Growth Strata•Gems Magazine Growth Strata•Gems Magazine Fall 2018 | Page 7

C KS PAC E LIVING THE SERVICE MANTRA To give you an example of how diligently we stuck to this philosophy, one founder actually had his email autoresponder message state his mailbox was full and divert people to the customer support number, while his phone message did just the opposite refer people to a full mailbox. In reality, we were not dealing with this “novice” group of customers at all, deeming them incongruent with our desired customer profile. The angry emails started pouring in, and they were decidedly not in the form of emotional rants. Instead, they included logical arguments supported by details of customers’ multiple contact attempts and their resulting frustration. I grabbed one such relatable email remember, I’m not a techie myself and showed it to our founders to discuss. Somehow, generating all this anger seemed contrary to the principles of good business management, and the alarm bells were ringing. If there were so many people out there wanting to do business with us, shouldn’t we find some way to accommodate them and, of course, monetize our idea in the process? A Reversal to Fortune We decided to do a complete one-eighty. The company was only nine months old at the time, and I knew that it was not too late to change our culture to one of service, with customer satisfaction as our ultimate barometer of success. I realize that every company these days has a mantra of customer service, but what does it take to actually make these words a reality? / I called on David Bryce, the most customer-focused executive I knew at the time, to shepherd this change. He joined the company in 1999 as the vice president of customer care. Handing me a book by famed customer service advocate Leonard Berry, Bryce set the company on a brand new path, which he called “fanatical customer support.” In a nutshell, we did anything and everything to service our customers, as quickly and as efficiently as possible. When they called on us for help, we would be there. Period. HERE ARE A FEW EXAMPLES OF HOW THIS NEW PHILOSOPHY OF FANATICAL SUPPORT PERMEATED EVERY ASPECT OF RACKSPACE’S CORPORATE CULTURE: Commitment to Resolution – No matter how complex the customer problem, it always had an “owner,” someone to coordinate the various support players to get the job done. No flipping the account from person to person. The point person continued to claim ownership throughout the resolution period, vowing to own the problem until it was fixed. Eliminated Fallback Possibilities – We decided to literally give our support staff “no way out” when it came to servicing our clients. We had installed a new phone system, but tough as it was, we disabled our voicemail and auto- attendant capabilities so it was always on us to answer each call. We had zero tolerance for the “I can’t get to it right now” mentality. Instead, you made it happen. GRAHAM WESTON Assigned a Time Frame – Time matters when it comes to customer support, so resolving problems quickly became a priority. Answering phone calls within three rings or fixing the problem within one hour became the standard. We created a “hustle” mentality and lived it each day. Considered Customers Blameless – When a customer called, we did not spend precious time trying to figure out who caused the problem or play the blame game. We knew that this approach was counterproductive and would not help fix the problem any faster. We only cared about a quick resolution so that our customers could get back to work. Created a Manifesto – Our mantra of “fanatical support” became a way of life within Rackspace, and everyone who was hired understood that service was the name of the game. Our company culture was defined by it and became known for it, even after the company went public in 2008. Once we set these rules in motion, the marketplace responded. We grew by 50 percent a year for over 10 years, adding 50 to 100 employees a month. Our commitment to service was not an added expense that dragged us down but a tremendous motivator to help us always do better. I apply these same principles now in mentoring budding entrepreneurs, and I recommend them to you too. Let them guide your business and you will see that they will pay you back in spades. u FALL 2018 | 7