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Empowering The Customer Through Fanatical Support On The Open Cloud

Recently, I read an excellent column in The Atlantic by author and venture advisor Bill Davidow. It reinforced why we at Rackspace do the work that we do — how Fanatical Support on the Open Cloud will help customers avoid vendor lock-in and regain real choice and control over their computing.

In his column, Davidow lamented the loss of a service focus in the high-tech industry and highlighted a startling transformation in how technology companies treat their customers.

He reflected on his arrival at HP in the 1960s and how the company’s founders — along with other original Silicon Valley pioneers and tech trailblazers — used customer service as the foundation for their business. He called it the era of “Silicon Values;” a time when tech companies, both emerging and established, set out to delight customers with a level of service they couldn’t get elsewhere, a practice that earned customer loyalty and mutual respect. If customers weren’t treated fairly, they could easily pack up and leave for another provider.

“The company was focused on delivering advanced technology of great value, then servicing and supporting the customer to make sure he derived value from what he bought,” he wrote about HP. “Customers trusted Hewlett-Packard. I remember one customer who so trusted the salesman who took care of his account that he let the sales rep purchase what he needed. That period of trust went on for a long time. The salesman told me his secret: He never bought anything for the customer that the customer did not really need.”

Davidow, however, pointed to a frightening change in how customers are treated today. In some cases customer service has morphed into “customer exploitation,” he wrote. Consumers are being locked in to one company and find it difficult to escape, ultimately losing the power they posses as a customer: the power to choose another vendor. This is a sharp contrast to the service focus of previous decades.

There’s no question that cloud computing has changed the technology landscape. It has vastly enhanced the speed, agility and flexibility of computing, while introducing a swifter pace of innovation. But as customers’ applications are becoming more deeply fused into the infrastructure of their cloud provider, they get locked into that vendor. Switching providers becomes difficult and extremely costly.

We believe the shift to the Open Cloud stops this dangerous trend in its tracks.

Through our Fanatical Support and our commitment to liberate customers from vendor lock-in, Rackspace works to recapture the values that Davidow remembers. Our mission is to provide Fanatical Support on the Open Cloud. We’re deploying open-source technologies that put the customers back at the center of things, where they belong.  It’s a model that empowers customers, and forces tech companies to compete on the basis of customer outcomes and results, rather than on customer exploitation. Instead of trapping them in the first cloud provider that they chose, an Open Cloud model gives customers the freedom to move to a new provider anytime they feel they can get better features or service or pricing.  It creates real choice and control over their technology and its future, along with a service experience they can’t get from anyone else.

We’re bringing service and trust to the cloud computing industry, just as we’ve done for more than a decade in managed hosting. We’re breaking the cycle of customer exploitation and lock-in that has emerged. With Fanatical Support on the Open Cloud, Rackspace will help our customers succeed.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Lanham Napier.

Lanham Napier was the CEO of Rackspace from 2006 to February 2014, and now serves as a consultant to the company's leaders. As CEO, he avidly promoted the workplace culture that drives the company’s famed Fanatical Support®. This passion for empowering customers has made Rackspace the acknowledged leader of the open cloud.

Napier joined Rackspace in April 2000, a couple of years after its founding. He recognized early on that the company’s employees—dubbed Rackers—and its unique culture of customer service, would be the keys to its success. Napier strove to give Rackers the same exceptional support that they provide to the company’s customers. That approach has won Rackspace recognition by FORTUNE® magazine as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, and by Bloomberg Businessweek as a Top 100 Performing Technology Company.

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