Rackspace: How To Royally Poop On Your Customers (8 ways)
Today’s lesson is brought to you by Rackspace — who used to be one of my favorite hosting companies. That all changed today.
I am in IT. Servers need patches, fixes, reboots and updates. No issues there. When we need to do this, we schedule it far in advance, let our key customers know it will be happening, tell them exactly how long it should impact them and finally, run the maintenance at lowest traffic times.
Rackspace discovered a major security issue affecting cloud storage customers. They needed to fix it. What they did next is unfathomable. As of this writing, we have been down 3 hours — just 4 hours into our largest local fundraising campaign ever to raise $300k for the homeless.
Someone at Rackspace needs to be drug out into the street and beaten with a wet noodle for the asinine strategy. Here is what they did and how you too can treat your customers like garbage.
#1) Send a maintenance notice when no one will read it. We got a notice that RackSpace needed to update their system … at 9:22pm on a Friday. Maybe next time they can send a notice Christmas morning during present time.
#2) Make sure there is no recourse or alternative option. Had we gotten notice on a monday, we could have switched servers or companies altogether. Hard to do that on a weekend with short notice.
#3) Be sure to NOT use the word downtime. Disguise the issue as a likely small inconvenience. In this case, Rackspace said “we anticipate a reboot will be necessary.” Oh, that sounds harmless. Good thing they didn’t say anything about availability or downtime or I would have paid attention more. Even on their official statement about the reboot, you will not find the words interruption, downtime or outage. There was not even a hint of, “this maintenance will aim nuclear weapons at your site’s availability.” Awesome.
#4) Give Zero Expectations of Impact. Oh just a reboot huh? How long could that take? A few minutes? No problem. Not exactly. Rackspace knew this was going to have major impact on service. They could have said, “this may result in downtime ranging from 1 hour to 1.7 trillion hours” — but then customers would have canceled and adjusted (see items 1&2).
#5) Put details in riddle format. The official email said, “Maintenance window (all times CDT, UTC-5).” Whew! That cleared it up. It probably would have worried me had the email accurately said, “we are going to do this right in the middle of your day so as to create the biggest inconvenience ever.”
#6) Pull the Plug at 2pm. Our own customers are valuable enough to us for us to lose sleep for them. We do maintenance at or around midnight when our usage is at weekly lows. The Rackspace maintenance window was 6am - 6pm. Hmmm, thats odd.. thats exactly peak time. Sounds perfect.
#7) Spin lack of information as “protection.” Their email literally says, “While we believe in transparent communication, there are times when we must withold certain details in order to protect you, our customers." Certain details? Like estimated impact? Progress estimates?
#8) To pacify frustrated customers, just lie. I called into support 50 minutes into the outage and was told the migration was 85% complete. That pacified me enough to get off the phone. Then two more hours passed.
#9 **Bonus Tip**) Direct customers to remedies that dont work. My support gal was empathetic but at best, offered me the option to create a ticket so I would be heard by those who care. Lets forget how impersonal that is for a moment. I got to the ticket system and create my ticket only to hit submit and find out it’s broken and does not work. Genius!
So if you want to really make your customers feel like they got a big middle finger, just follow the above steps and you will succeed.
I have understanding in how difficult IT issues are. I do. But to do something like this DURING FREAKING PEAK TIMES is just stupid.
But to not tell your customers there is an expectation of significant downtime is outright cruel. It actually was intentional. Rackspace knew this was going to be several hours of impact and intentionally kept that information from its customers. For that reason, I can no longer trust Rackspace and neither can you.
It felt amazing to have news stations, charities and newspapers calling saying your service is returning 404 errors. We officially were down a little over 3 hours with no expectation on the day we launched one of our biggest fundraising efforts this year.
6 Secrets To Kicking Butt At Fundraising
With our online donation software at Webconnex, I get a front row seat to witness hundreds of non profits who are all trying to raise money every day. Most do well, some just okay, and a few absolutely kill it. It got me thinking … why do some organizations kick butt at fundraising and others don’t. I noticed a consistent pattern and this is useful for anyone who is currently running a non-profit or thinking about starting one.
10 Fun (and cruel) Ways To Prank Someone’s Facebook
Not long ago, I was at the Apple store looking to buy a computer only to find out that people don’t buy computers at the Apple store — it’s just a free place everyone goes to check their facebook. Anyways, when I was testing a computer to buy, I noticed the last person on the computer never logged out of their facebook account. I must admit I was tempted to teach someone a valuable (and painful) lesson to never to forget to log out of facebook. I had mercy on the poor soul, but here are the 10 things I was tempted to do.
Q:Good Morning – Being new to the world of Twitter, and working on building my "brand", how do you feel about incorporating your "personal" likes/interests into your posts? i.e. Your faith, sports teams, etc. I'm not one for compartmentalizing my life and am unashamed of being a Christian, but am not sure how that fits in to what I'm trying to build as a businessman. Would you suggest having a different 'handle' for personal and ministry posts since they are 2 different audiences? Thanks! -Roger
Hi Roger! Thats a great question. I think each person needs to answer this for themselves. For me, this is how I handle it.
First, understand the context of each social network. For example, think of Twitter as a large convention of people you would like to meet (but dont know personally yet). On the otherhand, Facebook is a place where you already know most people on some personal level. Because of this, I share my faith and faith perspective on Facebook because I know most of my network there is believers and people interested in what I have to say about faith. They engagement with what I say about faith and its easier to engage in this medium without the 140 character limit.
Twitter is a place that puts you into conversation with millions of potential people and are short bursts of communication with people from all over the world. This is why I prefer twitter for my professional thoughts. For me being an entrepreneur in several ventures, most people find me on twitter because of my business pursuits. So I keep my twitter mostly about business. If you were to visit my Facebook, it’s mostly faith and family. I use BOTH twitter and facebook to share my passions (adrenaline, coffee, etc) as it adds an interesting human angle from otherwise generic posts.
It is my belief that most people will want to follow you on Twitter for a particular emphasis. I think that can be anything you really want, but it cant be too spreadout or you will have a hodgepodge following. Twitter is powerful if all your followers follow you for a particular reason.
Last, I use my blog (here) to give people the buffet of what they want. Since they have to come and visit my site (instead of my viewpoints appearing in their feed), I give them a choice for what to read on. My blog is totally about me and how I see the world. While the social networks are contextual based on how I want people to engage with me there.
That’s how I have handled it and it has been great for me. Thanks for the question!
10 Strange Super-Human Abilities Parents Develop
One of the more usual aspects of becoming a parent are all the superhuman abilities and talents that arise. Here is a list of 10 very strange super-human abilities that every parent develops.
20 Rules About Life (According To A Toddler)
Here are 20 rules about life I have learned from my daughter Scarlett:
1) The optimal time to take a marathon nap is right before one of mommy and daddy’s important time commitments. Otherwise stick with 30-40 minute naps or no napping at all.
2) Laptops make a fun noise when they hit the ground.
3) The dog is the favorite family member.
4) The best way to get your point across is to go completely limp.
5) Randomly decide to make it opposite day where “Yes” means ”No” and “No” means “Yes.”