On the first day of my summer internship, I looked at the expansive, white building that houses the Rackspace headquarters and wondered what I had gotten myself into. The first thing you notice about the space formerly known as Windsor Park Mall is the scale of the building: the immense, cavernous, beautiful space. In size, the renovated mall looks similar to the Empire State Building, laid flat on its side. As soon as I set foot inside the building proper, I was confronted with a maelstrom of new sights and sounds: the sales team erupting in applause to support a teammate who had just closed a sale, a giant slide running from the second floor to the first floor of the office, meeting rooms with every surface optimized for use with dry erase markers, and much more. The former mall , now called “The Castle” is a 1.2 million square-foot structure and houses one of the largest tech companies east of Silicon Valley.
Right off the bat, I had several burning questions about the company. One of the most interesting traits Rackspace prides itself on is the idea of “Fanatical Support.” If nothing else, I wanted to conclude my internship with a solid understanding of this seemingly mysterious idea of Fanatical Support. This was crucial for me to learn on my first day as a “Racker.” Plenty of companies I had interacted with claimed that “the customer is always right,” “customer service is our top priority,” “the customer comes first,” ad infinitum. But what makes Rackspace so special is its delivery of Fanatical Support.
My question was answered during the orientation tour of the Castle when we passed a wall dubbed “The Fanatical Jacket Ward.” The wall was lined with rows of photographs showcasing Rackers smiling and posing in straitjackets. (Outside of the Castle walls, straightjackets are typically used to restrain persons who may otherwise cause harm to themselves or others.) I soon learned the “Fanatical Jacket” is an award given to a Racker who goes above and beyond the call of duty to support a customer—so much so that they need to be restrained because of their overwhelming desire to provide support the customer. It takes a certain level of devotion to receive the award. Take, for example, the time that a Racker placed a customer on hold to order the customer and his team a pizza during troubleshooting call. This was Fanatical Support, and Rackers literally went mad to pursue it.
I realized that Racker culture truly embodies fanatical customer support when I saw it unfold before my eyes during the orientation tour. Our group was walking on the second floor of the building, when we came across a ledge overlooking the Small and Medium Business (SMB) unit. Our tour guide looked over the entire department of about 1,000 people and shouted: “SMB! Please join me in welcoming our newest Rackers!” And at that moment, hundreds of people erupted in cheers and applause. It was like watching a thousand Charlies, and this was their Chocolate Factory.
I was less than eight hours into my internship when I realized that Fanatical Support is as much about supporting the customer as it is about supporting fellow Rackers. This has been the definition of my internship, and internalizing the notion of Fanatical Support has contributed immensely to my growth over the past 10 weeks at the Castle. The definition of Rackspace is Fanatical Support, and it’s apparent in every detail of the Castle—from the photos of smiling Rackers in straitjackets to the enthusiasm of teams who cheerfully welcomed new Rackers. I have realized that our customers are not just another entry in a database, but truly an integral part of the Racker family. At the very least, our customers define Fanatical Support just as much as each and every Racker.