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Freerange Fanaticism

I’ve been at Rackspace for a while. People ask me from time to time to explain exactly what Fanatical Support is. Typically, I try my best to walk through the basics of our approach, philosophy, etc. The challenge has always been that it’s hard to do so without getting into the technical jargon. For most folks, this causes eyes to glaze over and typically buries the important information under a series of acronyms and such in the listener’s minds. So, recently, I’ve tried to find other examples – even outside of the Rack – to help paint the proper picture.

Rackspace doesn’t have the market cornered on great service in San Antonio. There are businesses, and more commonly, individual people that exhibit the same traits we look for in Rackers. Not only was a recent experience my family had an example of this, but it serves as an excellent, non-technical, illustration of what Fanatical Support really looks like.

So, let me set the stage. We had spent more time than planned at an eatery/entertainment venue and pulled up to a certain hardware store about 10 minutes before closing. We were there to get a new lock and knob set for some French doors being installed in our house. My wife had found a set that would work for us, but we wanted to see if it were possible to get them to work with our current keys. So there we stood – store closing, sleepy kids in hand, in need of assistance, and looking for someone to make eye contact with. In steps Juan.

When Juan approached us he was not wearing anything that identified him as an employee. He had car keys in one hand and a cup of soda or tea in the other. It was clear, he was heading out, and in retrospect that he was off the clock. Juan stopped and asked us if we needed help. We relayed our issues about the lock and knob set, and he quickly said, “no problem!”

The first thing he did was recommend a less expensive, and better (by his definition) set based on the keys that we had. Already being appreciative for his stopping to help us AND thankful for his advice on products, I was also very impressed with how he handled getting the locks re-keyed. Before this, I didn’t know that sets of door hardware like this come with a small tool and instructions to re-key the lock. And, now that I’ve learned how, I have to say it’s pretty simple. Anyway, Juan could have conveyed this information to me and sent us on our way. Instead, he broke open the packaging, explained what he was doing while he re-keyed the primary knob and then let me re-key the deadbolt while he watched.

Needless to say, we walked away very impressed and pretty much set on using that particular store for any hardware needs in the future. As we drove home, I realized that this interaction was an excellent story to illustrate Fanatical Support. Juan did several things to make this a great experience:

  • put the customer’s needs above his own
  • recommended a different product because he believed it was a better fit for the customer
  • took time to handle our request to it’s fullest
  • walked us through the work he had done so we could duplicate it later
  • did it all cheerfully and efficiently

Bringing all this back to Rackspace, I would argue that several of the Elements of Fanatical Support were exhibited by Juan. So, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to share to all those out there who want to know, but don’t want to be burdened by all the hosting specific technical terms. I hope that it has helped.

So thank you, Juan. Thank you for being a natural Fanatic. Maybe one day, we can put that service attitude to work here at the Rack. Until then, we applaud you for providing excellent service to your customers.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Matt Van Winkle.


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