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Experience Makers Talk with Polly Plunket-Checkemian – Senior Executive Director, M J MAPP

Experience Makers Talk with Polly Plunket-Checkemian – Senior Executive Director, M J MAPP

What role does experience making have to play in the property industry?

Buildings are created to facilitate business, life and enjoyment. They hugely influence how we feel when we use them and yet, for years, building design has paid more attention to aesthetic than function. Similarly, building management has focused on the needs of the owner first, user second.  Experience making can turn the industry on its head by encouraging property to walk in its customers’ shoes and invest equal effort into the design, management and evaluation of today’s spaces and places. 

What’s the favourite experience you have been part of making?

This is hard to pick.  My career has allowed me to push hard on placemaking for schemes as they come out of construction into occupation to create a sense of community and belonging.  M J Mapp has a terrific focus on community making through social value and charity work.  I think however my most favourite was learning that it all starts with people.  This was nearly a decade ago when mobilizing a tower in the City of London.  In this instance, our client wanted a strong service culture.  This meant recruiting, and keeping, great people to run and care for it every day.  We used customer service profiling to recruit them, built a bespoke Academy to stretch their customer service skills, personal development and ambition, and implemented service recognition awards.  Most crucially of all though, our client gave the management team permission to focus on the needs of 2,500 customers every day as well as those of the building.  And that was the real learning point; license to put the customer first.

What’s the best experience you have experienced and why?

I’m someone who hates asking for help.  Self-service is my idea of great UX.  Mobile based internet banking, for example, transformed my world.  The wow factor to me comes from the unexpected – often outside and in the natural world – so public art, murals, hidden spaces, trees and planting all augment the urban grit of fast-paced life in a crowded city.  Seeing them makes me pause, think and reset. 

What’s the future of experience making?

Placemaking has become a core part of a developer’s strategy in building place brand.  The larger the scheme, the larger the budget and our expectations are being set very high indeed by the new estates such as King’s Cross or Battersea Power Station for example.  However we run the risk of creating urban ‘theme parks’.  Places which seek to delight their occupiers or residents, but which alienate the communities around them inadvertently by creating threshold fear or a sense that these places aren’t for all of us.  Experience making has a vital part to play in connecting with the wider community and bringing spaces and places to life for everyone.  I see it becoming an important part of the toolkit for delivering socially responsible development – whether that’s in relation to making the space relevant and accessible for people, or through interventions that bring people together and help their wellbeing.

Why have you joined Experience Makers and what do you expect from it?

Proud of doing things differently, we believe property is in service of people – helping them to be the best they can be – whether in the workplace, enjoying time out, shopping or simply living their lives.  We know that there is so much further to go in bringing spaces and places to life, and in how we shape and deliver services to our customers.  In joining Experience Makers, we’d like to learn, share and be catalysts for change with the best.

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