Mori Building Co., Ltd.
(MC / Host: Kiyohiko Watanabe)
Coordinates to give high satisfaction, bringing out the resident’s taste
Coordinates to satisfy even discerning customers
━━ Toranomon Hills Residence, the setting for this case, is one of the best high-class properties in Tokyo city center. Do you deal with many such rental properties?
Ms. Akabori from Mori Building：We act as an agent for around 2,000 rental apartments in Tokyo, mainly in Minato-ku, Shibuya-ku, and Chiyoda-ku.
━━ A higher level would be required by customers for such expensive properties.
Ms. Akahori：Many of our customers are business owners and executives in a company, who are discerning about everything. When acting as the agent for a rental property, we often get a request from the customer that they want to move into somewhere that has had the interior fittings arranged by a professional.
━━ What was the customer like this time?
Ms. Akabori： He runs his own company, as many of them do. Due to the long-term refurbishment of his apartment in Chiyoda-ku, he was looking for a rental property to use as a temporary residence for one year.
The interior of his apartment is also amazing. When it was renovated five years ago, he requested planning from a design office, so both he and his wife were familiar with the interior.
━━ What was his initial request?
Ms. Akabori： He liked Italian and Scandinavian furniture, rather than anything classic. One of the reasons why he chose that property is that he liked the design style by Toni Chi, who worked on Toranomon Hills, so he wanted us to make use of the atmosphere and keep the living room subdued while also playing with a little coloring.
━━ He had a pretty concrete image then.
Ms. Akabori： Yes, he had clear values and taste.
━━ What kind of impression did you have as an interior coordinator for such a request?
May’s Interior Coordinator K: I was aided by the materials that Ms. Akabori supplied in advance, which included what the customer had requested. As the material also listed his desired furniture, I was able to make a guess and decide, “Well, this must be the key.”
What impressed me most was the living & dining. In general, it is often a combination of sofas and a dining set, but this customer requested a “banquet style” that would allow them to have a meal and spend time together at the sofas with the low table.
Two plans with different impressions were developed in line with the customer’s request.
━━ What were the important points for these plans?
May’s Interior Coordinator：When I first looked at the inside of the property, it was bright as it was partitioned by glass and wooden doors. It also had an open feeling thanks to the high ceiling. It was a nice room with a 2-meter-deep veranda. However, since the interior was a bit brighter than the image the customer was requesting, I thought about how to fill the gap without creating any sense of strangeness.
━━ It’s not just about choosing furniture in subdued colors, is it?
May’s Interior Coordinator：You’re right – if you do that, the furniture will not blend in and it will create an oddly assorted space. So, when I first made a proposal, I prepared two different plans. Owing to the fact that he would enter the room after first seeing the subdued design of the entrance to the apartment, our first plan was to connect the two images by arranging the furniture in the room in such a way that the image from the entrance would remain to some extent. The room was coordinated with a range of furniture in walnut colors to create a subdued atmosphere, which was then accentuated by a stylish floor lamp.
The other plan involved incorporating the color taste that had been applied in his apartment while also taking advantage of the original bright image of the room. I carefully developed the coordination so as not to end up lacking a stately feeling.
Ms. Akabori： There are inevitable limitations at rental properties due to their existing interior fittings. I asked him to select a room out of those that would be vacant at the time of his move. In fact, he wanted a bit more of a subdued feeling for the color scheme in this room, to keep the atmosphere of the entrance designed by Tony Chi. Unfortunately, however, there was only a room with bright flooring available at the time. While his own apartment had dark brown flooring, the Toranomon Hills property was a space with light-colored flooring and white walls. He said that it was “brighter than what I want,” so I had it adjusted to the subdued colors of the furniture.
May’s Interior Coordinator：In the end, he expectedly went for the first plan that made use of the image of the entrance. The interior was based around furniture in the elegant walnut colors that have recently become popular, instead of a strong, dark brown. Other colors, such as yellow and pink, were added in a rug and cushions, as highlights, to add a little playfulness.
