Telling the truth about SME life today

What my business experience has taught me about keeping customers happy

Serviced offices as a sector has never been more competitive. Alongside expansion of existing operators and new entrants to the market, larger property groups also setting up serviced office capabilities giving prospective corporate tenants an increasingly wide choice.

While the variety of tenants is also broader, retaining existing tenants is now very important. As Harvard Business School research has shown, acquiring a new customer is up to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.

At Office Space in Town we have kept our occupancy rates at close to 90 per cent, and one of the key factors in keeping that number so high is that we listen to our tenants and constantly ensure that our offer meets their evolving needs. Below, I’ve outlined my top tips to keeping customers happy.

Create a valued community

Serviced offices are ideal venues to create a community feel to corporate life. They are a hotbed of companies from virtually all sectors and sizes and have common spaces and facilities where people from different firms can mix and mingle. This backdrop gives us much to build on and we deliberately wanted to create a community, member club type mood in our serviced offices to ensure a social and friendly atmosphere.

We also host parties and events on site, where people can get to know each other, providing opportunities for networking and collaboration and to help further engender a sense of community we offer a range of facilities, such as salons and cafes, where people can interact in a more social context.

We try and build a broader community too, by providing our tenants access to our large network of serviced offices both in the capital and across the country, to help them expand their networks and range of contacts, hopefully for both their personal and commercial benefit.

Seek regular feedback

Customer feedback is probably one of the most important areas of information for any business. Neglecting what your customers say and not constantly responding to their reasonable needs and requests can be very damaging, certainly for customer retention. We put our tenants at the centre of our business, running an annual customer satisfaction survey to ensure that any areas for improvement are identified and we move quickly to address them.

We ensure that our channels of communication are always open stationing managers onsite to ensure that our tenants” feedback is fully taken into account in our operating strategy giving us a clear understanding of what future tenants want and need in terms of their office requirements.

Get the basics right

Cleanliness and safety are two key areas of concern for any office workers but many operators neglect these important aspects of keeping tenants happy. Our onsite managers always make sure such basic services as as fire alarm systems, drills and the rota for security guards are all up to date and working smoothly.

Cleanliness is also a top priority for us and we are fortunate that my co-founder, Niki Fuchs, previously ran a cleaning business so we are well aware of the pitfalls of this area and that making sure our offices and all their facilities from the cafes, salons and meeting rooms to the kitchens and toilets are as clean as possible is a priority.

Invest in your customers

I have always believed that investing in your customers is money very well spent. In contrast to many of our competitors, we operate a freehold model, where we own our serviced offices, rather than lease them, so we are more willing and able to invest in the offices and facilities that we provide. We aim for HQ standard office space, world-class connectivity, and a five-star hotel standard for our ancillary services of salons, beauty treatment rooms and rooftop cafes.

In the current very competitive contest for clients, being able to make this investment to provide the best office space and services we can for our tenants is one of the key factors in retaining them and in our very high occupancy rate.

Continually innovate

Just as tenants” businesses evolve and their requirements change, serviced office operators need to make sure that their offer develops to match this. For example, as the sheer quantity of data and information that our clients need to process online rapidly increased so we significantly upgraded the quality of the connectivity in our serviced offices. Similarly, as the more modern way of working sees people working 50+ hour days and almost seamless working between the office and home, we recently launched serviced bedrooms in our Monument office in the City of London, which has been warmly embraced and the bedrooms much used.

As the way we work and live continues to change ever more rapidly, as does the technology to support this, other facilities and services we will likely have to consider in the future include gyms, electric cars docks, 3D printers and possibly access to GP services, given the increasing difficulty of getting NHS GP appointments.

This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.



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