Meet Paul Schmeja, CEO at First Contact

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Tell us about your business

First Contact was established in Melbourne in 2006.

We take care of the pointy end of CX (Customer Experience) for businesses, as the leading provider of outsourced Concierge and Reception staff for premium workplaces and corporate office buildings.

In Australia we are preferred service partners with leading organisations such as ANZ Banking Group, Ernst & Young, OPTUS, JLL and GPT Group, with operations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra.

Our 250 team members provide welcoming smiles, directions and support to over 20,000 tenants and visitors every day.   We assist clients with everything from visitor registration, how do I get a locker, find a colleague or book a meeting room?

As the workplace sector has evolved, our focus too has evolved from a transactional front of house service to a full suite of workplace services, designed around premium workplace experience – enhanced by technology, delivered with a human touch.

I moved with my family to Singapore to establish our office here in early 2019.  we have built an excellent client base including GIC, CBRE, STRIPE and RQAM (One Raffles Quay & Marina Bay Financial Centre.). COVID-19 put a dent in our plans for global domination in 2020, but we are rearing to go as soon as the world starts turning again.

What’s your role all about?

As CEO of FC, I work with an exceptional leadership team, and we are responsible for the wellbeing of our 250+ associates and their families.  Right now my focus is on APAC expansion, adapting our service model to the region.  We work primarily with MNC’s that are CX focused and establishing regional HQ offices.  Culture is everything in our space, and we work very hard to deliver an engaging and rewarding employee experience. This translates directly into our now legendary customer experience.  My focus over 11+years has been on evolving our leading service culture through employee engagement, training programs, reward and recognition, all with a focus on delivering value to our clients in the form of a consistent service outcome that enhances their own brand.

CX is about hiring the right people, equipping them with the systems, tools and training, and empowering them to deliver legendary service.  I describe FC as one person, enhancing another person’s day x 20,000 interactions a day.

What’s the hot topic in your sector right now?

Many of our clients are now grappling with extended shutdowns, work from home, and planning for the eventual return to office.  Immediate priorities are primarily around a safe and practical return to office with appropriate social distancing measures in place.  We are able to assist with aspects such as lobby concierge, temperature screening & Safe Entry, monitoring lift lobbies, meeting rooms and other requirements, all with a CX focus.

Thinking beyond return to office, the bigger questions are now being asked around the purpose of the office.

Much has been written about this, but I strongly believe that the rumours of the “death of the office” are greatly exaggerated.  What I foresee for 2021 and beyond is a lot more flexibility around when and why people come to the office, with maybe half of the people in the office about half the time.

Thinking about the purpose of the office, I see the office becoming for workplace what the Apple Store is to retail.  i.e. a place for employees and clients to interact with the company, and for the company to imprint its own brand on employees and visitors.  The office becomes even more so, a place for collaboration, inspiration, creativity and brand-centric moments, rather than a place to answer emails and fill in spreadsheets.  It is for this reason that the office will become much more aligned towards an experiential environment.  Companies have the opportunity to imprint on employees and customers with a positive experience.   I can already see demand building for quality, curated, front of house and workplace experience.

Why are you a member of AustCham in Singapore?

When I first arrived here last year, joining AustCham was a great way to maintain a connection with home and meet fellow expats.  I really enjoyed the many social events especially the Australia Day Ball (RIP!) and President’s Awards lunch.  Hoping we can see an eventual return of these type of events sooner rather than later.  Now that I’ve been here for a couple of years I feel less like the new kid on the block.  I’m pleased to assist other newly arrived Aussies to establish themselves here.  I have really enjoyed the networking and knowledge sharing of AustCham, especially the way members look out for each other and are genuinely willing to set-up an introduction that may assist in growing our businesses here.

Where are your go-to places in Singapore for great coffee?

During WFH, I have been discovering great places closer to home…. Baker & Cook (Serangoon Gardens) is my go-to place for amazing eggs benedict. Cottontail (Serangoon Ave 3), and I also recently discovered Wimbly-lu for a cheeky Monday morning brunch with my wife.

In the city, I recently discovered Punch, my new favourite place for client coffee meetings.

48 Hours in Singapore – What Are Your Must-Do Experiences?

Is it wrong that mine are mostly food-related?…. High Tea at Raffles Hotel (you’ll need to sell one of your kids first!),  Twilight beers at Level33, Catch-up with friends & enjoy the current Bao menu at Ce La Vie Skybar (on top of Marina Bay Sands).  Also being stuck on-island for the foreseeable future has allowed us to become tourists in our own backyard..  Staycation at Sofitel Sentosa, Lunch at Tanjong Beach Club,  Universal Studios without the usual crowds, Gardens By the Bay (also without the usual crowds).  Closer to home I ride my bike through Bishan Park up to Lower Pierce Reservoir and enjoy the serenity, lots of monkeys, and you may spot a wild boar.


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