Delivering Fanatical Levels of Customer Support – Interview with Fabio Torlini of Rackspace

Racker

Today’s interview is with Fabio Torlini, VP of Marketing, International with Rackspace, the open cloud company, who are famous for delivering Fanatical Support to their customers.

It was when they ranked No. 7 in the Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies to work for in 2013 that I decided I’d like to find out more about what makes them tick and what makes them so successful.

This interview follows on the back of my last interview: Customers, customer service, customer experience and crystal balls – Interview with Dr Nicola Millard of BT and is number sixty in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here’s the highlights from the interview I did with Fabio:

  • Involvement with Best Companies is about two things: 1. Benchmarking themselves against other organisations; and 2. To provide demonstrable evidence to new prospects to about how good they are in terms of technical capability, employee engagement and the quality of their customer service and Fanatical Support.
  • Preservation of their culture and their Fanatical Support levels that they and their customers pride themselves on has been challenging, particularly in the face of continued rapid growth of sales and headcount. The UK-based business has grown by around 25% over the last year or so.
  • However, to do that they have done two things: 1. Put a lot of measures (recruitment, induction, training, meetings, activities etc) in place to ensure that staff understand and embrace their culture; and 2. They continuously measure how they are doing. They use NPS on a quarterly basis to see how they are doing on customer loyalty as well as benchmarking themselves against their industry. And, they use Racker Pulse, their employee engagement survey, on a quarterly basis to help them understand how they are doing with regards to their people.
  • When they hire new Rackers the most important criteria is attitude and one of the things they look for is how happy the new hires will be talking to customers.
  • Senior management get heavily involved with the week-long induction of new hires. In addition, the presentations given by senior management are all ranked for entertainment and quality of content.
  • Their induction programme starts before someone has actually physically joined them and includes sending them ‘Welcome Home’ cards signed by members of their team before they have joined.
  • They have recently moved from two buildings into a new building that houses their entire UK team. Development and design of their new offices (the home of Fanatical Support) has helped with building their employee engagement and supporting their culture and values, with a clear aim of wanting to create an environment that makes ‘Rackers’ feel at home and able to deliver their desired level of customer service.
  • Things that they have also done that supports their values and culture include: the fanatical support jacket that is awarded to one person every month for going above and beyond the call of duty in delivering great service whether inside or outside of the company, all of the senior management don’t have offices and share the open floor space with all of their colleagues, flags above their desks to reflect where people have come from and the diversity that exists in their business, a monthly fun budget of £25 per person for people to spend on what they like (this is often saved up and combined with teams deciding to go off and do something together – it also creates a healthy level of internal competition to see who can spend the budget in the best way) etc etc
  • Fanatical Support is hard to define what it actually means but is really all about going above and beyond to help a customer out, whether internal or external. This is reinforced through the telling of stories of what Rackers have done for customers.
  • The benefits of all this are that despite being a young company and the demographic profile and ambition of their people, they have a staff turnover ratio that is half of the industry average.
  • Fabio’s top tips for getting the best out of your teams: 1. Clarity of vision; 2. Clarity of what their role is; and 3. Enabling employees to deliver by giving them the right tools and resources.

About Fabio (taken from his Rackspace bio)

Fabio Torlini Rackspace

Fabio holds the honour of being of the longest-standing UK Racker, having joined the business back in 2003. He was one of a handful of Rackers who dreamed of greatness, and were prepared to demonstrate to the world just how different a hosting company could be when you added the magic ingredient of Fanatical Support. Nine years and a $1bn turnover later and the dream become reality.

Fabio’s Rackspace passions include brand development, on and offline advertising, customer and prospect communications, channel sales and ultimately attracting new customers to experience Fanatical Support.

He says he’d be hard pushed to pick the Rackspace value that most drives him, but ‘treating Rackers like Friends and Family’ holds a sacred spot in his heart – “having been here so long I do feel rather fatherly – but definitely the ‘cool Dad’ that gets to go to all his kids’ parties too!”

You can Join Fabio’s network on LinkedIn or find him and Rackspace on Twitter: @torlini and @rackspaceuk. Finally, do check out Rackspace’s blog, the awards they have won and their website: www.rackspace.co.uk to learn more about them.

Photo Credit: Scott Beale via Compfight cc

Comments

  1. Adrian,

    I enjoyed the interview. The best but though was the most novel

    The presentations given by senior management are all ranked for entertainment and quality of content.

    That would put the cat among the pigeons at more than one of the companies I have worked for.

    I can see the leader board now.

    James

    • Hi James,
      What I find really interesting is how every interview produces at least one ‘gem’ of an idea that makes me/us think of how we can do things differently.

      I’d like to see this sort of thing happen more often. Presenting is often done very very badly and is an essential part of communication, particularly internally. This would raise the bar significantly and cause a few ruffled feathers ;)

      Adrian

  2. Adrian,

    Thanks for this interview! I had the opportunity to hear Ben Hart, who is Sr. Director of Customer Loyalty for Rackspace, speak at the recent CXPA MIE in San Diego. At the end of the presentation, a question from the audience: “To whom can we send our resumes?” Definitely looks and sounds like an awesome place to work.

    Annette :-)

  3. Hello Adrian
    Thanks for creating and sharing this. Loved reading this. What especially resonates with me is that Fabio and team have gotten that a service centred business is based on employees. If you recruit the right employees, create a context that calls them to be great, and provide an environment where the employees feel great about themselves then you have created a platform for greatness.

    What I found interesting was Fabio focus/resonance with this value: ‘treating Rackers like Friends and Family’.

    Maz

    • Hi Maz,
      Thank you and I agree. I, too, love the fact that they are creating a workspace that is a welcoming like a home. The results that they get and the way they treat their people and customers is no coincidence.

      Adrian

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