A postal service station in the building
In recent years, Vonovia has been working systematically on developing new services to supplement its conventional “living space” product. These supplementary services are validated on an ongoing basis – at the same time, Vonovia keeps a constant eye on the market to identify any new services that it could add to its portfolio. The product management team has set itself the goal of identifying affordable innovations and new services that offer added value for customers. And the regular market roll-outs only go to show just how successful the team is proving to be.
- Added value for customers
- Suitable for roll-out across the board
Anyone who wants to come up with new ideas has to be prepared to veer off the well-trodden path. This is something that the 31-strong team led by Konstantina Kanellopoulos specializes in. Kanellopoulos’ team allows Vonovia to offer its customers more than just a place to live, but also ensures that the company can achieve strong growth in its new “Extension” segment.
Turning the quest for pastures new into a profession is certainly fun. Especially when there is as much leeway and as many topics that are directly relevant to day-to-day life as there are at Vonovia. The process always starts with questions: What do customers need? What might they be interested in? What do they want?
Would customers buy green electricity if someone made them the right offer? Would it be more convenient for them if they didn’t need to be at home in order for their meter to be read? What would they think of the idea of a digital noticeboard in the hallway? Would they be interested in having access to car-sharing services, including electric charging points, right outside their front door?
The list of questions that Vonovia’s innovation team has asked itself in the three years since its very first meeting would be too long to include here. And every one of these ideas has had, and still has, the chance to be turned into a product at the end of a structured process.
Clear criteria and field testing
There are, however, three criteria that every idea has to fulfill. First, it has to provide a benefit for customers. Second, it has to be cost-effective and affordable for customers. And third, it has to be a candidate for standardization and implementation on a larger scale. Only then is it an attractive candidate for Vonovia’s income statement.
The steps in the process are clearly defined: Ideas are generated as a result of brainstorming sessions, market screening or external impetus. This process helps the company to sift out the best approaches and develop the concept in greater detail, and with the help of external experts. Once the concept has been finalized, a field test is performed in the form of a pilot project. This process can sometimes give rise to findings that require adjustment. If the pilot has proved to be successful, the concept is rolled out, i.e. implemented across the board.
Postal service at your front door
One example of a product that has just completed the development phase is the “parcel box”, a concept that Vonovia has developed in collaboration with DHL. The new service offers real added value for customers, saving them time and unnecessary trips.
After all, the situation is a familiar part of day-to-day life for many people: They return home from work only to find a parcel delivery attempt notice in their mailbox. As nobody was home when the parcel courier arrived, he took the parcel away with him again. The recipient is now faced with a trip to the post office. But this doesn’t have to be the only option. Vonovia and DHL worked out that a solution in the building itself makes sense for everyone involved in places where this sort of situation arises on a regular basis.
The two partners launched the obligatory pilot project in the summer of 2016 in a property in Berlin. The project involved 50 parcel box facilities featuring state-of-the-art design and technology. Depending on the specific features of the building, the box was installed either in the hallway or in front of the building. Konstantina Kanellopoulos, Head of Vonovia’s Product Management division, has announced that many more customers will soon be able to make use of the service offered by Vonovia and DHL: “The facilities make life a whole lot easier for all the residents who are not at home during the day. When they get home, their parcel is waiting for them in a theft-proof storage compartment. The tenants no longer need to make an extra trip to the post office or visit their neighbor to collect the parcel. This service makes life easier for our customers – and, by saving both the courier and the tenant additional trips, also helps to reduce CO2.”
»The facilities make life a whole lot easier for all the residents who are not at home during the day.« Konstantina Kanellopoulos, Head of Vonovia’s Product Management division
Another feature that makes the service even more convenient: Returns or other prepaid parcels and packages can be sent conveniently from home. The courier collects them directly from the parcel box. The fact that the facilities are operated online thanks to a mobile telephony connection means that tenants no longer even have to register for the new service. The courier puts a notification card with a bar code on it in the tenant’s mailbox. This card serves as an electronic key to the parcel box facility in the building. This ensures that only the recipient can open the box.
A pioneering role again
Being able to receive and send parcels from home – a solution that is as straightforward as it is logical if you consider that more and more people in today”s world are doing their shopping online, and that the majority of residents are not at home to accept deliveries during the day. Vonovia is the first real estate company in Germany to offer its tenants this innovative solution for receiving and sending parcels in collaboration with DHL.