We were looking for a new office space for Freshdesk in Chennai, India as we have outgrown the current office and also wanted to move to a facility where we don’t have to worry about car-parking, power backup or water availability etc.
Now to many of you this may be a surprise but it is very difficult to find a small-size office space (say around 1500 sq feet) in Chennai in a proper commercial building with ample car parking. (Atleast we couldn’t find anything within a 45 minute commute from where we live and we know that we are not alone).
The irony is that there are millions of square feet of commercial space lying vacant in Chennai and we contacted many of these developers, but they were all looking to lease space in bigger chunks – say 5000 sq ft. or 8000 sq.ft. minimum. This is way beyond our means and we don’t need that much space for our current team of six people. In contrast Bangalore has hundreds of small office spaces in every location at different price points and they are mostly setup as plug and play units for small software companies like us.
Coming to the story, we had almost given up on Chennai, when last week we visited SP Infocity – a world class IT park built by a very reputed property developer in India. We loved the facility and we knew that all of teething problems will be solved if we move to this building. We are very excited.
We were shown two spaces (3000 sq ft and 5800 sq ft) and were told that was the minimum size that they lease was 3000 sq ft. Again these were too big and the cost of doing the fit-outs and the ten month security deposit etc. were prohibitively expensive.
We met the Head of marketing – a Mr. Jair Dsouza and he was a very nice guy and a thorough professional. He promptly sent us a proposal for the 3000 sq ft. with all the costs involved. Our entire team was hoping that we will be able to get something within our budget in this space and I was very disappointed and frustrated on that day as this would have been a great place to move but we could not afford it. I could not sleep that night.
The next morning I wrote an email to Jair explaining our situation ( that we are a startup, and we don’t want to tie up the limited capital available into office space)
I got a prompt and short reply from Jair asking me if I could come and meet him later in the day.
I met him and explained our requirements and budget constraints. He quickly understood our situation and gave us a solution on the spot –
He had a section of the building where an existing client was expanding from 6000 sq ft. to 8500 sq. ft. He found an extra 1150 sq feet of space that can be given to us adjacent to that. He also explained to me how this space will save us a lot of money
1. The flooring and the ceilings were finished. We don’t have to invest in them.
2. The AC ducting had already been done so that saves us money.
3. He also voluntarily reduced the security deposit from 10 months of rent to 6 months of rent and gave us two months of rent free during the fit-out period.
He spoke to his boss and explained why he was making an exception for us. Needless to say I was impressed and signed up on the spot.
What I learnt that day from Jair watching him work was that – the true essence of great customer service is to understand the customer problem and genuinely try to find a solution. In fact during the course of our meetings he kept saying things like – “I will find a solution for you”, “We are here to give you a solution” etc. Now I realize that he really meant it and approached the problem with a genuine intent to find a workable solution. Needless to say our entire team in now very happy and I think SP Infocity has won a customer for life! (Thanks to Jair)
I think that this is a great lesson in customer service –
Don’t use policies and guidelines as excuses on why something cannot be done. Understand the customer’s problem and work on finding an acceptable solution. That is the essence of great customer service.