Ms. Akabori： That’s right – he was particular about coloring. There was also an initial request to include some Italian-style bright colors in cushions.
━━ Since colors are something sensuous, it is important to discuss them at that stage.
May’s Interior Coordinator：There was also a detailed request about the curtains in terms of the color scheme, such as blue and gray. Colors also vary depending on the texture and tone of the fabric, so his particular ideas about this made me think that he wanted to choose them carefully until such time as he was satisfied. I then sent him some samples to determine his exact requirements. Once he’d made his decision, I was like, “See, I knew he would choose this.”
We understand the customer’s priorities and provide appropriate options.
Ms. Akabori：How do you sense your customer’s preference?
May’s Interior Coordinator:Some people make unexpected choices, though (laugh). I meet them once and try to grasp “what their priorities are” through a conversation. I can also get a feel for their taste in color and design by what kind of furniture they have been using up to that point and what they are wearing at the time.
Ms. Akabori：It would be better if you could see them many times. In the case of rental properties, however, this is difficult, because the planning must be carried out within a short period of time.
May’s Interior Coordinator：On this occasion, I submitted the interior plans to Ms. Akabori based on the materials I was given in advance after the initial contact. I then met the customer for the first time a week after that (laugh). That was the first time; the next time was when I delivered the furniture (laugh).
Ms. Akabori： Most other contact was carried out via email.
May’s Interior Coordinator：All our customers are busy people. While organizing the information and instructions sent to me by the secretary, I develop a plan by understanding “what this customer wants.” The customers may not be able to see the direction without any concrete plan, so I think it’s also part of my job to organize it through planning and to shape it up, to be able to say, “this way?”
Ms. Akabori： I just remembered that, on this occasion, the customer was away on a trip before ordering the furniture.
May’s Interior Coordinator： It was when I wanted to take the longest time (bitter grin).
Ms. Akabori：It was touch and go whether you could make it in time for delivery unless the order was made before his trip. I was surprised by how focused you and the customer were at that time. A large number of emails come and go in one day. Even when I was out for a while, the mail exchange rapidly progressed, which made it hard for me to catch up on reading all the emails after I returned to the office and checked my inbox (laugh).
May’s Interior Coordinator：I couldn’t recommend any sort of strange furniture just to make it in time for delivery, because the customer had a truly deep knowledge of the interior. Since I couldn’t make an excuse for a short delivery time, I proceeded by giving him information and asking for his judgment; for example, “Would you accept that this furniture of your choice won’t make it in time for delivery?” or “How about this piece of furniture? It’s not one from a famous brand, but it would be an alternative for what you like in the coordination.”
━━ It means you don’t force everything to make it in time.
May’s Interior Coordinator：Regarding choices, I clearly stated the conditions and asked him for his judgement after he had understood them. He then made very quick decisions, such as “I’ll give it up then” or “I’m happy with the alternative plan.” I thought that he would want to make such decisions and considerations properly for himself, so I ensured that I provided sufficient information for him to be able to make his decisions.
Ms. Akabori：You always give multiple proposals when there is something to consider, so that customers can compare and consider. There is no need to worry that “There may have been other, better options.” I think it was easy for the customer to make a decision because you briefly showed the judgment criterion regarding the choices.
Because each other’s intentions were so clear, this exchange had a good tempo and pleased me (laugh). I strongly felt that you and the customer were a good match. I was impressed by watching your skill in smoothly leading the situation and by the way in which you properly checked everything with the customer so as not to be disrespectful to someone familiar with furniture.
━━ The part that causes customers stress is when “things don’t go according to their wish” and when “they don’t understand the situation because their questions are not answered.”
Ms. Akabori：It can be troublesome if a coordinator continues to thrust information upon the customer when they actually don’t need it, but you are very good at making such a judgment. I feel that you can get a detailed reading of a customer.
