Is Encouraging High Expectation Worthwhile?

Overview of Rackspace Interaction

While looking for a price for a dedicated server, a chat window popped up asking me if I wanted to talk to someone, so I initiated a chat to get a price. I told the agent within the first few lines what I was looking for.

However, the agent spent 10-12 minutes taking me through a series of questions, who do I currently host with, why do I want to move, what am I looking for… etc etc.

I was eventually told that the agent would need to take my details and get someone to call me to give me a price. I ended the conversation saying I would call them to get a price.

The phone was answered quickly and the person who answered told me they would need to put me through to the agent I had just been talking to. No jumping the queue it seems! That’s probably positive – keep the line of communication with one person. He took a few more details from me then told me he would put me through to someone who could give me a price, but told me the ballpark would be £700 a month and asked if I was OK with that.

No, I wasn’t looking to spend £700, but presumably that’s not the only option – so I asked what that includes,  and what the other options were? I was told he couldn’t give me that information, I would need to talk to the next person. I said, OK, I don’t want to spend £700 a month, but I want to know what I get for £700 a month, and what I can get for less than that.

He then started to put me through to the person that could give me a price. He kept me on hold for about 90-120 seconds, but asked me 3 times during that period if I was OK to hold, to hold for another 30 seconds, to hold for another 60 seconds. A little bit excessive.

Finally, I got through to the person who could help me. Again, he asked a few questions about what I was looking for (why was I on hold waiting for the other guy to tell him, if he was going to ask me again?… but it’s good to make sure he understands correctly).

He basically told me that £700 a month was not the only option, I could get something for about £500 a month. He told me they had lots of spare equipment lying around and it was nearing the end of the month so they could be more flexible on the the price.

He told me that they had options around £300 a month, but they weren’t very good: single power supply, single fan – likely to fail so not the best option for me. If a £300 a month server is not good enough then why do they offer them?

I asked for prices for all configurations so that I could compare them to their competitors. I mentioned one particular competitor and asked if he’d heard of them and stated that they appeared to offer a good product for less than half the cost. He said he hadn’t heard of them.

This is when it got really bad. He started by telling me that there are lots of little ‘hosting’ companies popping up here and there who think they can make a quick buck out of hosting. He repeated the name of the company I mentioned and told me he’d worked in the industry for a while and had never heard of them (implying they were new, untrustworthy and offered a bad product).

I interrupted him by stating that I was interested in what they could offer and I would make my own decision. I wanted to hear what was good about them, not what was bad about their competitors and that I felt that this was a particularly dirty sales tactic and that I would not see them in a positive view if he chose to talk negatively about their competitors.

He then proceeded to finalise the call fairly quickly and told me he would send across the numbers I was looking for by the end of the day.

40+ minutes of my time and I have a ballpark price and no idea of what that buys me.

UPDATE: Just got emailed the quote within 2 hours of finishing the call. First email I received did not have quote attached, emailed saying so and received quote in second email.

UPDATE 2: Just got a phone call from the person I spoke with saying he’d already read this blog post and would like to know if I could give him feedback on how they could improve. Nice touch – hopefully my comments will help them in some way.

8 thoughts on “Is Encouraging High Expectation Worthwhile?

  1. Pingback: | fergyboi
  2. Your point on eBuyer is interesting. The E-Myth recommends consistency above all else. Life is random, chaotic, every changing. If we are able to have predictable, solid, reliable, absolutely *consistent* interactions with businesses, we begin to place great value in that predictability. eBuyer short-changed themselves by delivering better service on one occasion that they can’t deliver every time. Probably a strategic mistake.

    Amazon are outstanding for this. They over deliver but in a very small way, and consistently. They’re one of the best big business customer services outfits I’ve experienced.

    RackSpace is interesting. Their dedicated server offering comes under the “if you need to ask the price” heading. It’s crazy money, and there’s no really good reason for that. But their cloud services are clearly priced, easy to understand, competitive, and have a good reputation as far as I’m aware.

    1. Oh, and to the point of setting high customer expectations, yes, I think it’s a good idea. However, I think it’s more important to be consistent. So set an expectation only if you can deliver on it 99.9% of the time. When you can’t deliver, go overboard to keep the customer happy. Only over deliver in cases where you can do the same again, every time. I think consistency trumps outstanding service intermittently.

      1. Interesting points. I hadn’t thought about consistency but I think that consistency is indeed important. Be consistently great. Perhaps that should be our new motto!

        RE RackSpace – yes, it is quite a bit more than other people’s similar offering… perhaps if you’ve got wads of cash (like a VC funded startup, or established enterprise size business moving into new markets) then it’s probably not a bad option.

    2. PS Interesting that you write eBuyer – I used to write that and chose to write Ebuyer as that’s how it’s written on their site!

        1. As in… I literally wrote that everywhere – all my saved invoices are eBuyer… etc etc. I think I got it from eBay – who are actually eBay.

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