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reductions, and one of the first things to be reduced is the security cover. The problem with this is that this can often mean that the centre stops being able to dominate the shared space environment, leaving it potentially open to gangs and other disreputable elements. The result is often a negative effect on both footfall and tenant retention as the centre becomes a less desirable place to shop. This in turn leads to further reductions in yields, and the process can continue until the centre becomes unviable. With money tight, what can centres do to stop this spiral? There

are three main areas that can be addressed: the customer service focus and cultural fit of the officers; attentive security management which gives the centre manager more time to spend on other areas of improvement; and optimisation of rosters and general security provision to save costs and enhance service.

BETTER OFFICERS FOR BETTER SERVICE Get the atmosphere of a centre wrong, and footfall and tenants soon start to drift away. A vital element of atmosphere is the security. Having a security team that is able to project itself through good customer service, and whose appearance is in keeping with the image of the centre, will constructively dominate the centre in a way that is not common enough in UK shopping centres. One way of improving the atmosphere is to concentrate on

cultivating better customer service. The importance of this is often overlooked in shopping centres, even though C.UK research reveals that a day in the life of a centre security officer is much more focused on customer service than pure security matters. So why do some security teams insist on recruiting people who find it hard to communicate with the customers? Good service can dramatically enhance the atmosphere of a centre and lead to greater footfall, so getting it right is extremely important. And achieving better customer service is relatively easy to achieve: simple actions like putting the officers through NVQ Level 2 for Customer Care can make all the difference. Excellent customer service needs to be supported by ensuring that the security team fits in to the surroundings and requirements of the centre – from the type of uniform worn to second language ability. Although well-built men in bomber jackets may be suitable for certain areas, the majority of centres require a different approach. June 2011 SHOPPING CENTRE

secondary spiral W

Managers must act to prevent a downward spiral in service standards in secondary centres, writes Sam Olsen

ith the vulnerability of secondary shopping centres, a major worry is that they will be caught in a downward spiral. Low occupancy levels mean service charge

Stopping the

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