Differentiate Yourself With Customer Service


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Companies that are vying for the burgeoning cloud computing and hosting business have some fierce competition against industry heavyweights. Amazon, Google, Microsoft. Yep. That’s some stiff competition. You may not compete with the likes of these behemoths, but you’ve still got your own market leaders to go after, right? So what can you do without spending all your heard-earned capital?

If you’re the Texas-based company, Rackspace, you focus on customer service.

Taking on the Amazons of the world

Bloomberg Businessweek recently profiled Rackspace and discussed the 12-year old company’s strategy for not only staying afloat, but charging ahead in the highly competitive industry of hosting and cloud computing. The company has wrestled with the ups and downs that strike many technology companies, including hiring and retaining top programming talent, stretching cash in a capital-intensive business, and staying ahead of the technology curve.

Rackspace’s Chairman, Graham Weston, has managed to pull his company back from the brink of disaster and drive the business toward 30 percent annual sales growth by making customer service the mantra of his business. In fact, the company’s main brand platform is “fanatical support.”

Whoa. Really?

Not “the most advanced hosting service” or “the fastest technology,” but support that goes so far and above typical customer service it’s best described as fanatical?

Yes. And it’s working.

Putting fanatical customer service into action

As an example of Rackspace’s commitment to customer service, compare what happened when Amazon had their cloud-hosting service crash versus what happened when Rackspace lost cloud power. From the article…

Amazon sent its customers a two-week credit and an apology letter. A sincere gesture, for sure, and appropriate for a company of Amazon’s size.

When Rackspace lost power, its employees personally called thousands of customers to apologize, explained what was occurring, and issued refunds. The company was insistent on personal communication while they worked out system kinks, and their customers were pleased by the effort.

Rackspace has also been known to do things such as send customers pizza when they know the customers are stuck at the office late, or call them and sing “Happy Birthday” over the speakerphone. The customer service culture, in short, is deeply intertwined in Rackspace’s business model.

Applying Rackspace’s customer service lessons to your company

So what can we learn from Rackspace’s approach? The company proudly advertises their customer service philosophy, and they’ve created a webpage dedicated to proclaiming their tenets. Here’s what they do:

Transparency and listening skills: The company’s employees are trained to be transparent and listen to the customers. Rackspace understands that customers want a company that can hear and understand.

Resourceful: Rackspace empowers their customer service representatives to solve problems and be resourceful—their customer service training goes one step further than simply solving issues from a manual.

Skills: They take their customer service training for technical support seriously. Rackspace invests, really invests, in their employees to make sure their staff are knowledgeable and experts at guiding customers through problem solving and technical support issues.

Accountability: Rackspace understands that customers want to work with a company that takes responsibility for problems and is accountable.

Timeliness: They pride themselves on prompt, attentive service.

How does your company measure up?

Regardless of the field you’re in, choosing to make customer service the hallmark of your brand will set you apart, even if your technology isn’t the best, or you’re not first to market, or you don’t have the most inexpensive product. Assessing your current customer service delivery, making needed changes in people, processes and technology, and investing in customer service training, will help you shine through a crowded, competitive marketplace.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peggy Carlaw
Peggy Carlaw is the founder of Impact Learning Systems. Impact helps companies develop and implement customer service strategies to improve the customer experience. Their consulting services and training programs help organizations create a customer-focused culture while producing measurable business results. Peggy is also the author of three books published by McGraw-Hill including Managing and Motivating Contact Center Employees.


  1. Customer service expectations these days are incredibly high, independent of which service industry you are in. We’ve used rackspace, and have found the customer service attitude to be considerably better than other hosting providers, although I have to say we never got a pizza 🙁 Still there’s much to be learnt from this post, and from them. The latest post on my entrepreneur blog is on customer service – read it and tell me what you think!

    Ivan Mazour


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