvent our industry through our unique approach to customer experience. We have an essential responsibility to meet and exceed the needs and wants of our customers at every touchpoint and interaction. We do this by becoming an engaged, supportive partner. This means taking the time to understand our customers’ preferences, expectations and challenges and then deliver solutions, products and services that make working with Link easy, efficient and on their schedule so they can focus on growing their businesses.

When our customers succeed, we succeed. Most importantly, the American economy succeeds.

People-powered, tech-enabled

At the end of last year, Link Logistics property managers conducted 9,300 customer “Link Ups,” visiting 89 percent of our portfolio’s square footage to better understand the businesses that use our space. Many customers said it was the first time they had experienced such deep, personal attention from a real estate company.

Through those Link Ups, we gained tremendously valuable insights. For example, more than half the businesses we contacted reported doing better than they were a year prior, and one in six said they needed more space to grow. In the face of economic uncertainty and growing inflation, this feedback helped inform our capital and leasing strategies.

The in-person Link Up is one piece of the overall listening strategy that we are building. This strategy, which we call Link Listens, is focused on a regular cadence of administering technology-enabled relationship surveys and digitally querying customers after major events for their businesses, as well as fostering face-to-face relationships with our Property Operations, Leasing and Customer Solutions teams.  

One platform to support them all

You may wonder how we are going to reach so many customers digitally. The answer is Link+, our new digital platform for customers.

Created in-house, Link+ is designed to empower customers with instant access to lease documents and give them a clear avenue for communicating with their property managers at the touch of a button when most convenient for them. Link+ is the fastest way for customers to get work orders addressed and resolved and pay bills online. It also features a dashboard that includes key building details.

Exemplifying our significant technology investment as we continue to build out the foundation of Link as a customer-centric firm, the platform will allow us to better ensure success for the businesses that use our space.

Customer centricity starts with “E”

As we continue to work toward reinventing industrial real estate with a focus on true partnership, our recently expanded Customer Experience team will be key. This team is intent on amazing and delighting our customers at every touchpoint. Traditionally, close partnerships like the ones we aspire to form and maintain have not been baked into the industrial real estate world. We see an opportunity to fill that gap.

I like to say that customer centricity starts with the letter “E.” That is, when a customer interacts with Link Logistics, we want them to feel it was easy and intuitive do so. We want to empower them to focus on growing their businesses, lead with empathy in every interaction and provide consistent experiences.

Consistency creates confidence, and confidence creates trust. We want our customers to trust us to such a degree that they actively seek out Link’s energy-efficient, sustainable buildings. 

Sustainability as a value-driver  

During the Link Ups listening tour, half of Link Logistics customers said they would like help meeting their ESG objectives. Here, Link’s scale is a significant asset as inflation and price volatility can have major impacts on our customers’ businesses.

Take this example that Sam Stockdale, our head of Sustainability, mentioned in a recent interview. During the winter storm in Texas in February 2021, energy prices at some major utilities rose as high as approximately $9,000 per megawatt hour compared to a typical cost of about $30 per megawatt hour. We were able to insulate customers from that rate spike thanks to the hedges we had in place with our retail energy provider.

As we continue to leverage sustainability for the benefit of our customers, it is gratifying to see our work to-date earn recognition.

Link recently received the 2023 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. It was our second year being recognized; in 2022, we became the first company in the industrial real estate sector to be honored with this award, which recognizes top corporate energy management programs. Investing in sustainable, efficient buildings enhances the value of our portfolio while helping customers lower their carbon footprints and save on energy costs.

Making progress on our journey

As the sustainability example illustrates, Link’s scale and innovation can help facilitate so many solutions to our customers’ needs. We have spent the past four years assembling our high-quality, 545 million square foot portfolio. Now we are coupling that with consistent, exceptional partnership for customers to reimagine how a modern industrial real estate company looks and functions.

To be clear, customer centricity for us is very much a work in progress. While the foundation is now in place, we aren’t yet close to where we want to be. But we are absolutely committed to getting this right for our stakeholders, our customers and, most of all, the American economy at large.

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