May’s Interior Coordinator： I tend to get caught up in any interior plan for which I have a feeling, so I try to be careful on that point (laugh).
━━ In terms of customer satisfaction, the quality of the plan is important, but the process up to that point is also important.
May’s Interior Coordinator：It is important. What are the customer’s priorities: price, style, or delivery date? Everything, of course, is important, but I always keep in my mind that I want to figure out what the customer wants to take care out of those things. I want customers to feel that “this person understands me” during the meeting.
Improvement of satisfaction with concrete explanations that help to imagine the life scenes after moving in
━━ What was the feedback from the customer after he had actually moved in?
Ms. Akabori：He said, “Fine” (laugh). This customer had already realized his ideal interior for his own condominium apartment, so I think there was going to be a limit as to whether he was going to be satisfied to the same degree as he was for that. However, I felt that it was the best outcome in terms of creating space for a rental property through lease furniture.
May’s Interior Coordinator： I’m very grateful for you saying that.
━━ What are you careful about doing to achieve results that satisfy customers?
May’s Interior Coordinator：To explain well and have them understand – the main aim is to avoid having the customer think at the time of delivery, “it wasn’t supposed to be like this.”
As part of our original service of accompanying a customer at the manufacturer’s showroom, we give particular explanations as we look at the actual items, but there are many occasions when we can’t actually do this, such as with the customer in this particular case. Here, I gave him easy-to-imagine information, referring, for example, to his own existing furniture in order to explain the size of an item. If you have such information in advance, you realize that, “Oh, this is the same as I was told at that time” when you actually see it.
Ms. Akabori：This time, you gave the customer precise advice when he couldn’t make up his mind about the TV stand in the dining area and wondered if “this was the right height when sitting on the sofa.”
May’s Interior Coordinator：Because he chose a sofa that faced a low dining table, instead of an ordinary soft sofa, it was understandable that he was concerned that “the TV should be placed in a higher position than normal.” However, it wasn’t possible to order a TV stand that would fit the space before delivery. When I gave him such information, I received a reply saying, “The proposed height is fine” after he had checked the height of the TV stand at home.
Ms. Akabori：It seems easy for the customer to understand because you give clear explanations using everyday language, such as “a firmer sofa” or “a relaxing soft sofa.”
May’s Interior Coordinator：Our proposals are judged as to whether they are good or bad by their usability, actual texture, and the feeling when touched. I always keep in mind “how can I have them understand?” as I need the customers to feel that “Oh, good” after they have actually felt the comfort of the space and not made a judgment based only on how it looks.
Ms. Akabori：You actually visited the site and gave detailed instructions on the measurements for construction and installation; for example, “How much space will there be when the closet door is opened in this bedroom?” or “Due to a distance of ○ cm from the edge of the window, the center of the TV should be placed here.” You achieved a very high finish, as you know everything in millimetres.
May’s Interior Coordinator：What I am interested in now is the large shelf in the living room. I guess there are surely many small items on display there. When I saw a picture of his home, it seemed that he enjoyed that kind of thing.
The ultimate satisfaction is “whether you can live comfortably.”
━━ What kind of impression do you have of May’s?
Ms. Akabori：Our role is not just about having a customer choose a room, it is also to take care of them when they move out and start a new life. During this time, we get support from May’s with a sense of unity, in terms of the interior and dealing with customers, so I feel a sense of security.
━━ Location, rent, floor space, etc. are important when a customer chooses a property, but their ultimate satisfaction would be “whether they can live comfortably in that room.” It means whether you can satisfy their wish to live with satisfying interior fittings.
Ms. Akabori：I think that customers take comfort from having a professional in interiors, like May’s, to give them proper advice. I truly appreciate that we were able to proceed smoothly without any trouble again this time.
May’s Interior Coordinator：I’m relieved to hear that again (laugh). The best thing is when a customer says “Oh, good” at the end.
Ms. Akabori：We can work together toward the same direction. The existence of May’s is really encouraging.
Planner：PR agency, Inc.