Supporting customers through difficult times

Over the last week, if you experienced delays in our customer support, please accept my sincere apologies.

Chennai, which is my home city, and the home of Freshdesk’s Development and Operations center, witnessed unprecedented rain (not seen in over 100 years) followed by devastating floods. Over the course of a week, many of our employees’ homes were flooded and we had to spend days without electricity, cell phone coverage or the internet.

As a global company, we were prepared for business continuity. Since all our services are running on the cloud with full DR capability, our infrastructure was always ready. However more than 50% of our employees were not reachable and we were worried about their safety. We had staff from our US, UK and Australia offices pitching in, but our pillar of support was a small team of support employees who turned up for work on Tuesday but ended up staying the entire week to take care of our customer support. They even worked multiple shifts at a stretch before reinforcements came in the next day. Some of these employees walked through waist to chest deep water to escape their flooded homes and reach the safety of our office that fortunately had full power backup, shower rooms, hot food and internet connectivity.

Now that a small support team was in office, we turned off chat and phone support and decided to focus our efforts on providing email support. So, in case you tried calling us or tried to chat with us on our website, we may not have been reachable. I am really sorry for this disruption in service.

I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the stellar effort put in by the team. Here are a few numbers from last week. From Tuesday to Saturday, we had a healthy first response time of 46 minutes with 46% of the tickets resolved on first contact. I would say this is good even on a regular day. We adhered 97% of the time to the First response SLA and 80% of the time to the Resolution time SLAs. The team achieved an overall satisfaction rating of 90% for these 5 days. I consider this a phenomenal effort from the team, given the dire circumstances that we were going through.

However, what this week has helped me realize, more than anything else, is that Freshdesk is about people – our customers, our partners and our employees. I couldn’t be more proud or appreciative of them. Our employees who managed to make it to our office, not only worked round the clock to support our customers but they also turned the office into a control room to coordinate delivery of relief efforts. And still others, who could have simply rested in the safety of their homes or the office, headed out to the streets to deliver aid to those who desperately needed it.

We even had emails and tweets pour in from customers asking if we were okay and extending help.

As things return to a semblance of normalcy in Chennai, we are already looking at ways to be more prepared for situations like this in the future. But I’ve learned something even more valuable. Adversity shows true character and I am humbled by and grateful for the actions of our team who have shown me the true definition of service, kindness and humanity. The great city of Chennai will bounce back in a few weeks and we hope that our city, our employees and our support return back to their good old cheerful ways!